Life before the easy times came along even with a recession

The dining table is set with the best blue and white china ready for the Sunday lunch. The children will be expected to be on their best behaviour and help mother with the serving. This is one of the beautifully done displays at the Matakohe Kauri Museum.

The Mother of the Bride seeing to the final touches

I remember asking my Grandmother who had grown up in the Northern Wairoa what it was like during those days. She told me just one thing out of all her stories of muddy roads, sinking boats and cooking on a woodburning stove, as the family home she was growing up in, went on a barge up the Northern Wairoa River to Mangawhare - where it remains today on River Road. She told me life then was very very hard. Money was very very tight and what little they did have they made do with. Nana and her sister Ellie would get up at 5 am and milk their parents dairy cows then walk several miles to school after they had put the milk into the separator, then finally had breakfast. They helped their mother with the laundry using a scrubbing board.

Thank Goodness for Automatic Washing Machines!

Nana told me we didn't truly know how lucky we were. I realise that now even with this recession the papers keep reporting on we truly are fortunate. I have the land to grow my own food, the chickens give us eggs each day, and eventually when River does calve we'll have our own milk supply as well. Meat will be coming shortly when the bull is put down and into our freezer. Later this year I'm going to go and learn how to do cheese and butter making then I won't have to pay $20 for a kilo of ordinary cheese anymore - I now have the luxury of time. Today I'm going to be planting more peas, beans and hopefully if and when I can find it some winter lettuce. Our garden is doing well. The chickens are now keeping well clear of the electric fence. Jayne from Our Great Southern Land put up a great post about Making do recipes. Worth a read.
They don't make wine like this anymore


The Great Plastic Bag War in my kitchen

Having four cats instead of two means trouble happens from time to time. Usually it's the older cats Dream and Emerald sticking a claw or two into the much younger and smaller Sasquatch and Yowie. Yesterday morning there came the day of the great plastic bag war.

The kids had gone off to school and four cats were there eating their breakfast and doing the usual growling at each other over whom would get the biggest share of the stupid hooman's offerings to the great Celing Cat in the Ceiling. Tensions however soon boiled over. Dream decided it was time to take the side of Basement Cat and with that thinking in mind pounced on the Celing Cat follower now making a run for it. The only refuge - a plastic shopping bag the stupid hooman had carelessly left behind during the cleanup. Celing Cat follower Sasquatch made for the plastic bag. Trapped inside all Saquatch could do was hide from the deadly Cat-Foo strike of the Dream Cat. The Dream Cat in the end got bored and wandered off...
Later that same morning a truce was at last called. Basement Cat lost the new Dream Cat convert back to Celing Cat and peace at last reigned in the house of the Mad Bush Farm


Signs of life

Ten days ago I planted some seeds into my restored vegetable garden. Beans and peas have now appeared starting their journey of growth until they fruit then eventually wither and die. Much like journey of a person. We are born, we grow, we age, then eventually we die. A fact for all living things. Our pets don't live so long and we grieve their passing. I've considered a lot of things lately mainly because I've had to and in other things not so much. I thought about where to from here? What have I done with my life? All those same old questions we all tend to ask ourselves from time to time. No I was wasting my time sitting there asking myself those silly questions. Instead I sat down and drew from my own imagination the growth of a seed. Just three small sketches on the same sheet of paper and while I drew I reflected back on the growth in my own life - all through changes many changes.

Learn wisdom from the ways of a seedling. A seedling which is never hardened off through stressful situations will never become a strong productive plant. - Steven Sigmund

The quote above by Steven Sigmund holds undeniable truth. If life was easy would we truly be the people we are now? The answer to that question is for me - No. I wouldn't be the person I am now without experiences some would cringe away from or find it hard to understand just how I came through it all. Somehow in a crisis we find our own inner strengths even though at the time we don't feel strong. We learn from that crisis and move on - wiser for it for when the next crisis decides to happen along. In 2004 I stuck my neck on the chopping block taking a risk on a bare piece of rural land nobody at the time wanted. I came here fell in love with the bush, the stream and the peace and bought it. People thought I was crazy. A divorced single mother with an Autistic 5 year old and a bubbly happy 7 year old leaving everything behind, moving to a nothing on the map area and on top building a brand new home. Had to be crazy right? No I'm still here and this is all mine. I did it on my own. I took the leap of faith. Five years on I have a Mad Bush Farm, a great family, wonderful friends (including my blogger friends). I haven't fallen over. I've grown. Love my life. One day at a time is all I take because that's the best way to be. And what started all of this?
This old dead looking Cabbage Tree. Half of its truck has rotted and fallen away - look up though and far far above are the bright green leaves growing above the tree canopy getting the light they need. And at the base of this very old tree is the start of a new shoot. Even old trees it seems can have signs of new life after all.

Chicken Worms a brief guide

Worms are usually associated with cattle, horses, cats and dogs but chickens get them as well. Poor old Mrs Chook above doesn't look too good - probably because her cartoon owner hasn't bothered to notice the old girl has lost a lot of weight, isn't hanging around her chicken friends anymore or eating anything. As for her droppings - they aren't looking any good either. Runny and watery means only one thing..WORMS.

Symptoms of a chicken with intestinal worms are as follows
  • watery runny droppings
  • loss of appetite
  • ceasing of egg laying
  • dehydration
  • going off alone
  • loss of balance (due to weakness from a heavy infestation)
  • dull comb,wattles and eyes
Not all of these symptoms occur but in the main most will be present. Sick chickens with worms if not treated can die. Birds need to be treated every three months. We use a product called Aviverm. This product has a witholding period for eggs/meat of ten days. Alternatively (if you don't like using artificial products) you could use garlic powder - one teaspoon mixed in the chicken's feed each day which will help keep the bird healthy but it is advisable to have a chicken worming product on hand as well.

Types of intestinal worms are:

Ascarids (Large Intestinal Roundworms)

One of the most common parasitic roundworms of poultry (Ascaridia galli) occurs in chickens and turkeys. Adult worms are about one and a half to three inches long and about the size of an ordinary pencil lead. Thus, they can be seen easily with the naked eye. Heavily infected birds may show droopiness, emaciation and diarrhea. The primary damage is reduced efficiency of feed utilization, but death has been observed in severe infections.

Cecal Worms

This parasite (Heterakis gallinae) is found in the ceca of chickens, turkeys and other birds. The worms are small, white and measure _ to ½ inch in length.This parasite apparently does not seriously affect the health of the bird. At least no marked symptoms or pathology can be blamed on its presence. Its main importance is that it has been incriminated as a vector of Histomonas meleagridis, the agent that causes blackhead. This protozoan parasite apparently is carried in the cecal worm egg and is transmitted from bird to bird through this egg.

Capillaria (Capillary or Thread Worms)

There are several species of Capillaria that occur in poultry. Capillaria annulataCapillaria contorta occur in the crop and esophagus. These may cause thickening and inflammation of the mucosa, and occasionally severe losses are sustained in turkeys and game birds. and In the lower intestinal tract there may be several different species but usually Capillaria obsignata is the most prevalent. The life cycle of this parasite is direct. The adult worms may be embedded in the lining of the intestine. The eggs are laid and passed in the droppings. Following embryonation that takes six to eight days, the eggs are infective to any other poultry that may eat them. The most severe damage occurs within two weeks of infection. The parasites frequently produce severe inflammation and sometimes cause hemorrhage. Erosion of the intestinal lining may be extensive and result in death. These parasites may become a severe problem in deep litter houses. Reduced growth, egg production and fertility may result from heavy infections.


Tapeworms or cestodes are flattened, ribbon-shaped worms composed of numerous segments or division. Tapeworms vary in size from very small to several inches in length. The head or anterior end is much smaller than the rest of the body. Since tapeworms may be very small, careful examination often is necessary to find them. A portion of the intestine may be opened and placed in water to assist in finding the tapeworms.

NOTE: AVIVERM IS ANTHELMINTIC WHICH PROVIDES SIMULTANEOUS TREATMENT OF IMMATURE AND ADULT STAGES OF THE THREE MOST IMPORTANT INTESTINAL WORMS (ASCARDIA spp.,CAPILLARIA spp., HETERAKIS spp.) in fowls turkeys and other birds (taken from the product information on Aviverm worming treatment) This product does not treat gapeworm

Chickens also can contract Gapeworm which is a worm that lives in the lungs and trachea. This is often fatal. Treatment with Ivomec (Ivermectin) is used however consult your veterinarian first for advice before using this product or you could be doing more harm to your birds than good.

Definition comes from Wikipedia

A gapeworm (Syngamus trachea) is a parasitic nematode worm infecting the tracheas of certain birds. The resulting disease, known as gape or the gapes, occurs when the worms clog and obstruct the airway. The worms are also known as red worms or forked worms due to their red color and the permanent procreative conjunction of males and females. Gapeworm is common in young, domesticated chickens and turkeys.
When the female gapeworm lays her eggs in the trachea of an infected bird, the eggs are coughed up, swallowed, then defecated. When birds consume the eggs found in the feces or an intermediate host such as earthworms, snails (Planorbarius corneus, Bithynia tentaculata, …), or slugs, they become infected with the parasite.
Ivermectin is a drug often used to control gapeworm infection in birds.

See also Prolapse in Hens

And here's the $85 lesson I learned the hard way below (this story appeared in Rural Living last year)........

Living in a rural area like Maungaturoto reality comes first. At least, most of the time it does. In the case of a chicken named for a song by Rod Stewart, reality and logic went out the proverbial window one late Sunday afternoon.
Two tearful kids and a very sick looking Maggie May doing her best to do the dramatic “I’m about to cark it” act had me, your faithful writer, doing something totally against the grain of most ‘practical’ small block farmers. Sick chickens usually only meet one fate – the chopping block. But in the case, dear reader, of this not so practical small farmer, this is how it went down:
5pm – Now, I admit, I should know better. Having a good basic knowledge of poultry and what afflicts them, it was all too obvious what was causing Maggie’s staggering and sudden weight loss. A very nasty dose of worms – but being soft hearted and wanting my kids to talk to me for the next twenty years or so (or at least while I fed and clothed them) I cave and call the Maungaturoto Vet Centre and explain I had “a very sick looking Black Australorp hen and that if I don’t do something, my kids will never talk to me ever again”.
5.15pm – I arrive at the back door of the Maungaturoto Vet Centre with a half dead chicken and two kids in tow. Kids are panicking, chicken could care less.
5.16pm – The “patient” is removed from box and promptly does a typical chicken deposit on the vet’s nice clean examination table. Deposit hastily removed and chicken weighed.
5.17pm to 5.30pm – A discussion of chicken’s less than ideal state leads to diagnosis of worm infestation. Vet gives chicken worm injection, hands me, your faithful writer a bottle of Aviderm and a bill for….$85 bucks. Breakdown $65 for the out of hours consultation (fair enough) $20 or so for the injection and $14.95 for the Aviderm.
5.31pm to some ghastly time in the wee hours of the next day – Elder of two kids who has sat up ailing chicken announces chicken is still alive and rapidly improving.
One year later – Maggie May is still alive. Still sneaking in and sitting on the clean washing whenever she gets the opportunity.
And the moral of this story, dear rural reader?
Like all animals, chickens suffer from worm infestations and if left unchecked, can lead to an unnecessary death of what could be a child’s favourite pet. Not to mention a frosty silence from the offspring involved for the ensuing decade at least.
Pets or not – poultry need to be wormed every three months with a suitable wormer in their water. As with most parasite control products these products have a withholding period for the consumption of eggs and/or meat of around ten days.
PS – Maggie May in true Rod Stewartesque fashion has since raised a brood (three roosters and one hen) but that’s another story dear rural reader – perhaps when my sanity has returned.


A Week of it............

Yet again Maggie May decided to hoard her eggs and pick anyone attempting to help themselves. Sat stubbornly there in the middle of my (rather overgrown) so-called lawn there she sat grumping and fluffed out denying all comers. We wanted those eggs for an omlet but Maggie wasn't about to let the human nuisances help themselves to her little pile. So we waited...bided our time until the frumpy little hen had decided to go off briefly and have a pick at the food we had put out..while her feathery back was turned the kids and I stole those eggs and left behind a tennis ball. She sat on it for three days then finally decided a tennis ball wasn't the most comfortable kind of egg to sit upon Maggie gave it up. She's back to normal now - well as normal as anything living here on this mad farm can get.
Sasquatch had decided to visit the stream and get a new look for his fur aka Mad Bush Wet-look. Not sure if the Kitty fashion magazines would consider the old eighties style of fur-do as an in look right now. He'll have to do better if he wants to make the big time. A towel soon took care of the new look. He didn't mind he'll try again next fashion season perhaps
Yowie was being more diligent about her future plans. Instead she had chosen to do an indepth study of native New Zealand insects. That way she can choose which one she'll have for dinner tomorrow night - with or without cheese on top. Dragonfly was the main course for lunch yesterday. Hitting the books though obviously got on top of her so she had to take a cat nap between chapters.
In the meantime Oscar the Grouch has been following me all around the farm. He's stopped being so grumpy - but everywhere I go he goes. Obviously the truce hasn't yet been quite accepted. He's now a self appointed superviser as if I need anymore?
River is wondering why everyone is giving her so much attention. Fat,very very pregnant and she's starting to gradually slow down. The kids have been worried about her but River knows when the time will be right to have her calf. I don't ever worry - the old saying goes a watched cow (or mare) never calves (or foals) not in our time anyway. She's just fine and doing everything a cow near calving does. One morning I'll get up go and out and check the stock and River will have a baby with her. Then I'll get the camera out and take a photo.
And the old man just thinks the whole thing is nuts........