A dabble with Water Colours I got for Christmas

Work My sister Glenda who is a few years older than me, gave me a beautiful set of watercolours, brushes and a pad as well. She's an accomplished artist, very gifted and has created many beautiful artworks over the years. I thought I'd take up the challenge and try them out on a smaller pad (A4). I spotted a lovely photo from an old National Geographic Magazine (don't you just love Nat Geo!)of a young Pakistani woman sewing beads onto a dress to earn money for her family. I did a water colour sketch of her and above is the result. I don't have any formal art training, so it was done more on instinct rather than knowing what colours to use. It didn't turn out half bad. Hope everyone had a great Christmas we sure did!


Christmas Eve Morning here on the Farm

I took this shot this morning just after the rain had stopped. The New Zealand Pohutukawa is our Christmas Tree. It flowers every December just in time for the 25th of December. Makes for a great photo and colour as well. We have a few of these beautiful trees here on the farm. I'm going to plant more as time goes on. Then we'll have lots of colour at Christmas time.

Merry Christmas to everyone

Lots of love from us all here at the Mad Bush Farm.


An Artful Dog of a Challenge

DSCN3859 I rarely do dogs when it comes to my art. I'm more a cat person, but even so I do love dogs. I was commissioned to do the portrait of a lovely American Bull dog. She was so lovely to do. I had some issues to deal with where this breed goes. It meant doing a bit more study of bulldogs in general and hopefully getting it right. Despite my fretting my kids told me to stop fretting that it was absolutely fine and to get it sent to the client. Well I had a very happy client and it left me happy too. Hope you like the portrait


Ten Days before Christmas....

DSCN3734 And it seems things just have to go nuts at the wrong time of the year. I don't blame Dream for having that What the??? look. Not when the cows are mowing behind the house right now. Not that they mind. Neither do I really it needs munching down BUT.... DSCN3738 It's not so good when we have our neighbour's young heifer looking like she is going to calve. She isn't old enough to have a calf. Michelle came and told me yesterday Igger's back quarters in her udder were filling up. This morning her udder is filling and she's dripping milk. It could be a false pregnancy but all the signs are there that she may well calve within the next few days. It's a wait and see for now. Best to leave her be, but keep an eye as well just in case she has any problems. DSCN3739 Meanwhile the Terrorist is just quite content to munch up the weeds and the long grass (and the trees!). She was quick to greet Michelle at the bedroom window this morning. We're expecting the bull to arrive any day. So Terrorist and River will be put in calf. I don't breed every year because the cows need a chance to recover. Different on a beef or dairy farm. My jersey girls are pets nothing more. Their calves will be going over to my friend Janet who will raise them after they've been weaned off the cows. We don't mind because we get a home-killed beast back. Can't argue about that one. DSCN3740 I can tell Summer is here. It's been a real scorcher today. River was in the shade quite early this morning and so were the horses. We have our local Christmas Parade late this afternoon.My girls are both taking part in it so I'll be looking forward to getting some photos of them during the event. I've been busy doing an art commission which is coming along really well. I realised I hadn't blogged for a bit so this is one of those sneaky pop on the computer while I'm eating lunch moments. Ten days left to Christmas Day - not long to go now. I like to think every day is Christmas when you give a little, care a little and be kind to others kind of day. DSCN3733


On the First Day of Christmas that darned Mad Bush Farmer sent to me.....

Yes it's coming up that time of the year again. Watch out for the turkey..he's mad and he's bad. Anyone seen Stan lately? He seems to have um...vanished....last seen going out to get the Christmas Turkey....


Under Surveillance - Cat Troll

Evil plans have been detected
What is that?

Iz just a stoopid goggie wif satellite dish on head again

Yeah? So I'm getting it on all 150 channels fer free Cat Troll so there!

Actually the cat troll Emerald was stalking me everywhere and clawed my gumboots. Cat you just have to forgive even when their claws use your leg as a scratching post. Simon meantime still has to where his big cone so he can't chew at his itchy leg. The leg is a lot better after veterinary treatment and so is Simon. Happy dog but he hates that collar.

Little Spiritus has been expelled from the small group of horses we have here. He came down to see us instead and got a carrot for his troubles. He's a cute little fella. I'm really enjoying the three little horses we have living with us. The old man has company and they just con their way into everyone's hearts - including mine. Few more photos down below. I love this little guy's blue eye.


A fun weekend and Apple Pinwheel scones

I had Amy's daughter Renee over and another friend Amanda who goes to the girl's school. Four teenage girls made for an interesting and very fun weekend. Between the Facebook visits, the movies and the general mayhem the girls had a lot of fun. Yesterday I asked Inaya if she wanted to try getting on little Ranger again. I've taken my time with his breaking in because I didn't want him ending up with any fear because things were rushed. That patience paid off. The photo above is the first time Inaya has been actually sitting on Ranger's back. She's nice and light so he was able to cope with her. Renee is holding him - so I could get a photo. She led him around a couple of times in a circle and he was so good. We kept it very short so Ranger wouldn't get too uptight. He got an apple as a reward for being such a good boy and not playing up.

Talking about apples I made Apple pinwheel scones yesterday. Inaya had handed me over a bit of paper with the recipe on it that she had from her food technology class at her last school. They turned out yum! I found out (thanks to Inaya!) it pays though to add extra apple, sugar and cinnamon and make the milk at 1 1/2 cupfuls instead of the lesser amounts that the recipe states. Here it is any way. Handy when you have visitors coming. The only take ten minutes in the oven to bake. Nice and quick!


2 c flour
4 t baking powder
1/4 t of salt
2 T butter or margarine
3/4 cup of milk (suggest use 1 1/2 cupfuls)

1 apple (I'd use two) or 1 c cooked apple slices (use two cups instead)
2 T brown sugar (use 4 instead)
1/2 t cinnamon (try using 1 tsp instead)

  1. Turn the oven to 230 degree celsius (440 deg F.). Lightly grease an oven tray.
  2. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl
  3. Add the butter or margarine and rub in until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Make a 'well' in the centre
  4. Add the mil and mix with a knife to form a soft dough.
  5. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured board. Knead lightly. Roll into a rectangle 1/2 cm (roughly 1/5th of an inch thick)
  6. Grate the apple(s). Mix in a bowl with the brown sugar and the cinnamon.
  7. Spread the mixture over the dough. Roll the dough from the long end to form a long sausage shape.
  8. Cut into slices 2 cm thick (roughly about an inch). Place on the oven tray.
  9. Bake for 10 minutes until well risen and golden brown.


A revisit to Tanoa and Batley on Monday

 Having my long time friend Lisa come up and stay a few days was  a welcome change from the usual insanity that goes on around here on the farm. The weather spoilt things a little but yesterday at last we did manage to get out and take a brief sojourn down to Tanoa, and afterwards around to Batley.

The Gittos Church in 2010 before restoration

I was aware sometime back that the former Gittos Church down at Tanoa had been restored by the local Iwi. Last time Lisa and I had been down there the church was still in a state of disrepair. On this visit, the little church sitting alongside the shores of the Otamatea River is now pristine. Sympathetic restoration has transformed the 1874 constructed building into something very beautiful. The interior has been completely cleaned and the broken windows that once left the inside open to the elements have now been replaced. A lock has been put on the doors into the church which will protect it from vandals.

The church after restoration (2012)

The old rusted rain water tank has been replaced by a modern plastic one

Coloured glass now floods the interior with beautiful rainbow hues

Overgrowth has been cleared away from the historic cemetery that surrounds the church

Batley House

We left Tanoa and took the short drive around the bay to Batley. On the shores of the Otamatea River the grand old house, currently owned by Rex and Rae Roadley, is an iconic reminder of past history. It was here Joseph Masefield set up the Otamatea Hotel, raised a family including a couple of sets of twins. He lost three children in a drowning accident. After his death he was buried at  the Tanoa cemetery. The house has seen many changes since its more humble beginnings when Masefield was running his store in the late 1850's. For a long time he was the only port of call in this part of the eastern Kaipara Harbour before development began to take hold. The bay was originally called Oahau. The name was changed to Batley by William Colbeck ("Captain Colbeck") who was a native of Batley, Yorkshire, England. Colebeck purchased the land surrounding the area and on the shores developed a steam powered flour mill, and a fish canning factory. The buildings have long since vanished, and now the bay is quieter.

On the point where once a great long wharf used to reside, one of the locals was sat with a snapper rod waiting for a bite. Now and then I have got down with the surf caster and not really caught anything more than a bit of seaweed or a sprat or two.


Walking further around the point old pilings still resist the action of the tide, oysters have quickly made use of the man made structure to colonise and establish over several decades. The old fence was probably used to prevent stock from getting around the point I'd have to ask Rex and Rae about that since they know the rich history of the Roadley family farm very well. Nearby just off the beach is an oyster lease.

I found a Catseye snail while we were fossicking around and taking photos. I'm concerned at how few there were to be found. Over the years around our coasts people have been taking them as food. Unfortunately it has also decimated the overall population. If you see them, look but don't take away. I photographed the one I found then carefully placed it back where I had found it. Batley is a wonderful bay. The two old boat sheds make for a great camera shot.


Lonesome George's Genetic Legacy Survives:

Lonesome George's Genetic Legacy Survives:

Scientists Uncover Pinta Tortoise Hybrids in the Galapagos Islands

Galapagos ConservancyWASHINGTON, DC, November 15, 2012 --/WORLD-WIRE/-- Scientists have discovered several giant tortoises with partial Pinta Island ancestry on Isabela Island in the Galapagos Islands. The death of Lonesome George, the last known pure Pinta Island Giant Tortoise (Chelonoidis abingdoni), who passed away the 24th of June, may not have signaled the end of his species.

After years of cutting-edge genetic research on the giant tortoises of Galapagos, scientists from Yale University report finding 17 tortoises with some Pinta Island ancestry living in the wild on Wolf Volcano on Isabela Island. In an article published in the scientific journal Biological Conservation, lead author Dr. Danielle Edwards of Yale University recounts the discovery of multiple, unrelated individuals with partial Pinta ancestry, including five juveniles.

The tortoise genetics study, headed by Yale University’s Dr. Adalgisa (Gisella) Caccone, compared the DNA from museum specimens of Pinta tortoises and Lonesome George with more than 1,600 samples collected in 2008 on Wolf Volcano. The Yale group speculates that, given the ages of the 17 tortoises found and the huge number of unsampled tortoises on Wolf Volcano, there may still be additional hybrids and possibly even purebred Pinta tortoises.

“This spectacular discovery is the first step toward the potential recovery of the Pinta Island Tortoise, a dream of mine since the early 1980s,” said Dr. Linda Cayot, Galapagos Conservancy’s Science Advisor.

Although separated by only 37 miles, it is unlikely that the ocean currents between Pinta and Isabela Islands could have carried tortoises from one to the other. However, Banks Bay on the northwestern coast of Isabela was used often by both naval and whaling vessels in the 1800s. The log of Captain Porter of the USS Essex records at least one instance of British whalers throwing giant tortoises, which were probably collected on several different islands, into the bay to escape pursuit. Given that the hybridization events on Wolf Volcano appear to have started approximately 200 years ago, the presence of the non-Wolf tortoises is most likely due to transfers by humans in the 1800s.

Given the ecological importance of giant tortoises to their island ecosystems, the incorporation of tortoises with Pinta genes into a captive breeding program is the preferred path toward the reestablishment of a reproductive population on Pinta. In addition to returning the island’s most important ecosystem engineer, this action will preserve the evolutionary legacy of Lonesome George’s species.

In 2013 and beyond, the Galapagos National Park and its many collaborators will conduct a series of expeditions to Wolf Volcano to sample more tortoises and bring Pinta hybrids into captivity to initiate a breeding program.

This extraordinary news would not have been possible without the tireless efforts of scientists, veterinarians, conservation managers, and Galapagos National Park rangers. The investments of Galapagos Conservancy and its donors provided funding at a critical time to move this project forward. GC donors also funded a Tortoise Workshop in Galapagos in July 2012, organized and facilitated by Dr. Cayot, to develop a multi-institutional 10-year research and management plan, including the work on Wolf Volcano.

The Giant Tortoise Recovery Project aims to restore all extant tortoise populations and their islands, as well as reestablish reproductive populations of giant tortoises to Pinta, Floreana, and Santa Fe. Please visit our website to learn more about the Giant Tortoise Recovery Project and to support this important effort. You’ll find an online version of this release, complete with photographs, in our online Newsroom.

Galapagos Conservancy connects people across the globe to conservation efforts taking place in the Galapagos Islands and plays a catalyst role in moving key programs, such as the Giant Tortoise Recovery Project, forward. GC is the only US-based non-profit organization dedicated solely to the conservation of Galapagos wildlife and landscapes.


Resistance is futile - you will be assimilated

Resistance is completely futile. Everyone ends up assimilated......by small cute horse...and his pals here on the farm.


A Cosmic Wonder today

Over the years I've been trying to see a solar eclipse. You see those videos of everyone in the Northern Hemisphere getting the best views. For a change at last I finally got to see one. Despite the cloud I did managed to get some great photos of the moon moving across the sun.Despite the limitations of my small 12 megapixel Nikon I set it onto sunset mode whacked up the zoom, and got the above shots. Not bad. One day I'll get one of those huge fancy cameras with 25 plus megapixels and a huge telephoto lens. By then I'll be way to ancient to be running outside every half hour just to photograph an eclipse.


So why is he looking so happy?

He got a big juicy bone that's why he's happy! And as always he's still a silly dog.


Life in the blackberry patch and small equines

 This lot makes the Day of the Triffids look like tap dancers in comparison

Anyone who farms will tell you the worst of the plant pests are gorse, blackberry and thistles. I have all three and then some. Somewhere along the way an alien blackberry bush decided to invade my bank.

Under all that tangle I found my lost Mandarin Tree it's actually healthy?

The canes are taller than me, being a short stuff (5ft 4"), it was rather a daunting task to somehow get stuck into that darned blackberry patch and get rid of it. A couple of hours with the loppers soon had a nice wide path cut out through to the lost trees I had planted sometime ago. I've got thorns in my hands, a bad attitude and an aching back.  The herbicide is doing the rest where the blackberry goes.

Hi! I'm here to eat your garden! You'll let me because I am sooo cute!

Meanwhile small equines continue to cause mayhem and look generally very cute. I mean what in heck do you do with them? We're hatching a plan to at least get a bit in their mouths, and then lunge them to keep their weight down. A certain small white equine has been making nightly visits onto my 'lawn'. At least he's keeping the grass down I suppose and leaving (finally) my apple tree alone. Well life continues. I'm being trolled by Emerald the cat, plagued by The Terrorist with her complaints about not being able to run off to Terry's place anymore and generally life has been mad as usual. I like it that way.

A couple of weeks ago my youngest daughter Michelle took Wes and Sheryl's calf to the school pet day and took out the champion. She trained this calf herself. On Monday just gone Michelle won the school cross country for her age group. She's doing really well. Well that's me for now. Stay happy and smile.