Friday, 29 October 2010

FSO - Spooky

I don't do Halloween so this is a bit of a challenge for me.  Halloween is not as popular in New Zealand as in other Western countries and in the past has not generally been celebrated here. I belong to the old school who claim it it not part of our heritage and why should we adopt something just because it is done in other countries?  However, Halloween is slowly gaining in popularity with some retail outlets actively promoting Halloween costume sales. As a result more and more children are participating in "trick or treating” each year.  In rural areas such as where I live, children don't go around trick or treating, to start with its just not practical but some schools hold a Halloween Party, so children still have the opportunity to dress up in costumes.

So, being a grouchy old sod, I don't have any Halloween photos. But I was in Canada a few years ago for Halloween and have to admit that I enjoyed every minute of it.  

I think I can be pretty scarey at the best of times but, thanks to Picnic, made myself even more so:

I have to admit I took ghoulish pleasure doing nasty things to this photo of the magpie that has been dive bombing my grand-daughters.

This is probably as spooky as it will get around here.  When you disturb a cow that is intent on muching grass, the result can be a bit frightening.  

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Flag at work

I know this hasn’t exactly been extensive research but it does appear to me that flag waving is the best way to protect against magpie attacks.  The next step is for all three girls to remember to take their flags to the bus stop each morning.

magpie flag

Georgia remembered hers this morning but the other two girls didn’t.  While Georgia was safely walking towards my place, Krystal was suffering a full on bombardment.

And, at my insistence, we took the flag with us on our walk this afternoon.  We still got dive bombed but the black and white attacking machine went way over our heads, put off by the flag.  It might look silly but that’s the least of my worries.  I’d rather look silly than feel fearful any day.  

Down along the creek there was a sight that would lift the spirits of any farming person.  The heifers which will calve for the first time next spring were gathered under the trees looking a picture of good health.  My daughter- in- law sure knows how to raise good calves, these are a credit to her.  If calves don’t get a good start to life they don’t end up looking like these.

heifers 2010 

Georgia took this next photo.  Don’t know why I work so hard at taking half decent photos when a seven year old can produce a shot like this.   It was side on to us and she waited and waited for it to look at her.  She finally picked up a stick and snapped it in two to get the heifer’s attention.

heifer 2010

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

The cure is a walk

I wasn't feeling myself this afternoon.  No, I wasn’t feeling anyone else either!

Let’s start again.  This afternoon, driving home from work, I had a vague feeling of physical unease.   Nothing wrong really, just felt uneasy with myself and knew I needed a long, relaxing walk. 

As “just an administrator” I want the days of stressful jobs to be behind me.  But you know what they say about the best laid plans…..yeah, well, it’s like that!  I’m trying hard not to stress about my current project but not winning that battle.  That inner thing that drives me to want to do my best is at odds with my intentions. 

I think I’m lucky that some inner part of me always knows what I need.  And this afternoon I knew I needed that walk.

Georgia was happy to accompany me and suggested she ride her bike.  She’s not as easy to keep up with when she’s riding and I’m walking but I was happy to walk a bit faster when I had the sight of her to lift my spirits.  She’s not a confident bike rider just yet so her chat was amusing.  Every time the dogs came near her she warned them away saying it wouldn’t be her fault if she ran over them.


Coming to a downhill section of the track, which then went steeply uphill, I tried to explain about going fast downhill, then starting to pedal for the momentum to carry her up the next hill.  

up hill 2010

She looked so little compared with that hill but she gave it her best shot.  Doesn’t the body language tell the story?

Further along the track we startled a pair of ducks and she informed me they were going back to my house – they are the ones with their nest in the paddock beside my house.  How does she know that?  She very confidently tells me that the mother duck has a patch of white that other mother ducks don’t have – it’s a birthmark!!  Should I debate the point and tell her I don’t think ducks have birthmarks?  No way!


Just past this point she gets off her bike and starts kicking the ground beside the track.  We can smell something dead and she’s looking for it.  She’s thinking out loud:  No, I don’t think it is here.  It’s a big smell so it’s probably something big.  So big we will see if without looking.  I know what it is.  

And away she goes leading me to the big bad smell.  Then tells me the story of how and why the cow died. 
I love how kids just absorb knowledge…(even if they apply that knowledge a little haphazardly as with the birthmark.)

We came to our usual destination along the creek and, to my surpise, passed quickly by.
27 Oct 10

We were nearly home, all thoughts of work stress and magpie attacks long gone, when the black and white dive bombing machine struck.  Well, nearly struck.  No warning.  I suddenly heard the swish of its wings and at the same moment felt the hair on the top of my head move.   Very scarey!  No wonder the girls shriek so much when they are attacked!

I suspect I was attacked as I was the tallest thing beside the person riding the bike (as it’s never worried about me before).  I’d really love to find some literature that explains why magpies hate people riding bikes so much!

Anyway, I’d had a lovely walk and felt so much better.  

(And wouldn’t you just love to wander through graveyard and read “died from magpie attack”!) 

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

The flags

I was out on the deck this afternoon to see if the magpie repelling flags worked. 

I saw the magpie have a little warm up flight as the school bus approached.  

The girls had left the flags I made for them laying in the grass beside where they get off the bus.  They jumped off the bus and each grabbed a flag, then stood their waving them to see what was going to happen next….nothing.  So far so good!

Krystal went up the drive towards home waving her flag.  Shayde and Georgia dawdled along the roadside towards my place, waving their flags above their heads.

The magpie, which usually doesn’t bother Krystal, took one swoop towards her then backed off and returned to its nest.   And it didn’t return to have a go at Shayde and Georgia.   Most unusual.  Victory!
Or so I thought. 

We had looked up ‘magpie attacks’ on the net and discovered their territory is about 50 metres for people on foot.   So that would put my house around the outside limit.   We watched a video of various ways to deter magpie attacks.  Bike helmets, fake eyes glued on to the back of helmets,  cable ties sticking out of helmets, coloured cable ties, even a pair of binoculars attached to a helmet.  None of them worked. 

A couple of hours later the girls stepped outside to put their shoes on and head home.  And what was sitting on a fence post right opposite the house?   (Photo opportunity missed but I had other things on my mind.) Yep, that darn magpie.  Looking the other way as if to say I’m not watching you.  Huh!  Think I came down in the last shower?   

It must have seen the girls step outside.  It’s right what they say about them having good memories for faces, and very sharp eyesight.  It never bothers me but really has it in for the girls.  Must have a bit of a thing about noise (they are rarely silent…the girls, that is).

I had a few stern words with the bird, grabbed a jacket to wave around if need be and walked with the girls to the farm track and told them to go up the track, then through the paddock to their home.  Shayde, by this time, was cross with me and didn’t want anything to do with my poxy old flag.  They are, after all, just scraps of material stapled to sticks.  But Georgia took them both and waved them happily above her head.

And that over protective bird…what did it do?  It rose into the air, did a semi circle as if to come at them from behind (they always strike from behind). I thought, “Here we go, Super Granny to the rescue.  You think you are protective but I will show you what protective is!”

Then flew off back to it’s nest.

Maybe these flags really will work!

Monday, 25 October 2010


magpie fence
I love magpies. I realize I am in the minority. They are not generally loved in NZ, in fact they are more often than not regarded as pests. I feel sorry for any animal that has been introduced from another country (Magpies were introduced to New Zealand in the 1860s from Australia to control pastoral insect pests) and then they are despised and hunted when they don't assimilate with the native creatures and habitat. It's not their fault! The possum is a better example of this but the magpie has its share of detractors too.
My son is a major magpie hater. He gets upset when he sees them attacking native birds but I argue they do far less harm than rats and cats do.

From early July through to Oct/Nov, during their breeding season they often attack (dive bomb) children, cyclists, farmers and runners. I've been a near victim in the past but I just moved as quickly as I could away from that area and avoided it for a month or two afterwards.

Magpies are nesting in the big old tree right beside where my grand-daughters get on and off the school bus. And they are becoming more and more aggressive. Actually, only the males attack (the females are too busy sitting on the eggs).
If two of the girls are walking up the drive and the other one is walking along the road to come to my place when they get off the bus, he will swoop at one then swiftly fly across to attack the others, then back again and so on until the little one is safe inside and the other two are far enough away to allay his fears. He has hit the youngest one on the head a number of times.

I try to explain he is only doing what comes naturally, being a good father, defending his family, keeping danger away from them.

Interestingly, most magpies which attack people on foot attack the same few individuals over and over again. If they attack others, it’s probably a case of mistaken identity. These magpies may have had an early traumatic experience – perhaps someone who looked like these people had harmed the magpies chicks, or even 'rescued' a fledgling, something the parent mistook as predation. Magpies are able to recognise and remember individual human faces, even if the person wears different clothes! I think they can sense fear. Krystal turns to see if the attacker is coming but he doesn’t attack her. He targets Shayde and Georgia who shriek and run.

And they can tell the time and so these guys will know exactly when the school bus is due to go past.
I remember reading somewhere that a flag flying behind the head will sometimes distract an attacking magpie, so I’ve made the girls a flag each. I think they are meant to be orange but didn’t have any orange material, gold was the closest I could find.

Here’s hoping they work. I’d hate the girls to grow up frightened of magpies.

Friday, 22 October 2010

FSO - Patterns

Thanks, Doreen, for the great interpretation of today’s topic.  I particularly like these two sentences:  “Patterns, both natural and man-made, bring a sense of visual rhythm and harmony to photographs that, like a series of repeating notes in a melody, capture the imagination.”   and “Patterns appear whenever strong graphic elements—lines, colors, shapes, or forms—repeat themselves. "

As you know, I’m a rural person so most of the patterns I see in my day to day life are seen in a rural setting.  I see standard patterns and varied patterns. 

standard visitthecalves

There’s no such thing as a standard cow shed although a lot of them follow a similar pattern


Simple patterns are all around me:

trees b & w


Each flower has its own pattern but I loved what I saw when I superimposed roses over orchids.   (Way out pattern!)


Although its hard to beat the simple beauty of a single species:

flowers  A couple more simple patterns:


chris blanket

Of course, all patterns we see are from our own perspective, call it one eyed if you like:cropped eye

Thanks to Gordon for the topic.  To see lots of imaginative patterns, just pop over here.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Feeling Groovy

Last night, just as I was getting into bed, the ‘something’ that had been repeating through my mind all afternoon, revealed itself.   (That’s how my mind works.  I know something is working away in the background and that it will reveal itself sooner or later.  Usually much later.)

It started when I realized I was rushing when there was no need to.  A “slow down, you’re going too fast”.

It was the words of the Simon and Garfunkel song Feeling Groovy.

Slow down, you move too fast, you've got to make the morning last
Just kickin' down the cobble-stones, lookin' for fun and feelin' groovy
Feeling groovy
Hello lamp-post, what's cha knowing, I've come to watch your flowers growin'
Ain't cha got no rhymes for me, do-it-do-do, feelin' groovy
Feeling groovy
I've got no deeds to do, no promises to keep
I'm dappled and drowsy and ready to sleep
Let the morning time drop all its petals on me
Life I love you, all is groovy

Mind you, my lamp-post is a fence post, but other than that, these words nailed it.   I was certainly feeling dappled and drowsy and ready to sleep.

pond1 Life is good.  Life I love you. 

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Slow down

I was half way home from work this afternoon before I realized I was still rushing, driving faster than I needed to.  Once I turn off  at the corner 12 kms up the road, there are no speed signs and I guess it’s an open road speed zone.  But I’d be hard pressed to drive at the open road speed.  No, more than hard pressed, I couldn’t do it.  I’d either end up through a fence or in the creek that runs beside the road for parts of the trip. 

Some of the locals do a bit of low flying along the road and if I see them coming up behind me, I just pull over as soon as I can and let them go.  I’m not the slowest driver to use our road but I’m far from the fastest.

I’ve just remembered there is one road sign.  It’s position always amuses me.


Today I had one of those really busy days doing lots of small tasks, not focusing on anything for more than a few minutes.  That’s not a situation I enjoy these days.  It put me into rushing mode and I forgot to get out of it when I left work.

So there I was rushing along, I came around a corner and saw my favourite tree in full bloom.  And the very sight of it made me think what the hell am I doing?  There’s a beautiful tree to be enjoyed and you’ll just whizz straight past it, you silly woman.  So I stopped, got out of the car, took a few deep breaths and just stood there for a while, noticing for the first time what a lovely day it is.  OK, a bit too windy but the sky is blue, lots of lovely fluffy clouds and the birds are singing. 

There’s my tree, beside the left hand side of the road, just right of centre.  I love this tree, it’s my private “Enjoy life” sign.  19 Oct 2010

Even if I hadn’t stopped for the tree, I would have had to slow down just up the road as a neighbour was moving cows and calves along the road.   A pretty mottley looking herd but a lovely sight all the same.  (I don’t know this neighbour, so I hope he doesn’t know me – surely he will never find my blog!)

moving cows

He saw I was behind him and sent the dog out to make a path for me to pass through but I let him see the camera in my hand and signalled that I was content to follow.  Not far along the road his offsider was waiting on a little hill to warn approaching traffic and to turn the herd into the paddock on the right. 

moving cows 1  Life is good!

Monday, 18 October 2010

Happy Monday

For the past 42 weeks Bev has been doing a Makes Me Happy Monday post.  Bev’s blog is always a cheerful place to visit and a great pick-me-up on Mondays.  Today she is handing out awards. 

versatile bloggerr Thanks, Bev

So now I have to pass it on to other Versatile Bloggers.  No number was mentioned so I’m going to choose just one.  I’ve been thinking for some time I should tell you all about Jessie

When my youngest daughter was 15 she went to Australia, to Murwillumbah in northern New South Wales as an exchange student.  She made so many wonderful friends and has kept in touch with a number of them for the past 14 years.  Jessie was one of these friends.  She and a neighbour from a nearby property visited Justine in Auckland a few months ago and after she’d gone back, Justine told me about Jessie’s blog.  The trip had been their reward to themselves for surviving five weeks or so on their properties, isolated by flood waters.

I’ve been an avid follower of Jessie since my first visit to her blog.  She tells of life in the Australian bush, married to a farmer, mother of three young children, Secondary School English teacher.    This girl knows how to write!   Her posts are always interesting – and always honest and humorous. 

So, Jessie, this is my tribute to you.  Your blog is refreshingly delightful.  I love your writing.  Keep it up!

I encourage you to pop over to The Farmer Has a Wife and say Gidday to her. 

Friday, 15 October 2010

FSO - Chairs

I have a bit of thing about taking photos of seats.  The variety is endless. 

Seats for all ages:
ride on toy train

Seats for working, eating, praying and playing:

working eating praying and playing

Old and new , pink and blue

old and new, pink and blue

Loved or abandoned, large or small

loved or not

But my favourite chairs are the ones provided by nature.  The best seat for miles around.
natural seat

So...that only leaves about 100 unpublished seat photos in my archives.

I hope I didn’t overdo it with this topic – I did say I have a bit of thing about them, didn’t I?

Why not pop over here to see the posts of the rest of the FSO team.  Thanks for the topic, JarieLyn.  As you have probably guessed, I loved it!

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

If I had a better memory…

…I wouldn’t have even noticed the sky yesterday evening.  But I am forgetful, always have been, it’s the same vagueness that runs through some of my family.   A few of my siblings are as sharp as tacks, a few others of us have what I like to think of as an easy going vagueness. 

When my friend suggested we go to a DIY Ladies Night at a hardware store in town I made special note of the date.  It rang bells because it was my younger son’s birthday.  But in the scramble that is my brains I somehow moved it to the day before his birthday and yesterday evening set off for the Ladies Night.  I did think it was a bit strange that there were so few cars in the parking lot but as I pulled in so did another car with a lady driver and she leapt out and literally ran into the store so I immediately forgot about the lack of cars and thought, “I’m late!”  and hurried in after her. 

The other lady quickly disappeared off to the right and the only other lady in sight was the solitary girl at the check-out.  That’s when it dawned on me that I was a day early. 

I was properly annoyed because I’d had a busy day and had rushed around at home to get changed, make myself a quick meal and get back out the door. 

A beautiful evening sky soon did away with my annoyance.  There was hardly any traffic on the road as I headed back home, so I slowed down and enjoyed the sight.  I was taken with the little patch of bright blue and the swirly white cloud around it in an otherwise dark, brooding sky.


About 15 minutes further along on my journey the blue was fading fast and the lower dark clouds had changed colour.

8feb08 002

By the time I reached home, just before the light of the day disappeared completely, I was driving into a pretty pink sunset.


I wouldn’t have seen any of that if I had a better memory and had been inside the store, would I?  

Life has been so much more enjoyable since I accepted the limitation of my memory, since I learnt to shrug and accept “it’s not the first time and it won’t be the last”, just make the most of the moment.

Friday, 8 October 2010

FSO - Water, Glass and Shiney Objects Reflections

One word can make a lot of difference to a topic.  

I read "water, glass and shiney objects", and went about gathering my photos for this week's shoot-out.  Imagine my consternation when I came to add my post and finally see the last word - reflections!!  Big oopsy!  Back to the drawing board and a frantic hunt through my archives.  I can only use one of the shots I had originally prepared, a shiney object and if you look carefully you will see my reflection there.

A favourite spot for a cup of coffee before an early evening movie is Reva's in the Town Basin.  On Thursday evenings the waka (single-hulled vessels) are usually out on the water.

A little later, the street lights on the other side of the river come on and reflect gently on the water.

Here on the farm, the water in the creek is usually flowing too fast for reflections but after a time without rain you can occasionally find a quiet reach.

 That's it for this week.  I will read more carefully next week.

To see some terrific photography check out the rest of the FSO team here.

Monday, 4 October 2010

Mother love

I've been away and missed most of the cows calving this year but I was at home on the farm over the weekend and the calving mob were around the house.  I knew the jersey cow had calved because I'd seen here in various stages of giving birth on Saturday.

Sunday morning when I went out to have a look the jersey eyed me with great mistrust as if to say, "Don't come any nearer!"

She then went to her calf to reassure herself.

I had to blur out part of the photo because I really do think you'd rather not see a close up of what was on the ground.  Things we tend to take no notice of can be a bit disgusting in the eyes of the uninitiated.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

I've been grilled

Summer is coming and it's carpet shampoo day, so a quick post, to thank Lisa at Grandma's Briefs for grilling me.  As it is all about being a grandma, it was painless.  Every grandmother loves the opportunity to talk about her elevated status, I think. 

Just click on the badge on my sidebar and you will be whizzed there. 

Thanks, again, Lisa.

(OK, back to moving furniture, Pauline!)

Friday, 1 October 2010

FSO Black and Orange

It's spring here in the southern hemisphere and this week it has truly felt like it.  Spring is a busy time for farmers of livestock.  My son's dairy cows are nearly finished calving, the neighbour has lots of baby lambs.  There's nothing warms the heart more than the sight of a newborn with a contented mother nearby.  This little fellow looks happy to be part of our world.

Most of the cows in the dairy herd are friesians, black and white, but occasionally you see some other colours.  Bet you didn't expect to see an orange cow!!

But I found the Blackdog in town, not far from the port.

with the sea going black car

and the black pipe:

Diagonally opposite my driveway is an ugly orange shed.  Most of the time I block it out, not exactly pretend it's not there but just ignore it.  There's no point telling myself it spoils my view, I live on  a farm and farms are practical places.  If something is serving a purpose you don't take it away just because it doesn't look good.  (Although I would like to see it painted another colour!)

Sitting inside the shed is an old piece of farm machinery.  I can't for the life of me think what it could be used for.  Maybe a cradle for one of those giant hay bales?

Most farms have a few bits and pieces of rusty machinery around.  But why is this old tractor given shed space I wonder?  For spare parts perhaps!

My little grand-daughter loves to fish 'pretty' rocks out of the creek.  The variety of colours is quite surprising!  There are some pretty orange colours amonst this little haul. 

Pop over here to check out everyone else's Black and Orange shots.