Thursday, 31 October 2013

Missed Fridays

I can't actually remember what I did on Friday.  I know I was already in Taranaki, arrived on Thursday.    And I know I missed the Friday Shoot Out.  After I'd stopped on my journey south to take the photo, too.  Never mind.

I remember we had a party on Saturday night for my son-in-law's 40th.   Seems to me  you get to a certain age and cease to worry about how you look and what others may think.

I'm pretty sure that age is 40. The photos from the night will illustrate why I say that when I learn to upload them on my new tech toy.

On Sunday we played again but with more children this time.  Fun and games.

Tuesday I went for a little adventure to Whangamomona, along the Forgotten World Highway.  A delight for those who enjoy driving.   Wonderful views from the saddles,  four of them along the way. No fewer than two churches at Whangamomona, population around 30.  Coffee and fine hospitality at the pub.  As I was leaving one locked church a friendly local shouted from a passing ute that the church around the corner was open if I wanted to pray.

I only went as far as Whangamomona, I'll come back and do the trip right through to Taumarunui one day when I get out of bed earlier.

Today's highlight will be a Halloween party at Aiden's day care centre.  Yay!

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Side Road

I couldn't even have a guess at how many times I've told myself I'm going to drive up a particular side road "one of these days."  There aren't many roads around here that I haven't explored, just to see where they lead.

Yesterday was the day I actually turned left up the side road.  I thought it just serviced a few lifestyle blocks but it went a fair way, up the hills.  There were stockyard beside the road where the "Council Maintenance ends here" sign stands.

A different view of the hills of home:

Friday, 18 October 2013

FSO - Clouds

Around these parts typical summer maximum temperatures range from 22 to 26 degrees celsius (71 - 78 F) , but seldom exceed 30.  So we don't have enough heat to brew up really good storms, and its storm clouds that I really like.  (We do get lots of rain - average annual rainfall is between 1,500mm - 2,200 mm (60 - 78 inches). )

My favourite clouds are the fluffy littlies that you see scattered in a clear blue summer sky:

All my photos today, except for the last sunset which was captured of the hills of home from a distance, are taken here on the farm.  

In summer we always look up for signs of rain:

Nope, not after red at night:

This cloud is almost identical to one I photographed around this time last year, in the same part of the sky, too.  I often see similar shapes, they remind me of a winged Miss Piggy.

The hills of home.

 I have a feeling choosing the Spotlights this week may be a difficult task.  I'll be visiting all the FSO team members and looking at clouds around the world here.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Chase is a huntaway

 Occasionally I am reminded that I've lived in rural NZ for so long I've forgotten all the differences between Kiwi rural folk and the rest of the world.  When I first arrived on a NZ farm talk of eye dogs and huntaways was about as lost on me as was talk of hoggets and two tooths.   A sentance such as this would have have had my eyes rolling in my head and probably my tongue lolling as well.  

"The policy on most New Zealand sheep farms is to pre-tup shear two tooths in late February/early March two to four weeks prior to mating."

So when I talk about going to choose a pup, I forget that most people think I'm talking about choosing a pet, whereas choosing a working farm dog is what I think about.  

A good farm dog is worth its weight in gold, even on a dairy farm where they aren't required to do a lot of work or to be highly skilled.  The cows quickly get used to walking to and from the dairy to be milked and don't need a lot of encouragement to find their way to and from the dairy shed.  But occasionally the dairy farmer wants a dog to go "Woof" as it follows behind the cows to hurry them along a bit.  Or, when it's time to bring the cows into the shed for milking he might want to send the dog into the paddock to tell them it's time to move and to have a run around the paddock to make sure some cunning old biddy isn't hiding in a back corner.  So a dog with a good "woof" is a bonus.

Farm dogs in NZ are often bred specifically for working purposes. The New Zealand Huntaway (also known as the New Zealand sheep dog) has been bred solely for the purpose of sheep herding, and makes a good dog for dairy farms.  It doesn’t have strict rules about its parentage (unlike many other dog breeds) and they can vary widely in looks. Most are black and tan, and are well built. Farmers prefer mixed colours or tan to solid black because they are easier to see in the distance.

We chose little Chase from her sisters because of her solid build and her lovely black and tan colouring. We also checked that she had dark soles on her feet, a sign that she's not likely to get footsore.  

Some would consider the Huntaway to be a mongrel, as it is bred from a number of dogs, possibly including Bloodhounds, Labradors, Beardies, German Shepherds, Fox Hounds, and Border Collies. There is definitely a fair bit of Border Collie in Chase as that's what her mother is.  So we would expect her to be smart and have a good bark.

After a couple of days at home she was just chilled; a lazy, chubby bundle.  But before anyone else assumes she has been mistreated, our neighbour, a vet, tells us that is a sure sign of a huntaway pup. They are usually friendly dogs but despite their friendliness, they usually only work for one person, and it's my theory that females are more loyal.

My son's current farm dog, Jack is getting old, very old.  He has to be lifted onto the farm bike and it seems he has dementia, he often forgets what he is doing and wanders off.  He has one last duty to perform - let little Chase follow him and learn the ropes.

And if Chase isn't cut out to be a ridgy didge huntaway, she will make a lovely farmily pet.  My old mate, Lewey's breeding meant he should have been a fearless cattle dog but he has hopeless, absolutely and totally hopeless with cattle.   But he was a first rate pet.                                

Monday, 14 October 2013


She's being adored and fussed over.  She wears a sparkly red collar.  I'm not sure if that is exactly the right start for a farm working dog.

Does she know we are all waiting to see if she knows how to bark?  I swear she's the most chilled pup I've ever seen.  Placid doesn't seem placid enough.

The swallows have arrived back and are already busy building their nests in the little old shed out the back.  They seem much plumper than usual, looks like they have had a good migration.

I've kept my hands busy over the weekend.  We have a 40th party coming up and, my family being as it is, there's a fancy dress theme. 

Saturday, 12 October 2013


Six little bundles of gorgeousness, five oohing and aahing females.  But only one can be taken home.
This one?

 No, this one!  Please, can we have this one!
And the one we came home with:

We should know in a few months if we made the right decision. 

Friday, 11 October 2013

FSO - Handwriting

You all know how I love the little wooden churches of the north where I live, right?  I can't see a new one without wanting to go inside.  There is nearly always something to surprise.

Heading north along the west coast in the Hokianga, a few miles up a side road (9.27 kms to be precise, you can tell by the property number) is the tiny St Barnabas, Waimamuku.  And just inside the door, is the record book.  You can see it's a while since I was last there.

 Further north, at Awanui, right beside State Highway 1, was a bible that surely must be valuable, sitting on the pulpit in an unlocked church.

And, at the back of the same church was a handwritten letter from a tourist who had stopped there to pray:

 Back in the Hokianga there was an example of handwriting as art.  The words are on an old door.

By an east coast harbour:

Anyone into palmistry?  Here's my life written in my hand.

What about graphology?  Although you may prefer to analyse what I write rather than how I write it.  Can you guess that there is one person I work with who drives me to distraction and I often need to breath deeply and chant "I am a Rock" (and your water just flows around me) or "I do not give you the power" (to drive me nuts).

 But, wait, I have a favourite handwriting - little grandson:

 A close second - a grand-daughter.  My four grand-daughters prepared the cocktails for Christmas Dinner last year.  I can assure you the Merry Berry Blast was deliciouus but the Snoopys Soda needs a bit more work.

As often happens a topic I have been dreading turns out to be relatively easy and very enjoyable.  Why not have a look at what the rest of the FMTSO team has come up with.  The are here.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

I'm going straight

I think I have posted one tipsy photo too many.  To be honest, the last thing I'm thinking about when taking a photo is whether I am holding the camera straight.  For an amateur like me there are enought other things to be thinking about.  But, it seems, it annoys Adrian

So I've resolved to check the camera is straight - or only take photos where no one will spot the difference.  I just haven't taken many this week to get in some practise.

I stopped on the way home today to move a branch from across the road.  That fence is falling over,  it's not me.

Not too sure if I got this one right but I did take great care:

So, if you spot crooked photos, please remind me to straighten up.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Let's finish that trip

One wild and windy day, we explored as far Hicks Bay at the tip of East Cape but we explored slowly and enjoyed what we saw.  We set out to see the church in the background but stopped to visit the beach, then saw this little graveyard.

Then wandered on to the beach to marvel at the driftwood.  I've never seen so much on a beach.  If we lived closer I would have loaded up a lot of it and brought it home. 

Obviously the local children find it good fun to play with:

 I did bring home two pieces, one of which Georgia took an immediate liking to and turned it into a gift for her cousin.

We didn't linger a lot on our way home but did stop for lunch and to walk around Opotiki.  A little church on main street caught my eye and, of course, I just had to have a look.  It's true, you never know what you will find inside a church.  Each little church is different and has its own flavour.

 Mission Church of Hiona Saint Stephen's

I always get a little thrill when I see something I've never seen before.  Not sure what this says about the parishioners but it gave me a smile.

But what really caught my eye was this:

That's something I haven't seen before.

As Chris and I were heading for home we were discussing how some of the people we had met would not exactly take top marks for hospitality.  There was a sort of wariness about some of the local people towards us "tourists", a stranger danger sort of thing.

We joked that the lady at the cafe at Te Araroa could easily take a unit of a Kiwi Host course for the locals.  And her 12 year old son could also provide a unit on customer service.

We'd arrived mid afternoon and a lad was packing up the tables and chairs outside the cafe.  We asked were we too late for lunch and, with the most beautiful smile you could imagine, he told us no, go on in and "do your order."  The cook could be seen in the background as we approached the counter and, because we were so late, we asked what was easy. 

"It's all easy!"  she replied with a smile that matched the one we had received outside.

We ordered fish and chips and sat outside reading the paper in a sunny courtyard.    The lad who had been outside soon appeared as our waiter with my order.  He told Chris with a smile that hers wouldn't be long, "She's still working on it."  The courtesy and friendliness offered by that lad was absolutely second to none.  It was something you can't teach, it's something you learn at your mother's knee.  If you want the pleasure of being served by this lad, you must call there on a Sunday, that's the only day he works to help Mum out.

And the fish and chips were first rate, best I can remember having.  That lady knows a thing or two about batter.

Friday, 4 October 2013

FSO - Another Place from a Visitor's Perspective

I first blogged about Alan Gibbs' farm in December, 2009.  I said then my preferred route to Auckland was not via State Highway One but rather the less popular SH16 which twists and turns, following the Kaipara Harbour most of the way.  I still prefer to have a second rate road to myself than to share a first rate road with others.  Still prefer the road less travelled.
One of the big attractions for me about SH16 is the 1,000 acre property, modestly named Gibbs Farm, owned by millionaire Alan Gibbs.  He bought the windswept site in 1991. Since then, he has commissioned sculptures featuring original works by local and internationally renowned artists. 
My fascination with the place has been growing since 2001 when a huge wall appeared on the landscape.  I now know it's dimensions - 252 metres longs x 6m x 50mm, made from 56 Corten steel plates.  It has always looked huge to me and now that I've stood beside it, I am even more impressed by it.  And it leans out by 11 degrees from the vertical.  And, contrary to how it looks from the road, it has beautiful sensual curves.   

I had been so thrilled when my friend Chris announced she had gained access for us to an Open Day at the farm.  That was late 2012.  I can still clearly remember how excited I was, I even tried to prepare myself for a little disappointment - surely nothing could live up to my expectations.   
Hah!  It was even better than I expected! 
I was so impressed by everything I saw at the farm.  Although it's so much more than a farm.  The farm it used to be didn't warrant a second look.  Believe me, I know, I've driven past that place regularly over many years.  Since falling into Mr Gibbs' hands it has become a place of beauty.  It's a sculpture park like no other.  The scale of the sculptures are deceptively disguised by the scale of the landscape but approaching them on foot, they grow and become more and more impressive as you draw near.  The size of some of them just took my breath away.  I felt dizzy looking to the top of the one I've known as the steel struts for the past year or so. Eash of the 8 pieces of Corten steel are 27 metres long, 0.75m square.

Thanks to Rebecca's photos of the quarry - they reminded me of this sculpture:

And that reminded me of the perfect place to take all my visitors this weekend.
To say thank you to Alan Gibbs falls way short. He allows the public to visit, for free, by prior appointment, about once a month.  It blows me away that I've visited one of the world's leading sculpture parks - and it cost me nothing.  I've been up close to monumental art works by some of the world's most famous artists - and I only had to travel an hour or so. 
Hope you enjoyed the visit.  You will notice a few other people in some of the shots.  We figured, from the number of cars in the carpark, that there were well over a thousand people there.  But at no stage did we feel crowded, the landscape seemed to swallow many or they looked like dots in the distance.
I look forward to some virtual travel this week visiting lots of new places.  They will be here.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

And then it rained some more

Already it seems like ages ago but it was only a week or so ago that we had more rain.  More heavy rain.  One night we drove into town through pouring rain to watch Georgia perform in a school concert.

Heather commented that if it kept up like that we might have trouble getting back home.  But luckily the creek came up over the road and went back down again during the time we were in town. 

Last weekend all sign of the flooding had disappeared when Georgia accompanied a friend and I on a walk around the farm.  Like the outfit?  Remember back when a pair of pants around your head and a piece of material around the waist could transform you into a princess or a super model?  Shame you can't see the high heeled boots, they really set the outfit off beautifully.

The next day the girls and I went to vist a niece and her new baby.  Ahh, that new born baby smell, there's nothing quite like it.

We took a detour on the way home to see the new mural on the public toilets in Maungaturoto.  I was really impressed and thankful that I'd heard about them while attending a funeral during the week.  Yes, well you might wonder at the strange topic of conversation at a funeral.  I can't say anything nasty about the person who told me because I have her booked to speak at my funeral.  I mean it, Jo.

 Other news while I've been missing - Georgia and I have had our second batch of chickens hatch out today.  The first batch appeared while I was down the East Cape so today's hatching felt like a "first" for me.  Here's one of them in Georgia's small hand, they are bantams so the chicks are really tiny.

And here's the two that hatched three weeks ago.  They have grown so quickly.

 I'm afraid I have a long way to go before I master chook photography.