What to do with Fe-affected stock
THIS CAN be a dilemma as unless you get a GGT test done, you won’t know how badly FE has affected your stock. Research has shown that if there are 10% clinically-affected FE animals in a mob (that is, you can see symptoms like swollen eyes or flaking skin), then at least 80% will be sub-clinically affected with damaged livers and they will never be any good for breeding or long-term growth.
Putting affected stock into sale yards is against the law, and if you send them direct to the works, they will be condemned. You may be in for a surprise as any sign of jaundice – which you may not see in sheep – will cause them to be condemned too.
If you want to keep Fe-affected stock, be prepared for deaths in spring when they lamb and calve, and when the strain of lactation hits them. Cattle are especially prone to milk fever and ewes will produce dead, often mummified lambs, even if they have large fat stores in their bodies (which they cannot use due to their damaged livers).
You’ll have to face the hard truth about getting rid of them before winter for no return, or keeping them to see how many survive. If they produce good offspring, count that as a bonus, but you’ll need to make some hard decisions. Treating them after the fact with zinc is far too late, but take veterinary advice on this for welfare reasons.
THERE ARE ANY NUMBER of compelling reasons to build a barn-style home. They are open and spacious. A Customkit home/barn can truly reflect your unique taste, personality and lifestyle…not theirs. Unlike some other housing companies they offer the flexibility to decorate or finish the inside as you want.
For Annie and Mark Forrest nothing beats their Matakana Black Barn for allowing the freedom of expression. Especially for Annie, a floral designer and environment creator by trade, throwing off the shackles of constraints that some house plans lock you into is an essential part of enjoying her home.
“I like to do ‘different’ things. The bolder it is, the better. It’s important to keep things fresh and moving with your designs – if you get stale it is time to move on or take a break. I love to keep re-inventing the wheel.”
“In that sense our Customkit-designed Black Barn house is marvellous. You can use your own style and special things that you treasure. You don’t have to be homogenised into a ‘look’ anyone can achieve. I mix old and new to create something that is unique and individual.”
“The basic barn structure on the outside provides so much creative flexibility on the inside.”
Making the decision to find an affordable place to live that was still within commuting distance to Auckland prompted Mark and Annie to go North. They fell in love with the Black Barn and a week later bought the property. The basic structure was already in place but there was the ability to expand and extend the house to allow new spaces and places to be developed.
“We converted the existing bedrooms into a living space. When we moved in we had just one huge open barn with a small lounge only. We built two bedrooms downstairs as well as a bathroom.
Upstairs we put in a king-sized bed plus areas for storage. We sectioned off other rooms ending up with open plan living, dining and kitchen flowing off onto the courtyard which is great.”
“The barn was already black which fits in so well in a rural environment. We painted the inside walls with a Resene white as this is the perfect backdrop for art. Little surprises of colour also delight the senses, such as the green feature wall in the bathroom, and the hallway chalked with welcoming messages on the walls (painted in Resene Blackboard Paint).”
“Overall I have accentuated that fact that the style of our home is a barn. It is playful and colourful and has lots of industrial vintage finds that we got from demolition yards. It has lovely polished concrete floors that give it a bit of an urban look. We’ve also integrated materials that enhance the barn look such as rough sawn timber. It is funky, really cosy and you don’t feel like you’re living in a barn at all.”
As many Customkit customers have found, the flexibility and freedom to create individual and unique living spaces is a very clear benefit of their building approach. The sky is the limit in what can be achieved and the company is open 24 hours to ideas and areas of expression to make people’s home/barns wonderful places to live.
The camera-shy chooks are let out at lunchtime into a controlled space, skedaddling past as John Mclean begins the guided tour of his garden. The vegetable beds are inside separate fenced areas with interconnecting gates. When the flock finish eating out a garden bed, the couple let them in to scratch around and help prepare the soil for the next planting.
John, an accomplished artist, and wife Chris have lived for 30 years almost self-sufficiently at Mimi Farm in North Taranaki. It’s no surprise that his first foray into writing, a wonderfully illustrated book entitled, The Farmer’s Wife and the Farmer: a painted New Zealand Odyssey, should be firmly anchored in the land and the raw realities of farming practices.
“We usually have about a dozen hens, but hatch chickens under a broody hen and keep the rooster quota out of that until they start crowing, at which time I wring necks and pop them in the freezer,” John says. “Five have just begun yodelling in the last couple of days which is a mistake on their part.”
As the tour continues, pumpkin plants tumble along the ground all around you. There are cucumbers and zucchinis, tomatoes, celery, kale, massive cabbages and caulis, herbs, kumara, carrots, corn, peas and potatoes. There are blueberries, apricots, strawberry beds, oranges mandarins, feijoas, pears, and persimmons laden with orange flowers.
The self-sufficiency practices carry over
wetlands, the last of their conservation planting.
“When we came here there wasn’t a tree on the property so we planted thousands all around the river and the little inlet and down the banks. We did that all off our own bat and then in the last few years regional council has provided trees, which has been really good,” Chris says.
Almost everything they’ve planted is native, apart from some avocados which grew like weeds from stones they threw down the bank. The estuarine is all natives, and they have found some specialized coastal species growing there, including native celery, sea primrose, pingao, shore lobelia and tree daisy.
The regional council designates the estuary as a place of special significance John says.
“They recognize that it is very rare to have an estuary that hasn’t been built all around due to lack of access.”
The tree planting brought an abundance of bird life, including a lot of special guests when the kowhai and flaxes are in bloom.
“We have tui like blowflies around the place,” says John.
Kereru, bellbirds, fantails and hawks abound, there are shining cuckoos, grey
months off school.”
John returned to work, teaching art part time at a high school and doing “sundry jobs to make a crust.” But most importantly, he started painting seriously, and spent recuperative time with artist Michael Smither in his studio.
In 1978 the Mcleans moved to their first small cottage down the road from Mimi Farm. They were driven by need to engage in a self-sufficient lifestyle by their limited income and having three children to raise.
Then an art gallery owner spotted John’s work, held some exhibitions and his career as an artist began to take off. John has exhibited and sold works both internationally and throughout New Zealand.
The farm, landscape and country characters of North Taranaki inspire his imagery. Blending everyday realities with his imagination through experimental painting processes, John’s work has a mythical quality that resonates with universal themes of human endeavour.
In his book, John takes readers through the New Zealand landscape with Constance and Thomas on their separate journeys of self-discovery. They encounter some strange folk – a traveller on his white horse, Cloud, a lost tribe, a blind boatman and his sighted twin – a process that proves as transformational as the life story of John their creator. n