Muscovy Ducks On The Farm

“What on earth is that?” exclaimed the tradie when he spotted the Muscovy duck sauntering past our gate last week. 

I laughed. We’re used to reactions like that when visitors first see the oversized birds that live in the paddocks around our farmhouse.

Muscovy ducks aren’t the most common farm birds in Southland, but they’ve become a bit of a hobby for us in the last few years. 

So what are Muscovies and how did they get to the farm just as I’d managed to become pet-free? Here’s how it happened.

Muscovy Ducks swimming on a farm duck pond.
Just a few of our Muscovy ducks swimming on the duck pond.
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Lambing Time: A Family Affair

A ewe nuzzles her tiny black lamb at lambing time

Rewritten and updated for lambing in 2019

Farming is an eight-days-a week job. It’s our livelihood but it’s also our life. So, when our kids were young they helped out on the farm whenever they could. When the lambs arrived we needed them most of all because, in Spring, farming is a family affair.

All Hands On Deck

Each year, when lambing began the kids fought for the chance to drive around the sheep with Dad. It was great fun spotting the new lambs in each paddock. They slid merrily out of the Toyota truck to get the gates and raced to return straying twins to their mothers. 

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Party On: Harvest Festival At The Hops

A pile of hops waiting to be picked.

Take 30+ curious beer aficionados and a bumper crop of hops. Throw in a delicious barbeque and a keg of Altitude Brewing’s best thirst-quenching brew. Mix with a dollop of music and you have yourself a recipe for the Garston Hops 2019 Hop-Picking Party.

The Big Hops Harvest Problem:

200 hop vines on two farms —  all of them covered in ripe, cone-shaped flowers. A tiny window of time in which to pick them —  and only two busy farmers both trying to juggle multiple farm jobs. The big hop companies have this process all mechanised, but we’re a tiny outfit, just starting out.

What to do?

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Shane Matheson: Training Horses With Love

Shane Matheson trains racehorses — pacers to be precise. I could say he does it in his spare time, but he really doesn’t have any.

I’ve never been to a racing stables before but I’m fascinated by the whole horse training process. So it was thrilling to visit Shane and his partner Lisa at their Balfour stables to find out what makes a racehorse trainer tick.

A Good Trainer Knows His Horses

Shane Matheson shares a quiet moment with his horse after training.
Shane Matheson shares a quiet moment with his horse Charlton Reactor after training.
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