Animals - Treating ears

Ear infections are one of the most common reasons for pet owners to consult with their vet. The condition becomes apparent when your pet constantly scratches its ears. Head shaking, reddening, scaling and swelling of the externally visible part of...... Read More


Have you ever felt that intense explosion of happiness associated with opening a parcel that far exceeded your expectations? I experienced that rush the other day when I took myself off to the farm of Mike and Fiona Francis to write this story on their...... Read More

Gardening - Creating compost

Compost making is one of the most important jobs you can do in gardening. Compost provides organic matter that supports beneficial soil organisms, which in turn suppress or kill soil-borne diseases and make nutrients more available to plants. Plants grown...... Read More

Wine - Great for grapes

Wow, what a cracker of a weekend we had at the start of November! There were moments when it struck me just how long it had been since I’d stared at a cloudless sky. NIWA’s outlook from now through to January is positive, with temperatures...... Read More

Beekeeping - Catching swarms

From October through to mid-December, beekeepers need to perform queen cell inspections as the bees’ natural swarming trait is at its strongest. The only way to stop your hive from swarming is to remove the queen cells. If bees are not removed...... Read More

Country Living - The crazy chook lady

Down the end of a dusty rural road, about as far from Auckland as you can get when you’re told you still live in Auckland, I am confronted by a sign on a gate that states: “This property is protected by a big black cock, enter at own risk.”...... Read More

Animals - Still battling bovis

During the autumn, to screen for the bacteria Mycoplasma bovis, bulk milk samples were collected every fortnight from milking herds throughout New Zealand. Testing of these samples was finally concluded in the last couple of weeks. Of the 693 dairy farms...... Read More

Gardening - Asian influences

As much as I welcome the arrival of spring, it is often a mixed blessing. The weather seesaws from one extreme to the other. Gardeners can only look on in horror as tender new growth and fragile blossoms are peppered by hail, blasted by wind and chilled...... Read More

Country Living - The naked truth on rural roads

So, what propels a middle-aged mother of five to strip naked in a pothole of soapy mud in the middle of winter? Is it community depravity, inequality or perhaps sheer madness? No, it’s a desperate cry for help and a confronting love letter to a...... Read More

Animals - The hunger games

I have just spent a day as a veterinarian with some of the officers of Northland’s Ministry of Primary Industries Animal Welfare Compliance team, investigating a complaint of skinny or underfed cattle. This raised two important points, which I would...... Read More