Animals & biodiversity

Humans have a nasty habit of displacing or exterminating any organism that doesn't provide an obvious short term benefit. We now know that biodiversity is the key to a healthy, functional and resilient ecosystem.

By including and encouraging a diverse range of plants, animals and insects we produce systems that are naturally harmonious and balanced and therefore require less human management and are less susceptible to climatic fluctuation and pest invasion.

Animals are a vital component of any natural system and it would be impossible to exclude them entirely. Larger animals, while not without their benefits, require a fair amount of care and attention. In addition the bigger they are the more space and food they require and generally have a bigger impact on their surrounding environment. Since we are currently establishing a large number of young trees this excludes us from any of the larger animals at this time.


Gibson (the cat)

Gibson (the cat)

Our apex or primary predator, Gibson is responsible for managing rat and mice populations. Having a healthy, well fed alpha feline around helps deter other undesirable predators such as feral cats and mustalids.

Originally from a suburb in Christchurch, Gibson has become a real farm cat since his move to blockhill. His favourite outdoor activities include going on bush walks, hunting, and tree climbing. He also enjoys his time inside with activities such as eating and sleeping. Gibson likes to be where the action is and often will participate in chores such as gardening and feeding the chooks, though he tends to get distracted and ends up hunting or tree climbing instead. Gibson loves the country life.
The enemy of my enemy is my friend

The enemy of my enemy is my friend

March 2020
Over the past few years we (and others out there) have been experiencing an explosion in the number of green shield / vegetable / stink bugs (Nezara viridula). We try and be accommodating to the various other creatures we share the world with, however these things are especially annoying with the damage they do to summer vegetables and fruit. In particular we find they enjoy tomatoes, beans and corn with lesser damage done to capsicums and fruit.

While there are a number of documented predators of this insect the only ones I have actually seen in action are poultry and spiders.

A year or two back I introduced a juvenile bug to a small jumping spider who quickly pounced and commenced feeding. More recently some visiting students noticed a decent sized wolf spider (Lycosidae) lunching on an adult shield bug.

It's reassuring to witness the local ecosystem operating to maintain balance and equilibrium. As the population or one organism increases so does the opportunities for their predators. Knowing this it is essential that our gardens provide adequate and appropriate habitats for these various helpers. And while our tendency for binary, black and white thinking makes us quick to label species as friends or foe we should take a moment to contemplate that, just like humans, other organisms have multiple roles to play, giving and taking as they participate in the dance of life.

January 2021
So far this summer, which has been punctuated by many brief cool and rainy periods, we have seen very few of the green stink bug. Plenty of other flying insects around, including as small wasp I noticed exploring calendula seed clusters, a popular location for freshly hatched shield bugs.

March 27, 2020
A plague of rats

A plague of rats

What with an abundance of edibles and great places to hide at blockhill there has been something of an epidemic of rats. While we are generally happy to share with all the creatures it gets a little concerning when they can be heard chewing on things in the ceiling. Fearing our water pipes and electric cabling might be damaged we decided to push back. With a little help from Victor we were soon dispatching rats (also named Victor) daily.
August 15, 2019
  rat  pest 
Trees for animal fodder

Trees for animal fodder

By now it should be obvious that we need more trees in our landscapes, however inconvenient that may seem. The benefits are numerous. Using trees for supplementary animal feed is a smart strategy in drought prone areas. This includes:
  • Fresh leaves / foliage
  • Fruits and berries
  • Nuts and seeds
Once established, trees are long lived with a deep root system capable of funding moisture in dry times. Large volumes of edible material can be produced, along with all the other benefits provided by appropriate species of trees.
September 04, 2018
  trees  animals 
Banjo is her name

Banjo is her name

Details  It seemed like a good idea (at the time) to get a puppy. Banjo is fox terrier / jack russell cross and bursting with energy and an insatiable need to chew on things.
Date  March 09, 2017
Native pigeon - kereru

Native pigeon - kereru

There are a number of these attractive and clumsy birds that frequent our orchard. They seem to enjoy feasting on the buds and blossoms of the plum trees in particular. In this case he perched in the top of a young almond tree.
It's clear that (like humans) the native birds are happy to eat whatever is available and tastes good. We find the kereru love tagasaste flower buds and cherry plums. As our forest garden matures and the amount of flowers and fruit increases, so does the bird population. Who would have thought.
August 24, 2013
Little brown frog

Little brown frog

Often heard, never seen, this little creature has been chirping away quite frequently since our wetland has matured.
I was surprised and excited to discover it hiding in the pile of bricks.
March 01, 2013
  frog 
Rota and Mowa the kunekune pigs

Rota and Mowa the kunekune pigs

Ready to move to the next level of small scale, high intensity land management, it's pig time.
We picked up a deal with some guy giving away these 6 month old kunekune girls.
Very friendly, seemingly live on grass and hopefully turns the ground for planting.
October 25, 2012
  pig  kunekune