Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Morning Ride

Today the weather is great!  The sky is clear blue and there is little wind.  The area where we live is very flat so it's great for cycling.  When the weather is nice I often go for a ride in the evenings, but today I went in the late morning.  The temperature was about 20 degrees. 

If you ever want to know what my weather is like you can click this link:


Lots of crops are grown near our house.  In this picture you can see young 'maize' plants.  Maize is very similar to corn but it's bigger and not sweet.  It's used mainly for animal food.  Large paddocks are planted in maize, it's harvested in autumn.  A lot of sweet corn is grown here too.

Last month it didn't rain much.  We usually have about 75mm of rain in October, but this year we only had about 25mm.  In this photo you can see an irrigator watering small tomato plants.  Many old farmers think we are going to have a hot, dry summer.  They are usually right!


Recently I found this interesting page.  It lists the 100 most-frequently occuring words in English.  On average they make up 50% of the words used in writing:

It might be useful to you to see if you know and can use them all!

Friday, 26 October 2012

Vegetable Gardening


As well as growing fruit, we love growing vegetables too.  My wife is a better vegetable gardener than I am.  These gardens are called 'raised beds'.  In winter it's very wet here.  The soil gets too damp to grow vegetables in the ground.  Raised beds are great, you can grow vegetables all year round.  Raised beds also warm up quickly in spring.  In summer they need to be watered often as they dry out quickly.

Last month we decided to make some more garden beds for summer vegetables.  In this garden we're growing zucchini, tomatoes and peppers.  We want to be healthier and I believe eating lots of vegetables is important.  We can't grow all our vegetables, on a Saturday morning I visit a vegetable market in town.  I hope we can one day grow all the vegetables we need!  I think we'll make more and more gardens in our yard. =)

Here is one of my best friends in the garden.  In spring you can hear bees buzzing everywhere.  This one is pollinating a boysenberry flower.  All our citrus trees are flowering at the moment.  The garden is full of bees and the sweet scent of citrus blossoms.


You can see the bees have been very busy here!  These boysenberries are beginning to swell and darken.  In about six weeks they should be ready to eat.  I will put some netting over them so the birds don't eat them before we do!


wish / hope

Many English learners have trouble with these little words!

'Wish' has two main uses:

1. You would like to change something that happened in the past:

- I wish I hadn't eaten all that cake!
- I wish you hadn't bought that ugly phone.

2.  You want something to happen in the future but it's unlikely:

- I wish it would stop raining! (The forecast is bad)
- I wish I could win the race tomorrow. (I'm not a good runner)

* 'wish' is also sometimes used as a polite form of 'want' *

 - I wish to leave early in the morning.
-  I wish you a Merry Christmas. (I want you to have a Merry Christmas)

'Hope' expresses a want for something to happen that is more likely. 

- I hope you enjoy your birthday party! 
- I hope I win the race tomorrow. (I'm a good runner.)

I hope you understood my explanation!

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Docking Time!

We have about 2 hectares of land.  Most of it is divided into grass paddocks.  To keep the grass short we have sheep.  We have 10 ewes (adult female sheep) and a ram (adult male).  In spring, the ewes give birth.  It's a nice time of year.  Watching the lambs run around is very cute!  This year we have 15 lambs.  Yes, ewes often give birth to twins.  Sometimes they even have triplets!

After all the lambs have been born it's time for docking.  Docking means removing the lambs' tails.  It sounds unkind but it's very important.  If lambs aren't docked their tails get very dirty.  Flies can lay eggs there and the hatching maggots can .... well, it's not nice to think about! 

Children love 'helping' at docking time.  Thom found a nice place for a rest!

To dock the lambs, a small rubber band is placed at the base of their tail.  After a few weeks the tail just drops off.  A little while after docking, the lambs are fine and eating again.  It's not painful for long.  In January we sell most of our lambs.  By then it's the middle of summer and we don't have much grass.  I hope this summer is warm but not too dry!


lamb's / lambs'

Possessive apostrophes with plurals can seem difficult!   The rule is:

First make the noun into its plural form then add the apostrophe. 

lamb > lambs > lambs'

- A lamb is a baby sheep. (singular)

- The lambs have tails. (plural)

- The lambs' tails get docked. (possessive plural)

Some plurals don't end in 's' like children.  You add an s after the apostrophe:

child > children > children's

- Some people have one child. (singular)

- We have two children. (plural)

- The children's school is close by. (posessive plural)

Wednesday, 17 October 2012


These are our chickens!  They live in a coop beside my orchard.  Sometimes they lay lots of eggs, but sometimes they get 'broody'.  Broody means they stop laying eggs and just sit on the nest boxes.  We don't like buying eggs from the supermarket.  We would rather eat 'free range' eggs because the eggs are tastier and the chickens can live a happier, more natural life.  You can buy free range eggs at the supermarket, but they are quite expensive. 

Last weekend my wife bought three new 'pullets'.  Pullets are young hens which haven't started laying yet.  These ones are about eight weeks old.  They are a cross between 'Rhode Island Red' and 'Buff Orpington' chicken breeds.  Both breeds produce lots of eggs so these pullets should too!

Both my children love small animals.  After school they often go and sit with the chickens.  I think it's good for children to learn to care for pets.  They learn how to be gentle and kind.  These pullets are quite tame, they're very cute.  Grow up and lay lots of delicious eggs! 


rather / rather not

You can use 'rather' and 'rather not' to show a preference.  Here are some examples:

- I would rather go to the beach than go to a movie.
- He would rather eat dango than look at flowers.
- Would you rather have the tea or coffee?

'rather not'
- I'd rather not wear that hat.
- I'd rather not lend him more money!

Sometimes 'rather' can mean 'quite' so you need to be careful!

- It is rather windy today.
- That watch is rather expensive!

Tuesday, 16 October 2012


My children go to Makauri School.  It's only about three minutes drive from our house.  We take them to school and collect them by car each day.  Makauri School is a 'primary school'.  In New Zealand, children start school when they are five years old.  After about six years at a 'primary school', they go to an 'intermediate school' for two years, then 'high school'.

Most schools in New Zealand, even in cities, have large fields.  Children love playing on the grass when the weather is nice.  Makauri School has about 190 pupils.  There is lots of room for them to have fun.  There are also many trees and other places to play.  I am glad they can go to such a nice school. 

It's the middle of spring now and the weather is warming up.  Today the temperature is expected to reach 23 degrees.  That's great!  Goodbye Thom, have a great day at school!


'similar' / 'different'

What are schools like where you live?  In what ways are they similar?  How are they different? 

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Good bug, bad bug!

This is a photo of my biggest apple tree.  The blossoms have nearly all gone.  The bees have been working hard, lots of small apples are growing.  I don't like using 'pesticides' in my garden.   Pesticides are sprays which kill insects.  I don't like to spray but if I don't, moth caterpillars will eat the apples and pears.  I know spraying will kill other insects too.  That always makes me a bit sad.

I found this wonderful bug sitting on an orange leaf.  In English it's called a ladybird or ladybug.  Ladybugs are great, they eat many harmful insects.  They especially like aphids.  Insects which help in the garden are called 'beneficial insects'.  We try and attract them by growing plants they like to live in.

In these buckets we make our own 'fertilizers'.  A fertilizer is something which helps plants to grow.  On the left is 'seaweed tea'.  I made it by going to the beach and collecting some seaweed.  The seaweed rots in the bucket making a really good natural fertilizer.  Yes, it smells terrible!  On the right is animal manure tea.  It is made in the same way of sheep, chicken and donkey manure.  It smells bad too!

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Spring Show

Every year the Spring Show comes to Gisborne.  It's an important day!  Children love going to the show.  There are lots of fun rides and good things to eat.  There are also small animals for children to see and touch.  I took this photo from the top of the ferris wheel! 

The Spring Show is important for farmers too.  There is new farm machinery to look at and old friends to meet.  There are also competitions in horseriding, shearing and dog handling.  Many local businesses set up tents to attract customers.  It is a very busy place. 

The weather was great today and we had lots of fun.  We usually go early so it isn't too busy.  My son Thom really loves eating.  Here he is eating a hotdog.  It's a fried sausage in batter with tomato sauce.  They are popular in New Zealand but not very healthy!

We had a great day in the sun.  When I was a child I loved going to the show.  It is nice to see my children enjoying it now too. 

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Farm Holiday

In New Zealand children have a two-week holiday in Spring.  In the holidays my children often visit my wife's parents.  They live on a large farm.  The farm has thousands of sheep and cattle.  It's about one-and-a-half hour's drive from our home.  My children love going there.

In winter the farm is very cold but in spring it becomes warm.  It can be very hot in summer.  The large building is the sheepyards.  Farmers bring sheep into the sheepyards for many reasons.  Sometimes they are shorn, sometimes they are loaded onto trucks and sold. 

The farm has many beautiful views.  It's a good place to take photos.  We all enjoy climbing the hills but it is very tiring!  I'm glad my children had a nice holiday.  Next week school begins again.  The next holidays are in December for about six weeks.  It's our summer holiday. =)

Tuesday, 9 October 2012


Gisborne is on the Eastern side of the North Island. There are about 40000 people in Gisborne. The climate is quite good. Summer is warm and winter is not too cold. Sometimes the summers are very hot and dry. Gisborne is famous for its beaches and also for producing very good wine.

Today I went to the library. Although Gisborne is small, the library is quite good! I often go to the library with my children but today I went alone. I usually borrow recipe books and books about travel. Today I borrowed some books about teaching English. I want to learn to be a good English teacher!

Do you like to go to the library?   What kinds of books do you like?



Do you use 'but' too often? You can use 'although' instead of 'but' like this:

It was raining but we still went to the beach.
Although it was raining, we still went to the beach.

It's easy, put 'Although...' at the start, remove 'but' and put a , instead. =)

Here are some more examples:

The test was difficult but we tried our best.
Although the test was difficult, we tried our best.

The food was expensive but it wasn't very tasty.
Although the food was expensive, it wasn't very tasty.

Can you make a sentence like this?  If you post one below, I will check it.

See you next time!

Tolaga Bay

Last weekend the weather was very nice so we went to a beach called 'Tolaga Bay'.  It takes about an hour to get there from our home.  Tolaga Bay is famous for its wharf.  The wharf is over 600 metres long, it's the longest in New Zealand!  The beach at Tologa Bay is nice too.

We like to go fishing off the wharf.  We make fishing lines from sticks.  This is my daughter Lyra.  She is nearly 8 years old.  Last time we went there she caught a small fish but not this time.  Even if you don't catch any fish it's still fun. 

Some other people were fishing on the wharf too.  A woman caught a crayfish on a fishing line!  She was very surprised!


.... is famous for....

Gisborne is famous for its wine.

Tolaga Bay is famous for its long wharf.

New Zealand is famous for its scenery.

What is your city or country famous for?

Sunday, 7 October 2012

My Orchard

This is my little orchard. My orchard is behind my house. I like to grow many different kinds of fruit.  I started planting fruit trees five years ago. I plant a few new trees every year. 

In my orchard I grow many kinds of fruit.  I grow peaches, apricots, cherries, apples, oranges, mandarins, pears, plums, grapes and berries. I think it is good to grow fruit. Growing things makes you feel good.   Also fresh fruit is healthy and delicious!  At the supermarket fruit is expensive and sometimes not very fresh.  My dog's name is Cho.  She likes the orchard too =)

In New Zealand it is spring. There are still some blossoms on the trees. These are apple blossoms.  I think they are very pretty.  I hope my trees produce lots of tasty fruit this year! Most kinds of fruit are ripe in summer.

Last month I made some little flower gardens in my orchard. I hope they provide food for insects and look pretty. Insects are important, they pollinate the flowers and help control pests. 

I love to eat boysenberries. What is your favourite fruit?

* * *

"Growing things makes you feel good."

'.....makes you feel good' is a useful phrase.  Here are some more examples:

Helping a friend makes you feel good.

Swimming in the sea makes you feel good.

Learning new things makes you feel good.

Being kind makes you feel good.

What makes you feel good?