What does a forested valley


Brook Valley, Nelson. Photo: Alison Balance radionz

have in common with thisRIMG3511

and this?RIMG3499

Early 2002, I was walking up a forest track with Kirsty on our way to laying out a couple of forest survey plots in The Brook valley behind Nelson.

Aerial photo of Brook Valley, Nelson behind

Aerial photo of Brook Valley, Nelson behind. By NZConservationist (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

 Along the way we were accosted by a feebly bleating ball-sized goat. It wouldn’t quite let us catch it so I said we’d look for it on our way out. Several hours later it had moved further along the track and was even more desperately lonely. With a little coaxing I was able to scoop it up with one hand at which point it went to sleep in the crook of my elbow and stayed that way for the walk out, sleeping all the way to a Nelson vet for a check up.That was how we met Brooke.

Brook103 "Dobie-goat" (our reply when asked 'what kind of dog is that?' waiting to board a Cook Strait ferry

“Dobie-goat” (our reply when asked ‘what kind of dog is that?’ while waiting to board a Cook Strait ferry)

She was installed in a horsefloat on a farm at Paua-taha-nui for about a week until she worked out that she could run up walls. After several ferry crossings of Cook Strait we (and she) landed up here at Hestebu, where she taught us that goats


love company


have Houdini qualities


Go away, I came for the roses.


have hidden talents


Practicing for a Toyota ad. No Bull, OK just a little bull




Have a tendency to get into trouble


yoghurt and oats make a good facepack


Have a taste for adventure


are you sure there are no trolls?


but don’t like to get wet


Where’s the bridge? Stretching the legs by the Lewis R.



any shelter in a storm


Cast in a different moldBrookstove03


On an




Siesta time




That is until last week when she hadn’t been seen for a day…

So it fell to me to dig a hole in our drought stricken ground.  In a ‘Sand County Almanac’ Aldo Leopold reflects on how, in sawing an oak log for firewood each saw stroke is a journey back in time, so too in chipping a hole out of solid clay (a fairly mindless task) there is opportunity to reflect on the life that has past, the highs and lows, and what we learnt along the way.

It’s also a chance to look at the local soil profile, Mairaki silt loam has 1 spit of grey topsoil

mottling means poor drainage

mottling means poor drainage


followed by a partial iron pan and dense yellow stuff that goes on and on…


reddish brown patches are iron oxide nodules – is this what is meant by ‘bog iron’?


Last trip in a wheelbarrow and a spot in the Forbidden Ground (the orchard)

For more on stick animals check out


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