Views from the back ridge of our farm.

November 21, 2018
Panoramic view from the back ridge of our farm, November 2018
[Right-click on photo and choose ‘Open image in new tab’ to see it in depth.]

Now that the dry weather has set in for some time it is possible to take a 4WD vehicle all the way to the back of our farm. Recently I went for the ride with my camera and took eight photographs in sequence, using the zoom lens to home-in on the distant view, and have stitched these together, using Hugin, a free program in Linux, to form a panoramic view of the front part of the farm from the vantage point.

Here is a satellite view of the farm from Google Maps that corresponds roughly with the above view. The ridge-line from which the photographs were taken is clearly visible in the bottom, left section and the perspective was from close to the green belt stretching diagonally to the right from the ridge with the line of sight roughly corresponding to the long axis of the property, looking roughly north-east.

Satellite view of the farm.

The property is shown with the south-eastern boundary being along the pine hedge, with the back ridge clearly seen and the neighbouring house at the top edge of the map. The pine forest at the top, right, was cleared a couple of years ago and the debris left behind, plus copious growth of weeds, are seen instead.

  The light green in the middle of the scene is the fresh leaves on the poplar trees that stand about 100 feet tall and provide lots of welcome shade in the lower valley during the hot summer months. They produced large quantities of catkins on the ground as the leaves began to shoot in the late spring, followed by copious quantities of ‘cotton’ on the ground soon after. While some new plants grow from the roots these are kept in check by being browsed by our sheep which love eating the leaves.

If you could zoom in far enough in the panorama you could see the sheep lying in the shade of a mature Totara tree which is just below the horizon slightly to the left of the middle of the scene, while just to the right of that the tree-lined driveway into the property snakes down the central ridge-line towards the houses about a quarter of way through the length of the property.

The stream at the bottom of the valley runs through the middle of the property and is an intermittent stream that dries up in the middle of the summer. It has a catchment of about 15 hectares in the neighbouring property to the east which has a significant problem of erosion, dropping large quantities of silt in our two dams through which it passes, leaving the water constantly holding suspended particles of clay so that the water in the ponds are often brown and with visibility greatly reduced.

My garden is not visible in the panoramic view and is not shown in the Google Maps image which is several years out of date. It is situated near the middle of the farm on the south side of the stream on the only bit of nearly-level land on the property which is otherwise criss-crossed with valleys and ridges like all the surrounding area. We are about 15 kilometres from the sea and are in a high-wind zone. Sometimes the wind passing through the tree-tops has the intensity of sound of a freight-train!

I have been documenting the plants, animals, birds and insects found on our property at the iNaturalist web site and you can follow my postings there at https://inaturalist.nz/observations/pgtips91

So that’s a little bit of a description of our farmlet, all 9.3322 hectares of it.

Paul,

Tuesday, 20th November 2018

Nature Watching at Kaukapakapa.

March 5, 2018

A multitude of doves on the feeding shelf

A multitude of doves on the feeding shelf with a few sparrows waiting to jump into the gaps and Mynahs waiting their turn.

Here’s an introduction to my work on the Nature Watch web site : —

[Note: Since I first published this the web site has been changed from naturewatch.org.nz to inaturalist.nz. Some links may no longer work.
See my list of observed species at : —
https://inaturalist.nz/lists/245725-paul26s-Life-List%5D

I was introduced to the Nature Watch web site, http://naturewatch.org.nz, while attending a course on “Sustainable Agriculture” shortly after moving to our small farm near Kaukapakapa in March 2015 and was immediately hooked. I was enjoying being closer to nature, here on the farm, and being able to identify the various species I was seeing added enjoyment as well as a new interest to pursue at the end of each day.

We arrived on the farm at the Autumn Equinox in 2015 and will celebrate our third anniversary here in just over two weeks. Our tall Poplar trees already know that there is a change in the season upon us and have begun dropping their leaves. In the strong winds we had today the leaves are dropping in a steady stream and will soon litter our driveway in a thick layer.

There are a number of species of birds that find habitat on our farm. Some visit when trees offer them food, such as our cabbage trees, now in berry, our Karaka trees that had heavy crops of berries a month earlier and our Puriri trees that had their crop even earlier. Some species, like the doves that we feed on our bird-feeder each morning, are here year-round, and some, like the Welcome Swallows, come and go with the seasons. This year the swallows seem to have done very well with at least four nests observed inside man-made structures. Today, when approaching our implement shed I counted a dozen birds flying out of the shed. While I was watching them circling in the sky I saw a Hawk fly in closer than I have seen before, making the swallows dive into the trees for cover.

Then there’s the insect populations, from various forms of flies out in the fields, to the moths that love to fly inside after dark at night, attracted by the artificial lights, to the many forms of spider that festoon our house in their webs as well as inhabiting the wood-piles and the fields, with some special ones such as the Auckland tree weta that I found under a bucket after heavy rain and a Leopard Slug crossing our concrete driveway late at night when I was looking for possums.

Often at night I hear the hunting calls of the Morepork, though I have only seen and been able to photograph one on one special occasion shortly after our arrival.

Stats

124 taxa observed
39 plants
35 Birds
31 Insects
8 Arachnids
4 Mammals
2 Ray-finned Fishes
2 Reptiles
2 Amphibians
1 Mollusc

Here are some of my latest observations.

iNaturalist.org
Square Welcome Swallow

Date: Mar 05 2018
Place: Helensville, New Zealand
Square Hawk

Date: Mar 05 2018
Place: Helensville, New Zealand
Square poplars, cottonwoods, and aspens

Date: Mar 05 2018
Place: Helensville, New Zealand
Square New Zealand Pigeon

Date: Mar 05 2018
Place: Helensville, New Zealand
Square New Zealand Kingfisher

Date: Mar 03 2018
Place: Helensville, New Zealand

A Garden is a lovesome thing …

December 3, 2017

P1190181 - P1190188-GardenZone-1200x900This, believe it or not, is the proposed site of my garden. Looking West.

In the far-right, below the trees, is where I grew a few vegetables last summer after our two pigs had rooted up all the grass for me in preparation. Since then the sheep have grazed the grass close to the ground, exposing more of the felled trees that need to be cleared to make room for planting.

A secure, sheep-proof fence is the first requirement before trying to put anything into the ground. Most of the dead wood on the ground will be outside the fence but will be a valuable resource for building Hügelkultur beds, including, I hope, some raised garden beds, using some waste corrugated iron and corner timbers, with lots of wood at the base to provide drainage, biological fill, moisture-absorbing capacity as a preparation for the summer dry and limiting the amount of soil, compost and mulch that I need to put into the beds for the growing medium. Elsewhere I hope to create raised mounds with the wood buried below the topsoil to provide the same benefits without a formal surround.

We had a wet, wet spring and the garden area has only recently become dry enough to even think of putting anything in but we have lots of seedlings growing in our polytunnel near the house and everyone is getting keen on the idea of actually planting a garden.

Preparing the site for planting out.

Preparing the site for planting out.

Well that was  way back, starting from the end of July through to September. Here’s what the garden zone looked like mid-October.

View of the garden zone from the other side of the previous photograph. Looking East.

View of the garden zone from the other side of the previous photograph. Looking East.

Now we are half way through November. With a little help from family the garden is finally starting to take shape. Not in the way that I envisioned it but any progress is better than none. Unfortunately I started a project repairing the slatted floor of our shearing shed and it took such a long time to get that finished that the start of the garden got badly delayed. On the positive side, using our polytunnel and lots of seed trays to get seedlings started and potted on before transplanting into the garden has saved at least some of the lost time.

Seedlings potted on in the polytunnel

Seedlings potted on in the polytunnel

Still another view of the garden zone, looking South with the hill behind that brings so much wet into the garden area.

Still another view of the garden zone, looking South with the hill behind that brings so much wet into the garden area. Mid- November.

Well time has flown and there has been some progress in the garden but this blog entry is now getting too far behind the times to be relevant, so I will post and do another with the updated situation.

Nature Watch NZ Observations

May 29, 2017

P1050727-Morepork

Morepork stirred from its daytime slumbers by our cat. Date Taken: 2015:03:22 14:32:58

For some time I have been posting observations of wildlife on our farm at the Nature Watch NZ web site. My latest effort, which gives me a lot of pleasure, is that of our native owl, the Morepork.

Here’s the link to my latest post there :  Morepork

This photograph was taken the day after we moved onto the property after it was roused from its daytime slumbers by one of our three cats and I had the very unusual opportunity to take photographs in broad daylight. I have added, tonight, a sound recording of the more-frequently heard sound of their calls at night as they go about hunting for food in the dark.

Here’s the link to all my posts there.

It has been a lot of fun and hard work getting these observations but it helps that there is such a good web site where they can be organised and help given in the identification of species. It is good to have their scientific names and access to further information about the specie.

Paul

Sheep may safely graze

May 21, 2017

P1180659-600x450-KitchenView
Sheep peacefully grazing as seen from our kitchen window.

There is one thing about sheep that we have discovered though the school of hard knocks and that is they know how to get through fences. They look for a weakness and when one manages to get through the rest all follow. And once they know where a weakness is they always know to check it out when next they want to get through.

Back in the spring last year, I kept a couple of pigs in the area that was to be my garden and they did a great job of turning over the turf and rooting up the ground. They also sowed the area with seeds from the scraps they were fed. When they were gone the area sprang into life with multitudes of self-sown tomatoes, pumpkins, butter-nuts and maize. I put rounds of wood in an enclosing circle to protect some of these but otherwise just left them to their own devices until I reaped a crop off then in the early autumn. I had a portable electric fence to keep the pigs in and once they learned that they would get a shock if they went too close to the fence they respected it totally.

P1170029-1200x900-Garden

Bare earth after the pigs had rooted up all the grass, ready for my garden.

Not so the sheep. Given half a chance, when they were running out of feed, they would push the fence down and be in. Their wool gives them good insulation against the shock from the fence and they just ignore it when pressed hard enough.

I’ve been away for a few days during which time the sheep managed to invade the garden area and this morning I inspected the damage for the first time. It can only be described as a ‘scorched earth policy’. Where I had some silver beet that could have continued providing me with greens into the winter the sheep have eaten them so close to the ground that I could not tell where they had been! Likewise a few cabbage plants. I did find a small trace of a ginger plant I had growing but only when I looked carefully for it.

IMG_20170521_14004-1200x900

The same plot of ground, this time after the sheep had been in. Where I had silver beet and cabbages growing there is not a trace of where they had been.

Lesson learned: before starting any garden in the next spring I will have a good fence with sheep netting in place.

There is still beauty in nature: we have a gazebo by a pond with fringes of native bush. Growing in this area are some flowers that follow  each other through the seasons. Currently it is this bush of Red-hot-pokers.

IMG_20170521_1356-1200x900

Clump of red-hot-pokers.

IMG_20170521_1357-900x1200

Forage for birds and insects plus a delight to the eye.

Looking for more information about these red-hot-pokers indicates that they should be blooming in spring! I can see now that they are growing in quite the wrong place where they are as they should have full sunlight and dry ground but are in partial shade year round and very wet ground for much of the year.

This picture reminds me of some old photographs taken in a vacant section in Glenfield which was ablaze with these flowers, with flocks of small finches feeding on the nectar. Found! RedHotPokers and Finches feeding thereon.

So it seems, from the date on those old photographs, that these flower in late May in the Auckland region after all. Clicking on the ‘Info’ icon of the first in that series gives me this : —

Info : This lovely group of RedHotPokers, growing in a vacant building lot, attracted the attention of a flock of finches, and mine. May 30, 2007
Details :   Jun 3, 2007,3:57 PM,  104_1729_RedHotPokers.jpg,   0.6 MP889×637424 KB
KODAK Z650 ZOOM DIGITAL CAMERA, f/5.6  1/640  6.3mm  ISO80

I couldn’t resist putting those details in as my memory for details is gone and I am so glad to know when this photo was taken and with which camera. Not relevant to my readers, sorry, but very much so to me.

Now that I know a bit more about these flowers I am encouraged to try and propagate from them in a better location, both for the birds and the bees and other pollinating insects who will benefit from their plenteous nectar.

Final thoughts, bringing it back to the sheep; at least the sheep leave these flowers completely alone. They will make great borders of fields both for colour and for attracting birds and bees whilst not needing special protection from the browsing of the sheep.

Paul

Autumn at Katui Pines

May 17, 2017

We already half-way through the Autumn since the March equinox was passed just over seven weeks ago, at the end of a long, hot, dry summer, broken by a couple of storms that brought welcome rain that saturated the fields and filled our tanks.

So far it has been quite mild, with only the occasional cool day or so from weather systems bringing up the cold air from the southern seas. The trees, however, know that it is Autumn and have been shedding their leaves in preparation for the coming cold. I have been busy raking up leaves off the driveway going down to the sheds to preserve them for composting and to keep them from turning the path into slush all through the winter months.

P1180240 - P1180243-AutumLeaves-1200x900
Panoramic view of fallen leaves on driveway. Originals taken Sat  1 May 2017 12:42 PM

We have lots of Poplars, most of which are now bare, and a couple of Maples which are showing lovely autumn colours with no leaf-drop at all so far.

P1180471-ViewFromKitchen                  View of Maple from our kitchen window, Sun, 07 May 2017  11:27 AM

On our rear deck we have a bird-feeding platform and each morning we put out bread and wild birdseed for a variety of bird species, including Barbary Doves, Spotted Doves, Mynahs, Sparrows and various other Finches. The doves have multiplied in the two years we have been here and now out-number and out-compete with the Mynahs while the Sparrows seem to just fit in in the small spaces between!

P1180488-1200x900-DovesFeeding
Doves dominate at the feeding station while Mynahs and Sparrows are forced to wait, although the intrepid Sparrows seize any opportunity to enter any small gaps left.

P1180487-1200x900-MynahsWaiting
Meanwhile the Mynahs line up on the deck railing waiting their opportunity to fight their way into the feeding frenzy and below our chickens wait for any scraps knocked over the side.

By the way, my observations of wildlife and plants on the farm may be found at http://naturewatch.org.nz/observations/pgtips91. There you will find links to observations of Doves, Mynas, Tuis, Kereru, Pheasants, Turkeys, Australian Magpie, Mallard Ducks, Sacred Kingfisher and various species of Finch along with observations of various plants seen on our farm.

Well, there is much more that could be said but I will publish what I have done so far and may come back and add a little or do a new post altogether when next the muse beckons.

Paul

Sun and Rain through the Seasons

August 3, 2016

One of my favourite tools on-line is found at SunEarthTools.com, ‘Tools for consumers and designers of solar’. It shows for any day of the year where and when the sun rises and sets and much more.

It isn’t so long ago that we were at the winter solstice down here in the South Pacific, but already the sun’s strength is increasing and the days are noticeably lengthening out.

daylight     hh:mm:ss diff. dd+1 diff. dd-1 Noon
03/08/2016 10:20:49 00:01:45 -00:01:44 12:28:24
Date: 03/08/2016 | GMT12
coordinates: -36.65155, 174.4992399
location: 168 Shanks Rd, Helensville 0875, New Zealand
hour Elevation Azimuth
07:18:00 -0.833° 68.67°
8:00:00 6.83° 62.21°
9:00:00 16.93° 51.85°
10:00:00 25.57° 39.59°
11:00:00 32.03° 25°
12:00:00 35.5° 8.28°
13:00:00 35.4° 350.69°
14:00:00 31.75° 334.06°
15:00:00 25.16° 319.59°
16:00:00 16.43° 307.44°
17:00:00 6.26° 297.15°
17:38:49 -0.833° 291.19
Compare that with June 21st
daylight     hh:mm:ss diff. dd+1 diff. dd-1 Noon
21/06/2016 09:39:05 00:00:03 00:00:02 12:23:48
Date: 21/06/2016 | GMT12
coordinates: -36.65155, 174.4992399
location: 168 Shanks Rd, Helensville 0875, New Zealand
hour Elevation Azimuth
07:34:16 -0.833° 60.99°
8:00:00 3.59° 57.08°
9:00:00 13.08° 47.01°
10:00:00 21.01° 35.24°
11:00:00 26.74° 21.55°
12:00:00 29.65° 6.29°
13:00:00 29.31° 350.48°
14:00:00 25.77° 335.48°
15:00:00 19.53° 322.18°
16:00:00 11.24° 310.79°
17:00:00 1.49° 301.01°
17:13:21 -0.833° 299.01°

 

 

http://www.sunearthtools.com/tools/sun-position-widgetIF.php?point=-36.65155,174.4992399&modeMapH=9

This is an overview with the information superimposed over a Google Map of our area.

Only seven weeks to the spring equinox now and summer will be on its way once again.

 

 

 

Rainfall and Water Storage 2016.

June 1, 2016

I have been keeping a record since the beginning of the year in a spreadsheet on Google Docs. Here’s an on-line version of the entire spreadsheet, starting with summary page. Scroll down and across to read the document. …

I’ve added an executive summary to show the current status in a nutshell …

 

 

P1130153

P1130153.JPG, Tuesday, 22 March 2016, 2:18:46 p.m., Emptied 10mm from rain gauge this afternoon. Expecting more rain in next day or two.

Paul

Our First Summer at Katui Pines

February 11, 2016

We moved onto the farm near the March equinox which was really the end of the summer, so this is our first summer here.

When we first arrived we gave ourselves a year just to learn about the farm without trying to make too many decisions/changes and in retrospect this was a good decision.

One of the first decisions we made was to have the pines harvested and that took place at the end of 2015. Now we have the project of cleaning up after the foresters and converting the cleared area into pasture. Already a massive weed problem is developing with hundreds of Scotch Thistles colonising the bare earth.

Another daunting task is cleaning up the huge piles of smaller logs and branches that were left behind. Already several trailer loads of firewood have been taken and it is hard to see any dint in the piles. It doesn’t make it any easier that the land is quite steep and now, having been well worked over by the huge digger that extracted the logs, it is rough and strewn with debris making it difficult to traverse let alone haul out the timber.

Having gone through a winter I know that we will need plenty of firewood. The pine logs and branches will be of some use for that but we also need harder wood that burns with more heat. Last winter we had a good supply of Kanuka harvested from dead trees on the property which filled this need admirably. This winter we will still have some to gather in but I am hoping that a row of Sheoaks down the driveway next to where the pines once grew and which I am now in the process of felling, will fill this need.

Talking about felling trees, it is not long ago that I acquired a small chainsaw and began the learning process of maintaining and using this tool. Initially I expected to use it mainly for cutting fallen logs into rounds for splitting into firewood. However necessity now demands that I extend my skills into felling at least some of the many trees that remain after logging the pine plantation. The row of Sheoaks is a good starting point as many of them have a small diameter trunk that my chainsaw can manage.

I have watched many training videos on YouTube and read other instructional sites with information on how to safely fell trees in different situations and so far, thankfully, we have had no accident injuries and only minimal damage to fences and gates. I have been learning how to use tackle to assist in the safe felling of trees that have a lean in one direction, which includes many of our trees, and present quite a challenge to the beginner tree-feller.

A couple of things that I have learned, mainly by my mistakes, is that you cannot pull a tree against the direction that gravity wants it to follow: the best that you can do is to divert it slightly to one side or the other of this path. The other thing I have learned is that having good ropes or chains, ones designed and rated for the heavy task, as well as proper pulleys and winches is essential to the safe and efficient performance of this task. The cheap ropes that I have used so far have all failed quickly and an investment in the right equipment is clearly needed before tackling any of the more difficult trees.

As an example, for the latest Sheoak I felled I had set up a rope tensioning the tree in the direction in which I wanted it to fall, then I had put another rope at right angels to the first rope and tensioned that again. However, when the tree began to fall, immediately the tension was released and the tree fell more or less just where gravity wanted to take it, falling right over the temporary fence. In hind sight I needed to have been pulling on the second rope when the tree began to fall and could have done so had I left just a bit more of the hinge and started the fall with pulling on the rope. It all takes experience and good judgement and fortunately the damage to the fence was minimal and I was safely out of the way.

P1120535-1200X900

Second tree, leaning over the driveway, before I rigged it for felling.

P1120528-1200x900Main rope secured to small Totara tree just to the right of this second rope secured to the middle of the first rope. Both ropes performed successfully on this pull but still did not prevent the tree falling to the left over the fence alongside the driveway.

P1120539-1200X900I’ve chain-sawn the log in two, levered the lower part back over the fence and raised the temporary fence of sheep netting. Now it is safe to chainsaw the log into rounds ready for splitting for firewood.

P1120550-1200X900Job done, about ten more Sheoaks to go. You may recognise our closest pond in the background of these photos. At 74+ years of age I am grateful that I am still able to do this work and enjoy doing so. Learning new skills is difficult due to a loss of working-memory but once I get things into my kinetic memory or long-term memory and I know what to do, it all becomes enjoyable.

There are still about six weeks to go before our first anniversary on the farm and there may be still more weeks of dry weather to come. The land has become very dry and hard despite some heavy rains that have kept the pastures mainly green until now and our water tanks for the house adequately full (I’ve estimated our current storage will last until mid-March without any further rain. Hopefully we’ll get some rain before then to keep us going.)

Our present stock consists of a small flock of sheep, three ewes and two wethers plus a flock of 28 laying hens, 7 pullets, 5 chicks and one roster who goes by the name ‘Charlie’ and who is quite the gentleman with the hens.

Some of our hens are Araucanas that were used to living free before we were given them and they continue to prefer to nest and lay away from the hen-house, much to my chagrin. Recently I have discovered their nests, the first with 14 eggs, then 10 days later another with 8 eggs and again about 10 days later one with 18 eggs, these all mainly the green-shelled Araucana eggs with a few brown or white shelled from the other hens. They all prefer to lay their eggs where there are already other eggs and a broodie hen will happily sit on any eggs that you put under her, not necessarily her own.

P1120394-1200x900.JPGSome of our flock of free-range chickens foraging on the pine forest floor. They have pretty much worked this whole area over, scratching up the debris and looking for grubs. The eggs that they produce have wonderfully yellow yokes that everyone, who gets to eat them, loves.

I recently built a chicken-tractor, intending to keep the pullets in it. So far this hasn’t worked out very well and I have to modify it so as to keep rats and other predators securely out. One morning when I went to let the pullets out I found them very frightened and it took a lot to persuade them to come out and nothing would make them go back in that night. So I have had to resort to letting them stay in with the main flock in the hen-house at night until I get around to modifying and securing their separate accommodation. One more job to remember.

P1120132-1200x900Unfinished and insecure chicken-tractor for our pullets. It needs wire-netting extending out all around to prevent rats from burrowing their way in. It also needs a proper door for access for food and water as well as letting them out if desired.

The trees in the background of the above photograph are a small stand of pines that the loggers did not want to harvest due to the poor access. However I think they all need to be taken down and may be able to get a portable saw mill in to turn them into lumber. A local saw mill has quoted on drying and treating the lumber should we decide to do this. It all takes time and money, both of which are in short supply. As well as this stand of pines there are a lot of mature Poplar trees, some over 100 foot tall, that may also be millable into lumber.

Did I mention the bugs? One of the delights of the summer has been the number of Huhu beetles that blunder their way into the house at night. We keep the windows open in the evening to keep the house a bit cool as it has been so hot and often humid. When the Huhu beetles come inside they make a lot of noise and create quite a disturbance. Mostly I can catch them by one feeler and drop them outside through an open window. Then there are innumerable small beetles, which we used to call ‘click beetles’, that come inside and die. littering the carpet after a few nights. Some moths find their way in, too, but they are easily dealt with usually and find themselves helped out a window fairly quickly.

Our swimming pool has had quite a lot of use. I was tempted but after putting my feet in and feeling how cold it was, decided against a swim. The water needs to be tepid to really tempt me in these days. The water level has dropped about a foot and we really need some way of topping it up and I would also like a roof heater to extend the swimming season and make it nicer for those who like it warmer.

That’s about it for the summer, so far. Some way still to go for the Autumn and even further for the Winter, grrrr!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ukraine, some background to the current crisis.

January 18, 2016

I’ve sat on this draft for a very long time and it is not so topical now as when I started writing it. But rather than just bin it, here it is for what it may be worth in understanding a little better what is going on in another part of the world.

From historyplace.com comes this article : —

http://www.historyplace.com/worldhistory/genocide/stalin.htm

Joseph Stalin, leader of the Soviet Union, set in motion events designed to cause a famine in the Ukraine to destroy the people there seeking independence from his rule. As a result, an estimated 7,000,000 persons perished in this farming area, known as the breadbasket of Europe, with the people deprived of the food they had grown with their own hands.

The Ukrainian independence movement actually predated the Stalin era. Ukraine, which measures about the size of France, had been under the domination of the Imperial Czars of Russia for 200 years. With the collapse of the Czarist rule in March 1917, it seemed the long-awaited opportunity for independence had finally arrived. Optimistic Ukrainians declared their country to be an independent People’s Republic and re-established the ancient capital city of Kiev as the seat of government.

However, their new-found freedom was short-lived. By the end of 1917, Vladimir Lenin, the first leader of the Soviet Union, sought to reclaim all of the areas formerly controlled by the Czars, especially the fertile Ukraine. As a result, four years of chaos and conflict followed in which Ukrainian national troops fought against Lenin’s Red Army, and also against Russia’s White Army (troops still loyal to the Czar) as well as other invading forces including the Germans and Poles.

By 1921, the battles ended with a Soviet victory while the western part of the Ukraine was divided-up among Poland, Romania, and Czechoslovakia. The Soviets immediately began shipping out huge amounts of grain to feed the hungry people of Moscow and other big Russian cities. Coincidentally, a drought occurred in the Ukraine, resulting in widespread starvation and a surge of popular resentment against Lenin and the Soviets.

To lessen the deepening resentment, Lenin relaxed his grip on the country, stopped taking out so much grain, and even encouraged a free-market exchange of goods. This breath of fresh air renewed the people’s interest in independence and resulted in a national revival movement celebrating their unique folk customs, language, poetry, music, arts, and Ukrainian orthodox religion.

But when Lenin died in 1924, he was succeeded by Joseph Stalin, one of the most ruthless humans ever to hold power. To Stalin, the burgeoning national revival movement and continuing loss of Soviet influence in the Ukraine was completely unacceptable. To crush the people’s free spirit, he began to employ the same methods he had successfully used within the Soviet Union. Thus, beginning in 1929, over 5,000 Ukrainian scholars, scientists, cultural and religious leaders were arrested after being falsely accused of plotting an armed revolt. Those arrested were either shot without a trial or deported to prison camps in remote areas of Russia.

Ukraine Famine | United Human Rights Council

Ukraine Famine

The Ukrainian Famine was a dreadful famine premeditated by the Soviet Union, headed by Joseph Stalin during 1932-1933, as a means to undermine the nationalistic pride of the Ukrainian people. It served to control and further oppress the Ukrainian people by denying them the basic vital essentials they needed to survive. The Ukrainian Famine is also known as Holodomor, meaning “death by hunger.”

The Communist Regime sought to eliminate any threat from Ukrainian nationalists, whom they feared had the potential to form a rebellion and to seek independence from the Soviet Union. More than 5,000 Ukrainian intellectuals were arrested and later were either murdered or deported to prison camps in Siberia. These individuals were falsely accused of plotting an armed rebellion; however it was very clear that Stalin’s intentions were to eliminate the leaders of Ukrainian society, to leave the masses without any guidance or direction.

Stalin regarded the self-sufficient farms of the Ukraine peasants, as a threat to his ideals. He did not want the Ukrainian peasants to prosper freely from the wealth accumulated from independent farm holdings. The wealthier farmers were termed as “kulaks”, and became the primary target of “dekulukization,” an effort to eliminate independent farm-holdings, and create collective farm units. The Communists attempted to gain the support of the poorer class of peasants, by turning them against the kulak class of farmers. A false image of the Kulak class portrayed them as a danger to society. Contrary to the expected outcome of the Communists’ plan, the poor farmers sided with the kulaks, instead of siding with the Soviet authorities. As a result many of them became new targets of dekulakization. Many other poor farmers unwillingly joined collective farms. Those who attempted to aid a “kulak” were punished under the law.

 

Here’s a link to a documentary that tells this story.

Harvest of Despair Soviet Communism engineered Ukraine Famine Genocide 1933)

Published on Jul 27, 2013

This is an award-winning documentary (10 competitive festival awards and 3 non-competitive). It is produced by the Ukrainian Canadian Research and Documentation Centre in Toronto, Canada. http://www.ucrdc.org or info@ucrdc.org
Information about Director and Producer at this link, as well as links to well-researched work on related parts of this history (“Between Hitler and Stalin,” for example): http://www.ucrdc.org/Film-Harvest_of_Despair.html
The researchers and director worked very hard on this film and people may want to know where to get a clean copy of it.

Not for the faint of heart
. “Famine in Ukraine was brought on to decrease the number of Ukrainians, replace the dead with people from other parts of the USSR, and thereby to kill the slightest thought of any Ukrainian independence.”

– V. Danilov et al., Sovetskaia derevnia glazami OGPU_NKVD. T. 3, kn. 2. Moscow 2004. P. 572
The Holodomor, or Hunger plague, was a famine engineered by the Soviet Union as part of a series of actions, including mass executions, designed to destroy the Ukrainian nation. Census data reveal a shortfall of 11,000, 000 in the Ukrainian population by 1937. Before and during 1937 large numbers of Ukrainians would be executed in the Great Terror which, although all the Soviet Union was affected, had a specifically Ukrainian dimension.
Please visit:
http://www.thenewamerican.com/culture/history/item/4656-holodomor-the-secret-holocaust-in-ukraine

Please visit http://www.holodomor.org.uk/

With such collective memories it is little wonder that today the Ukraine want their independence from Russia to continue and are very wary of the massed Russian armies on their borders. And with a large population of Russians living within Ukraine the tensions between these two different ethnic groups is very understandable, also.

On the other hand, it has also to be remembered that Ukraine also suffered greatly under the Nazis.

I feel privileged to have lived all my life in New Zealand, half a world away from such atrocities, and now to be living on the land seeking food self-sufficiency just like those peasants in the Ukraine who suffered a century ago.