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April 2013 Blog Update

Well the year is racing.  It seems like I was just on the Christmas trip to Canada holidays and now it’s Easter!  The last blog was just before Christmas and I included some snow shots from our trip.  There were of course many other snow photos – hard to know when to stop when the landscape is so different to what you are used to. One more that I will put up is of our daughter and grandboys ice fishing!  That was a new experience – and not something you get every day in sunny Queensland!

On the way back to Australia, we stayed over in Hawaii to catch our breath, calibrate the time difference and of course warm up!  One of the warm up exercises was to go and visit the volcanoes for which Hawaii is famous.  It was a little disappointing to be so far from the action – but we could see the red glow in the evening – and walk over the relatively recent lava flows which were extending the island!

Back to the reality of life in Australia and work – and one of my busiest times since starting the business 12 years ago!  For some reason, monitoring and evaluation is in great demand – and not just to do one off project evaluations!  There is a lot more interest in the strategic side – setting up M&E frameworks and data management systems.  There is something very satisfying about being involved in this type of work.

One break from work this year was an opportunity to combine two of my community interests – Toowoomba Landcare Group and the National Heritage Trust!  I mentioned in an earlier blog about my interest in the heritage listed Bulls head Inn – not far from our house.  Well, I have been concerned for a number of years about the number of poorly managed and overgrazed horse paddocks around the city – and finally had funding and an opportunity to organise a workshop looking at managing small horse pastures!  The Bulls Head Inn provided a perfect venue – it has a bit of a run-down horse paddock attached to it.  I lined up Mariette van Den Berg who we have known for a few years (she is doing a PhD on horse feeding) to come and run the workshop at the inn.  It was a great day – and I really felt that we achieved something.

Must be something about horses… I couldn’t pass up a small white metal horse I saw in a local garden shop.  No pasture concerns for this horse!

So coming up: another trip to Chile for some strategic end evaluation planning; to New Zealand to develop evaluation for an interesting co-innovation project; and more work in dairy with extension and evaluation in Australia.  With these activities and the reef projects we are working with, life is neither dull nor boring.  And with each project, we learn something new!