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Motley Farm

Author Ruth Thomas (McFadyen)

Editor Dr Suzanne Duce

Motley farm is a story about a group of genetically engineered animals dealing with issues relating to their genetic modifications.

 A number of events occur on the farm,  which lead the animals to believe that they are different to other creatures. The animals are  horrified when they finally discover the truth that has been  withheld  from them. Their genes have been modified. They want to be normal again, but this is impossible, so initially some of the animals want to revolt. The clearer thinkers realise this is foolish, and instead plan an escape.

Finally they come up with an escape plan  based upon a necessary understanding of chemistry.  Ignacious, a rooster, and gifted chemistry teacher, leads  them in their studies until he is left fighting for  his life.


The following chemistry topics are covered in Motley  Farm:

  1. Elements, compounds and mixtures
  2. Identifying chemical reactions
  3. Rates of Reactions
  4. Classifying elements                                                                           
  5. The Periodic Table
  6. Some Families in the Periodic Table
  7. Atomic Structure
  8. Electron Arrangement
  9. Covalent Bonding
  10. Ionic Bonding




Roberto's  drawings of Igncious the Rooster    Sophie Martin®

 Roberto, a highly gifted artistic mouse, is commissioned with gifts of cheese  by  Ignacious ,  to draw pictures for a mud statue that  Ignacious wishes to erect of himself  in the back yard of the farm.

 Ignacious holds himself high for the portrait and  holdi a ball  in his wing which represents  the world i  The other animals are very cross when they see it, as  Ignacious is always making sure that he gets the biggest and best share of the feed for the hens.


First version of  Motley  farm, 2010 (already used in home schooling both in New Zealand and Scotland



Motley  Farm for young kids






Motley Farm 2: The Escape and a Place of Rest

Further Chemistry

The  Reactivity Series and The Electrochemical Series

 The animals escape in a helium balloon, but all does not go smoothly, and squabbles break out. The navigator, a brilliant  chemistry  teacher and also a  pompous rooster called  Ignacious leads them on a wild goose chase. They end up going round in circles and arriving repeatedly in Spain  instead of making a journey to New  Zealand,  where they had hoped to settle amidst the wildlife on its beautiful islands.

 When finally they do set off, they encounter a number of environmental disasters. In Thailand, they encounter floods in Bangkok, in Japan, they come across the aftermath of the tsunami and nuclear disaster. However they become particularly interested in robots  and  thinking one of the robots is a genetically engineered animal like themselves, kidnap it to help it escape. When they find out it is not what they first thought  trouble breaks out.

 Finally they reach  New  Zealand, where they find they must build themselves an earthquake-proof farm.  But it doesn't work,  as their farm is badly designed, and the earthquakes and aftershocks are very frequent and unpredictable. So they have to move to the Cook Islands.  Here they finally find a place of rest amidst beauty.


 The reactivity series and electrochemical series are introduced to  chemistry students through a series of dreams that Ignacious has whilst harnassed in a hammock like structure to the bottom of the balloon.  


  Motley  Farm : the Sequel 

Part 2: Electromagnetism



Forthcoming 2014

Copyright Ruth Thomas 8th May 2012



Copyright Ruth Thomas 2010



                                                                                          The Owl and the Sparrow


                                                      Revision 2012


 The Owl and the Sparrow is a book about a battle that takes place in a forest. The battle is between the birds on one side of the forest,  which they themselves  call the good side of the forest, and the birds (vultures) on the other side,  the dark side of the forest.

 Owl is the leader of the good forest and his adversary is the Condor, reputed as being the darkest force in the forest.  Into  the story enters an apparently naive sparrow who is seduced by Condor into the dark side of the forest against the rulings of Owl. Owl refuses to send help because he does not want to endanger the lives of more birds, but also because he is furious with the sparrow. He says that  sparrow was asking for trouble.

 Also on the good side of the forest are an incredibly silly group of finches who like to play games and torment the vultures. But their silliness  and game-playing skills are no match for the profound darkness of the vultures, and some are captured, and terrorised.

  Golden Eagle rules over the whole forest, but he gets little involved because he has left Owl a set of rules. Finally he gets angry with what he sees happening on both sides of the forest, and  realises that rules are not enough. So  out of his concern and love for the birds , he sends his  son, Silver Eagle, to the  forest.   The book covers the events that follow including  a bitter battle and the discovery that there is an unknown traitor within their camp.


Author Ruth Thomas

Editor Joan  Mitchell

First version typed up and suggestions made by Deborah van Welie



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