Blog power or coincidence?

August 31, 2009

Kiwiblog posted on Nancy Wake’s birthday this morning and put the case for her to get a New Zealand honour.

This afternoon John Key was asked about that at his post-cabinet press conference (at about 16 minutes).


NZ Book Month postponed to October

August 31, 2009

NZ History Online says book month is September.

But an email has alerted me to the news it has been postponed and New Zealand Book Month is being celebrated in October this year.

Because of that, I’m postponing the challenge to post on a NZ book a day until October.

I’ll do a reminder towards the end of September.


PKE fungi story short on facts long on hysteria

August 31, 2009

Disclosing a preliminary draft report on the danger of fungi in palm kernel extract (PKE)  as Sue Kedgley did in parliament was reckless and irresponsible, Federated Farmers says.

“Releasing a preliminary draft report, which has never been finalised, peer reviewed or subjected to robust scientific methodology is irresponsible,” says Lachlan McKenzie, Federated Farmers Dairy chairperson.

“Palm Kernel Expeller is a dry feed and like any dry matter, if it gets wet, it will attract fungi.  That’s the same with maize, silage, bread or even sportswear. 

“AgResearch put together a draft report on the ‘shocking expose’ that Palm Kernel Expeller, when wet, attracts fungi. . . 

“The Ministry of Agriculture reviewed the report in 2006 and found that of the fungi identified, the vast majority were already present in New Zealand and the few remaining were common in almost every country on earth.

“The New Zealand Food Safety Authority looked at the general issue of fungal growth on animal feed and concluded there was no risk to food safety.”

He said he’s concerned that the Green Party grabs every opportunity, no matter how tenuous, to knock New Zealand’s largest and most important industry.

“Most people don’t believe the recycling of a waste by-product like Palm Kernel Expeller into animal feed is a bad thing, so long as it comes from certified sources.  Especially if that waste would otherwise be burnt or just left to rot.

“Most New Zealanders also believe it’s hypocritical to target farmers, when they themselves use palm oil daily in the household goods they consume or the cosmetics they wear.

“I’d be highly surprised if products containing palm oil were not present in the homes of the Green Party MPs.  That said, this serves as a timely reminder to ensure dry feed is stored appropriately,” Mr McKenzie concluded.

Feds biosecurity spokesman John Hartnell responded earlier to criticism on the use of PKE as cow feed by Greenpeace saying PKE was a waste by-product left over from the processing of palm oil for consumer products.

“Palm kernel has so little commercial value that if it isn’t recycled into supplementary feed, it is burnt.  That doesn’t sound too great for either climate change or the environment. . .

“Palm plantations aren’t created just to generate a waste by-product, just as newspapers don’t exist solely to support recycling. . .

He said there was a genuine problem with PKE which Feds had been concerned about.

“”Yet for a long period of time, Federated Farmers has been questioning the biosecurity risks posed by what seems to be a great amount of uncertified palm kernel entering New Zealand.  There’s a huge biosecurity hole posed by the stuff.”

That risk is not the risk of fungi mentioned in the preliminary draft report.


In praise of pet lambs

August 31, 2009

Lambing used to be the busiest and most satisfying time on our farming calender. But since we changed from breeding to finishing stock several years ago it is now just something we observe over other people’s fences.

It wasn’t easy and I don’t miss the bad seasons when wet and cold weather proved too much for new-born animals and the slink piles mounted up at gates. But I do miss the pets.

I had occasional contact with pet lambs as a child during visits to farms when we town kids delighted in feeding orphans but it wasn’t until I spent a year on Great Mercury Island that I had one of my own. 

The first was so frail when rescued she couldn’t even bleat. I called her Hush. It was a name which was not without irony when she regained her voice and made good use of it under my window at dawn.

The next orphan I adopted was the ugliest lamb I’ve ever seen but what he lacked in looks was more than compensated for by character. He loved people and whenever he heard voices he’d turn up to share the action.

Unfortunately he had no respect for privacy or property and came to an untimely end after wandering into a farm worker’s house once too often.

When I married my farmer several years later easy-care lambing had been introduced on the theory that mortality was lower when sheep were left to their own devices than when disturbed by people. Some strays still turned up at home to be warmed and fed but as soon as they were fit enough they were taken back to the paddock to be mothered-up with ewes whose own lambs had died.

However, easy-care lambing or not one of the pleasures of growing up on a farm is having a pet lamb so once our daughter was old enough to look after one we adopted an orphan each spring.

How long they stayed after weaning depended on the strength of fences separating farm and house because once a pet found its way into the garden it would be banished to the back paddock.

But Rainbow was an exception, partly because by the time she arrived a stone wall provided a sheep-proof barrier between the lamb paddock and the garden but also because she was special.

Rainbow turned up with several other orphans and from the start she stood out from the flock. There was something about her appearance and behavior that told us this was no ordinary lamb.

If it’s possible for a sheep to have personality then Rainbow did. She was gregarious, engaging and great company. When we were in the garden which bordered her patch or at the clothesline over her fence Rainbow would appear and greet us with a friendly “baa”.                                                                       

A veteran of four school pet shows she had an impressive collection of awards including winner of the lead and drink race and the fancy dress competition. She also performed for visitors, answering to her name when called, taking food from our hands and posing for photos like a professional.

Maternity complications in her third spring nearly proved fatal but despite my farmer muttering about “dragging a vet out to a pet sheep”, professional care from one who happened to be attending a cow on the property at the time ensured she pulled through and delivered a healthy lamb.

The new mother, her lamb and Cecil, the previous year’s pet, formed a happy trio until one day when, to our great distress, we discovered Rainbow dead in the paddock.

There were other lambs in subsequent springs but none has been quite like Rainbow.


Monday’s Quiz

August 31, 2009

1. Who wrote Among the Cinders?

2. Who said: We are biologically engineered to have the wonder filtered out of out lives, to learn to take astonishing things for granted, so that we don’t waste too much energy on being surpised but get on with the eating and mating, gardening, feeding cats, complaining about taxes or being pleased about economic recovery . . . “?

3. How many NZ Prime Ministers have died in office?

4. Where did the Great Fire of London start?

5. Who invented the cat flap?


Yes for meat no for wool – updated

August 31, 2009

Farmers voted yes and no in Meat & Wool’s referendum on levies.

They voted for the continuation of levies on sheepmeat and beef but against the continuation of a wool or goatmeat levy.

M&W chairman Mike Peterson said the referendum sent a clear message there was significant dissatisfaction with past investments and the organisation needs to do better.

Under the Commodity Levies Act 1990 (CLA), each levy proposal must pass on both a one farmer one vote test, and also on a weighted or stock unit test. All of the levy streams passed on a weighted basis, but the wool and goatmeat levies were defeated on a one farmer one vote test.

That means the peo0ple with the most stock, who pay the biggest levies were outvoted by those with fewer stock who pay less.

The wool levy would have contributed $6.4 million to Meat and Wool’s budget and the goatmeat slaughter levy would have provided $58,000. The loss of both means the organisation will have to restructure.

The loss of the wool levy will have the biggest impact. Meat and Wool will have to curtail, and possibly stop, some of its core activities. Among these are on farm research, monitor farms and extension, shearer and wool handling training, Sheep Improvement Ltd (SIL), and the collection and provision of information relating to the wool industry by the Meat & Wool New Zealand Economic Service. 

 The current levy orders for sheepmeat, beef, goatmeat and wool are in place until April 2010.

Perhaps the winner was apathy – only 39.0% (7,820 participants) bothered to vote.

The results were:

                                                              One Person: One Vote                     Stock Numbers

Sheepmeat Levy                      YES                   3,280   53.72%                   50,071   62.46%

                                                         NO                    2,826   46.28%                   30,090   37.54%

 Beef Levy                                 YES                   3,566   51.52%                   31,919   59.32%

                                                         NO                    3,356   48.48%                   21,888   40.68%

 Goatmeat Levy                        YES                      118   46.83%                       228   52.29%

                                                         NO                       134   53.17%                       208   47.71%

Wool Levy                                    YES                   2,794   45.76%                   44,193   55.13%

                                                         NO                    3,312   54.24%                   35,968   44.87%

UPDATE:

Agriculture Minsiter David Carter says the result is a blow for the industry.

Agriculture Minister David Carter says the decision by farmers not to support the continuation of a wool levy is disappointing and will create difficulties for the industry.

“I respect the democratic process and the right for farmers to decide, but I am concerned that the ramifications of this decision have not been fully realised.

“The result of the referendum on the Meat & Wool NZ levy gives a clear go-ahead for the meat sector, but effectively leaves the wool industry without a mandated industry-good body at a time when this is desperately needed.

A factor those who voted no may not have understood is that it will now be very difficult for the industry to access funds from the Government’s Primary Growth Partnership initiative.


You’ve got the wrong vehicle, officer

August 31, 2009

He was driving along a straight stretch of road when a car shot past.

He turned into a side road and moments later saw flashing lights in his rear view mirror.

He stopped, wound down his window and waited for the police officer who told him to hand over his licence because he’d been clocked at 143 kilometres an hour which meant an instant loss of licence.

The driver said he hadn’t been going that fast.

The cop said he had.

The driver said, “A car shot past me just before I turned, you’ve got the wrong vehicle officer.”

“The cop said, “No I haven’t, it was you.”

The driver said it wasn’t him, the cop said it was.

The driver said, “Call your chief out from town. It wasn’t me, I’m not giving you my licence.”

The cop walked around the ute, checked the tyres, warrant of fitness, registration and road miles, returned to the window and asked for the licence again.

The driver said, “Look officer, you can see this is an old ute. It couldn’t go 143 kilometres an hour down hill with a tail wind. You’ve got the wrong vehicle.”

The cop looked at him, he looked back.

The cop blinked first and said, “You can go, but I know it was you.”

The driver in the ute drove off, the cop drove off and somewhere the driver of another car might still have been travelling at 143 kph.


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