Fewer lambs but still enough chops for bbq


The t-shirt which proclaimed New Zealand’s ewenique – 60 million sheep can’t be wrong is well out of date with the national flock now down by more than a third from that number according to Meat and Wool New Zealand’s report on the year to June 2008. 


Breeding ewes dropped by 9.5% from 26.063m to 23.59m; and total sheep numbers declined 11.2% from 38.461m to 34.150m. This is the lowest number of breeding ewes since 1952 and the lowest total of sheep we’ve had since 1050.


The estimated lamb crop was 31.836m in June last year and declined by 13.4% to 27.599m.  Hogget numbers are estimated to have decreased 16.2% with a drop in the North Island of 7% and 26.6% in the South,


The sharp drop in numbers is attributed to concerns about the profitability of the sheep industry, last season’s drought and more attractive alternative land uses, especially dairy and dairy support.


Ewe condition at mating was poor because dry weather led to inadequate flushing feed and consequently lower rates of conception.


Scanning shows a lot of variability but the decline in ewe and hogget numbers mated and a lower expected lambing percentage is expected to lead to a decline in the total lamb crop of 4.2 million or 13.4%. 


Beef cattle are estimated to have decreased by between 0.3and 19.6 per cent although this was partially offset by herd rebuilding in Gisborne and of Hawke’s Bay.


These figures will be sobering reading for the meat industry. Kill numbers are expected to be down by 9 million in total throughout New Zealand. To put that into perspective a plant like Alliance’s Pukeuri works would kill about 2 million sheep a season.


That would indicate that closing of freezing works has not finished. However, Frogblog draws a long bow in concluding summer’s bbq chops are at risk because of dairy conversions. The 34 million sheep left will still provide enough chops and sausages.


The Frog is also wrong in asserting:


It’s funny how short term economic decisions, like the mad rush to industrial dairy, have long term economic, environmental and social consequences like climate change, water pollution and, it seems, diet.


There is nothing short term or purely economic about the decision to convert from sheep farming to dairy. It is a huge investment which is not undertaken lightly and has to be for the long term.


There are many positive social consequences from dairying which requires more staff and so leads to an increase in population, a boost in school rolls and the creation of jobs in servicing and support which flows on to rural towns.


Dairying doesn’t automatically lead to water pollution either. Regional Councils are taking a very strict approach to breaches of consent and the pollution of waterways and there are a lot of proactive approaches to safeguarding the environment from farmers, irrigation companies and dairy companies.


TV1 poll puts Peters out


Guyon Espiner has just announced the results of a One News poll in Tauranga.

National’s candidate Simon Bridges had the support of 48% of those polled, WInston Peters had 28% support and Labour’s Anne Pankhurst had just 15%.

Peters has to win the seat or get his party over the 5% hurdle and the poll showed 6% of people were willing to give New Zealand First their aprty votes. However, that’s not as good as it appears because it’s about half the support the party got in Tauranga at the last election.

The poll questioned 519 people and had a margin of error of 4%.

Who stole our calves?


Someone has stolen six of our calves, which are worth about $60 each.

Five went missing over night. The sixth was in the pen at 8.30 this morning but had gone a couple of hours later. The gate to the pen was open – but it had been chained and calves don’t unchain gates.

When we were first married we never locked doors and always left keys in the ignition of our car and trucks. Now keys are removed from vehicles and we lock all our doors – but you can’t lock paddocks.

Source more interesting than the story


I could get excited about the headline: Brash gets plum job as National attacks cronyism because the Sunday Star Times seems to be assuming that a National government is a given.

But there is nothing in the story to raise my pulse rate. It says Don Brash will be appointed ambassador in either the UK or USA by a National Government and quotes earlier comments by Brash in which he says people appoitned to such roles should be qualified for the job and not put there for political convenience. 

There is a big difference between appointing a former Reserve Bank governor to a position he is more than qualified for and for example sending Jonathon Hunt, a former MP for wine and cheese to London as British Ambassador or appointing Dianne Yates to the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Board because she comes from the Waikato.

However, more interesting than either the headline or the story is the source. The by line credits Anthony Hubbard and Nicky Hagar. 

If there is substance to the speculation it points to yet more leaks of sensitive information from National and once more Hagar is associated with it.

No Minister  and Kiwiblog both have posts on this story.

Pots & kettles


New Zealand First leader Winston Peters said he believed the move was a politically motivated.

“I hear a cry of desperation,” he said.

He’s talking  about John Key but what he said is more applicable to Peters himself.

Bill backs John


Bill English has given a categorical assurance  he won’t challenge John Key for the leadership of the National Party.

I’ve known Bill for more than a decade and I have never heard him say, or seen him do anything to alter my opinion of him as a good and honest man. He has a strong faith, is a straight talker and he is fiercely loyal to his personal and political beliefs.

If he’d wanted to sabotage the party he had plenty of opportunity to do so after he lost the leadership. But he put whatever personal hurt he might have felt behind him and knuckled down to the job of preparing National to get back into Government.

I’ve heard and watched Bill and John together and apart and I have no doubts at all about the strength of their relationship which is based on mutual respect, admiration and liking as well as their shared determination to achieve a common goal. That goal is not just to get National in to government but to make the policy changes which will achieve the much needed improvements to their country for its people.

Those who don’t share National’s vision for a happier, healthier, better educated, more secure and wealthier New Zealand would be delighted to find evidence to the contrary. They obviously don’t know either man. Both are talented individuals who could earn much more, and earn it more easily with a far lower personal cost, outside politics.

But contrary to the view of those who think National has a head but no heart, they are not motivated by money, but by a genuine belief in what they are doing and the pressing need to do it; and not for personal gain but for the sake of the country.

I’ve been a member of the National Party for more than 20 years and I have never known it to be more unified. There are many reasons for that unity but the most important is the strength of the leadership team and their example of 100% dedication to and support of each other and the party.

Bill knows as probably no-one else does, how disloyalty to, and the undermining of, a leader harm not just the person but the party.  He is not going to throw away the hard work he, his parliamentary colleagues, and the members of the party he is dedicated to have done by playing silly games when the the finishing line is in sight.

Pharmac boss backs Herceptin decision


Pharmac chief Matthew Brougham explains the reasoning behind the decision to not fund 12 month courses of Herceptin.

He says that if one of his family had breast cancer he would recommend she take the nine week course which is publicly funded and that the jury is still out on the benefits of the year-long course.

The Herald editorial supports the decision and says that even if Pharmac had more money it would probably not spend it on longer courses of Herceptin.

And Kerre Woodham agrees that there is not enough evidence for Phramac to have reversed its decision to fund only nine weeks of the drug.

Update: Macdoctor responds to the Herald.

Peopleism next step for post-feminist progress


When a friend is asked why her surname differs from her husband’s, she says it’s because he wouldn’t change his when they married.


That the question is even asked is a sign that feminism hasn’t achieved all it set out to. But I am not sure it’s the best vehicle for continuing the journey towards equality – if indeed that is where we ought to be aiming, because some say that women who want to equal men lack ambition.


Moving on from that, there are many ways in which life is better for women of my generation than it was for those before us because of the battles fought and won by feminists.


But while the barriers which used to stop women following traditionally male careers have largely disappeared, has much improved for those in what were traditionally female occupations whether it’s men or women who are doing them?


Feminism has helped women who want to break through the glass ceiling but it has done less for those who clean up behind them. And while it’s generally accepted that women can go where only men went before, the reverse is not necessarily the case.


So while women may be accepted as mechanics or engineers, a man who chooses to be a kindergarten teacher, a midwife or to stay at home with the children is likely to be asked, “Whad are ya?”


Whether it is a man or a woman who is left holding the babies, the role of primary caregiver is still an undervalued one and that can be said about a lot of other ocupations, paid or unpaid, regardless of who does them. Because when it comes down to basics, it’s the job not the gender which counts and feminism has done nothing to change that.


If you shear a sheep it is a job, if you knit its wool into a jumper in a factory or at home for money that’s work too but if you do the knitting for love, it’s only a hobby. Getting a lamb from conception through to chops in the butchery is real work, but getting the chops from the butcher’s to the dining table and cleaning up afterwards is not.


Whoever is doing it, these domestic duties are still largely regarded as the unpaid and often unappreciated preserve of women in spite of the best efforts of generations of feminists.


There are a lot more important issues than who does the dirty work at home to worry about, but I’m not convinced that feminism is the best way to address them either.


One reason for my reservation is that by definition feminism means for women, which leaves a niggling suspicion that it also means against men.


Even if it is possible to be pro-women without being anti-men, feminism emphasises the differences rather than the similarities; yet it’s easier to win friends, and campaigns, by establishing common ground than by highlighting divergence. So we should be seeking solutions to our problems, not because we are women but because we are people and these are people’s problems.


Self-advocates in IHC call themselves People First  because that’s how they want to be seen. And surely that’s the best way to see everyone, as people, without labels and regardless of any differences between us and others.


I am not repudiating feminism, but suggesting there is a step forward from feminism to peopleism; where issues and concerns are addressed by people because they are people’s issues and concerns.


Sometimes a group of people or its members might be better able to help those in the group because of what they have in common. But almost always people from other groups have something to offer too. And sometimes by labelling an issue a particular groups issue enables those in other groups to ignore it because it’s not their concern.


In other words sometimes women are better able to help other women, but that doesn’t mean men might not be able to help too; and it might prevent the side-lining of important matters as women’s issues if they were regarded as people’s issues.



And we’ll know we’ve succeeded when my friend no longer has to explain why she and her husband have different surnames.



This post was prompted by Noelle McCarthy’s  column in the Herald  and Deb’s response to it at In A Strange Land. and The Hand Mirror









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