The Farming Nation

April 22, 2009

This poem seemed an appropriate choice for Earth Day’s contribution to poetry month.

The Farming Nation by Eileen Duggan is another from NZ Farm & Station Verse, published by Whitcombe & Tombs.

              The Farming Nation

 

I am glad that New Zealand lives by cattle.

I am glad that my country musters sheep.

There is honesty in woolsheds and in cow-bails,

And a working farmer earns his bit of sleep.

 

He and weather have a meaning for each other.

In a city, rain lies barren in a street,

But a farmer’s rain is married to his paddocks,

And a farmer’s sun is mid-wife to his wheat.

 

He drinks milk and knows it from the udder.

He wears wool and knows it from the fleece.

If his cows test richly, he is happy.

If his lambs drop safely, he has peace.

 

I am glad for another, deeper reason,

For to folk like these, the angel came,

Swinging down with great strokes one night in winter

With the first of the tidings and the Name.

 

               – Eileen Duggan –


Storm in a lolly jar

April 22, 2009

My support  for the Canadian woman who was offended by marshmellow Eskimos puts me in the minority.

Keeping Stock launched a Save the Eskimos  campaign and Whale Oil wants to keep eating Eskimos and  has set up a Facebook Group.

Cadbury/Pascal which makes the sweets and Tip Top which makes Eskimo pies are standing firm too.

But Cadbury Australia and New Zealand communications manager Daniel Ellis said Cadbury/Pascall did not intend to rename or remove the product.

“Pascall Eskimos are an iconic New Zealand lolly and have been enjoyed by millions of New Zealanders since they first hit shop shelves way back in 1955,” he said.

“They continue to be incredibly popular today. Last year, we produced almost 19 million individual Eskimos, making it one of our most sought after Pascall products.

“It has never been our intention to offend any member of the public, and whilst we are disappointed to learn that this traditional New Zealand product has caused any concern, this is only the second time in the product’s 54-year history that we have received such a complaint. . .

“We have no intention to rename, reshape or remove the product, and trust that consumers will continue to enjoy Pascall Eskimos.”

That’s given me something to chew on, but I’m not going to swallow the argument that a name change would alter the taste.


Foreshore and seabed about property rights

April 22, 2009

Michael Cullen has done a mea culpa and admitted Labour got the Foreshore and Seabed Act  wrong.

Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris FInlayson has responded graciously with an acknowledgement on the importance of a non-partisan approach:

“I agree completely with Dr Cullen’s sentiment that the review of the Foreshore and Seabed Act needs to be approached in a non-partisan way, and that the issue should not be used as a political football.

“I welcome his assurance that the Labour Party will engage constructively with the review. Our goal is to reach the best possible outcome for Maori and all the people of New Zealand, and it is important that the voices of all parties in Parliament are heard.”

I am pleased he’s done that because it’s the right thing to do and because National didn’t get its stance on the issue right either.

The issue is one of property rights and the case should have been  heard in court. If the result found in the Maori’s favour it wouldn’t have meant anyone was barred from beaches, but it would have meant the legal owners would have been owed compensation for any compromise of or interference with their property rights.

This is an issue farmers ought to have a lot of sympathy for because similar principles are involved in access to and through farmland.


Gold in Otago ground and bottle

April 22, 2009

Oceana Gold reports promising finds of higher quality gold after test drilling  at its Macraes goldfield.

Mining and associated work by Oceana Gold  has revitalised the wee East Otago town of Palmerston (NB that’s just Palmerston, not to be confused with the slightly bigger settlement in the other island which requires a North in its name).

Further inland, a British honeymoon couple must have thought they’d found gold when they discovered a bottle of Gibbston Valley’s 2000 pinto noir at Gantley’s Restaurant in Queenstown because they paid $1000 for it.

Restaurant co-owner Brent Rands said yesterday the last bottle he sold was last year for $750 and with very few bottles remaining he increased the price to $1000 in January. “I thought, it’s getting so scarce now if it’s gonna go it’s gonna go …”

Let’s see, $1,000 for 750 mls equals . . .  a lot per litre.


Some Earth Day initiatives off the planet

April 22, 2009

When you work on the land, every day is earth day.

Even when you don’t, but live with someone who makes a living from the land, every day is earth day.

For everyone involved in primary industry on land or sea, the environment isn’t an academic concept, it’s where we live and work and the majority of us regard our responsibility for doing as much as we can to make a positive, and lessen any negative, impact on it seriously.

But today is not every day earth day, it’s capital E capital D Earth Day.

That’s when we’re all supposed to save the world but some of the calls to action have come from people who seem to be not so much for the earth as from another planet.

The most deluded of these had to be European Green MP Caroline Lucas who compares people who fly with those who stab others (Hat tip: Kiwiblog 

Then Alf Grumble spotted PETA’s media release calling on Environment Minister Nick Smith to turn vegetarian and saw an opportunity for Busted Blonde.

She wasn’t impressed  about that, and also took exception  to the suggestion that fat people contribute more CO2 than thin people.

Deborah reacted with justifiable ire to the same story from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine  with a cross post on fat hatred at In A Strange Land and The Hand Mirror.

And now I’ve come across to be green eat less red.

Conventionally raised livestock generates 18 percent of the planet’s greenhouse gas emissions, according to a report released by the United Nation Food and Agriculture Organization in 2006. That’s more than the emissions created by all the world’s cars, trains, planes and boats combined. In comparison, transportation is responsible for 13 percent of the emission problem.

 I’m not sure what conventional means;  and whether this is just the emissions from the animals or from the total production chain from paddock to plate because there is a big difference in the environmental footprint of free range, pasture raised stock like the majority of animals farmed in New Zealand and those reared in feedlots as many are overseas.

Regardless of that, this might not be as off the wall as comparing flying to murder, linking obesity with climate change  and PETA’s call to go vegetarian, but it’s still misguided.

Eating moderate amounts of lean meat is recommended for personal health but I’m not convinced that in itself it would be any better for the planet. If people chose high fat, high sugar, low fibre alternatives to meat their diet would be less healthy and the impact on the environment might be  worse too.

It’s silly to take just one behaviour in isolation, everyone’s total impact on the environment is what matters and if someone chooses to eat a bit more meat but use less petrol it would be difficult to say that they were treading less gently on their patch of the earth than a vegetarian who drives an old, inefficient vehicle.

We have only one world and all have a responsibility to look after it, but let’s base our policies and practices for doing that on science not half-baked emotion.

P.S.

For every action there is a reaction and the reaction to Earth Day is Exploit the Earth Day about which Not PC has a comprehensive post.


One year old today

April 22, 2009

It’s a year today since I launched Homepaddock with a post on Doc Cutting Staff.

Blogging started slowly with just 10 posts from April 22 until the end of the month, climbed to a peak of 390 in October when I was in serious danger of having an unhealthy attachment to my computer. I calmed down after the election and a holiday in Argentina in December when I spent several days at a time without internet access put things back in perspective.

The first comment was made on a post about the farmers’ slice of food  prices on May 15. The first link was made, by The Hive on a post about Phil Goff admitting Labour might lose, five days later. Even though The Hive is no longer live, it’s not unusual to get several visitors a day from there.

Homepaddock entered the Tumeke! rankings  at 115 for May and leapt to 21 in June. It was at 16 the following month and has stayed in the top 20 since then.

Open Parachute’s view isn’t quite so flattering and the Halfdone stats are usually a little more generous.

However, it doesn’t matter which of those you look at, the gap between Kiwiblog  ,which is always number one, and the rest of the New Zealand blogs is huge and one indication of his popularity is the way visitor numbers soar if he links to one of my posts. If blogging was education, he’d be a university professor, those which come next would be close to graduating and I’m still at kindy 🙂

While Kiwiblog links generally result in a surge in visitors, the blog which consistently refers most visitors is No Minister. Most visitors, most days come from there.

Other visitors get directed here after doing searches and some of the terms they use suggest they’ll be disappointed when they find that anything blue is of the political rather than the pornographic kind.

Every now and then I’m asked why I call the blog Homepaddock. The home paddock is the one closest to the house where the pet lambs live and in the days before motor bikes it was the where the farm horses were usually kept. It’s supposed to show I’m on a farm though don’t claim to be a farmer.

Part of the fun of blogging is the feedback, thank you for popping in and thank you especially to those of you who link and leave comments.


Write On!

April 22, 2009

Today’s contribution to poetry month is late in the day, and short.

Write On!  by Martin Hall is from  The Big Book of Little Poems by Roger McGough, Gyles Brandeth and friends, publishe by Andre Deutsch Classics.

Write On!

 

I’ve been writing this poem

for two hours solid,

and I’ve only done three lines.

 

Oh, four.

 

– Martin Hall –


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