Blog power or coincidence?


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


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


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


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


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


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%


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


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.

August 31 in history


On August 31:

1894 The Arbitration Act became law, a flagship policy of Richard Seddon’s Liberal government, made New Zealand the first country in the world to outlaw strikes in favour of compulsory arbitration.

1918: US lyracist Alan Jay Lerner was born.

1940: Australian actor Jack Thompson was born.


1945 The Australian Liberal Party was formed by Robert Menzies.

1945 Irish musician Van Morrison was born.

1949 US actor Richard Gere was born.

1957  The Federation of Malaya (now Malaysia) gained its independence from Britain.

Flag Coat of arms

1962 Trinadad and Tobago became independent.

1974 Prime Minsiter Norman Kirk died.

1991 Kyrgyzstan declared its independence from the USSR.

1994 The Provisional Irish Republican Army declared a cease fire.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.



Another reason to miss Keeping Stock: sports talk.

This isn’t an attempt to replace the updates and commentary he used to provide, but Mahe Drysdale’s fourth single sculls gold medal in a row at the World Rowing Champs deserves a mention.

Hamish Bond and Eric Murray also won gold in the men’s coxless pairs.

New Zealand gained two more golds when Duncan Grant and the lightweight double of Storm Uru and Peter Taylor won their races. The women’s pair of Rebecca Scown and Emma Feathery won a bronze medal.

New Zealand Book Month Challenge


Keeping Stock (sadly, but understandably, in retirement) started the post-a-day for New Zealand Music Month challenge.

In the spirit of that, September is  New Zealand Book Month  – anyone keen to post on a book a day?

It doesn’t have to be a full review. The name, author and/or a little about the book, and/or the author and/or why you like it or not, will suffice.

If you need some inspiration, NZ History Online has 30 reasons to love NZ books and writing.

I’m planning to do a New Zealand book post each day for the month, starting on Tuesday, which is the first of September. I’m posting this now to give you some time to think about whether you want to accept the challenge.

Can he do it?


Winston Peters told Q&A he plans to stand for parliament in 2011.

Can he do it?

No party has managed to get into parliament without a sitting MP since MMP was introduced in 1996.

To do so will be expensive and he won’t be able to travel at the taxpayers’ expense as he has been able to in all the previous elections?

To do so will open him to questions over past mis-deeds which have yet to be answered.

To do so requires the support of only 5% of voters who believe what he says and don’t care about what he’s done.

$550,000 not a baaad price for ram


Deveronvale Perfection, a Scottish ram sold at auction for a record £231,000 (NZ$550,000) at the Scottish National Texel Sale at Lanark market.

The ram was bred by Graham Morrison and sold to Aberdeenshire farmer Jimmy Douglas.

This is believed to be the world’s most expensive ram. The previous record price was £209,000 for an Australian merino.

The UK’s previous most expensive ram was also a Texel. Tophill Joe was  bought for £128,000 in 2004. He died recently after fathering lambs worth around £1 million pounds.

Texels  take their name from the Dutch Island where they were first bred. They have been raised in New Zealand since 1990 and are highly regarded for their lean meat.

You can follow comments on the sale at Taking Stock.

On the horns of a dilemna


A sheep grazing near the Norwegian town of Helgoysund experienced an accidental abseil when its horn became entangled in a live power line.

The story and photos are here.

What isn’t explained is how a live wire came to be only a ram’s-head height from the ground.

Another question


Should Paul Holmes not ask Winston Peters the $158,000 question on Q&A this morning he could ask another:

How can we trust you?


*  the illegal use of public money for campaigning for the 2005 election (illegal at the time but not now because of retrospective legislation).

*  the lies about money from Owen Gleen and other donors;.

* he took the baubles of office and clung to them after he lost the office.

We can’t.

Take one poet . . .


Take one poet and book reviewer, combine with an MC with a deep knowledge and appreciation of literature, quick wit and keen sense of humour.

Add a sprinkling of poems and meditations on books and authors.

Mix with an audience of book lovers, season with questions and you’ve got what was promised: an evening of literary brilliance and sparkling repartée, chaired by Jim Hopkins and starring the fabulous Kate Camp.

It was a stimulating and entertaining evening, organised by the Janet Frame Eden Street Trust.

They even served desert – the launch of the Friends of Janet Frame House.

August 30 in history


On August 30:

1797 English author Mary Shelley was born.

Half-length portrait of a woman wearing a black dress sitting on a red sofa. Her dress is off the shoulder, exposing her shoulders. The brush strokes are broad.

Richard Rothwell’s portrait of Mary Shelley

1835 the city of Melbourne was founded.

1836 the city of Houston was founded.

1871 Nobel prize winning chemist Ernest Rutherford was born at Brightwater, near Nelson.

Ernest Rutherford, 1st Baron Rutherford of Nelson (1871-1937)
1903 Guide Joseph Warbrick and three tourists were killed instantly when the Waimangu geyser erupted unexpectedly.

1908: US Actor Fred MacMurray was born.

1912 Nancy Wake, New Zealand born British secret agent.

Nancy Wake c.1945

1930 US entrepreneur Warren Buffet was born.


1937 Bruce McLaren, racing car driver, designer, engineer and inventor, was born.

1943 French skier Jean-Claude Killy was born.

1946 US actor Peggy Lipton was born.

Clarence Williams III, Michael Cole, Lipton, Tige Andrews in a publicity photo for the television series The Mod Squad.

1972 US actor Cameron Diaz was born.

Sourced from NZ History Online and Wikipedia.

Saturday’s smiles


A newspaper  photographer was assigned to get photos of a bush fire. Smoke at the scene was too thick to get any good shots, so he frantically called his  office to hire a plane.

“It will be waiting for you at the airport!” he was assured by his editor.

As soon as he got to the small, rural airport, sure enough, a plane was warming up near the runway. He jumped in with his equipment and yelled, “Let’s go! Let’s go!”

The pilot swung the plane into the wind and soon they were in the air.

“Fly over the north side of the fire,” said the photographer, “and make three or four low level passes.”

“Why?” asked the pilot.

“Because I’m going to take pictures! I’m a photographer, and photographers take pictures!” said the photographer with great exasperation.

After a long pause the pilot said, “You mean you’re not the instructor?”

One workshop . . .


. . . does not a poet make.

But this morning’s session with Kate Camp was helpful.

I learnt about the importance of nouns and the rationing of adjectives.

Nouns help to show not tell, in contrast to those describing words which are also telling words.

So easy to learn, so hard to apply.

Kate was interviewed by Kim Hill today. She came live from Burnside Homestead and spoke about Janet Frame’s autobiographies.

It was Janet’s birthday yesterday. After the workshop the class decamped for lunch and inspiration at  56 Eden Street  where she was brought up.

Not averse to moving outside comfort zone


I threw myself off a bridge last year.

We’ d taken several people to A.J. Hackett’s Kawarau Bridge Bungy jump over the years and I’d never been tempted to try it. But when we took an Argentinean friend last February a moment of madness led me to say I’d do it too.

They say it gives you a buzz that’s better than some of life’s more pleasant experiences.

They were wrong. It wasn’t awful but at the time I didn’t think it was particularly wonderful either.

However, it has had an impact on my life because since then when I’ve been confronted by an opportunity to do something outside my comfort zone I think, “If I can throw myself off a bridge, I can do that.”

A poetry workshop is not in the same category as bungy jumping but it’s something I’ve never been tempted to do before. Unless you count a few angst-ridden adolescent attempts at writing poems which are best forgotten and a bit of doggerel for fun, I’ve never even tried to write poetry.

But I got a phone call asking me if I was interested in an evening of literary brilliance and sparkling repartee chaired by Jim Hopkins ESQ and starring the fabulous Kate Camp of Radio New Zealand National renown, tonight.

When I said I was, the caller mentioned Kate was taking a poetry workshop this morning that I might like to join. A thanks-but-no-thanks was on the tip of my tongue when I remembered the bungy jump.

So this morning I’m making a literary leap into unknown creative territory. Should I survive that I’ve got the evening of Kate’s Classics to look forward to.

Kate's Klassics

The other referendum


Meat and Wool NZ’s referendum on its levy proposal closed yesterday.

It has been very contentious with several campaigns urging people to vote “no”.

However, it is possilbe apathy won because by Thursday there’d only been about a 30% return.

The announcement on the result will not be made until Monday. Read what you will in to that.

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