Drought’s official


We were on a farm tour in the North Island a couple of weeks ago.

It started in Rotorua, went via the dairy conversions Landcorp is managing near Taupo to the King Country then through the Waikato to Auckland.

The King Country was green but everywhere else looked really dry.

It rained on the two days we were in the Waikato but while it was welcome it wasn’t nearly enough. Farmers were destocking, feeding out and drying off.

Now it’s official – the upper North Island is in drought.

The government declaration of drought triggers relief measures including tax assistance for farmers under the Income Equalisation Scheme, farm management advice, welfare support and funding for Rural Support Trusts.

The Ministry of Agriculture is also keeping an eye on South Canterbury and North Otago.

We’ve had only 36 mls of rain this year and only about 320 mls in the last 12 months – just over half the annual rainfall.

The late autumn heat has been great for harvest but it’s no good for growing grass. 

Last weekend’s 12 mls or rain freshened irrigated pasture but it made little difference on the dry land. It’s been difficult to flush ewes for tupping and feeding out has started early.

We had a frost this morning. It was followed by a sunny day so we’re still getting growth but if there’s not more rain soon it will be too late for winter feed.

Sweet Child O’ Mine


Happy birthday Izzy Stradlin, 48 today.

Fairtrade chocolate passes taste test


Several years ago my daughter found what she thought was plastic in a Cadbury Easter Egg.

She wrote to the company explaining what she’d found, enclosed the remains of the egg and the wrapper and within days got a response acknowledging her letter.

A couple of weeks later she got a second letter saying it wasn’t plastic but undissolved sugar and a full explanation of how it would have happened. They also sent her a selection of chocolate.

A couple of months later a second package arrived with more chocolate and a letter thanking her for having taken the trouble to write to them.

The company is still very good at customer response.

Last year I did a post complaining about palm oil in chocolate. Mine was one of many complaints which Cadbury responded to by returning to the original recipe, they also sent me a block of palm oil-free dairy milk.

They’ve now followed that up with a block of dairy milk to coincide with the launch of their Fairtrade Certified chocolate.

There are arguments for and against Fairtrade which I’m not qualified to comment on. But as a committed chocophile I can confirm that Fairtrade dairy milk passes the taste test with flying colours.

Wanna know a secret?


The email from a friend included an attachment of a media advisory notice.

I read it, put two and two together, got a very interesting number and was about to blog about it.

Then I realised I can’t do that until after the event the advisory is advising about and that’s not until early next week.

Until then my lips are unwillingly sealed.

Let’s sue them


It’s illegal to break someone else’s car window.

But if there’s a baby in distress inside it on a hot day you’d probably get away with breaking the window to rescue him/her.

I can understand that.

I have much more difficulty understanding how you can get away with damaging property in New Zealand to protest about what’s happening in Iraq.

The acquittal of the three men who admitted the damage at Waihope won’t set a precedent because it was a jury’s decision not a judge’s.

But that is a legal nicety which will escape many zealots who think the end justifies the means and in the wake of the verdict animal rights activists mused publicly on the possibility of using that defence in future.

The Solicitor General David Collins says the Crown has no grounds for an appeal of the verdict but raised the possibility of suing for the cost of the damage caused.

There is a risk the suit could fail which would only reinforce the trio’s sense of righteousness.

But I think it’s a risk worth taking because if the action was successful it would show zealots that regardless of their motivation they can’t escape paying for the cost of their actions.



My knowledge of New Zealand history is better than that of contemporary politics this week – 8/10 in NZ History Online’s weekly quiz.

April 8 in history


On April 8:

217  Roman Emperor Caracalla was assassinated (and succeeded) by his Praetorian Guard prefect, Marcus Opellius Macrinus.

Aureus Macrinus-RIC 0079.jpg

1093 The new Winchester Cathedral was dedicated by Walkelin.


1139  Roger II of Sicily was excommunicated.


1149 Pope Eugene III took refuge in the castle of Ptolemy II of Tusculum.

B Eugen III.jpg

1271 Sultan Baybars conquered the Krak of Chevaliers.

Crac des chevaliers syria.jpeg

1513 Explorer Juan Ponce de León declared Florida a territory of Spain.

1730 Shearith Israel, the first synagogue in New York City, was dedicated.


1767  Ayutthaya kingdom fell to Burmese invaders.

1820 The Venus de Milo was discovered on the Aegean island of Melos.


1832 Black Hawk War: Around three-hundred United States 6th Infantry troops left St. Louis, Missouri to fight the Sauk Native Americans.

1864 American Civil War: Battle of Mansfield – Union forces were thwarted by the Confederate army at Mansfield, Louisiana.

1866 Italy and Prussia allied against Austrian Empire

1873 Julius Vogel became Premier of New Zealand.

Julius Vogel becomes Premier 

1886 William Ewart Gladstone introduced the first Irish Home Rule Bill into the British House of Commons.

1892 Mary Pickford, Canadian actress, was born.


1895  The Supreme Court of the United States declared unapportioned income tax to be unconstitutional in Pollock v. Farmers’ Loan & Trust Co.

1904 The French Third Republic and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland signed the Entente cordiale.


1904 British mystic Aleister Crowley transcribed the first chapter of The Book of the Law.

Cover of The Book of the Law by Aleister Crowley (Weiser 2004 Centennial Edition)

1904  John Hicks, British economist, Bank of Sweden Prize winner, was born.

1904 Longacre Square in Midtown Manhattan was renamed Times Square after The New York Times.


1906 Auguste Deter, the first person to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, died.

1908 Harvard University voted to establish the Harvard Business School.

1913 The 17th Amendment to the United States Constitution, requiring direct election of Senators, beccame law.


1918  World War I: Actors Douglas Fairbanks and Charlie Chaplin sold war bonds on the streets of New York City’s financial district.

1919  Ian Smith, Prime Minister of Rhodesia, was born.

1929  Indian Independence Movement: At the Delhi Central Assembly, Bhagat Singh and Batukeshwar Dutt threw handouts and bombs to court arrest.

1935 The Works Progress Administration was formed when the Emergency Relief Appropriation Act of 1935 became law.


1938 Kofi Annan, Ghanaian United Nations Secretary General, was born.

1942 World War II: Siege of Leningrad – Soviet forces opened a much-needed railway link to Leningrad.

Blokada Leningrad diorama.jpg

1942 – World War II: The Japanese took Bataan in the Philippines.

1943 President Franklin D. Roosevelt, in an attempt to check inflation, froze wages and prices, prohibited workers from changing jobs unless the war effort would be aided thereby, and barred rate increases by common carriers and public utilities.

1946 The last meeting of the League of Nations, was held.

1950 India and Pakistan signed the Liaquat-Nehru Pact.

1952  U.S. President Harry Truman called for the seizure of all domestic steel mills to prevent a nationwide strike.

1953 Mau Mau leader Jomo Kenyatta iwa convicted by Kenya’s British rulers.

1954  A Royal Canadian Air Force Canadair Harvard collided with a Trans-Canada Airlines Canadair North Star over Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, killing 37 people.

1955 Barbara Kingsolver, American novelist, was born.

Poisonwood Bible.jpg

1962 Izzy Stradlin, American musician (Guns N’ Roses), was born.

1965 Michael Jones, New Zealand rugby player and coach, was born.

1968 BOAC Flight 712 caught fire shortly after take off. As a result of her actions in the accident, Barbara Jane Harrison was awarded a posthumous George Cross, the only GC awarded to a woman in peacetime.

Photo of Barbara Jane Harrison in her BOAC stewardess uniform 

1970  Bahr el-Baqar incident Israeli airforce F4 Phantom II fighter bombers,  struck the single-floor school with five bombs and 2 air-to-ground missiles. 46  children were killed, and more than 50 wounded.

1975 Frank Robinson managed the Cleveland Indians in his first game as major league baseball’s first African American manager.

1985  Bhopal disaster: India filed suit against Union Carbide for the disaster which killed an estimated 2,000 and injured another 200,000.

1989  The Democratic Party was formed in South Africa from the merger of four parties.

1989 The two Greek Communist parties and smaller left-wing parties, merged to form the Coalition of the Left and Progress .


1990  New Democracy won the national election in Greece.


1992  Retired tennis champion Arthur Ashe announced that he had AIDS, acquired from blood transfusions during one of his two heart surgeries.


1999 Haryana Gana Parishad, a political party in the state of Haryana, mergesdwith the Indian National Congress.


2004  Darfur conflict: The Humanitarian Ceasefire Agreement was signed by the Sudanese government and two rebel groups.

2006 Shedden massacre: The bodies of eight men, all shot to death, were found in a field in Ontario, Canada.

2008 The construction of the world’s first building to integrate wind turbines was completed in Bahrain.

Bahrain WTC day.JPG

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia

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