Breaker Morant


Happy birthday Bruce Beresford, 70 today.

Word of the day


Recumbentibus –a knock-out blow, physical or verbal.

Monday’s quiz


1. What do we use the masseter,  temporalis, medial pterygoid, and lateral pterygoid  for?

2. Who said: “Wit has truth in it; wisecracking is simply calisthenics with words.”?

3. What colour is eau-de-nil?

4. It’s arco iris in Spanish, arcobaleno in Italian, regenboog in Dutch, arc-en-ciel in French and aniwaniwa or kopere in Maori – what is it in English?

5. Where is New Zealand’s largest earth dam and what is it called?

Is the sun setting on sheep?


MAF’s annual Sheep and Beef Farm Monitoring Report was pretty gloomy reading.

. . .  mild lambing conditions across the whole country resulted in record lambing percentages for the 2009/10 season, but MAF Christchurch Regional Team Leader, John Greer, says drought in Northland, Central Otago, North Otago and South Canterbury saw reduced production and early sales of stock.

“Unfortunately lower lamb schedule prices, generally attributed to the high New Zealand dollar, caused average lamb price to fall $8.43 compared with 2008/09 and this more than offset the record lambing.”

MAF’s national sheep and beef model shows that farm surplus for reinvestment fell 37 percent to only $19 300 and cash surplus fell to a very modest $6900.

Profit in the coming year is expected to be similar to the 2009/10 season, with a slight increase in the lamb price expected. Cattle income is predicted to fall slightly in 2010/11 as farmers recover from the 2009 drought.

Farmers are budgeting for a very low cash surplus of $4400 in 2010/11, despite an increase in dairy grazing in many regions, an expected increase in wool weights and prices, and a continued effort by farmers to reduce spending in many areas.

It’s no wonder farmers are looking for other opportunities including dairying or dairy support.

But is the sun setting on the sheep industry?

We’re breeding sheep again for the first time in 12 years. Lambing 11,000 ewes is a sign that we have confidence that there is still money to be made from meat – and hopefully wool.

Rabobank’s rural confidence survey  suggests we’re not alone:

The latest survey – completed this month – shows 34 per cent of the country’s farmers expect the rural economy to improve in the next 12 months. While this was up only slightly on the 32 per cent with that expectation last survey, the number of farmers expecting conditions to worsen fell from 26 per cent previously to just 11 per cent this survey.

Rabobank general manager Rural New Zealand Ben Russell said the survey showed much of the improvement in rural confidence had been driven by sheep and beef farmers, who had a more optimistic outlook about conditions in, and prospects for, their sectors.

“There have been several factors working in the favour of sheep and beef producers,” Mr Russell said. “The dollar fell slightly during the survey period, while there has also been good news in terms of commodity prices in these sectors.”

Mr Russell said lamb prices, in particular, had held at higher levels than expected during the main processing season, due to good offshore market prices.

“Farmgate lamb prices season to date have averaged around $80 a head, compared to the approximately $70 a head envisaged at the start of the processing season,” he said. Meanwhile beef prices had also improved earlier than usual during the peak processing season from the lows experienced pre-Christmas.

I’m not sure why the Rabobank shows a more positive outlook than the MAF survey suggests is realistic.

But meat prices were stronger last year and are expected to hold up this season.

Beef + Lamb NZ and the Meat Industry Association have released the terms of reference for their Meat Sector Strategy and B+LNZ’s economic service says sheep numbers are stabilising again after three consecutive years of dramatic falls.

A 2.5 per cent increase in total sheep numbers to 33.20 million head at 30 June 2010 has been driven by the retention of hoggets, up 10.4 per cent on the previous year on both breeding and finishing farms. Whilst rebuilding of the flock slowly takes place following the droughts in recent years, the ewe flock is still 16.6 per cent lower than five years ago. 

B+LNZ Economic Service Executive Director, Rob Davison says the annual stock number survey, which establishes the productive base of livestock for 2010-11, shows sheep numbers increased by 3.3 per cent (+0.53 million) in the North Island and 1.8 per cent (+0.29 million) in the South Island. 

“The increase in total sheep numbers is driven mainly by the retention of hoggets. Fewer hoggets were kept in previous years as farmers sold off ewe hoggets for cashflow. Also, farmers are expecting good returns for store two-tooths in the coming season, based on strong ewe prices last summer.” 

Mr Davison says early indications suggest this spring’s total lamb crop will be back on last year’s by around 0.71 million lambs (-2.5 per cent).   

“This decrease will come from a slight drop in breeding ewes (-0.6%) to 22 million, with North Island numbers down 1.2 per cent and South Island numbers remaining static.  There will also be fewer lambs born per 100 ewes due to scanning results back 5-10 percentage points and poorer ewe condition heading into lambing likely to affect lamb survival. However, as always, the final judge for the actual lamb crop will be the weather this spring. 

“With this year’s lamb crop likely to be back on last year’s, it is expected that the number of lambs to be available for export will be around 21.4 million, similar to the export year just ending.”

Lamb has been defying the normal rule of supply and demand with numbers falling while demand has been high.

Perhaps the return of confidence in farmers reflects the hope that this season high demand and lower supply will result in better prices.

Dairying has lots to be proud of


DairyNZ is changing direction with its Go Dairy campaign which until now has been aimed at attracting urban people into dairying.

The new campaign aims to show New Zealanders there is a lot to be proud of in the dairy industry.

“Previously our ads have been designed to attract new people to dairy farming, but this year we’re telling the great story we have, showing New Zealanders that we lead the world when it comes to dairy,” says DairyNZ CEO Dr Tim Mackle.

He says research has confirmed New Zealanders are becoming increasingly disconnected with their rural heritage and that this campaign is about reversing that trend.

“It’s a concerning trend for all of New Zealand. We have something special here, and it’s important that we’re able to sit down and talk with the community and government about key issues and challenges we face and how we can address them.

“Many people don’t know where we sit on the world scale or appreciate the fact that New Zealand dairy products are exported to more than 140 countries, that we’re responsible for some world-leading innovations. 

Rural media showcases successful and innovative dairy farmers. But almost all the stories about dairying outside the farm pages centre on the payout or portray dairying in a bad light.

I’m not suggesting covering anything up, but I would like to see a bit of balance. There is a lot to celebrate in dairying, as the campaign will show.

“We know we’ve got challenges – the size of our environmental footprint can’t continue to increase along with the size of our contribution to the economy. And we’re serious about reducing dairy farming’s impact on the environment. We’re working on these issues, because it’s important not just to dairy farmers and our customers, but to all of New Zealand,” he says.

The campaign, created by Naked Communications and Josh&Jamie, will run on television, and also in newspapers and magazines.  The television commercial tells the story of a Kiwi dairy farmer who goes round the world on his quad bike and returns to New Zealand with the realisation that while other countries may have more land, money, people, rain and sun than us, when it comes to dairy, New Zealand is the world leader, exporting to over 140 countries, feeding over 100 million people and accounting for a third of the world’s dairy trade.

Dr Mackle says the print ads provide further evidence for the statements made in the television commercial, with stories of a Waikato dairy farmer’s invention of the electric fence, showing how a Fonterra factory is conserving water in Australia and showing how our dairy products go to all corners of the world.

“It’s talking about some of the innovation and achievements of the industry and enabling New Zealanders to feel proud of how good we are at dairy farming here,” he says.

The TV ad is here.

August 16 in history


On August 16:

1513  Battle of Guinegate (Battle of the Spurs) – King Henry VIII of England defeated French Forces.

1777  American Revolutionary War: The Americans led by General John Stark routed British and Brunswick troops under Friedrich Baum at the Battle of Bennington.


1780 American Revolutionary War: Battle of Camden – The British defeated the Americans.

Battle of Camden.jpg

1792  Maximilien Robespierre presented the petition of the Commune of Paris to the Legislative Assembly, which demanded the formation of a revolutionary tribunal.


1819  Seventeen people died and more than 600 were injured by cavalry charges at the Peterloo Massacre at a public meeting at St. Peter’s Field, Manchester.

Peterloo Massacre.png

1841  U.S. President John Tyler vetoed a bill which called for the re-establishment of the Second Bank of the United States. Enraged Whig Party members riot outside the White House in the most violent demonstration on White House grounds in U.S. history.

1858 U.S. President James Buchanan inaugurated the new transatlantic telegraph cable by exchanging greetings with Queen Victoria.


1859  The Tuscan National Assembly formally deposed the House of Habsburg-Lorraine.

1865  Restoration Day in the Dominican Republic which regained its independence after 4 years of fighting against Spanish Annexation.

1868  Arica, Peru (now Chile) was devastated by a tsunami which followed a magnitude 8.5 earthquake in the Peru-Chile Trench off the coast. An estimated 25,000 people in Arica and perhaps 70,000 people in all were killed.

1869  Battle of Acosta Ñu: A Paraguay battalion made up of children was massacred by the Brazilian Army during the War of the Triple Alliance.

Batalha de Campo Grande - 1871.jpg

1870  Franco-Prussian War: The Battle of Mars-La-Tour reulted in a Prussian victory.


1888 T. E. Lawrence, English writer and soldier, was born (d. 1935).

Te lawrence.jpg

1896 Skookum Jim Mason, George Carmackn and Dawson Charlie discovered gold in a tributary of the Klondike River in Canada, setting off the Klondike Gold Rush.


1902 Georgette Heyer, English novelist, was born (d. 1974).

1913  Tōhoku Imperial University of Japan (modern day Tōhoku University) admitted its first female students.

1913 Menachem Begin, 6th Prime Minister of Israel, Nobel laureate, was born (d. 1992).


1913 – Completion of the Royal Navy battlecruiser HMS Queen Mary.

HMS Queen Mary.jpg

1914  World War I: Battle of Cer began.

1920  Ray Chapman of the Cleveland Indians was hit in the head by a fastball thrown by Carl Mays of the New York Yankees, and dies early the next day.

1920 – The congress of the Communist Party of Bukhara opened.

1929  The 1929 Palestine riots in the British Mandate of Palestine between Arabs and Jews.


1930 The first colour sound cartoon, Fiddlesticks, was made by Ub Iwerks.


1940 Bruce Beresford, Australian film director, was born.


1940  World War II: The Communist Party was banned in German-occupied Norway.

Norwegian Communist Party.png

1941  HMS Mercury, Royal Navy Signals School and Combined Signals School opened at Leydene, near Petersfield, Hampshire, England.

HMS Mercury II launch.jpg

1942  World War II: The two-person crew of the U.S. naval blimp L-8 disappeared on a routine anti-submarine patrol over the Pacific Ocean.

1944 Council of Organisations for Relief Service Overseas (CORSO) was formed.

CORSO formed

1944  First flight of the Junkers Ju 287.


1945  An assassination attempt on Japan’s prime minister, Kantaro Suzuki.


1945 – Puyi, the last Chinese emperor and ruler of Manchukuo, was captured by Soviet troops.


1954  The first edition of Sports Illustrated was published.

1957 Tim Farriss, Australian musician (INXS), was born.


1960  Cyprus gained its independence from the United Kingdom.

1960  Joseph Kittinger parachuted from a balloon over New Mexico at 102,800 feet (31,330 m), setting three record: High-altitude jump, free-fall, and highest speed by a human without an aircraft.


1962 Pete Best was replaced by Ringo Starr (Richard Starkey) as drummer for The Beatles.

1964  Vietnam War: A coup d’état replaced Duong Van Minh with General Nguyen Khanh as President of South Vietnam.

1966 Vietnam War: The House Un-American Activities Committee began investigations of Americans who aided the Viet Cong.


1972 Emily Robison, American country singer (Dixie Chicks), was born.


1972 The Royal Moroccan Air Force fired on, Hassan II of Morocco‘s plane.


1987 A McDonnell Douglas MD-82 carrying Northwest Airlines Flight 255 crashed on take-off from Detroit Metropolitan Airport in Romulus, Michigan, killing 155 passengers and crew. The sole survivor was four-year-old Cecelia Cichan.

1989  A solar flare created a geomagnetic storm that affected micro chips, leading to a halt of all trading on Toronto’s stock market.


1992  In response to an appeal by President Fernando Collor de Mello to wear green and yellow as a way to show support for him, thousands of Brazilians took to the streets dressed in black.


2005  West Caribbean Airways Flight 708 crashed near Machiques, Venezuela, killing the 160 aboard.

 Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia

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