Word of the day


Euchre – a card game for two to four players usually played with the 32 highest cards in the pack; gain the advantage over (another player) by preventing them from taking three tricks; to cheat, deceive, trick, or outwit; to be exhausted or ruined.


Rural round-up


Drought relief some way off – Mike Dinsdale:

Northland’s drought-stricken farmers can’t expect any rain relief over the next two weeks as an urgent call goes out for help with grazing and supplementary feed.

This week most of Northland’s west coast, from Cape Reinga to Pouto Pt, has been classified a localised drought area under government regulations for a small-scale adverse climatic event, covering an estimated 400 dairy farms and 700 sheep and beef units.

It’s the third drought in four years in the area and there’s little chance of any significant rain to end the drought for at least the next two weeks. . . .

 ‘Green’ dairy farming proves profitable – Tina Law:

Mark and Devon Slee are proving dairy farmers can remain profitable while adopting techniques to care for the environment.

The South Canterbury couple, who have 2640 cows on 1014 hectares at Ealing, south of Ashburton, won the supreme award at the Canterbury Ballance Farm Environment Awards, announced last week.

Mark Slee said it was great to win the award, and he and Devon were keen to highlight the good environmental practices they had adopted.

“There is a lot of concern about the expansion of dairying, and we just wanted to be out there saying ‘this is what we are doing with our property’.

“It’s worthy of mention,” Slee said. . .

Farmer’s win more significant after near death – Diane Bishop:

Four months after suffering a near-fatal cardiac arrest, Kaiwera farmer John Chittock is at the top of his game.

The 55-year-old won three of the four events at the Mossburn sheep dog trials this month – the short head and yard, the straight hunt and the zig-zag hunt with Blue, Pod and Angus, respectively.

Chittock said he had won two hunt events at a district competition before, but this was the first time he had won three events in almost 40 years of dog trialling.

“I took it with a grain of salt.

“It wasn’t until people started congratulating me that I thought it was pretty special,” he said. . .

Picking up the pace – Hugh Stringleman:

Fonterra’s confirmation last week of a record milk payout forecast came with a commitment to stay on course, but pick up the pace.

The forecast cash payout of $8.75 a kilogram of milksolids is 42% more than last season and the first-half revenue of $11.3 billion was up 21%.

Full-year milk production in New Zealand is expected to grow 7% and that means farms will receive nearly $14b this year, at least half of which will be spent in the regions.

However, normalised earnings and net profit in the first half of the financial year were only half those of the previous corresponding period because high commodity prices have slashed margins on value-added products. . . .

Powell wins Shepherd of the Year competition:

The 2014 Shepherd of the Year was awarded to Jason Powell on March 27 after a successful tour of the farm he works on, while answering questions from the two judges Shayne Rankin and George Tatham about his role.

He won $4500 in cash and prizes and the two merit placegetters, Jakeb Herron and Cameron Dallas, both won a Lister handpiece.

The inaugural competition was part of the Wairarapa Farm Business of the Year competition.

The Farm Business of the Year winners were Don McCreary and Anna Johnston and a field day was held on their farm in Hinakura in the Martinborough area.

Of the seven finalists in the Taratahi Shepherd of the Year competition, three were ex-Taratahi students, including Powell.  . .

Be a betterarian – beginning the journey


Journey of a Betterarian – part 1 – beginning the journey:

You can read more on being a betterarian here.


Country roads aren’t motorways


Rural Canterbury areas are campaigning to get motorists to slow down on country roads:

Selwyn District Council says the “country roads are not motorways” campaign has come about after 187 crashes in the district from 2009 to 2013, in which speed or driving too fast for the conditions were a contributing factor.

No caption

Photo: IS 100k OK CAMPAIGN

Eight people died in those crashes and 33 received serious injuries.

Of all the speed related crashes during that period, 86 percent were on the open road.

The speed limit is a maximum not a target and drivers have a responsibility to drive to the conditions.

Narrower, windier roads which may or may not be sealed require a lot more care than many motorists, accustomed to little more taxing that Sate Highway 1, give them and 100 kph is often not OK on them.

But it’s not only visitors who speed. Locals and frequent users including stock can get a bit complacent and go faster than they should too.

That said, I’ve seen some very careful and considerate behaviour from Fonterra tanker drivers.

One summer evening I was at the top of a hill when I spotted a tanker on a farm track heading for the road a few hundred metres ahead.

I crept down the hill, round the blind corner, up the other side and found the tanker waiting patiently in the gateway for me to pass.

Making a dam difference


Our first foray into irrigation was with underground water pumped straight into the irrigator.

It didn’t take long for us to work out we could do more by building a dam to store water over winter and other times when we didn’t need to irrigate so we had more when we did.

We started with a relatively small dam then built a bigger one.

The difference that made is illustrated by this:









We’ll never see a view like that again.

Thanks to the North Otago Irrigation Scheme, most farms are irrigated so now when, as we often do on the east coast, suffer from drought it’s the few dryland farms which stand out from the green.

Even those who don’t, or can’t, irrigate benefit because when it’s dry they have options of selling stock to or buying grazing or supplementary feed from, those who have irrigation.

There are obvious economic benefits from that, not just for farmers but for those who work for, service and supply them too and that flows on to the wider district and the country.

There are also environmental ones.

Our soils are fertile but they blew over from the Waitaki Valley and if we don’t look after them they’ll blow further away. Independently audited environmental farm plans, which were a condition of the resource consent, ensure that every farm which takes water farms sustainably.

Irrigation has brought social improvements too. For the first time since the ag-sag of the 80s, farmers adult children are returning to North Otago in good numbers. There were four houses on our farm and two neighbouring ones before irrigation, there are now 14 and the 15th is under construction.

We’re the oldest in any of those houses, the next oldest couple is around 40, everyone else is 30 or younger.

The NOIC scheme didn’t need to dam a river. It takes water from the Waitaki, pumps it up a hill into a holding pond from which it’s fed through pipes under pressure to the farm gate.

A bit further north the Opuha scheme did dam a river to provide irrigation and recreational opportunities  like swimming, boating and water skiing.

News of another drought in the North Island where they don’t have this insurance against the weather brings with it stories of the problems which follow.

Not every area has the water to use for irrigation, but those which do know the benefits which come from making a dam difference.

If it’s that good doens’t need govt to do it


Rodney Hide thinks the Green Party and its policies don’t get enough rigorous examination and does his bit to counter that:

He thinks they are more a religious sect than a political party and has taken a look at policies espoused by James Shaw who has passed some sitting MPs on the party’s provisional list.

He says he wants to direct his “energies towards climate change, energy and sustainable economics.” I don’t know what that means but it doesn’t sound good. He goes on, “I believe we can be among the first to have every home generate more energy than it uses from the windmill on the roof.”

Wow. Sign me up. Off the grid. Living on fresh air. No more power bills. In fact, power companies paying me. And it’s not just me. Everyone. 

I would vote for that. 

But hang on. Why isn’t Mr Shaw making and selling these windmills? The market would be huge. Who wouldn’t want one?

Perhaps there are problems. Maybe the windmills are too big. Too heavy. Too noisy. Too expensive. Or the consent process too tough. I know my neighbours wouldn’t want one on my roof. Or perhaps his windmills don’t exist. . .

New Zealand already has a high proportion of energy generated by renewable resources.

That doesn’t mean there’s not room for more, but if windmills on every house was such a good idea, why would the government need to be involved?

Why would the government need to be involved in Shaw’s other big idea to have every vehicle on the road emit nothing more noxious than water vapour?

It sounds like a good idea but if it was good in practice why wouldn’t businesses be doing it?

The power of the state is an awesome, fearsome thing. But for all its power it doesn’t override the laws of physics, basic ecology or economics. In the bowels of the state, Mr Shaw would be thrashing about taxing this, banning that and spending vast sums on green scam after green scam. He would be desperately trying to get windmills on roofs, fish back in the sea, cars running clean and everyone rich.

The universe won’t be listening. The planet won’t care. All the man-made laws, all the taxes, all the subsidies won’t make his cars fly, his windmills spin, or his industry prosper. The world doesn’t work the way the Greens think. And the suffering? It would be immense. 

His dream; our nightmare.

These are strong words but they are based a lot more on reality than much of Green policy.


March 31 in history


1146 Bernard of Clairvauxpreached his sermon in a field at Vézelay, urging the necessity of a Second Crusade.

1492 Queen Isabella of Castille issued the Alhambra decree, ordering her 150,000 Jewish subjects to convert to Christianity or face expulsion.

1596 René Descartes, French mathematician, was born (d. 1650).

1621 Andrew Marvell, English poet, was born  (d. 1678).

1717 A sermon on “The Nature of the Kingdom of Christ” by Benjamin Hoadly, the Bishop of Bangor, provokes the Bangorian Controversy.

1732 Joseph Haydn, Austrian composer, was born (d. 1809).

1774 American Revolutionary War: The Great Britain ordered the port of Boston, Massachusetts closed pursuant to the Boston Port Act.

1822  The massacre of the population of the Greek island of Chios by soldiers of the Ottoman Empire following a rebellion attempt, depicted by the French artist Eugène Delacroix.

1854 Commodore Matthew Perry signed the Treaty of Kanagawa with the Japanese government, opening the ports of Shimoda and Hakodate to American trade.

1864 – Rewi’s last stand. The last battle of the Waikato War began when the spearhead of a 1200-strong British force charged an apparently weak Māori position at Ōrākau, south-east of Te Awamutu.


1866 The Spanish Navy bombed the harbour of Valparaíso, Chile.

1885  The United Kingdom established a protectorate over Bechuanaland.

1889 The Eiffel Tower was inaugurated.

1903 Richard Pearse made a powered flight in an early aircraft.

1906 The Intercollegiate Athletic Association of the United States (later National Collegiate Athletic Association) is established to set rules for amateur sports in the United States.

1909 Serbia accepted Austrian control over Bosnia-Herzegovina.

1909 Construction began on the RMS Titanic.

1910 – the Hocken library opened at the Otago Museum.


1912 Construction was completed on the RMS Titanic.

1917 The United States took possession of the Danish West Indies after paying $25 million to Denmark, and renames the territory the United States Virgin Islands.

1921 The Royal Australian Air Force was formed.

1926 John Fowles, English author, was born (d. 2005).

1930 The Motion Pictures Production Code was instituted, imposing strict guidelines on the treatment of sex, crime, religion and violence in film for the next thirty eight years.

1931  An earthquake destroyed Managua, Nicaragua, killing 2,000.

1933 The Civilian Conservation Corps was established with the mission of relieving rampant unemployment.

1935 Herb Alpert, American trumpeter and band leader, was born.

1936 Marge Piercy, American writer, was born.

1940 The funeral of Labour Prime Minister Michael Joseph Savage took place.

Funeral of Labour PM Savage

1942  World War II: Japanese forces invaded Christmas Island, then a British possession.

1942 Holocaust in Ivano-Frankivsk (then called Stanislawow), western Ukraine. German Gestapo organised the first deportation of 5,000 Jews from Stanislawow ghetto to Belzec death camp.

1946 – The first election was held in Greece after World War II.

1947  César Gaviria Trujillo, former President of Colombia, was born.

1948 Al Gore, former Vice President of the United States and recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, was born.

1951 Remington Rand delivered the first UNIVAC I computer to the United States Census Bureau.

1955 Angus Young, Scottish-born Australian guitarist (AC/DC), was born.

1955  Robert Vance, New Zealand cricketer, was born.

1959 The 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, crossed the border into India and was granted political asylum.

1964 The Dictatorship in Brazil, under the aegis of general Castello Branco, began.

1965 Iberia Airlines Convair 440 crashed into the sea on approach to Tangier, killing 47 of 51 occupants.

1966 The Soviet Union launched Luna 10 which became the first space probe to enter orbit around the Moon.

1970 Explorer 1 re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere (after 12 years in orbit).

1970 Nine terrorists from the Japanese Red Army hijack Japan Airlines Flight 351 at Tokyo International Airport, wielding samurai swords and carrying a bomb.

1972 Alejandro Amenábar, Spanish film director, was born.

1979 The last British soldier left Malta which declared its Freedom Day (Jum il-Helsien).

1986 – A Mexicana Boeing 727 en route to Puerto Vallarta erupted in flames and crashes in the mountains northwest of Mexico City, killing 166.

1986 – Six metropolitan county councils were abolished in England.

1990 200,000 protestors took to the streets of London to protest against the newly introduced Poll Tax.

1991 The Islamic Constitutional Movement, or Hadas, was established in Kuwait.

1991 Georgian independence referendum, 1991: nearly 99 percent of the voters supported the country’s independence from the Soviet Union.

1992 The USS Missouri (BB-63), the last active United States Navy Battleship, was decommissioned.

199 The journal Nature reported the finding in Ethiopia of the first complete Australopithecus afarensis skull.

1995 In Corpus Christi, Texas, Latin superstar Selena Quintanilla Perez was shot and killed by Yolanda Saldivar, the president of her own fan club.

1998 Netscape released the code base of its browser under an open-source license agreement; with code name Mozilla and which was spun off into the non-profit Mozilla Foundation.

2004 In Fallujah, Iraq, 4 American private military contractors working for Blackwater USA, were killed and their bodies mutilated after being ambushed.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia

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