Word of the day


Refection – : refreshment of mind, spirit, or body; especially : nourishment; refreshment with food or drink;  a light meal; reingestion of fecal material to obtain nutrients, as practiced by rabbits and rats.

Rural round-up


Strong demand improves meat export returns:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand compiles lamb, mutton and beef export statistics for the country. The following summarises activity during the first quarter of the 2014-15 meat export season (1 October 2014 to 31 December 2014).


A more favourable exchange rate and strong demand – particularly for beef – saw average meat export returns improve in the first quarter of the 2014-15 season. . .

Parched land alarms farmers – David Loughrey:

 The reality of Otago’s continuing dry weather is beginning to bite hard and an end to irrigation for some farmers is taking a financial toll.

Andrew and Lynnore Templeton have been a full week in a brown, baking Middlemarch with no water available from a Taieri River running below its minimum flow.

Federated Farmers said farmers were becoming alarmed at how fast the land was drying out, while the Otago Regional Council said it was continuing meetings with farmers to try to deal with the situation. . .

Dry soil conditions put DairyNZ on alert to boost support:

Soils are drying out fast around the country, but above the ground it’s a different story, with grass and feed supplies looking good in many parts of the country, says industry body DairyNZ.

General manager of extension, Craig McBeth, says DairyNZ is closely monitoring the soil moisture and feed levels in all regions in case it needs to quickly ramp up support for farmers having a dry summer coming on top of a low seasonal milk price.

“It is already severely dry in parts of Canterbury and North Otago and farmers there are facing serious measures with some irrigation restrictions now in place. The south of the Wairarapa is also very dry. The soil moisture data is also showing us that the rest of the country is on the brink of heading into dryer than average soil moisture conditions. We need to see some rain soon to reduce the risk of a normal dry summer turning into something more serious,” he says. . .

 The Search is on for the Nation’s Top Steak:

Beef farmers across the country are putting their best entries forward for the thirteenth annual Beef + Lamb New Zealand Steak of Origin Competition.

The highly anticipated competition, sponsored by Zoetis, seeks to find New Zealand’s most tender and tasty steak, an award taken seriously by those in the industry.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand CEO, Dr Scott Champion, says the competition is a great platform to showcase the New Zealand beef industry and illustrates the great care farmers take in producing the best quality beef.

“It’s also a competition keenly contested by beef farmers who strive to take the coveted Steak of Origin title,” says Champion. . . .

New test for serious algal toxin threat saves time and money for NZ shellfish farmers – Fiona Rotherham:

(BusinessDesk) – The most serious algal toxin threat to New Zealand shellfish can now be detected faster and at around a quarter of the previous cost through a new test method likely to be introduced this year.

The test for paralytic shellfish toxin (PST), the most serious of shellfish poisoning syndromes caused by harmful algae, has been developed by New Zealand’s Cawthron Institute in collaboration with the UK’s Centre for Environment, Fisheries & Aquaculture Science.

Cawthron researchers developed the world’s first instrumental test method for marine toxins in seafood using marine biotoxins it sells for more than $100,000 per teaspoonful to laboratories worldwide after some people fell sick from eating shellfish affected by algal blooms in the 1990s. . .

Potato shortage has upside in Southland – Phil McCarthy:

They’re eating our potatoes in the North Island, and in Taiwan too.

A nationwide potato shortage is leaving some chip-lovers pining for their favourite flavours, with some Southland supermarkets posting notices in chip aisles apologising for supply shortages. However, one Southland company is making up for a shortage of fresh potatoes in the central North Island – and tip-toeing into exporting fresh potatoes to Asia. 

Pyper’s Produce director Brent Lamb said it was not very often the Branxholme-based growers sold potatoes into the North Island but they had since late November because poor growing conditions there had limited the supply of fresh potatoes. . .

Runs on board for deer initiative:

Advance Parties, a Deer Industry NZ initiative designed to help farmers increase the profitability of their farm businesses, is getting runs on the board. At the end of the first year of a three-year trial co-funded by the Sustainable Farming Fund, there are eight Advance Parties underway, involving 89 farms.

Project manager Amy Wills says Advance Party members are committed to personal and farm business development, sharing their data, methods, plans, results, problems and successes. It’s very different to a farm discussion group.

Because members lay all their cards on the table, Advance Party meetings are limited to the participating farmers, their families and staff, plus a facilitator. Meetings are not open to the public or the media. . .


New Zealand Winegrowers launches Mandarin-language website

New Zealand Winegrowers has launched a Mandarin-language website to support ongoing marketing activities in China.

The site, www.nz-wine.cn, features information about New Zealand’s wine-growing regions and key grape varietals with content mirroring the flagship English-language site www.nzwine.com. In addition it includes details of upcoming events in Mainland China, links to social media platforms Weibo and WeChat, and offers insight to the New Zealand wine industry’s widespread commitment to sustainability. . .


Thursday’s quiz


1. Who said: To say that you can kill in the name of God is blasphemy.?

2. Which are the four biggest religions (by number of followers) in the world?

3. It’s croire in Friench, credere in Italian, creer in Spanish and whakapono in Maori, what is it in English?

4. In which countries were the Shinto and Jainism religions founded (each in a different country)?

5. Should blasphemy be a criminal offence?

Never lamb alone


We Love Our Lamb’s contribution to Australia Day:

Trevor Ward-Davies 27.11.44 – 13.1.14


Trevor Ward-Davies, a member of the 60s band Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich, has died .

Ward-Davies – ‘Dozy’ in the British band – passed away on Tuesday following a short illness.

The bassist was a founding member of the group, which enjoyed hits with ‘Hold Tight!’, ‘Bend It!’, ‘The Legend of Xanadu’, and ‘Zabadak!’ in their 1960s heyday before breaking up in 1972 following the departure of frontman Dee three years earlier. . .


NZ ready for climate change


New Zealand is among the countries which are best prepared for dealing with climate change:

The University of Notre Dame in Indiana compiled the new list, which puts New Zealand and Scandinavian countries at the top and sub-Saharan African countries at the bottom.

The rankings reflect a combination of the preparations each country has made and how vulnerable they are, in terms of their location and climate. Factors taken into account include reliability of safe drinking water, crop yields, infrastructure and heatwave hazards.

New Zealand is ranked the fourth-most ready and fifth-least vulnerable, but is pipped on the overall list by Norway, which is the fourth-least vulnerable country and fifth-most ready. . .

Top 10 countries placed to deal with climate change


New Zealand





United Kingdom

United States



Bottom 10 countries




Democratic Republic of the Congo

Central African Republic






The report’s analysis of New Zealand shows:


Indicator Raw Score
Vulnerability 0.218
Food 0.110
Projected change of cereal yields 2.23 0
Projected population growth 0.03 0.165
food import dependency 0.35 0.345
Rural population 13.67 0.137
Agriculture capacity 0.02 0.016
Child malnutrition 0 0
Water 0.051
Projected change of annual runoff -0.01 0.012
Projected change of annual groundwater recharge -0.01 0.023
Fresh water withdrawal rate 1.45 0.015
water dependency ratio 0 0
Dam capacity 3,787.00 0.257
Access to reliable drinking water 100.00 0
Health 0.114
Projected change of deaths from climate change induced diseases 1.03 0.132
Projected change of malaria hazard 0.50 0.439
Dependency on external resource for health services 0 0
Slum population 0 0
Medical staff 13.61 0
Access to improved sanitation facilities
Ecosystem Services 0.417
Projected change of biome distribution 0.63 0.656
Projected change of marine biodiversity 3.11 1.000
Natural capital dependency 0.12 0.216
Ecological footprint 8.16 0
Protected biome 83.93 0.161
Engagement in international environmental conventions 0.53 0.470
Human Habitat 0.451
Projected change of heatwave hazard 75.45 0.666
Projected change of flood hazard 0.05 0.302
Urban concentration 0.86 0.862
Age dependency ratio 0.34 0.140
Quality of trade and transport infrastructure 3.42 0.395
Paved roads 66.24 0.340
Infrastructure 0.165
Projected change of hydropower generation capacity 0 0
Projected change of sea level rise impacts 0.01 0.126
Dependency on imported energy 14.27 0.143
Population living under 5m above sea level 12.56 0.521
Electricity access 100.00 0
Disaster preparedness 3.95 0.201

Most of the political focus is on attempts to counter climate change.

Ensuring we are prepared to deal with its impact is at least as important.

A big part of that is drought-proofing agriculture with more reliable irrigation to ensure we can feed ourselves and produce food for countries not able to produce enough themselves.


January 15 in history


588 BC – Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon laid siege to Jerusalem under Zedekiah’s reign.

69 – Otho seized power in Rome, proclaiming himself Emperor of Rome, but rules for only three months before committing suicide.

1493 – Christopher Columbus set sail for Spain from Hispaniola, ending his first voyage to the New World.

1559 Elizabeth I was crowned queen of England in Westminster Abbey.

1622  Molière, (Jean-Baptiste Poquelin) French playwright, was born (d. 1673).

1759 The British Museum opened.

1842 Blessed Mary McKillop, Australian  saint, was born (d. 1909)

1870  A political cartoon for the first time symbolised the United States Democratic Party with a donkey (“A Live Jackass Kicking a Dead Lion” by Thomas Nast for Harper’s Weekly).
1889 The Coca-Cola Company, then known as the Pemberton Medicine Company, was originally incorporated in Atlanta
1892 James Naismith published the rules of basketball.

1893  Ivor Novello, Welsh composer and actor, was born (d. 1951).

1902  King Saud of Saudi Arabia, was born (d. 1969).

1906 Aristotle Onassis, Greek shipping magnate, was born  (d. 1975).

1909 Jean Bugatti, German-born automobile designer, was born  (d. 1939).

1913  Lloyd Bridges, American actor, was born (d. 1998).

1914 Hugh Trevor-Roper, English historian, was born (d. 2003).

1919  Maurice Herzog, French mountaineer, first to ascend an 8000m peak, Annapurna in 1950, was born (d. 2012).

1919 – Boston Molasses Disaster: A large molasses tank in Boston burst and a wave of molasses poured through the streets, killing 21 people and injuring 150 others.

1929 Martin Luther King, Jr., American civil rights leader, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, was born (d. 1968).

1936 The first building to be completely covered in glass was completed in Toledo, Ohio ( built for the Owens-Illinois Glass Company).

1943 – The world’s largest office building, The Pentagon, was dedicated in Arlington, Virginia.

1966  The government of Abubakar Tafawa Balewa in Nigeria was overthrown in a military coup d’état.

1969 The Soviet Union launched Soyuz 5.

1970 After a 32-month fight for independence from Nigeria, Biafra surrendered.

1970 United States Vice-President Spiro Agnew’s three-day visit to New Zealand sparked some of the most violent anti-Vietnam War demonstrations seen in this country.

 Anti-Vietnam War protestors greet US Vice President
1970 – Muammar al-Qaddafi was proclaimed premier of Libya.

1973 Citing progress in peace negotiations, President Richard Nixon announced the suspension of offensive action in North Vietnam.

1977  The Kälvesta air disaster killed 22 people, the worst air crash in Sweden‘s history.

1986 The Living Seas opened at EPCOT Center in Walt Disney World, Florida.

1991  The United Nations’ deadline for the withdrawal of Iraqi forces from occupied Kuwait expired, preparing the way for the start of Operation Desert Storm.

1992  The international community recognised the independence of Slovenia and Croatia from the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

1993  Salvatore Riina, the Mafia boss known as ‘The Beast’, was arrested in Sicily after three decades as a fugitive.

2001 Wikipedia, a free Wiki content encyclopedia, went online.

2005 – ESA’s SMART-1 lunar orbiter discovered elements including calcium, aluminum, silicon, iron, and other surface elements on the moon.

2009 US Airways Flight 1549 made an emergency landing into the Hudson River shortly after takeoff from LaGuardia Airport in New York City. All passengers and crew members survived.

2013 – A train carrying Egyptian Army recruits derailed near Giza, Greater Cairo, killing 19 and injuring 120 others.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.

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