366 days of gratitude

February 9, 2016

One of my mother’s uncles died and left her some money.

It wasn’t a fortune but it was enough to buy a deep freeze. They weren’t common place in homes at that time and would have been relatively much more expensive then – the 1960s – than such appliances are now.

Mum was delighted with her purchase and made good use of it to preserve fruit and vegetables and make what would have been a pretty tight household-budget go further by buying food on special.

The flatmates in my first student flat bought a freezer to take advantage of the generosity of our parents, especially that of one who came from a farm.

The next few years were freezer-less until I married, then a couple of old deep freezes came with the house that came with the farm that came with my farmer. Both were chest freezers, the danger of which was that food got lost at the bottom,

The power to the garage where they were housed was accidentally turned off one Friday and I didn’t find out until I went to get something from one of them two days later.

In the ensuing clean up I found things I hadn’t put there which meant they’d been there since before my mother-in-law retired several years earlier.

When those freezers died we replaced them with an upright freezer. It’s much easier to keep track of the contents and less likely, though not impossible, to lose track of food until it’s well past its use-by date.

I don’t do the preserving my mother did but I do often make more than we need for a meal and freeze it for future use and of course it almost always has a good supply of meat.

A freezer was a luxury for my mother, I regard it as a necessity and today I’m grateful for it.

Word of the day

February 9, 2016

Scattergood – wasteful person; spendthrift.

Making money from fresh air

February 9, 2016

A keen photographer travelling through Europe kept waiting for a really clear day for scenic shots until he realised that Europe doesn’t do clear days the way New Zealand does.

While air quality deteriorates in some towns and cities in winter, on fine days in most places we generally have clear views and fresh air that people from other more heavily populated and industrialised countries can only dream of.

We’ve often joked that if only we could bottle it we could make a fortune but now that might not be a joke:

The idea of buying crisp, country air in a jar has proved popular in heavily-polluted cities such as Beijing and Shanghai.

In fact, people are paying upwards of $170 for a single container of air.

Leo De Watts from Britain has jumped on the bandwagon; selling jars of air collected from locations like Yorkshire, Somerset and Wales.

He describes Welsh air as having a “morning dew feel to it” with “vibrant and flavoursome undertones” while air originating from Somerset has “unblemished qualities”.

Setting off with a car full of empty jars at 5am, the team “harvests” air in large nets and seals it in the glass jars before shipping it across the world.

Mr De Watts, 27, said he had sold 180 bottles of such luxury air since his business started up just a few weeks ago.

However his company is not the first to put a price on oxygen.

Last year, a Canadian start-up which began selling plastic bags of air as a joke on eBay, realised there was a real market for the product when the air sold for $230.

The company then began bottling air from the Rocky Mountains and selling it in China for 100 Yuan ($NZ23) – 33 more times expensive than a bottle of water – but apparently a fraction of the price of British air. . .

If northern hemisphere air sells for that much, how much would fresh New Zealand air be worth?

Rural round-up

February 9, 2016

Southern Field Days: from humble beginnings to huge event – Brittany Pickett:

From humble beginnings the Southern Field Days at Waimumu have transformed into the second largest in the country. Brittany Pickett set out to find out how Southland’s biennial agricultural magnet began and where it goes to next.

Some have dubbed it the “friendly field days”, a more laid-back version of the National Field Days, but behind the scenes Southern Field Days is anything but laid-back.

Like most events, the Southern Field Days began with an idea; hold an ag-focused event for Southland farmers which was farm-related and had a technical agricultural focus. . . 

Subsidies stall recovery – Neal Wallace:

Subsidies for European and United States farmers, that could be stalling the much-anticipated recovery in global dairy prices, are now being investigated by the New Zealand dairy industry.  

The subsidies were mostly linked to environmental protection rather than milk production but special agricultural trade envoy Mike Petersen and Dairy Companies Association chief executive Kimberly Crewther both believed the payments were shielding farmers from market reality.

“If price signals are masked for European farmers it could mean a delayed response to the dairy price cycle,” Crewther said. . .

‘People Lift’ having an effect – Sally Rae:

During challenging times such as those the dairy industry is now experiencing, being efficient on-farm is crucial.

So for Waipahi farm manager James Matheson, being involved in People Lift has been a beneficial experience.

The initiative, which is being trialled in the Waikato and Southland, has been created by DairyNZ. . . 

Training for Farmstrong cycling tour – Sally Rae:

A cycle seat is not the sort of saddle that Olivia Ross is ordinarily accustomed to.

But Miss Ross (27), a keen equestrian rider and barrel racer, has been enjoying a change of horsepower.

As Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s southern South Island extension manager, a keen Young Farmer, and supporter of all things rural, she has embraced Farmstrong, an initiative launched in June last year to promote wellbeing for farmers. . . 

Big traders forced to rethink –

A World Trade Organisation ban on agricultural export subsidies was more important for its signals on where global trade negotiations could go next than the ban itself, former top trade negotiator Crawford Falconer says.  

Fonterra immediately hailed a “watershed moment for global trade” with the removal of what it described as the “most damaging” subsidy available to governments wanting to support their farmers.  

The description of the subsidies – undoubtedly a drag on world dairy prices in the 1980s and 90s but not used for the best part of a decade – raised eyebrows among some local trade-watchers. . .

Historic Otago coastal property up for sale – Brooke Hobson:

Another piece of New Zealand paradise is up for sale, this time at the other end of the South Island.

Nature Wonders, a privately owned 172-hectare property at Taiaroa Head on Otago Peninsula is on the market as of today.

It comes after Awaroa Inlet in the Able Tasman National Park was listed for sale and a Givealittle campaign started for Kiwis to buy a piece of the property and gift it the Department of Conservation to oversee. . . 

Duck eggs hatch into growing business for Taranaki couple – Christpher Reive:

Forget chickens, duck eggs are the next big thing.

After doing their research about the health benefits of the duck eggs, Taranaki couple Dawn and have started to make a living out of making people, including themselves, healthier. 

“It’s not just about us and the ducks, it’s about helping people,” Dawn said. . . 

Hilux New Zealand Rural Games

Nathan Guy the Minister for Primary Industries and Steve Holland founder of the ‪#‎hilux‬ ‪#‎ruralgames‬ finding a good moist cowpat to throw.

Hilux New Zealand Rural Games's photo.

TVNZ coverage of the games is here  and Newshub’s report is here with the Minister trying cow-pat throwing and saying: “Sometimes we dish it out, sometimes we receive it.”

Hilux New Zealand Rural Games

Who will be judged Outstanding Rural Sports Competitor at this year’s Games and win the Grumpy Graham Trophy? Here’s Games founder Steve Hollander with Mitre 10 New Zealand‘s Stan Scott who made the shield in memory of our founding patron Neil ‘Grumpy’ Graham.
Hilux New Zealand Rural Games's photo.

Some of us can learn from other people’s mistakes . . .

February 9, 2016

. . . the rest of us have to be the other people.

Last week I was one of the other people and am posting this so you can learn from it.

I noticed my farmer’s phone needed charging so plugged it in and saw there was an upgrade due.

Knowing he wasn’t good at upgrading I did it and instead of an improvement to performance the phone wouldn’t work at all.

The short version of a long story involving a lot of time with the very helpful people at 0800myapple was that upgrading phone software if it isn’t regularly upgraded is like taking it from kindergarten to university in one big jump. The phone doesn’t like that and you have to use the restore function which takes the phone back to how it would be if it was new.

Fortunately his contacts were backed up on icloud and his photos on Dropbox so nothing important was lost and both the phone and my farmer’s good humour are back to normal.

What I’ve learned from this – upgrade regularly; backup regularly and leave my farmer to do, or not do, his own upgrades.

The collective we are dumbfounded

February 9, 2016

Dame Helen Mirren nails it: The collective we are dumbfounded that people still drive drunk.

There may be some irony that it comes in an advertisement for alcohol. But it’s one of the Superbowl ads and it isn’t anti-drinking, it’s anti-drinking too much and driving.



Quote of the day

February 9, 2016

All books are either dreams or swords,
You can cut, or you can drug, with words.  ― Amy Lowell who was born on this day in 1874.

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