366 days of gratitude

August 17, 2016

I spent today at the beautiful Centrewood Estate near Waimate, Finding a Story – taking part in a writing workshop taken by poet and teacher Diane Brown.

I am always impressed by how quickly trust is built established so quickly in workshops like this when most participants haven’t met before.

We had an educational, inspiring and at times unexpectedly moving day as we shared what we’d written, and there was a delicious two-course lunch as a bonus.

I’ve come home with fresh enthusiasm and motivation and I’m grateful for that and the workshop, teacher and participants that gave me the boost.


Word of the day

August 17, 2016

Antejentacular  – before or occurring before breakfast;


Rural round-up

August 17, 2016

Canterbury sheep sales dry up in drought – Thomas Mead and Annabelle Tukia:

Canterbury livestock sales are starting to feel the impact of the region’s long-running drought, with stock numbers plummeting and prices on the rise.

PGG Wrightson auctioneer Nic Denton says after two dry seasons, many locals have already destocked due to a lack of feed. It was “particularly quiet” with stock numbers down by around 50 percent.

“There’s been some very tough decisions made in north Canterbury with destocking, so obviously it’s a flow-on effect from that,” he says.

“Most of our clients in north Canterbury are probably seeing two-thirds of what they usually carry in normal season.” . . .

Flaxbourne Community Irrigation Scheme considers the benefit of smaller dams – Mike Watson:

A proposed multi-million dollar rural irrigation scheme in Marlborough may use several smaller dams rather than one large dam, supporters of the scheme say.

Cost assessments of the Flaxbourne Community Irrigation Scheme show options available including extracting water from nearby rivers, building more than one dam site for storage, and altering pipe size and pipeline routes.

Ward farmer Kevin Loe said the multiple dam option was being considered by supporters of the scheme as a way to stage the timing of costs to better fit with uptake demand. . . 

Trout disappear from didymo-affected rivers – Hamish Clark:

Trout numbers in the South Island are under threat from the invasive freshwater algae didymo, a new study has found.

University of Canterbury researcher Professor Jon Harding found trout, previously in 20 South Island rivers, are now absent in 60 percent of the rivers with a high didymo biomass.

“The results of our study are of particular concern. We have assumed for some time that didymo will have an impact on fish, but these results show both native fish and introduced sports fish are all being affected by didymo,” Prof Harding says. . . 

Heartland lessens dairy risk – Alan Williams:

Growth in lending has slightly lowered Heartland Bank’s relative exposure to dairy farm debt.  

The dairy sector made up 7% of all lending on the June 30 full-year balance date, compared to 8% on December 31.  

The net group loan book (receivables) on June 30 was $3.21 billion, up $252 million or 9% on a year earlier. . . 

The big question unasked – Craig Wiggins:

The rain and snow turned up on cue with the calves hitting the ground and the banks putting the brakes on spending.  

In some cases paying the necessary outgoings such as winter grazing and feed expenses is not possible until the income starts to filter through so many a farmer, dairy or sheep, will ask why we do what we do.  

This time of year is hard enough to get right without the external pressures over which our control is minimal but the effect has consequences beyond our gate as the flow of revenue slows to a trickle. . . 

Landmark spins wool deal – Annabelle Beale:

AUSTRALIA’S biggest farm services business Landmark is expanding its wool operations while denying speculation a corporate take-over of the company is being negotiated. 

Following 12 months of negotiations, Landmark has purchased the remaining 50 per cent shares in Victoria’s Arcadian Wool brokering company this month, three years after Landmark upped the stake in the company from its founding 40pc in 1985 to nearly 50pc in 2013.

The sale has increased Landmark’s show floor representation by 4.3 per cent to 19pc of the wool traded at Melbourne, including the 36,000 bales sold by Arcadian last year and estimated 120,000 sold by Landmark. . . 

Coolalee experiment pays dividends for Dubbo lamb breeders – Mark Griggs:

AN EXPERIMENT several years ago using Coolalee rams over young first-cross ewes to overcome lambing difficulty from the ewes joining to high indexed Poll Dorsets has paid off so well for Dubbo region second-cross prime lamb breeders, Doug and Robin Godwin, they have continued the practice.  

Further, they are now considering going down the path of maintaining Coolalee/Merino ewe lambs as replacements and joining them back to Coolalees.  “If you do that you are halfway towards a self-replacing flock,” Mr Godwin said. . .

A&P Society elects president :

Wanaka helicopter pilot and fencer Doug Stalker has been elected president of the Upper Clutha A&P Society.

He is joined by Grant Ruddenklau as the new senior vice-president and Mike Scurr as junior vice-president.

Mr Stalker, who was voted president at the society’s annual meeting last week, replaces Tarras farmer Robbie Gibson, who has held the role for the past two years.

Preparations are well under way for the 80th annual show, which will be held on March 10 and 11 next year. . . 

 Mark McHardy wins Cooperative Leader of the Year Award:

Cooperative Business New Zealand has announced Farmlands Fuel General Manager, Mark McHardy, as the winner of the Cooperative Leader of the Year Award for 2015/16.

The award honours an individual who has shown significant co-operative leadership, commitment and support of well recognised and accepted co-operative principles. They also need to display vision and courage for the co-operative model, along with demonstrate successful initiatives that have benefited their co-operative or the co-operative sector.

Cooperative Business New Zealand CEO,  says that Mark was the stand out nominee for this award. . . 


Do it for Denmark

August 17, 2016

Denmark, like much of the developed world, is facing a population problem – not enough babies.

Spies travel agent has come up with a marketing campaign do it for Denmark, do it for Mum:


Pay rise ought to be commended

August 17, 2016

Spark is  introducing a benchmark salary above which its staff are paid.

All non-commission full-time staff will earn at least $40,000 a year, and front-line commission employees who earn a lower base salary will earn an average of $42,000.

If compared to the current living wage of $19.80 an hour, $40,000 a year minimum falls short at $19.23 an hour.

Spark general manager of human resources Danielle George said the company wanted to “do the right thing” for its staff and attract the best talent, as well as contribute to turning New Zealand into a higher wage economy. . . 

“We have revised our entire value proposition, exploring how we can best deliver base pay and meaningful benefits, all designed to meet the needs of a very diverse workforce.”

The new Spark pay policy has benefited more than 250 staff who have received pay increases over the past two years to bring them up to the new level. . . 

That ought to be cause for commendation but the Council of Trade Unions’ Richard Wagstaff doesn’t think so:

“Their $40,000 salary that they’re promoting is actually a little under the living wage which doesn’t really inspire too much in terms of fair pay for people.”

Spark says the pay scheme is a commitment to a higher-wage economy, and once you take into account staff benefits, the overall package is better than the living wage.

“We want to do the right thing for our people and to attract the best people to a career in Spark,” says general manager of human resources Danielle George.

“If that sets a standard that encourages others to follow, that’s got to be a good thing for New Zealand.”

Benefits include credit towards Spark products and services, life and income insurance, flexible working arrangements and interest-free loans to buy company shares. . .

Spark is offering more than $4.00 an hour more than the minimum wage which is $15.25.

Paying that is a legal requirement and it’s reviewed each year, taking into account that increasing it could price some people out of jobs and threaten some businesses. The living wage is an artificial construct which takes no account of what’s affordable.

Another union, the PSA is praising three Wellington mayoral candidates who support the living wage:

The PSA held a forum for candidates which was attended by Justin Lester, Jo Coughlan, Helene Ritchie, Keith Johnson, Andy Foster, Nicola Young and Nick Leggett.

Mr Lester, Ms Ritchie and Mr Leggett confirmed they support the Living Wage for all council workers, including those employed through contractors and council-controlled organisations.

“We’re extremely pleased to hear three candidates plan to build on the good work already done by Wellington City Council towards making this a fairer city”, PSA National Secretary Glenn Barclay says.

“The PSA decided to hold this forum to hear from the candidates first-hand about their vision for Wellington – including their stance on local ownership of local services and privatisation.

“Wellington City Council has already taken great strides towards becoming New Zealand’s first accredited Living Wage council since it voted to do so in 2013.
“We know this has the backing of Wellington’s voters – what’s now needed is a mayor and a council that will deliver on the promises and finish the job.”

Do voters really support that and if they do, are they happy to be rated more to pay for it?

Unlike the minimum wage, the living wage takes no account of the value of work being done or the danger that some businesses couldn’t survive if they were forced to pay it.

It’s also based on what a vicar thinks a family of four needs to participate in society which ignores the fact that not everyone has to support a family of four on their wages, and if they do Working For Families would give them a generous top-up if they were on a low wage.

New Zealand isn’t a high-wage economy and that’s a weakness. But the solution is increased productivity and upskilling, not the job-threatening imposition of the so-called living wage.


Gold and bronze

August 17, 2016

Lisa Carrington has won gold in the 200m canoe sprint.

 

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And Sam Meech has sailed to bronze in the laser:

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New Zealand now has three gold, six silver and a bronze which puts us 14th in the medal tally.

And while this doesn’t get a medal, here’s a win for sporting behaviour:

“Regardless of the race and the result on the board, that’s a moment that you’re never ever going to forget for the rest of your life, that girl shaking my shoulder, like, ‘Come on, get up’.” – Nikki Hamblin

‪#‎BeTheInspiration‬ ‪#‎Rio2016‬

Hamblin’s sportsmanship lauded | New Zealand Olympic Team
New Zealand middle-distance runner Nikki Hamblin was caught up in a dramatic incident at the athletics stadium today. Hamblin and American Abbey d’Agostino…


GDT up 12.7%

August 17, 2016

The futures market was expecting an increase in dairy prices but the 12.7% rise in the GlobalDairyTrade price index in this morning’s auction exceeded expectations.

GdT17.8.16

It’s too early to get too excited but the 18.9% increase in the price of whole milk is encouraging.

gdt17816

And while two increases doesn’t make a trend it’s a welcome change from consecutive decreases.

g.D.t.17.8.16

The dollar also went up in reaction to the news :

The result saw the New Zealand dollar rise from around 72.40 US cents before the auction to 72.70 cents by 5am. . . 

That seems a bit premature to me, the price is still a long way from what’s needed to get to a payout of $5.05 which is break-even for most farmers.


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