365 days of gratitude

April 28, 2018

If I had to describe my childhood in a single word, I’d say secure.

That security came from the blessing of parents who loved each other and their children. They set us boundaries and made us face consequences when we crossed them. They didn’t preach but instilled in us their Christian values by practising them. They taught by example the importance of honesty, the necessity for, and rewards from,  hard work, and to treat others as we wished to be treated.

Ours was a single-income household and we weren’t rich in material terms but the lack of things was more than compensated for by the gifts of time and experiences our parents shared with us.

I am very aware that not every child had those blessings then and that more lack them now.

Today, and every day, I am grateful to my parents and for a secure and loving upbringing.

 


Word of the day

April 28, 2018

Deso – a person who abstains from alcohol at a social gathering so as to be fit to drive others home; a designated driver.


Smart like . . .

April 28, 2018

. . . Socrates:

You are smart like Socrates, which means you have a definite feeling for truth and what is right and wrong. No matter how complex or threatening the situation, you can see past peer pressure and what other people expect, to see into the heart of the matter. You are also very good at asking questions, not just supplying answers.

Rural round-up

April 28, 2018

Minister refuses to meet MP to discuss future of rescue helicopter base – Guy Williams:

Clutha-Southland MP Hamish Walker says Health Minister David Clark has refused to meet him to discuss the fate of Te Anau’s rescue helicopter base.

Te Anau was one of three bases cut from a list of bases in a tender for air rescue services put out by the ACC and Ministry of Health last month.

Taupo and Rotorua’s bases were effectively restored to the list after three North Island mayors met Mr Clark on Monday. . . 

Scientists work on simple way to clean streams – Tony Benny:

Canterbury University scientists have perfected a simple method to reduce sediment load in waterways by up to 70 per cent, part of a project to find solutions to Canterbury’s water woes. Tony Benny reports.

On the Canterbury Plains alone, there are about 17,000km of waterways, many of which carry high levels of nitrogen, phosphate-laden sediment and faecal bacteria and a huge effort is going into ways to reverse this decline in water quality, with local and national government agencies, farm industry bodies, iwi and farmers all joining in.

Adding some science to the mix is the Canterbury Water Rehabilitation Experiment (Carex), a project by the University of Canterbury’s Freshwater Ecology Research Group, funded by the Ashburton-based Mackenzie Charitable Foundation. The Carex team comprises nine scientists including professors, researchers and students. . . .

Gas not grass at farm field day – Richard Rennie:

Ground-breaking research turning a commercial dairy farm into a living lab is starting to reveal some valuable insights for farmers seeking ways to reduce and mitigate greenhouse gases.

Waikato University has, for the first time, thrown back the blanket on its researchers’ cutting-edge equipment and early lessons from that equipment on a Matamata property that has been a core site over the past six years.

In something of a national first, the traditional style Waikato farm discussion day had greenhouse gases rather than growing more grass as the key focus for those attending.

At the heart of the property’s research into better understanding of nitrous oxide release on dairy farms is the university’s $250,000 Quantum Cascade Laser. The high tech kit is helping researchers gain far more accurate analysis what the gas does when released from cow urine patches.  . . 

Hurdles ahead in future irrigation development – Yvonne O’Hara:

Irrigation New Zealand’s (INZ) held its conference in Alexandra earlier this month and the primary focus was on irrigation and its future role.

IrrigationNZ chair Nicky Hyslop said the conference “celebrated the role that irrigation played”.

The future of the Manuherikia Catchment Water Strategy Group’s plan to raise the height of Falls Dam by 6m to irrigate 12,500ha was highlighted following the announcement that the Crown Irrigation Investments (CII) would not be funding any more irrigation projects.

Water strategy group chairman Allan Kane said it had decided, based on pre-feasibility study information, that raising Falls Dam by 6m to irrigate 12,500ha was the best option.

However, the Government’s announcement meant alternative funding options would need to be found to contribute to the group’s final feasibility study. . . 

Bulk milk tests ‘not working’ – Annette Scott:

Frank Peters’ $4 million dairy herd, the result of 55 years of breeding genetics is about to be slaughtered despite being clean in bulk milk testing.

Now he’s worried about 2500 calves he has sold in the four years since Mycoplasma bovis arrived on his 1400-cow farm in stock he bought from Southern Centre Dairies in Southland in autumn 2014.

“That’s four years ago and we have sold 2500 calves in that time that could be anywhere now. . .

Big year for Wallace Family of South Otago – Rob Tipa:

Rob Tipa visits a family that has caught the judges’ eye in a couple of recent competitions.

This year is shaping up as a big one for the Wallace family of Waipahi in South Otago, winning several major southern farming awards in the space of a week.

Logan, Ross and Alexa Wallace won the Beef + Lamb Livestock Award, the Massey University Innovation Award and the supreme award for the Otago region at the Ballance Farm Environment Awards in Wanaka earlier this month.

Last weekend Logan, 28, added a win in the Otago-Southland regional final of the FMG Young Farmer of the Year awards in Winton to his impressive record in the industry. . .

Put wellbeing in business plan:

If the wool industry wants to attract the next generation of shearers it needs to prioritise the wellbeing of its workforce, industry veteran Dion Morrell says.

Dion and his partner Gabriela run a busy, Alexandra-based contracting business employing up to 50 shearers at peak time. 

He’s worked in the industry for over 40 years, starting as a shearer straight out of school, working his way up to elite level competition representing New Zealand and setting four world records along the way.  . . 

Viral American farming sensation on tour in New Zealand

From a family farm in Kansas in the United States, four siblings known as The Peterson Farm Bros have risen to social media fame with their funny parody videos.

Songs names like “Takin’ Care of Livestock” (Taking Care of Business Parody) are sure to put you on the map, and these siblings have racked up over 50 million views on their videos.

However, the world’s most popular farming family are using their fame for the greater good to advocate for agriculture and to correct farming misconceptions. . .


Saturday’s smiles

April 28, 2018

A woman was driving in the country when she noticed a sign at a gateway: Talking Dog For Sale.

She rang the bell and the owner told her the dog was in the backyard. The woman walked round the house and saw Labrador sitting there.

“You talk?” she asks. “Yep,” the Lab replies. “So, what’s your story?”

The Lab looks up and says, “Well, I discovered that I could talk when I was pretty young. I wanted to help the government, so I told the CIA about my gift, and in no time at all they had me jetting from country to country, sitting in rooms with spies and world leaders, because no one figured a dog would be eavesdropping. I was one of their most valuable spies for eight years running.

“But the jetting around really tired me out, and I knew I wasn’t getting any younger so I decided to settle down. I signed up for a job at the airport to do some undercover security wandering near suspicious characters and listening in.

“I uncovered some incredible dealings and was awarded a batch of medals. I got married, had several litters of puppies, and now I’m just retired.”

The woman is amazed. She goes back in and asks the owner what he wants for the dog.

“Ten dollars,” the guy says.

“Ten dollars? This dog is amazing. Why on earth are you selling him so cheap?”

“Because he’s a compulsive liar. He never did any of that stuff.”


Peace in our time

April 28, 2018

The Korean War is nearly over.

A vow is not the same as actually signing a peace treaty and keeping to it, but let’s hope this is at the very least the beginning of the end of the war.

 

Our oldest and longest-serving staff member served in the New Zealand Army in Korea.


WWII Land Girls – a tribute

April 28, 2018

They also serve who only stand and wait.

This line from John Milton’s poem On His Blindness is often quoted about the people who  didn’t join serve overseas during World Wars I and II.

While they might have waited, the people left behind didn’t just stand, they too worked for the war effort and kept the home fires burning.

Among those who are often overlooked when tributes to war service are made were World War II’s Land Girls.

A speech commemorating the marvelous – but largely unsung – wartime service of the NZ Women’s Land Service (the Land Girls), was delivered by Federated Farmers President Katie Milne at the Anzac Day Service at Moana, on the West Coast. Katie was wearing her volunteer fire brigade dress uniform. The talk was researched and put together by Sheryl Hynes, borrowing from books such as The Land Girls: In a Man’s World, 1939-1946 by Dianne Bardsley  

Their names were Ruth and Florence, Norma, Betty, Ada, Melba, Heather and Beatrice.  And they worked at trimming gorse hedges, driving bullock teams, castrating horses, trapping and skinning ferrets.

When the Second World War broke out, and a large part of New Zealand’s manpower was enlisted, there was much pressure on the nation to increase food production – meat, dairy, wheat, honey, eggs, seeds, potatoes, vegetables, flax, wool.  Britain needed food support, NZ troops overseas required supplies, and 100,000 Americans were to arrive.

The idea for a Women’s Land Corps was first mooted in 1939 – it didn’t happen until 1942. There was much opposition from the Ministry of Agriculture, newspapers, churches and especially the Farmers’ Union – the forerunner of today’s Federated Farmers. 

The Farmers’ Union was outspoken about not wanting land girls but rather needing “experienced men”.  The experienced men were now away on the battlefields and those who were still on the land were much older men, many of whom had served in World War One.  One phrase that was repeated was, “we don’t want women, Italian prisoners-of-war, and immigrants”.

Farmers’ wives were outspoken about not employing land girls, calling them town hussies, and were disappointed that they were not allowed to do domestic work inside the household.

And their names were Phyllis and Lorna, Pixie, Enid, Made, and Silvia, Lillian and Elsie, and they worked at breaking horses, building a swingbridge, hand scything the hay paddock, wool classing, and snow raking.

When manpower controls began in 1942, young single women had to choose between factory work or land service.  Lots of them realized they didn’t want a boring 9-5 job, with men as bosses, and decided to give rural work a go.

They were given a uniform of sou-wester, overalls, gumboots, leggings, raincoat, woolen socks – but only after they had proved themselves on the job for a month.  The first contact with the new employer might be under the main clock at the Timaru Railway Station, followed by a long ride in a horse and dray.

Lots of land girls came from farming families and they chose to stay on the home farm, often because a father had been badly injured in World War One, and brothers had enlisted.  Or they moved to relatives’ farms, and quickly became managers.

The girls from town, who sometimes turned up on their first day in high heels and silk stockings, soon took to the new work, and surprised themselves with what they could tackle.  Often there was no electricity, so that meant coal ranges, blade shearing, petrol-powered milking machines.  So girls who arrived not knowing a chook from a rooster became adept at milking, and shoeing horses, and driving tractors.  They were versatile and conscientious, adventurous and good company – and hard workers.

Some found the isolation too much, and headed back to the factory.  Others didn’t leave the property for a year and worked for months without a day off.

A Sunday off might mean a 15-mile ride on horseback to have a picnic with the girl next door.  A Saturday night dance at a nearby hall needed a long gown tied to the saddle, and getting home in time to milk the cows.  There might be a catch-up at the local tearooms or after the stock sales.

Evenings were spent writing letters – often to soldiers – knitting, reading, listening to the radio, correspondence school courses, Red Cross work.  They were usually absolutely doggo by the end of the day, went to bed early and had no trouble sleeping.

And their names were Ngaio and Pat, Dulcie, Beatrice, Grace and Violet, Gwen and Hazel, and their work was repairing telephone lines, cleaning out the cowshed with buckets of water, pulling ragwort, emptying the septic tank, stumping using gelignite and horses.

Some hospitals, boarding schools and gaols had their own farms – usually a dairy herd and large areas of food crops.  At Hanmer Hospital farm the land girls lived in the hospital cottage with the laundry staff and sewing room girls and there was always company, as well as the thermal pools.  The same girl who had turned up in high heels was determined to do a good job and after a week was headmilking 15 cows, the same as the boss.

The Army provided soldiers at harvesting time and they worked an 8-hour day alongside the girls, who managed a 12-hour day, and for less pay.  One sergeant, who was helping to move sheep, was told there was a big difference between motorcycle pace and pregnant ewe pace.

Most of the girls reared their working dogs.  A favourite story tells of some Rangiora girls who organized a gymkhana, with tractor races, dog trials, biggest pumpkin and a baby show. One of the girls decided that she had to put so much time and effort into her pup that she should enter it in the baby show.  So a three-month-old pup was dressed in baby clothes, put in a pram, its tail yanked to get a good yelp.  The judge, a local Plunket nurse thinking quickly, awarded a certificate “for a very special 3-month old baby with a full set of teeth”.

Land girls were paid a set wage by the farm owner, who was sometimes subsidized by the government. Often the farmer was a widow, or another woman, and the girls were much appreciated, especially after the remaining worker – usually the cowman-gardener – had enlisted.

Later, after the war, the girls were praised by the farmers they had worked for – for their determination and doggedness, their solid work and good cheer.

The Women’s Land Service was the largest of the women’s war services and it disbanded in 1946.  It began without the support and recognition of the men it was formed to assist – and it ended that way.  The girls’ war service was not officially recognised; they were not allowed to join the RSA; they had no official service number; government histories barely make mention of them.

Some 23,000 men left the farming industry to serve overseas; 4,500 women stepped into their shoes.  And production in every area of agriculture increased.  This wasn’t because of better machinery – the government had commandeered all farm trucks, spare horses and weapons.

On V.E. Day in 1945 everybody in uniform paraded but the land girls were not invited.  So they decided to have their own parade.  They took their dogs in the very old trucks and presented themselves at the front of the parade in Christchurch.  Of course they were not welcome there so they went to where the parade was to finish, and did it in reverse – with great fun.

Many of them commented in later years that the Women’s Land Service changed their lives. 

And their names were Portia and Cecilia, Patsy and Beulah, Sadie and Ethel, Winifred and Mollie.  And they worked at splitting battens and posts, building gates and cattle stops, cross-cut sawing, buying and selling stock, repairing windmills.

They were mechanics and shepherds, plumbers and fencers, and we are full of admiration for them.  But they all agreed the worst job was plucking wool from dead sheep, and killing for the dog tucker.

For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Katie Milne and I’m the President of Federated Farmers of New Zealand, the former Farmers’ Union – the first female president in the organisation’s 118 year history. I appreciate the irony of telling you about the Women’s Land Service and the marvelous work they achieved during the war, despite the mistrust from so many quarters.


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