365 days of gratitude

May 30, 2018

Just as I was thinking about considering to start contemplating what I might cook for dinner my farmer phoned.

“How about we go out for dinner?” he said.

We chose Cucina, took a couple of friends and enjoyed the delectable meal we can rely on always getting there.

Tonight I’m grateful for delicious food in the company of friends.


Word of the day

May 30, 2018

Quaxing – shopping, in the western world, by means of walking, cycling or public transit.


Rural round-up

May 30, 2018
Collective responsibility tough – ODT editorial:

The Government and farming leaders have made one of the hardest decisions imaginable in deciding to attempt the eradication of cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis from New Zealand.

The decision has been made to protect the national herd and the long-term productivity of the farming sector.

Farming leaders have thrown their support behind the eradication attempt, but it is the actual farmers with the infected herds who will now be facing the reality of losing cows they may have bred into milk-producing animals. . . 

Mycolplasma bovis – focusing on the immediate – Keith Woodford:

[This is an open letter to the Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor, sent on the evening of 29 May 2018, as part of an ongoing dialogue.]

Dear Damien

Mycoplasma bovis: focusing on the immediate

This is a further open letter. It is an open letter because it contains information that I believe both you and others need to hear.

First of all, I want to acknowledge phone and email interactions we have had in recent days. I note in particular that you emailed me at 3am this morning which surely tells its own story. Farmers too are emailing me at that time, indicative of the stress they are under.

Now that the eradication decision has been made, then I do not wish to debate that here. Instead I want to focus on maximising the chances that it will work and minimising the pain to the affected farmers.

On the Newshub AM show this morning I focused among other things on the need for MPI to ‘up its game’. Response Director Geoff Gwyn subsequently acknowledged that there may well be lessons to learn, but did not name any when asked by the presenter, and said that he thought that MPI had done many things well. . . 

Mental health fears for farmers over mass cow cull – Tim Brown:

The people at ground zero of the Mycoplasma bovis outbreak are warning that the eradication bid could have disastrous knock-on effects.

Others in the small Southland town of Winton are backing the government cull of 150,000 cows.

Yesterday, the government announced it was committed to eradicating the illness with a ten year plan that would cost about $886 million.

Prime Minster Jacinda Ardern said the government had “one shot” at eliminating the disease.

It was discovered in July last year and since then 41 farms have been confirmed as infected. That has since dropped to 37 farms, with more than 11,000 cattle slaughtered. . . 

Cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis rated ‘low risk’ by health officials – Gerard Hutching:

The possibility of humans contracting Mycoplasma bovis from eating meat or drinking milk from infected cattle has been dismissed by officials and food safety experts as a “low risk”.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) said the disease was not a food safety risk. Concerns have again been raised over the culling of 152,000 cattle and whether their meat or milk might threaten human health.

“There is no issue with eating beef or drinking milk from infected herds. This disease is in every other farming nation and people have been consuming products from cattle with Mycoplasma bovis for decades,” MPI said. . . 

Good on-farm management essential for eradication plan to succeed:

Good on-farm animal management will be essential if plans to eradicate Mycoplasma bovis (M. bovis) are to succeed, the New Zealand Veterinary Association says.

“This will be essential to stop the infection spreading and to ensure M. bovis isn’t re-introduced into New Zealand,” NZVA President Dr. Peter Blaikie said.

The industry and government today announced a phased eradication plan to attempt to get rid of M. bovis. . . 

M, bovis: how did we get here?:

Everyone’s been playing catch-up since the Mycoplasma bovis outbreak – and everyone’s blamed each other.

On Monday, the government announced a 10-year plan to eradicate the disease, saying about 150,000 cows would have to be slaughtered.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the government had “one shot” at eliminating the disease, at a cost of about $886 million to government and industry bodies.

The news is devastating for many farmers who have devoted their lives to the industry. Some fear their livelihoods will be destroyed.

But how did we get here? . . 

In a word from Sir Humphrey – courageous – Gravedodger:

During my life spent in primary production one of the most stressful segments arose around the determination to eradicate TB. Bovine Tuberculosis is one insidious little beastie with a remarkable ability to thwart detection.

Once every  year all bovine stock were mustered and put up a race where a MAF person would inject a small dose of reagent  in the soft skin  between the tail and the rump, three days later that crat would return and scan by feel for a lump at that injection site and if a reactor (a palpable lump) was discovered that beast would be slaughtered asap where TB would be confirmed  post mortem but alas sometimes the animal would be a “clear”.
One reactor and the whole heard would be placed on ‘movement control’ requiring any cattle for sale to carry a “white ear tag” and receive  a discounted price.

We farmed in an area of the Wairarapa where our eight neighbours all went on and off “movement control” over the twenty years yet surprisingly  we managed to remain “Clear” throughout the two decades we operated there.
It did not come easy, I wish to forget how many nights were spent sometimes more than five hours on an open quad bike seeking the dreaded Possum, an uninvited guest that could become infected with Bovine TB but before inevitable death could infect pasture from suppurating lesions, leaving infected grass to be ingested by a grazing beast and a “reactor”  created. . .

Olive Oil 
the New Zealand Way: –

David Walshaw 

“I have a lot invested in each drop of this gorgeous, golden liquid. There is the time and money, of course, but there is far more than that, too. It is the distillation of a dream and the physical and emotional effort required to realise that dream. The flavours and the aromas of the oil are like a story — the story of the tree’s experience of a year, itself a chapter in the life of the tree, and the tree’s life a volume in the ages long story of the cultivation of the olive. My own story is in there, too, intertwined with the gnarled wood of the olive tree.” 

When, after a successful career in banking and finance, David Walshaw decided it was time for a change, he settled on growing olives for oil as his new direction. Neither he nor his wife Helen had any previous experience, but by doing the research, by seeking the advice of other growers, by putting in the work, by trial and not a few errors, they made a go of it. . . 

The build of Synlait’s liquid packaging facility is on track:

Synlait Milk is pleased with the progress made on the building of its advanced liquid dairy packaging facility by Tetra Pak.

The two companies have worked together for over ten years, beginning with the building of Synlait’s anhydrous milkfat (AMF) plant in 2007.

The new facility will produce fresh milk and cream for Foodstuffs South Island’s private label brands from early 2019, and will be a platform for Synlait to pursue a range of dairy-based products for export markets. . . 

Milk NZ Holding surprised by Fonterra’s $7 payout for 2019 given outlook for global demand Jonathan Underhill

(BusinessDesk) – Milk New Zealand Holding, which owns and manages dairy operations controlled by Shanghai Pengxin, says it didn’t expect such a bullish forecast from Fonterra Cooperative Group for its 2019 milk payout.

Last week Fonterra raised its forecast milk price for 2019 of $7 per kilogram of milk solids from the $6.75 /kgMS projected for the current season, while cutting its projected dividends for 2018, saying rising global dairy prices were squeezing margins. . .

Federated Farmers appoints Terry Copeland as its new CEO:

The man who helped transform NZ Young Farmers has been appointed to lead the country’s most influential rural lobby group.

Terry Copeland, 50, has been named the next chief executive of Federated Farmers. He replaces Graham Smith.

Mr Copeland has been the chief executive of NZ Young Farmers since 2013 and is looking forward to a new challenge. . . 

Butchers ‘living in fear’ as vegan attacks on the rise, says Countryside Alliance – Helena Horton:

Attacks on small businesses by vegan activists are on the rise, according to the Countryside Alliance.

Death threats, stoked by social media and encouraged by international groups of activists, have caused butchers and farmers to “live in fear.”

Marlow Butchers, in, Ashford, Kent, was targeted earlier this month by activists who daubed red paint on the doors and windows of the shop . .

Organic vs conventional food fight: Focus on pesticides distracts from real environmental problems – Marc Brazeau :

A quick note in my news feed highlighted a new data set from the World Bank that shows that while the US has one of the most productive agriculture sectors in the world, it also has some of the lowest rates of pesticide and fertilizer use. Good news. The author’s title, however, stuck me as unfortunate: World’s Model for Sustainability in Food Production. His write up was about pesticide and fertilizer use, and while high yields, with low pesticide and fertilizer rates are very commendable (and surprising to many), pesticide and fertilizer use is hardly the last word in sustainability in agriculture. And among the biggest impacts of agriculture: land use, water use, greenhouse gas emissions, water pollution; pesticides hardly rate. And yet…

One of the things that has really begun to stand out in the debate between advocates of technologically progressive agriculture and the critics of technological agriculture is the persistence of the idea that the use of pesticides is still a major problem, if not the central environmental impact of agriculture, that needs to be addressed. This is unfortunate. It’s just not accurate. It’s a cul-de-sac in the discussion about how to improve the environmental footprint of agriculture. It’s a distraction from the addressing the major environmental impacts. . .


On grief

May 30, 2018

This is one of the clearest and most helpful  explanations of grief I’ve come across.


National in drag difficult sell

May 30, 2018

Two polls this week show the National Party still ahead of Labour with about 45% support.

That is encouraging for National and worrying for Labour.

But the latter has two support parties, although New Zealand First is registering below the 5% and the Green Party is hovering close enough  to the threshold to make it possible it might not make it back into parliament and we’d return to a two-party system in spite of MMP.

Possible isn’t probable and in spite of being the most popular party, National lacks any allies with sufficient support to enable it to form a government with more than 50% of the vote.

Act could gain another MP or two, but it hasn’t managed to do that in recent elections and would have to do so without taking votes from National to make a positive difference.

The Maori Party might win back a seat or two, but that too is more possible than probable.

Finding another party which could either win a seat or cross the 5% threshold would not be easy.

Some are suggesting a National MP leaves the party to form another one. But National in drag would be a very difficult sell for party members and other voters, and would only help if it got votes from the left and not the centre-right.

Tariana Turia managed to win a seat when she left Labour and formed the Maori Party; Winston Peters did it with NZ First; Peter Dunne held his seat under several manifestations of what eventually became United Future and former Labour MP Richard Prebble won a seat for Act but they are the exceptions. Any other MPs that I can recall who left a party and formed another failed to hold their seats.

The other option is standing back and making an accommodation to let a new party, which would take votes from Labour, NZ First and/or the Greens, take a National-held seat.

But that would be very difficult to do and would be entering very dubious territory.

National voters gave electorate votes to Dunne but he was a sitting MP when he formed his own party. Act voters opted for Rodney Hide of their own volition and not because National made an accommodation. They supported him and subsequently David Seymour but didn’t have to vote against a sitting National electorate MP to do so.

Trying to persuade National voters to swap support from an MP they voted in for someone from a new party would be a very different matter.

National is a victim of its own success and any attempt to help another party is likely to backfire and sabotage its own support.

It’s also a victim of the failure of MMP to give us a party in the middle that stands for something and could go centre-right but what can it do about without endangering its own support?


Quote of the day

May 30, 2018

From space, the earth appears predominantly blue; the clouds are brilliant white. Surprisingly, you don’t see much green, although Ireland looks green, and so do Scandinavia and New Zealand. The deserts are brick red and really stand out. – Helen Sharman who celebrates her 55th birthday today.


May 30 in history

May 30, 2018

70 Siege of JerusalemTitus and his Roman legions breached the Second Wall of Jerusalem. The Jewish defenders retreated to the First Wall. The Romans built a circumvallation, all trees within fifteen kilometres were cut down.

1416 The Council of Constance, called by the Emperor Sigismund, a supporter of Antipope John XXIII, burned Jerome of Prague following a trial for heresy.

1431  Hundred Years’ War: 19-year-old Joan of Arc was burned at the stake by an English-dominated tribunal. Because of this the Catholic Church remember this day as the celebration of Saint Joan of Arc.

1434  Hussite Wars (Bohemian Wars): Battle of Lipany – effectively ending the war, Utraquist forces led by Diviš Bořek of Miletínek defeated and almost annihilated Taborite forces led by Prokop the Great.

1536  Henry VIII of England married Jane Seymour, a lady-in-waiting to his first two wives.

1539 Hernando de Soto landed at Tampa Bay, Florida,  with 600 soldiers with the goal of finding gold.

1574  Henry III became King of France.

1588 The last ship of the Spanish Armada set sail from Lisbon heading for the English Channel.

1635  Thirty Years’ War: the Peace of Prague (1635) was signed.

1642  From this date all honours granted by Charles I were retrospectively annulled by Parliament.

1757 Henry Addington, 1st Viscount Sidmouth, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, was born (d. 1844).

1806 Andrew Jackson killed Charles Dickinson in a duel after Dickinson had accused Jackson’s wife of bigamy.

1814 Napoleonic Wars: War of the Sixth Coalition – the Treaty of Paris (1814) was signed returning French borders to their 1792 extent.

1819 – William McMurdo, English general, was born (d. 1894).

1832  The Rideau Canal in eastern Ontario opened.

1842  John Francis attempted to murder Queen Victoria as she drove down Constitution Hill with Prince Albert.

1845 – Amadeo I, King of Spain, was born (d. 1890).

1846 Peter Carl Fabergé, Russian goldsmith and jeweller, was born (d. 1920).

1854 The Kansas-Nebraska Act became law establishing the US territories of Nebraska and Kansas.

1859 Westminster’s Big Ben rang for the first time in London.

1862 – Mirza Alakbar Sabir, Azerbaijani philosopher and poet, was born (d. 1911).

1868  Decoration Day (the predecessor of the modern “Memorial Day) was observed in the United States for the first time (By “Commander-in-chief of the Grand Army of the Republic” John A. Logan‘s proclamation on May 5).

1869  – Grace Andrews, American mathematician, was born (d. 1951).

1871  The Paris Commune fell.

1876  Ottoman sultan Abd-ul-Aziz was deposed and succeeded by his nephew Murat V.

1879 New York City’s Gilmores Garden was renamed Madison Square Garden by William Henry Vanderbilt and opened to the public at 26th Street and Madison Avenue.

1883  A rumour that the Brooklyn Bridge was going to collapse causes a stampede that crushes twelve people.

1901 – A 10-man Royal Commission reported unanimously that New Zealand should not become a state of the Commonwealth of Australia.

New Zealand says no to federation with Australia
1909 – Benny Goodman, American clarinet player, songwriter, and bandleader, was born (d. 1986).

1911  At the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the first Indianapolis 500 ended with Ray Harroun in his Marmon Wasp becoming the first winner of the 500-mile auto race.

1913  First Balkan War: the Treaty of London, 1913 is signed ending the war. Albania becomes an independent nation.

1914  The new and then largest Cunard ocean liner RMS Aquitania, 45,647 tons, set sails on her maiden voyage from Liverpool, England to New York City.

1915  The East Indiaman ship Arniston was wrecked during a storm at Waenhuiskrans, the loss of 372 lives.

1917  Alexander I became king of Greece.

1919 – René Barrientos, Bolivian army officer and politician, 55th President of Bolivia, was born. (d. 1969).

1922  In Washington, D.C. the Lincoln Memorial was dedicated.

1928 – Joan Birman, American mathematician, was born.

1941  World War II: Manolis Glezos and Apostolos Santas climb on the Athenian Acropolis, tear down the Nazi swastika and replace it with the Greek flag.

1942  World War II: 1000 British bombers launched a 90-minute attack on Cologne, Germany.

1948  A dike along the flooding Columbia River broke, obliterating Vanport, Oregon within minutes. Fifteen people die and tens of thousands are left homeless.

1955 – Caroline Swift, English lawyer and judge, was born.

1955 Topper Headon, British musician (The Clash), was born.

1958  Memorial Day: the remains of two unidentified American servicemen, killed in action during World War II and the Korean War respectively, were buried at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery.

1959  The Auckland Harbour Bridge, crossing the Waitemata Harbour was officially opened by Governor-General Lord Cobham.

Auckland harbour bridge opened

1961  Long time Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo was assassinated in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

1961 – Harry Enfield, English actor, director, and screenwriter, was born

1962 Kevin Eastman, American comic book creator (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), was born.

1963  A protest against pro-Catholic discrimination during the Buddhist crisis was held outside South Vietnam’s National Assembly, the first open demonstration during the eight-year rule of Ngo Dinh Diem.

1963 – Helen Sharman, English chemist and astronaut, was born.

1966 Former Congolese Prime Minister Evariste Kimba and several other politicians are publicly executed in Kinshasa on the orders of President Joseph Mobutu.

1967 Daredevil Evel Knievel jumped his motorcycle over 16 cars lined up in a row.

1967  The Nigerian Eastern Region declared independence as the Republic of Biafra, sparking a civil war.

1971 Mariner 9 was launched to map 70% of the surface, and to study temporal changes in the atmosphere and surface, of Mars.

1972 The Angry Brigade went on trial over a series of 25 bombings throughout Britain.

1972  In Tel Aviv members of the Japanese Red Army carried out the Lod Airport Massacre, killing 24 people and injuring 78 others.

1989  Tiananmen Square protests of 1989: the 33-foot high “Goddess of Democracy” statue was unveiled in Tiananmen Square by student demonstrators.

1996 – A New Zealand Royal Honours System was established with the institution of the New Zealand Order of Merit, which replaced the various British State Orders of Chivalry.

1998  A magnitude 6.6 earthquake hit northern Afghanistan, killing up to 5,000.2002– 272 days after the September 11 attacks, closing ceremonies were held for the clean up/recovery efforts at the World Trade Center site in New York City.2003 – Depayin massacre: at least 70 people associated with the National League for Democracy were killed by government-sponsored mob in Burma. Aung San Suu Kyi fled the scene, but was arrested soon afterwards.

2012 – Former Liberian president Charles Taylor was sentenced to 50 years in prison for his role in atrocities committed during the Sierra Leone Civil War.

2013  – Nigeria passed a law banning same-sex marriage.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


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