365 days of gratitude

August 28, 2018

City visitors who stay with us notice both the dark and the light.

The dark, because we are far enough from town to have little if any light pollution; and the light because without man-made lights we can see and appreciate the stars.

Star-lit nights are regular occurrences for us, but even so I can’t help but gaze up in wonder at the way nature lights the sky.

Tonight I’m grateful for the stars.


Word of the day

August 28, 2018

Mardy – moody, sulky; stroppy.


Rural round-up

August 28, 2018

The dam that divides a dry district – David Williams:

A South Island council faces a stark choice – build an expensive dam with considerable financial risks or immediately impose water restrictions that will cripple some businesses. David Williams reports.

It was during the summer of 2000-2001 that the effects of over-allocation of water from the Waimea River, at the top of the South Island, became abundantly clear.

With only a sprinkling of rain over five months, the river dried up. Unprecedented water restrictions came in for the Tasman district and neighbouring Nelson. Commercial growers on the Waimea Plains couldn’t irrigate to grow and ripen their produce. Economic losses were thought to be in the millions of dollars. . .

Water plan fan gives ORC a peek – Sally Rae:

Simon Davies has always thought a little outside the square.

With a background outside of the farming industry, the Otago Federated Farmers president acknowledged he might have a different approach from some farmers.

Last week, Otago Regional Council staff from policy, compliance, science and communications visited the Toko Mouth property Mr Davies farms with his wife Joanna.

It had been something he had been wanting to do since taking over the role earlier this year, he said — to get ORC staff on farm to see first hand the practical steps he was taking around water quality. . .

Multi-talented with attitude – Glenys Christian:

Lisa Kendall reckons she does a little bit of everything when it comes to hiring out her skills for farm work. But she’s also a competitor, scholar, researcher and consultant and is a passionate champion of animal welfare who wants to work toward farm ownership. And though she’s starting with a small sheep milk venture she already has ideas about diversification into cheese and a cafe. She told Glenys Christian about her life. 

Lisa Kendall’s two sisters say she’s crazy. 

But both of them have already expressed their strong interest in getting involved in the sheep-milking farm with attached cheese-making and cafe facilities the 26-year-old is planning in the near future. . . 

From Darfield to Dongguan – Fonterra dials up value add:

Fonterra’s new cream cheese plant in Canterbury has started production and is set to manufacture up to 24,000 metric tonnes of cream cheese annually, bound for China.

China’s changing demographics have driven a surge in popularity for Western foods. The 20kg blocks of cream cheese from Darfield will meet growing demand for bakery goods, like cheese cakes and cheese tarts.

Susan Cassidy, General Manager Marketing, Global Foodservice, Fonterra, says growth in China’s middle class, rapid urbanisation and changing consumer tastes have contributed to explosive growth in the number of consumers wanting New Zealand dairy. . . 

Dr Tom: giving hope to Aussie farmers – Dr Tom Mullholland:

They call Australia the lucky country, but I’m not sure how the global warming dice is rolling for them at the moment. All of New South Wales – that’s 100 per cent – is officially gripped in a drought, which for some regions has been going on for six years.

Apparently, they have hit 99 per cent before but this is the first time they have cracked the ton. It’s not a record you would wish on anybody. I wonder, when does a six-year drought become the local weather?

I was pleased to be invited to speak to a couple of communities in the Outback on my Healthy Thinking strategies on how to manage the top paddock between the ears. As a doctor, I also speak on how to look after your physical, mental and social health. . . 

If you want to save the world, veganism isn’t the answer – Isabelle Tree:

Veganism has rocketed in the UK over the past couple of years – from an estimated half a million people in 2016 to more than 3.5 million– 5% of our population – today. Influential documentaries such as Cowspiracy and What the Health have thrown a spotlight on the intensive meat and dairy industry, exposing the impacts on animal and human health and the wider environment.

But calls for us all to switch entirely to plant-based foods ignore one of the most powerful tools we have to mitigate these ills: grazing and browsing animals.

Rather than being seduced by exhortations to eat more products made from industrially grown soya, maize and grains, we should be encouraging sustainable forms of meat and dairy production based on traditional rotational systems, permanent pasture and conservation grazing. . .


NZ doesn’t need yet another working group

August 28, 2018

The Prime Minister promised an announcement to counter business gloom. She delivered yet another working group.

The Prime Minister’s announcement of yet another working group to try and shore up plummeting business confidence will do nothing to address the uncertainty created by the Government’s anti-growth policies, National Party Leader Simon Bridges says.

“This is a Government that believes it can talk its way out of anything – but instead of trying to shout over the conveyor belt of weak economic indicators they should be taking concrete steps to change their anti-growth policies.

“The Prime Minister talks about wanting to lift wages and grow a sustainable economy – everyone wants that. But the way to do it is to take real steps to support businesses, not driving uncertainty through endless working groups and bad policy.

“Instead Ms Ardern has announced a Business Advisory Council, a body with a chair but no members yet, and a Business Partnership Agenda that merely repackages existing, problematic policies, a third of which are working groups.

“There’s a growing sense of panic from this Government. The Prime Minister is desperately trying to deflect attention from poor economic indicators with a list of well-meaning objectives without detailing how they’ll be achieved.”

The Government inherited an economy growing at 3-4 per cent, generating 10,000 new jobs a month, strong surpluses, declining debt and a residential building boom. It is rapidly eroding that buffer.

GDP per capita has fallen to its lowest annual level since 2011. Job creation has plummeted. Business confidence is at its lowest level since the GFC. And the cost of living is rising.

“Over 90 percent of our businesses are SMEs who are really hurt by the piling on of costs, taxes and compliance. They won’t be comforted by today’s slogans and slides from the PM – with no clear economic leadership delivering a plan for our economy. . . 

Business needs certainty.

Business doesn’t need yet another working group added to the plethora of working groups that are wasting time and money, delaying decisions and adding to uncertainty and nor does New Zealand.


Not as ungreen as painted

August 28, 2018

Mainstream and social media has had lots of stories about opposition to plans for a dairy farm at Simons Pass.

Neal Wallace provides some balance showing the plans aren’t as ungreen as they’re being painted:

. . . The Murray Valentine portrayed by critics of the dairy farm he is building on Simons Pass Station near Lake Pukaki is an uncaring, heartless capitalist, devoid of any ethics who plans to milk 15,000 cows on the most environmentally sensitive land in the South Island.

The Murray Valentine who occupies an orderly but busy office in Dunedin’s central city is genial, reserved, studied, methodical and who, true to his accountancy profession, makes decisions on fact not emotion.

He is not going to milk 15,000 cows on Simons Pass. . . 

Of the 800,000ha in the Upper Waitaki catchment, about 250,000ha is flat to rolling country that can be farmed. There is sufficient water allocated to irrigate about 25,000ha.

Valentine’s plans, which have never been a secret, are to irrigate 4500ha.

“Not many people who oppose me, I believe, have read the consent.”

Many of the people who oppose this and other similar plans tend to be driven by emotion not facts.

Valentine said critics demand he rip up his consents but that is not an option given the long, drawn-out process to secure them, dating back to soon after 2004 purchase of the property by his family trust.

He now has all the consents needed and started milking 800 cows this season.

That will progressively grow over seven years to about 5000 cows through three sheds.

Forty centre pivots will irrigate the 4500ha, of which about 1500ha will be the dairy platform. The rest will be dairy support, dairy-cross beef finishing and a halfbred sheep breeding unit.

Valentine said Simons Pass will be a closed unit worked in conjunction with a 2000-cow dairy farm he owns in North Otago.

He has made several significant and costly concessions including agreeing to control weeds and pests on 2500ha of ecologically-significant land he set aside for conservation as part of his irrigation consent.

The retired land dissects his farm in a large S shape and Valentine will protect it with 30km of rabbit fencing at a cost of $11.50 a metre.

That’s more than $300,000 of fencing alone.

A further 1300ha of land closest to Lake Pukaki was retired to the Crown under a tenure review agreement. . .

His consent requires annual monitoring of water quality at his boundary.

He intends doing it monthly to ensure he gets an accurate picture of the quality of water leaving the property and can respond quickly to any issues.

Technology measuring irrigation rates, soil moisture and the weather will help decision-making while drones will monitor the centre pivots and stock troughs.

Water for the small area of irrigation the previous owners and neighbour had consent for came from the Maryburn Stream but Valentine has invested $8 million in an 8km pipe delivering water from the Tekapo hydroelectric canal to his boundary, allowing the Maryburn consent to be retired.

“I believe I have shown enough responsibility on the conservation side. I am not shirking my responsibility.”  . . .

Many of those opposing the development paint the area as an unspoiled wilderness, but it’s not and one of the things spoiling it is hieracium.

The invasive weed hieracium is encroaching over much of the basin, killing tussock and causing soil loss through erosion.

Photos taken on Simons Pass in the 1970s showed tussock at hip height but 20 years later the weed has rendered the land barren.

“Most people would describe it as a desert.”

Cultivation and fertiliser in recent years have restored vegetative cover. . . 

Keeping invasive weeds at bay is costly in financial terms. Not doing it is expensive in environmental terms.

The Lindis Pass, which is not far from the Mackenzie, used to be covered in tussock. Year by year hieracium has taken over and hillsides which once waved with tussocks are now bare and erosion-prone.

If Fonterra wasn’t required to pick up milk from anyone who wants to be a supplier it’s possible that dairying in the Mackenzie wouldn’t be viable.

But unless, and until, the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act is changed to allow Fonterra to say no to would-be suppliers, the company has no choice about where suppliers farm.

Opposition to the plans has got personal, overlooking the fact that Valentine has spent six years and a considerable amount of money getting consents.

If those opposing the plans have grounds for their concerns they should be aiming at the consenting authorities and process, not the man.


Quote of the day

August 28, 2018

A writer must stand on the rock of her self and her judgment or be swept away by the tide or sink in the quaking earth: there must be an inviolate place where the choices and decisions, however imperfect, are the writer’s own, where the decision must be as individual and solitary as birth or death.Janet Frame who was born on this day in 1924.


August 28 in history

August 28, 2018

489  Theodoric, king of the Ostrogoths defeats Odoacer at the Battle of Isonzo, forcing his way into Italy.

1189  Third Crusade: the Crusaders began the Siege of Acre under Guy of Lusignan.

1511  The Portuguese conquered Malacca.

1542 Turkish-Portuguese War (1538-1557) – Battle of Wofla: the Portuguese were scattered, their leader Christovão da Gama captured and later executed.

1609  Henry Hudson discovered Delaware Bay.

1619  Ferdinand II was elected emperor of the Holy Roman Empire.

1640 Second Bishop’s War: King Charles I’s English army lost to a Scottish Covenanter force at the Battle of Newburn.

1749 Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, German writer and scientist (d. 1832).

1774 Elizabeth Ann Seton, American-born Catholic saint, was born (d. 1821).

1789  William Herschel discovered a new moon of Saturn.

1810  Battle of Grand Port – the French accepted the surrender of a British Navy fleet.

1828 Leo Tolstoy, Russian author, was born (d. 1910).

1830  The Tom Thumb presaged the first railway service in the United States.

1845 The first issue of Scientific American magazine was published.

1859  A geomagnetic storm caused the Aurora Borealis to shine so brightly it was seen clearly over parts of USA, Europe, and as far away as Japan.

1862 American Civil War: Second Battle of Bull Run.

1879  Cetshwayo, last king of the Zulus, was captured by the British.

1884 Peter Fraser, former Prime Minister of New Zealand, was born (d. 1950).

1898  Caleb Bradham renamed his carbonated soft drink “Pepsi-Cola”.

1901  Silliman University was founded in the Philippines,  the first American private school in the country.

1906 John Betjeman, English poet, was born (d. 1984).

1913 Queen Wilhelmina opened the Peace Palace in The Hague.

1914  World War I: the Royal Navy defeated the German fleet in the Battle of Heligoland Bight.

1916  World War I: Germany declared war on Romania.

1916 – World War I: Italy declared war on Germany.

1917  Ten Suffragettes wre arrested while picketing the White House.

1924 Janet Frame, New Zealand author, was born (d. 2004).

1924 The Georgian opposition stages the August Uprising against the Soviet Union.

1930 Windsor Davies, British actor, was born.

1931  France and Soviet Union signed a treaty of non-aggression.

1937  Toyota Motors became an independent company.

1943  World War II: in Denmark, a general strike against the Nazi occupation started.

1944  World War II: Marseille and Toulon were liberated.

1948 Danny Seraphine, American musician (Chicago), was born.

1951 Wayne Osmond, American singer (The Osmonds), was born.

1953  Nippon Television broadcast Japan’s first television show, including its first TV advertisement.

1954 Pauline Parker and Juliet Hulme were convicted of murdering Parker’s mother Honora.

'Heavenly Creatures' found guilty of murder

1955  Black teenager Emmett Till was murdered in Mississippi, galvanizing the nascent American Civil Rights Movement.

1961 Motown released what would be its first #1 hit, “Please Mr. Postman” by The Marvelettes.

1963 March on Washington for Jobs and FreedomMartin Luther King, Jr.gave his I Have a Dream speech.

1963 Emily Hoffert and Janice Wylie were murdered in their Manhattan flat, prompting the events that led to the passing of the Miranda Rights.

1964  The Philadelphia race riot began.

1965 Shania Twain, Canadian singer, was born.

1988 Ramstein airshow disaster: three aircraft of the Frecce Tricoloridemonstration team collided. The wreckage fell into the crowd killing  75 and seriously injuring 346.

1990  Iraq declared Kuwait to be its newest province.

1990 The Plainfield Tornado: an F5 tornado hit Plainfield and Joliet, Illinois, killing 28 people.

1991  Ukraine declared its independence from the Soviet Union.

1991 Collapse of the Soviet Union – Mikhail Gorbachev resigned as Secretary of the Soviet Communist Party.

1992 Canterbury’s “Big Snow“.

Canterbury's 'Big Snow'

1996  Charles, Prince of Wales and Diana, Princess of Wales divorced.

2003  An electricity blackout cut off power to around 500,000 people living in south east England and brought 60% of London’s underground rail network to a halt.

2011 – Hurricane Irene struck the United States east coast, killing 47 and causing an estimated $15.6 billion in damage.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


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