Word of the day


Holloway –  a sunken lane or road.

Blame this . . .


. . . for my unrequited desire to participate in a food fight:

The Great Race was released in the 1960s. All these decades later it still makes me laugh.

Thatcher thinks


Rural round-up


Concerns over farmers’ approach to financial wellbeing – Alan Wills:

Financial resilience of some businesses in our farming community is a real concern.

Alarm bells rang for me after a recent comment from a rural consultant was aired. He told me he was organising finance for some of his clients because Fonterra had re-adjusted the advance payment rate.

The payout prediction and the advanced payments are still based on $6-plus. . . 

Fears part of bumper apple crop could be lost :

New Zealand’s apple growers fear a bumper crop coupled with a shortage of workers could mean some of the summer harvest is lost.

The group New Zealand Apples and Pears, which represents the pip fruit industry, wants the government to step in and allow tourists to pick fruit without a working visa.

Group spokesperson Gary Jones said this could happen if the government declares a seasonal labour shortage in the country’s primary apple growing regions of Hawke’s Bay and Nelson.

This would allow overseas visitors in the country on tourist visas to work in the horticulture industry without obtaining the usual work permits. . . 

Will cheese become New Zealand’s next craft beer? – Kevin Jenkins:

I once read that before World War I, back before decades of blander mass production, New Zealand seed catalogues looked a lot more like they do in the 21st century, with much more variety. People were growing endive and cavolo nero, for example, and lots of interesting fruits.

But with one of the highest mortality rates among countries who participated in the war, followed by a deadly flu epidemic and then the Great Depression a decade later, it’s no wonder that from the 1920s New Zealand focused on survival … and therefore on potatoes, cabbages and the accursed mashed swede.

In parallel, better transport links and better refrigeration and mass production led to lots of our food industries consolidating. Local dairy factories progressively closed and companies combined until eventually Fonterra emerged as the behemoth it is today. Local breweries followed the same path until DB and Lion shared most of the market. Flour and bread, seafood, vegetables, canned fruit … all followed suit. . . 

Ideas coming thick and fast at RMPP Action Network :

Farmers are reported to have joined a Red Meat Profit Partnership (RMPP) Action Group at Rangiwahia to upskill the people in their businesses and boost their profitability.

Eight farm businesses in northern Manawatu have joined the RMPP Action Network to learn from each other and various experts.

Murray Curtis, who hosted the action group’s third meeting, welcomes the opportunity to “be part of a group that gets you thinking and gives you ideas you can put into action on your farm”. . . 

Farmers urged not to forget TB:

Farmers, especially in the South Island, are being reminded that while Mycoplasma bovis has captured headlines, TB is a continuing problem in small pockets of the country.

Kevin Crews, head of disease management for OSPRI (manager of the TB-free programme) says outbreaks have spiked in the Strath-Taieri (Otago) area, with “niggles” in the last two to three years.

TB has been found in ferrets, pigs and possums in the area and work is underway to see whether it is related to the incidence in cattle herds. . . 

Pig rearing to return to rural school following vegan backlash

Keeping pigs on a rural Hampshire school farm to show children how food is produced is to return following vegan backlash which temporarily axed it.

The pigs are kept in Priestlands School grounds, in Lymington, and the practice of rearing them on-site seeks to educate the children where food comes from, and how it is made, from farm-to-fork.

But a petition spearheaded by a vegan campaign group in January sought to axe the scheme, and the school temporarily stopped rearing pigs for a short while to avoid vegan upset. . . 

Bag ban greenwash


”Have you got your own bag?” the checkout operator asked me late last year.

”No,” I replied.

I then explained that was deliberate. I used to bring my own most of the time but once I knew supermarkets wouldn’t be supplying the multi-use bags I left my own at home to stockpile the others to line rubbish bins, carry shoes when travelling and the other uses to which I put them.

”You’ll still be able to buy them,” she said.

No wonder supermarkets aren’t at all worried by the bag ban. But what of customers?

What happens when they‘ve forgotten their bags, or popped into the supermarket unexpectedly and didn’t have any, or buy more than their bags can contain?

They might be able to put their groceries in one of the boxes most checkouts have, or they might buy less than they’d planned or they will just buy yet another bag.

Customers might also wonder why they are being denied those very useful multi-use bags when so much of what the supermarket sells is covered in plastic, quite a lot of it unnecessarily.

Why for instance do bananas come in plastic bags when nature provides them with skins that obviate the need for any other covering?

That’s a question with no logical answer which isn’t surprising when so many supposedly green initiatives owe more to political posturing than logic or science.

The question of what I’ll do when my stockpile of multi-use bags runs out does have an answer.

I’ll do what I used to do before we had the multi-use bags – line my rubbish bins with newspaper.

We didn’t have bags to buy back then but I’ll use the ones I have to buy when I forget to take my own for shoes when travelling

And will that do anything to make a meaningful difference to the plastic waste that ends up in oceans?

Almost certainly not, when 93%  of the plastic in the sea comes from just 10 rivers and you have to use alternative bags many, many times before the environmental impact of making and disposing of them is less than that of the multi-use ones supermarkets no longer supply.

The Ministry for the environment notes that poorer people might not be able to afford to buy bags.

The Government’s plastic bag ban could affect the poorest the hardest, according to advice from the Ministry for the Environment.

To mitigate this problem, the ministry recommended people with Gold and Community services cards receive reusable bags for free. . .

The Ministry also notes:

“If multi-use bags are not reused by the consumer to the design lifetime of the bags, net resource use may increase – resulting in greater inefficiency and loss of resources, compared to the status quo.”

In other words, the bag ban could be greenwash, the impact of which will be worse than the problem it’s trying to solve.


Quote of the day


You don’t get older, you get better – Shirley Bassey who celebrates her 82nd birthday today.

January 8 in history


307 – Jin Huidi, Chinese Emperor of the Jin Dynasty, was poisoned and succeeded by his son Jin Huaidi.

871 – Alfred the Great led a West Saxon army to repel an invasion by Danelaw Vikings.

1297 – François Grimaldi, disguised as a monk, led his men to capture the fortress protecting the Rock of Monaco, establishing his family as the rulers of Monaco.

1455 – The Romanus Pontifex was written.

1499 – Louis XII of France married Anne of Brittany.

1697 – Last execution for blasphemy in Britain; of Thomas Aikenhead, student, at Edinburgh.

1734  Premiere of George Frideric Handel’s Ariodante at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.

1746 Second Jacobite Rising: Bonnie Prince Charlie occupied Stirling.

1790 George Washington delivered the first State of the Union Address in New York City.

1835  The United States national debt was 0 for the only time.

1838 – Alfred Vail demonstrated a telegraph system using dots and dashes ( the forerunner of Morse code).

1862 Frank Nelson Doubleday, American publisher, was born  (d. 1934).

1863 Geologist Julius von Haast led an exploratory expedition in search of a route from the east to the west coasts of the South Island.

Haast begins West Coast expedition

1867 African American men were granted the right to vote in Washington, D.C.

1867  Emily Greene Balch, American writer and pacifist, Nobel Peace Prize laureate, was born  (d. 1961).

1877 – Crazy Horse and his warriors fought their last battle with the United States Cavalry at Wolf Mountain (Montana Territory).

1900  Dame Merlyn Myer, Australian philanthropist, was born  (d. 1982).

1908 – William Hartnell, British actor, was born(d. 1975)

1911  – Gypsy Rose Lee, American actress and entertainer, was born (d. 1970).

1912 The African National Congress was founded.

1926  Abdul-Aziz ibn Saud became the King of Hejaz and renamed it Saudi Arabia.

1926 Soupy Sales, American comedian, was born(d. 2009).

1935  Elvis Presley, American singer, was born (d. 1977).v>1937  Dame Shirley Bassey, Welsh singer, was born.

1937 – Dame Shirley Bassey, Welsh singer, was born.

1940  Britain introduced food rationing.

1941  Graham Chapman, British comedian, was born  (d. 1989).

1946  Robby Krieger, American musician (The Doors), was born.

1947  David Bowie, English musician, was born.

1959 – Fidel Castro‘s Cuban Revolution was completed with the take over of Santiago de Cuba.

1959 Paul Hester, Australian drummer (Crowded House), was born (d. 2005).

1962 – The Harmelen train disaster killed 93 people in The Netherlands.

1964 President Lyndon B. Johnson declared a “War on Poverty” in the United States.

1973 – Soviet space mission Luna 21 was launched.

1973 – Watergate scandal: The trial of seven men accused of illegal entry into Democratic Party headquarters at Watergate begins.

1975 Ella Grasso became Governor of Connecticut, becoming the first woman to serve as a Governor in the United States other than by succeeding her husband .

1994  Russian cosmonaut Valeri Polyakov on Soyuz TM-18 left for the space station  Mir. He stayed on the space station until March 22, 1995, for a record 437 days in space.

2004 The RMS Queen Mary 2, the largest passenger ship ever built, was christened by her namesake’s granddaughter, Queen Elizabeth II.

2005 – The nuclear sub USS San Francisco collided at full speed with an undersea mountain south of Guam. One man was killed, but the sub surfaces and was repaired.

2010 – Gunmen from an offshoot the Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda attacked the bus carrying the Togo national football team on its way to the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations, killing three.

2011 – An attempted assassination of Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and subsequent shooting in Casas Adobes, Arizona at a Safeway grocery store killed 6 people and wounded 13, including Giffords.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.

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