Word of the day

November 25, 2019

Fiddlestick – a violin bow; something trifling;  an exclamation (in plural) nonsense.


Sowell says

November 25, 2019


Rural round-up

November 25, 2019

Merino passion recognised – Sally Rae:

A Central Otago farming family recently received recognition for the quality of its merino wool. Business and rural editor Sally Rae visits Matangi Station.

At Matangi Station, the Sanders family are firm believers in the adage that there are only two types of sheep in the world – merinos and others.

Four generations have pursued a passion for the breed and that looks set to continue with the fifth generation – Todd – already exhibiting a love of animals and the lifestyle the Central Otago high country property affords.

The family’s pride in producing high-quality fine wool was rewarded recently when Matangi was presented with Reda Group’s Marque of Excellence 2018-19 – or top supplier in New Zealand – at a function at Lake Hayes. . .


Prices go crazy
– Annette Scott:

Red meat prices, buoyed by demand for protein, are sailing in uncharted waters with wethers fetching $373 a head at Coalgate on Thursday, Hazlett livestock general manager Ed Marfell says.

Despite the season tracking behind in both grass and lamb growth, stock are fetching record prices.

“It was a slow start but the way the season is unfolding now it is difficult to say where it might be headed. . .

Lucrative opportunities in horticulture for school leavers:

School leavers should consider horticulture as a career filled with variety, relevance and opportunities to see the world. 

‘Horticulture has a massive range of careers to choose from,’ says Erin Simpson, Head of Capability Development at NZ Apples and Pears. ‘It’s not about picking bags and ladders anymore.

‘The horticulture sector is expecting growth of nearly 4% this year on top of massive growth last year.  This growth is creating fantastic opportunities for school leavers wanting to work in a sector that can take them places and pay them well.’ 

Erin is part of the Horticulture Capability Group (HCG), which was promoting the industry at this year’s Careers and Transition Education Association (CATE) Conference. . .

NZQA exam questions portray unbalanced view of farming:

NZQA needs to front up to concern that has been created by questions in their exams painting a one-sided picture of New Zealand’s farmers, National’s Agriculture spokesperson Todd Muller says.

“Students who sat their NCEA level three English exam were tasked with a question that described waterways as being ravaged by farmers and spoke of a ‘town vs country’ divide.

“There needs to be some balance in how our education system portrays farmers. We have the most sustainable farmers in the world but this rarely gets mentioned.

“Coupled with our national museum Te Papa advising our children they should be giving up meat and dairy for the sake of the environment, there is a concern our kids are being convinced that farming drives environmental degradation. . .

Connectivity powers irrigation efficiency:

Internet connectivity and technology are playing a vital role in the growth of Ashburton-based Plains Irrigators, which has grown from a local business into a large South Island enterprise employing around 40 staff.

The company started in the 1990s with the beginning of centre pivot irrigation. It designs, installs and services pivot and lateral irrigators, and retrofits existing systems.

Manager Dan Stephens describes internet connectivity as crucial to the company’s growth. . .

The farmers who started out with student debt and big dreams – Charley Adams:

When Lewis Steer was 16, his parents gave him three sheep as a reward for doing well in his GCSEs.

It was an unusual present but Lewis and his girlfriend Flora Searson had an unusual goal – despite coming from non-farming families, they dreamed of running their own farm.

Now in their mid-20s, that’s something they’re doing, rearing three flocks of rare-breed sheep on rented land in Dartmoor, Devon.

They explain what it’s been like breaking into an industry that’s often associated with a suspicion of outsiders. . .


Losing friends

November 25, 2019

Guy Trafford writes of the West Coast’s protest against government policies:

The West Coast managed to do what the major centres couldn’t and had “thousands” turn out on Saturday to register their dislike of the government policies. A couple of things made this protest somewhat unusual.

The protesting crowd was made up of odd bedfellows with farmers, miners and members of the fishing industry forming the majority of the number. The other unusual factor was that it was held in what is traditionally considered to be heartland Labour territory.

The crux of the protest was that people had had enough of not being allowed to make a living from the natural resources. . .

This is echoed by Chris Trotter:

…It’s precisely this widening gulf between those with actual experience of things like guns, chainsaws and drilling machines, and those who regulate their use, that accounts for the angry crowd at Greymouth’s Messenger Park. In the rarefied atmosphere where decisions to shut down whole industries are made, hands-on experience is not only rare – it’s despised. What do workers know about anything?

That’s the question isn’t it? What do workers know? The answer, of course, is “more than they think”.

For a start, they know that human-beings have been changing nature for millions of years. From the moment some brave ancestor pulled a burning branch from the edge of a blazing forest, our species ceased to be just another mammal. From chipping flint to smelting steel, humanity’s relentless drive to innovate and alter has granted it, in the solemn language of Genesis: “dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.”

You don’t truly understand this truth until, using your own strength and skill, and the strength and skill of your workmates, you collectively transform your world. And that sort of truth: the knowledge you gain down in a mine or felling a tree: you won’t find in a book anywhere.

Workers know that all those people in the cities going on and on about “keeping the coal in the ground” don’t understand that without the high-quality coking-coal from places like the West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand, the world’s steel mills couldn’t function. Without steel there is no modern world. Without coking-coal we’re back in the Iron Age – cutting down whole forests to make the charcoal crucial to the smelting of iron and most other metals.

Meanwhile mining here is regarded as bad but the country is importing coal from elsewhere. Most of it is of lower quality and at least some of it comes from countries with far laxer employment and environmental standards than ours.

Workers know what civilisation is made of because they extract it every day.

Farmers are the same. They know what it takes to coax crops out of the ground. How much they are beholden to forces no human-being can ever truly tame or control. They also know what city dwellers pampering their pets in suburban bungalows do not. That the relationship between human-beings and animals has always been one of ruthless exploitation. As inescapable as it is irreducible: we consume them.

It’s a hard world – as hard as the callouses on the hands of those who work it. And there is precious little which the world is able to surrender to us without long and bitter struggle.

In the process of exploiting its plants, animals and minerals is humankind damaging this world? Are we ruining the atmosphere by wrenching from its bowels the fossil fuels that make our lives so much easier?  

The answer from the protesters of Messenger Park is “Yes.”, and “Yes.” And, unless we want to return to the day before that brave ancestor picked up that burning branch, they’re telling us to “get over it”. Nothing comes from nothing.

Nobody lives closer to Mother Nature than the people of the Coast.

It’s hard work.

The irony is that cities, where most of the politicians, bureaucrats and their supporters who want impose far bigger blots on the landscape than farms, mines and selective logging.

But cities are where most voters and so the government is more likely to listen to urban voices than provincial and rural ones.

However, around 10% of the West Coast’s population turned out to protest.

The significance of that is amplified by the fact that Labour would have counted many of them as friends, and a party that starts losing its friends finds it very much harder to win elections.


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