Word of the day


Abatis – defensive barricade or entanglement constructed using sharpened stakes or felled trees positioned with their branches pointing towards the enemy to delay or repel attackers; a rampart of felled trees bound together placed with their branches outwards; a barbed wire entanglement used as an obstacle or barricade against an enemy.

Thatcher thinks


Rural round-up


Kiwi farmers calling on Anzac spirit to support bushfire-hit Australian counterparts – Michael Daly:

Kiwi farmers are being asked to show their Anzac spirit with a plan to offer relief to counterparts across the Tasman affected by bushfires.

Mates Nathan Addis and Mark Warren on Thursday night launched the Facebook page: NZ Farmers Offer Free Accommodation To Aussie Farmers From Bush Fire Zones. The name sums up their aim.

The plan was to sound out support for the idea among Kiwi farmers first before promoting it in Australia, Addis said. And support was coming in quickly. . . 

Year in Review: How the freshwater plan could ruin my town – Dani Darke:

 This opinion piece by King Country sheep and beef farmer Dani Darke was one of The Country’s most popular reads of 2019. She wrote that she believed her community was under threat if the government’s Essential Freshwater policy passed into law.

Nestled in the heart of the King Country, the settlement of Aria embodies the richness of community spirit that is associated with heartland New Zealand.

With a population of 300 and a bustling CBD of 68, it is a place where everyone knows your name.

The Cosmopolitan Club acts as the community hub. Here age is irrelevant and 70-plus year olds socialise with 18-year-olds. We have thriving squash and tennis clubs and a primary school boasting a role of 50. . . 

Identifying ‘whodunit’ is a freshwater priority – Elizabeth McGruddy:

E coli monitoring tells us that bugs are in the water, but not where they came from. For that we need “faecal source tracking” tools to find out “whodunit”, writes Federated Farmers Senior Policy Adviser Elizabeth McGruddy.

The swimming season is upon us. Are our favourite swimming spots good to go? And if not, why not?

We know that most rivers are safe to swim, but some are not. Currently around 70 per cent of swimmable rivers (rivers with enough water to get wet in) are safe for primary contact. The national target is 80 per cent by 2030, and 90 per cent by 2040.

The Government’s latest freshwater proposals recommend that priority be given to the popular swimming rivers, during the swimming season. . . 

Rain-damage and cold weather hits Central Otago cherry stocks -Jo McKenzie-McLean:

Central Otago’s cherry season is off to a bad start with rain damaging crops, cold temperatures slowing ripening and bad picking conditions driving workers away.

Tim Jones, who is Summerfruit New Zealand chairman and chief executive of Cromwell-based orchard 45 South, said the “tough” start to the season was one of the most challenging he had seen in his 25 years in the industry.

At 45 South, about 250 tonnes would typically be picked around the New Year period. This year, they picked 100 tonnes. . . 

Forgotten victims of the drought – Lindsay Cane:

OFFICIAL reports released in December show the impact of the drought on our economy and agricultural sector will linger for up to a decade.

The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) latest forecast show farm production is expected to fall significantly with rebuilding expected to take a decade. And that depends on rain.

The bushfires and drought have taken a toll on many people financially and emotionally.

But one of the most worrying and often unacknowledged aspects of this drought is the long lasting impact on our children. This too will take time to address. And that will depend on urgent action being taken. . . 

Rejoice the earth is becoming greener – Matt Ridley:

Amid all the talk of an imminent planetary catastrophe caused by emissions of carbon dioxide, another fact is often ignored: global greening is happening faster than climate change. The amount of vegetation growing on the earth has been increasing every year for at least 30 years. The evidence comes from the growth rate of plants and from satellite data.

In 2016 a paper was published by 32 authors from 24 institutions in eight countries that analysed satellite data and concluded that there had been a roughly 14% increase in green vegetation over 30 years. The study attributed 70% of this increase to the extra carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The lead author on the study, Zaichun Zhu of Beijing University, says this is equivalent to adding a new continent of green vegetation twice the size of the mainland United States.

Global greening has affected all ecosystems – from arctic tundra to coral reefs to plankton to tropical rain forests – but shows up most strongly in arid places like the Sahel region of Africa, where desertification has largely now reversed. This is because plants lose less water in the process of absorbing carbon dioxide if the concentration of carbon dioxide is higher. Ecosystems and farms will be less water-stressed at the end of this century than they are today during periods of low rainfall. . . 

Not paid to think?


When I read opinion pieces like this I wonder if the writer is paid to think:

. . .We get today off simply because it is “the day after New Year’s Day”. At least they could make up a name for “the day after Christmas Day”, aka Boxing Day. Don’t stop there. Why not the day before, as well?

Of course, some businesses will complain because money. Cry me a river. Public holidays are universally loved and drive spending in hospitality, tourism and in the regions. More importantly, they’re a day free (or well paid) of work. 

Public holidays might drive some spending in hospitality, tourism and the regions but not always.

We drove from Wanaka to Otahuti and back last Thursday, the second of the New Year public holidays.

We planned to stop for coffee at Five Rivers. The cafe was closed.

We were going to have lunch in Winton. Everything was closed.

We headed north to Lumsden. One cafe was closed, one had queues out the door and the third had a single worker who told us nothing on the lunch menu was available because she couldn’t cook and serve.

Why weren’t more staff on and more cafes open on a public holiday when there were so many travellers? Almost certainly because the extra costs of wages for people who work on a public holiday aren’t covered by the income.

Only sycophantic corporate slaves would argue against days off.

People who have to fund the extra costs of running essential businesses and services on public holidays would also argue against more days off.

This includes hospitals and other health providers, public transport, and rest homes. Then there’s providers of other businesses and services who have to be on call including medical and veterinary clinics and some trades and there’s 24 hour seven day a week businesses that can’t shut down for a holiday, like farms.

New Zealand has a measly 11 public holidays a year. If we were to live in Colombia or Iran, we would have 27! Luxembourg has 11, but also paid special leave for anniversaries, weddings or moving house. Another few days won’t sink the banks. . . 

We have 11 public holidays and four weeks annual leave – that’s five and 1/5 working weeks of paid time off.

A business with 10 workers is effectively paying someone to not work every week of the year.

And a business that is closed is making no money while still incurring fixed costs – mortgage, rates, insurance.

I once made the mistake of quipping to my boss I wasn’t paid to think.

He didn’t see the joke and made it very clear I was.

When I first read the piece on more days off I wondered if the writer had his tongue in his cheek. I don’t think he did and if he’s being paid to think he’s short-changing his employer.

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