Word of the day

04/01/2021

Whiffler –   a person who frequently changes attitudes, interests, opinions or course;  a chronically indecisive and evasive person who swings from one course of action to another; a person who uses shifts and evasions in argument;  someone who vacillates; a person who whiffles; one who plays on a whiffle; a fifer or piper; an officer who went before procession to clear the way by blowing a horn, or otherwise; hence, any person who marched at the head of a procession; a harbinger.

Hat tip: Adam Smith


Sowell says

04/01/2021


Rural round-up

04/01/2021

Weather: Central Otago growers attempt to salvage unharvested produce after extensive rainfall – Ruwani Perera:

Central Otago recorded its highest level of rainfall in 40 years as wild weather lashed the region.

About 150 millimetres fell on Saturday, but it means growers had the painful job of assessing the extent of the damage to their unharvested produce on Saturday and some have suffered substantial losses.

Hans Biemond of Biemond Market Gardens estimates one-third of his submerged broccoli crop won’t be able to be saved and he’s cutting his losses after the freak flood.

“If I cut them in the next wee while they’ll still be alright. By tonight they’ll all be buggered,” he says. . . 

Pivoting from production to permanent forests – Keith Woodford:

A fundamental change is occurring in the economics of production versus permanent forests. The policy environment is getting left behind

During 2019, I wrote five articles discussing land-use transformation that would be driven by forthcoming forestry investments.  One of the key themes of those articles was that New Zealand’s forestry policies are a mess. The rules are complex and confusing. Also, the alignment of those rules with the overall public good is at best debatable.

I wrote about how policy communication by Government has been driven by public relations spin about the so-called billion trees programme. It has been virtue signalling but little else.

I also wrote that the investor focus to date has largely been driven by production forestry with that focus shaped by proximity to ports rather than the most appropriate land-use.  In that context, selling carbon units has been seen as a bonus. . . 

Support keeps arable operation on the ‘case’ :

Turley Farms is a Canterbury-based, family-owned enterprise that grows vegetable, seed and pasture crops – including wheat, barley, potatoes, white clover, onions, grass seed and carrot seed.

Also on the agenda are hybrid radish, spinach, canola, sunflowers and peas for processing. During winter the business finishes store lambs, winters dairy cows and finishes some beef cattle.

The business is largely self-contained, backed by technology to keep the many wheels of its 12 prime movers rolling. Case IH tractors on the properties run from 75 to 550hp, many fitted with Case IH Advanced farming systems automated guidance, offering precision seed placement down to 2cm, delivered by Trimble RTK.

With this technology available, real-time data monitoring from the Vantage system – offered by Trimble – gives the operation insight into areas such as soil moisture levels, then by comparing the results from a weather station reading, it can calculate soil deficit and crop demand. . .

Proof of profitability in the North – Hugh Stringleman:

Far North beef farmers Dennis and Rachelle O’Callaghan have spent 20 years refining the most profitable and sustainable management system for their land and have shared every step of the way with fellow farmers and rural professionals. They spoke to Hugh Stringleman.

On their 576ha effective Te Mataa Station at Taipa, most of which drains into the Parapara Stream and Doubtless Bay, Dennis and Rachelle O’Callaghan produce 500kg/ha/year carcass weight by rearing young Friesian bulls.

This is more than twice the provincial average for any form of beef production.

Almost the whole farm is covered with intensive beef systems (IBS), being TechnoGrazing and variations on cellular systems that carry 2400 yearlings in more than 100 groups. . . 

LIC delivers world-leading genetic wealth to New Zealand dairy farmers :

Thanks to the foresight of the LIC board and its farmer shareholders, three decades of research and investment focusing on increasing the rate of genetic improvement in New Zealand dairy animals is paying off resulting in markedly increased productivity and health traits for dairy cows, and better returns for dairy farmers.

LIC Board Chair Murray King says the investment of more than $78 million over the past 26 years has built substantial genetic wealth for the New Zealand dairy industry.

“Significant investment has been made to ensure LIC leads the world in pastoral genomic science, and the board is pleased to see this paying off with all shareholders able to share in the productivity and profitability improvements,” King says.

LIC Chief Scientist Richard Spelman says the investment in genomic science has included genotyping over 150,000 animals, genomically sequencing over 1,000 animals and undertaking detailed statistical research. . . 

Ringer, pilot, diplomat … all in a day’s work for Beetaloo stockman – Shan Goodwin:

Hugh Dawson’s job description is unlike any others.

He’s a cattleman, a helicopter pilot and a maintenance man. At times he does the work of a mechanic, boilermaker, a plumber, an electrician, as well as being a human resources advisor.

He has to know about genetics, breeding, animal husbandry and animal behaviour. He could also be called an advocate, an industry leader, even a diplomat.

Such is life when one has chosen agriculture for a career. . . 


Gerry Marsden 24.9.42 – 3.1.21

04/01/2021

The world has lost another great musician:

Gerry and the Pacemakers singer Gerry Marsden, whose version of You’ll Never Walk Alone became a football terrace anthem for his hometown club of Liverpool, has died at the age of 78.

His family said he died on Sunday after a short illness not linked to Covid-19.

Marsden’s band was one of the biggest success stories of the Merseybeat era, and in 1963 became the first to have their first three songs top the chart.

But the band’s other best known hit was Ferry Cross The Mersey came in 1964.

It was written by Marsden himself as a tribute to his city, and reached number eight.

Marsden was made an MBE in 2003 for services to charity after supporting victims of the Hillsborough disaster. . .

Gerry and the Pacemakers worked the same Liverpool club circuit as The Beatles in the 1960s and were signed by the Fab Four’s manager Brian Epstein.

Epstein gave Marsden’s group the song How Do You Do It, which had been turned down by The Beatles and Adam Faith, for their debut single. . .

While Marsden was a songwriter as well as a singer, his most enduring hit was actually a cover of a Rodgers and Hammerstein musical number from 1945, that he had to convince his bandmates to record as their third single.

In many interviews over the years, he explained how fate played a part in his band ever recording the song. He was watching a Laurel and Hardy movie at Liverpool’s Odeon cinema in the early 1960s and, only because it was raining, he decided to stay for the second part of a double feature.

That turned out to be the film Carousel – which featured that song on its soundtrack – and Marsden was so moved by the lyrics that he became determined that it should become part of his band’s repertoire. . .

That song topped the charts in 1963. It was often on the radio when I was driving to and from Dunedin Hospital with our baby son in 1987 and listening to it it helped me with those difficult journeys.


Yes Sir Humphrey

04/01/2021


Lax and late

04/01/2021

Newshub’s Covid 19 timeline gives the lie to the government’s claim of going hard and early:

. . . January 6: Newshub first reports on the “mystery virus”, when there had been just 59 cases reported. . .

A long list of warning signs and straight warnings from medical experts follows until:

March 26: New Zealand goes into a nationwide lockdown to stop the spread of the virus, closing most businesses, schools and workplaces. Seventy-eight new cases are confirmed. Lots of people arriving in the country have no plans to isolate.  . .  

The timeline shows that rather than hard and early, the government was lax and late.

Does that matter when Covid-19 has, largely, been stopped at the border and life is as near to normal as it could be with the borders still closed?

If it was only a political slogan it wouldn’t matter.

But if the government believes its own rhetoric and doesn’t accept that it was lax and late and then harsh it does matter.

That would mean it hasn’t learned from its mistakes and the report on our Covid-19 response by Heather Simpson and Brian Roche that was released after parliament rose for the year, showed plenty of mistakes and lessons which need to be learned.

One mistake the report didn’t address was that the lockdown was more than hard, it was harsh. Using the arbitrary essential to determine which businesses could operate rather than allowing those that could operate safely to do so.

That distinction did a lot more damage to too many businesses at a high human and financial cost.

Another problem with harsh rather than hard was delays to diagnosis and treatment of other health problems.

Closing all hospitals to all but those in dire need could have been excused at first. There was no rule book and overseas experience showed the very real risk of hospitals becoming overrun.

However, once it was obvious that case numbers had peaked and were declining with no untoward pressure on the health system, why couldn’t some hospitals have been directed to deal with Covid-19 cases and the others left to treat other patients?

I know of two people whose diagnosis of cancer wasn’t made because their symptoms weren’t considered urgent enough for appointments during the lockdown and who later died. It is possible that might have been the outcome even had they been diagnosed earlier, but whether or not that was the case for them, delayed diagnosis for a variety of ailments will have led to worse outcomes in terms of both quality and length of lives.

One of those was a friend who broke her wrist just before lockdown. It was set in plaster but the cast was too loose. She wasn’t able to get a replacement during lockdown, endured months of pain and incapacity and finally had surgery in December when the wrist had to be rebroken. She is now now just halfway through 10 weeks in plaster.

Has the government learned from its mistakes?

The continuation of the arbitrary essential  rather than safe for which businesses could operate and determination that hospitals were closed for all but absolute emergencies when Auckland went back into lockdown shows they hadn’t learned by then.

They say they’ve addressed, or are addressing, the issues raised in the Simpson Roche report that was completed after that. But have they?

We can be grateful that the lockdowns worked, that there is no community transmission of Covid-19 and we are able to live as normal lives as possible with the borders closed.

But that gratitude shouldn’t blind us to the fact that our freedom owes a lot to luck rather than good management.

With the new more virulent strain of the disease in MIQ at the border, it is even more important that the government  ensures everything possible that can be done is being done to make sure it stays there.


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