Word of the day


Squinch – a straight or arched structure across an interior angle of a square tower to carry a superstructure such as a dome; a support (such as an arch, lintel, or corbeling) carried across the corner of a room under a superimposed mass;  narrow crack in a wall or a space between floorboards; to crouch down or draw together; to crouch down or draw together.

Sowell says


Rural round-up


Cow versus plant-based milk which offers the most nutrition? – Gerhard Uys:

Plant-based milk alternatives contain just a fraction of the nutrition of cows’ milk, and are more expensive, a Riddet Institute study shows.

The study, done at Massey University and funded by dairy interests including Fonterra, compared the nutritional profiles of a range of plant-based drinks like soy, oat, coconut, almond or rice drinks, to standard cow milk.

For the study, 103 plant-based products were bought from supermarkets in Palmerston North. The plant based drinks had lower quantities of 20 nutrients measured, such as calcium and protein. They were also more expensive than cows’ milk, the study showed.

The institutes’ nutritional sciences professor, Warren McNabb, said plant-based beverages were often marketed as alternatives to cows’ milk, and consumers could easily believe they were nutritionally interchangeable. . . 

Here’s why food prices might have further to rise – Jacqueline Rowarth:

Organic pasture-fed ruminant meat animals are the farm products most damaging to the environment in terms of nitrogen loss and greenhouse gas production. This is according to UK-based science journalist Goerge Monbiot.

No doubt vegans will feel vindicated and organics people will feel misunderstood, while regenerative aficionados will be confident, until they read what he actually wrote – because regenerative involves pasture and eschews synthetic nitrogen like organics.

The conclusion will be disappointing to many people, who saw a ‘natural solution’ but there are no easy answers with an ever-growing global population to feed, and feed to meet their nutritional requirements.

No Hunger is the second of the Sustainable Development Goals from the United Nations, the first is No Poverty. Nearly a third of the global population lacks access to regular food and one in 10 are hungry. In 2020, 47% of countries reported escalating food prices in comparison with 16% in 2019. . .

Red meat exports reach $1.1 b in July 2022 :

New Zealand’s red meat sector achieved sales of $1.1 billion during July, a 26 per cent increase on July 2021, according to an analysis by the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

China remained the standout market with red meat exports worth $460 million, up 42 per cent on last July.

Other major markets were Japan at $58 million, up 36 per cent, the Netherlands at $38 million, up 132 per cent, and the UK at $38 million, up 97 per cent. Exports to the US dropped by 22 per cent to $191 million.

MIA chief executive Sirma Karapeeva says strong red meat prices in global markets were continuing to help absorb the impact of continued market volatility and higher costs. . . 

Environmental efforts recognised with award – Tim Cronshaw:

A Canterbury grower who has put in more than 500 solar panels at his family’s vegetable growing operation has won high praise for his environmental work.

Oakley founder and head agronomist Robin Oakley has won the Horticulture New Zealand (HortNZ) Environmental Award for his efforts, which includes reducing greenhouse gas emissions and nitrogen leaching.

The fifth-generation farmer grew up on his family farm and has been working the land since he was a young boy.

He started the Southbridge fresh vegetable business in the 1990s with his wife Shirleen. . . 

Forestry needs an urgent reset – Gary Taylor:

Forestry has an important place in our economy, but it’s time to improve the sector’s environmental performance. Gary Taylor explains how. 

The recent serious floods in Marlborough and Tasman and previous extreme weather events on the North Island’s east coast point to an urgent need to tighten up environmental controls on exotic forestry. The old method of allowing large scale clear-felling at harvest on erosion-prone land is no longer fit-for-purpose in a climate changing world.

Having large swathes of hill country denuded of stabilising vegetation for several years between forestry cycles is exacerbating run-off volumes and flood velocity, as well as vastly increasing sediment loads entering the coastal marine area. Sediment smothers and kills marine life.

The Government is about to release a discussion document on the review of the National Environmental Standards for Plantation Forestry (NES-PF). This is the opportunity to fix this problem through setting improved regulations for the sector and moving towards a safer and more environmentally responsible regime for forestry. . . 

Harnessing the power of saffron color for food and future therapeutics – Xiongjie Zheng:

A highly efficient enzyme combined with a multigene engineering approach offers potential for sustainable production of water-soluble pigments in plant tissues.

Saffron is the world’s most expensive spice. Usually obtained from the stigma of Crocus sativa flowers, it takes 150,000–200,000 flowers to produce one kilogram of saffron. Now, KAUST researchers have found a way to use a common garden plant to produce saffron’s active ingredient, a compound with important therapeutic and food industry applications.

The color of saffron comes from crocins: water-soluble pigments derived from carotenoids by a process that is catalyzed by enzymes known as carotenoid cleavage dioxygenases (CCDs). Crocins also occur, albeit in much lower amounts, in the fruits of Gardenia jasminoides, an ornamental plant used in traditional Chinese medicine.

Crocins have high therapeutic potential, including their role in protecting neural cells from degradation, as well as their antidepressant, sedative and antioxidant properties. They also have an important role as natural food colorants. . . .

Meeting the candidates


Why do people standing for public office not have some coaching in public speaking?

It was a question I often asked myself when working as a journalist and I asked it again on Wednesday at the Rotary Club of Oamaru’s Meet the Candidates forum.

The event was held to give the public a chance to listen to and question candidates for the Waitaki District Council and the Oamaru Licensing Trust.

Some of the candidates did themselves no favours by not either not speaking loudly enough or not using the microphone well enough to be heard clearly. Some too, didn’t understand the importance of making eye contact with the people they were addressing and some didn’t have much to say and didn’t say it well.

Two men are standing for mayor. The incumbent, Gary Kircher is being challenged by Paul Mutch.  I was planning to vote for Gary before I heard either of them speak and Paul’s support for the government’s Three Waters plan confirmed that.

None of the council candidates support the government’s Three Waters Plan. Most gave a straight no when asked if they did, a few said not in the current form. If applause form the audience can be relied on, most agreed with the opposition to the plan.

There was also unanimity from the candidates, and support from the audience, on the need for local solutions to local issues, summed up by one of the candidates, sitting councillor Jim Hopkins, who said the council is there to serve Waitaki, not Wellington.

Most of the audience were pensioners, most of the candidates were quite a bit younger.

Thirteen people are standing for six seats in the Oamaru ward and, judging from what I knew before the meeting and what they said at the meeting, the town is spoilt for choice.

I don’t get a vote in town but do have the choice of four candidates for two positions in the Corriedale ward.

The number of candidates standing, and the calibre of most, is good for democracy, and if the best get in will be good for the council and the District. But democracy not only needs a range of candidates, it needs people to vote and local body elections don’t usually get as much voter participation as they should.

Business South is holding a meet and greet with candidates next Tuesday, you can register for that here.

You can read the candidate profiles here.

P.S. – Apropos of today’s announcement on loosening Covid-19 restrictions, very, very few people at the meeting were wearing masks. Whatever the government decides, people have already made their own choices and the social licence for widespread use of masks has ended.

Private grief, public grief


Andrew was born on the 9th of September and he died on the 9th of September.

He lived only an hour and my mother never saw him. He’d been delivered by caesarean and by the time she came round from the anesthetic he’d been taken away.

One of my earliest memories is my father telling me not to talk about him because it would upset my mother. That was the way death and grief were treated back then.

Only recently, more than 20 years after my mother died, did I find out he’d been cremated in Dunedin and his ashes scattered in a cemetery there.


Tom died on the 9th of September, more than 20 years after the birth and death of his uncle.

One of the doctors who had looked after him told me that we all make a fuss over saying hello, it’s must as important to say goodbye properly.

Tom had a degenerative brain disorder and a lot of people said it was better that he died.

I knew what they meant but as I bobbed round in a sea of grief I wondered, if this was better how bad would worse be?

I was constantly tired but couldn’t sleep, I often felt physically unwell and I would get upset and angry over things that I ought to have been able to deal with calmly.

It took a Women In Agriculture day on feelings that are a pain in the neck to help me understand grief was the problem.

What I learned that day made me realise that although I didn’t blame anyone for Tom’s disability and death, I was still really, really angry that the baby we’d wanted and loved had died.

That day learning how to name and claim my feelings helped me tame them.

I also had wonderful support from extended family and friends.


Queen Eilzabeth II died on September 9  on the New Zealand calendar, though it was the 8th in Scotland.

Knowing it was the anniversary of my brother’s birth and his and my son’s deaths, made me grateful that I was able to grieve in private. Those who loved the Queen and were closest to her, have to perform public duties and have so little opportunity for private grieving.

The Queen was a public figure and there is widespread sorrow at her death. Her family and friends will be touched by the many, many people whose life she touched and who are sad it is over.

But how hard it must be for them, to be in the public eye when the pain at the death of their mother, grandmother and great grand mother, is so raw.


Grief is hard and it hurts.

It’s not like an illness you get over, it’s a process you go through. It’s more like a wound, the scar of which you’ll always carry even when, with time and love, the intense, raw pain passes and you’re able to be happy again.


If you’re looking for something to help with grief, or help someone who is grieving, one of the best resources I’ve found is Refuge In Grief.

That’s where this video comes from:



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