Olive and Mabel

July 11, 2020

Company meeting:

Olive and Mabel

July 4, 2020

From the sporting archives:

When maternal instinct triumphs

April 26, 2020

Would the world be a better place if the maternal instinct triumphed over the hunting one like this more often?


September 1, 2019

A few days late for International Dog Day, Dog by Nat Johnson:

Rural round-up

August 28, 2019

Stressed southern farmers get help – Neal Wallace:

Agriculture leaders are scrambling to support Southland farmers struggling to deal with the seasonal pressures accentuated by a media campaign questioning their winter grazing management and animal welfare.

Southland Rural Support Trust chairwoman Cathie Cotter says the campaign has added to the seasonal stress of calving and lambing and a wet, cold latter part of winter.

“We are very concerned for farmers.  . . 

Not Just A Southland Issue — August 2019 – dairymanNZ:

Last week the Minister of Agriculture announced the members of his taskforce that will investigate the practice of wintering cow on crop in Southland, their brief being to “do a stocktake of the multiple initiatives that are already underway to promote good winter grazing practices and identify why those are not currently working for all.”

The issue has of course been brought to a head by environmental campaigners in Southland releasing drone footage of cows up to their hocks in mud along with pictures of cows calving in similar conditions.

The reaction from farmers on twitter has been starkly divided; Southland farmers believe it is an issue for their region to tackle without interference from central government or advice from outside experts, let alone from the lone environmentalist appointed to the taskforce. They are not interested in the opinions of non-farming urbanites whose only experience with wet weather grazing was that one time they got caught in the rain during a picnic.  . . 

Eagerly grabbing their chances – Neal Wallace:

Blair and Jane Smith freely admit to having their share of good fortune as they embark on their farming careers but that doesn’t mean they are resting on their laurels. Neal Wallace reports.

It might be a cliche that business success is all about opportunities but that is the reality for North Otago farmers Blair and Jane Smith.

In 2008 as they were in the process of taking over Jane’s family farm neighbours Bruce and Fay McNab invited them to look over their hill property.

Blair says they initially had no idea why they got the invitation but the farm was for sale and the McNabs viewed them as potential owners. . . 


Beefing up women’s voices :

Ten years ago Lindy Nelson was wondering why rural women weren’t more visible as decision-makers around the table in the boardroom or even in their own farm kitchens.

She did some research and decided to take the bull by the horns, setting up an organisation to give them a bigger voice.

The Agri-Women’s Development Trust was born and now trains and supports hundreds of women – and now men too – to make change in New Zealand’s primary sector and in rural communities. . .

Battery-powered tractors still a long way off – Mark Daniel:

The likelihood of electric or hybrid powered farm tractors still appears a long way off.

The German news site Top Agrar says research by Fendt indicates that the energy density of currently available batteries would not suit high horsepower prime movers.

Fendt director of research, development and purchasing, Heribert Reiter, says tractors up to 68hp (50kW) can typically use batteries to run for one to four hours depending on the task. . . 

‘Widespread support’ for advance parties – Trevor Walton:

They sound as if they are small military detachments charged with reconnaissance, but in the case of the deer industry’s advance parties (AP) they are in fact the main body of the army.

Deer Industry New Zealand (DINZ) Passion2Profit manager Innes Moffat said there were now 29 advance parties, involving 352 of the industry’s 1200 or so commercial deer farms and more than 30% of the industry’s deer.

”There are eight APs operating across Otago and Southland, catering for farmers in different districts and with different interests,” Mr Moffat said.

”For example there are environment APs in Central Otago and Southland; an AP catering for farmers who specialise in elk/wapiti; and a data group in Southland working on a short term project. . . 

Dog walker vs farmer

March 12, 2019

Who wins in dog walker vs farmer😕

A Peak District farmer has been forced to give up his “gentle” highland cattle after a single dog walker complained that they felt unsafe around the herd.

Alex Birch, 32, has roamed his 27-strong herd on Baslow Edge in the Peak District for 40 years, ever since his grandfather David Thorp first introduced them to the land as a young man.

Walkers in the national park regularly encountered the red-haired cattle, described as “the most photographed cows in the world”, as they grazed on the bracken.

They were even the face of BBC Look North’s weather programme.

But ramblers cannot find the animals on Baslow Edge anymore, as Mr Birch has been forced to sell and slaughter his cattle following a complaint to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) from an anonymous dog walker.

The complaint stressed concern after a walker claimed that one of the highland cows attempted to attack their dog. . . 

An online petition has been launched in support of the farmer:

It has gained over 23,000 signatures in just 24 hours. The petition says: “For over 40 years a herd of Highland cattle have been allowed to graze on the moorland of Baslow Edge in the Peak District, delighting walkers, cyclists and photographers.

“They have also played a crucial part in maintaining and enriching this beautiful moorland. The highland cattle actively helped the biodiversity of the area.

“Sadly, the HSE has decreed that these gentle creatures should be removed from this area due to the complaints of one individual who, by walking with a dog too close to the herd, felt that they were in danger of attack.”

It adds: “Baslow Edge is visited by thousands of people every year, who enjoy the sight of these magnificent creatures, are respectful of their space, particularly when the cows have calves, with no incident.

Cows with calves are very, very protective.

“This petition is also to show support to the farming community and Mr Thorp, the farmer who owned the herd of highland cattle on Baslow Edge. Quite simply, the act of removing this herd was uncalled for and a knee-jerk reaction to one individual.”

Despite fierce public backlash against the decision, a HSE spokesman said the matter has been ‘satisfactorily resolved’. .  .

People wanting more access to farmland in New Zealand often look to the UK’s right to roam as an exemplar.

It’s stories like this which keep farmers here maintaining their private property rights which include the right to restrict entry and bar dogs on a lead or not.

Happy Valentine’s Day

February 14, 2019

You can get carried away by the commercialism, ignore it, or focus on what really matters – true love that, in Shakespeare’s words, alters not when it alteration find.

Wishing ewe  love and laughter.

And love and laughter to moo too.

Lab testing

April 27, 2018

Do cats cook in the wild?

May 22, 2017

Vets warn raw meat diet could harm pets’ health.

This begs the question: do cats and other pets cook their meat in the wild?

Saturday’s smiles

April 29, 2017

A dog walked into a post office and picked up a blank telegraph  form.

He then wrote on it, “Woof. Woof. Woof. Woof. Woof. Woof. Woof. Woof. Woof.” and handed the form to the assistant

The assistant took the form, looked it over and then said, “You know, there are only nine words here. You could add another ‘Woof’ for the same price.”

The dog shook his head at the assistant and said, “But that would make no sense at all.”

The one that got away twice

April 2, 2016

A possum stood still in my headlights directly in front of me as I rounded a corner.

I didn’t swerve and felt a bump. Had it been a thump I’d have been sure I’d killed it but the bump made me wonder if I’d only wounded it.

I have no compunction about killing pests but I wouldn’t leave one injured.  I turned round in the first gate way I came to, went back and saw the possum walking towards me apparently uninjured.

Again I didn’t swerve and felt another bump but not a thump. I turned drove to the nearest gateway, turned round and drove back up the road.

When I rounded the corner the possum was running ahead of me then it dashed to the side of the road and up a power pole.

Possum 2 – me 0.


Happy Penguin Awareness Day

January 21, 2016

It’s still January 20th somewhere in the world:

Sirocco Kākāpō's photo.

You can easily spot Little Blue and Yellow Eyed penguins in and around Oamaru.

Quote of the day

April 27, 2015

Some people talk to animals. Not many listen though. That’s the problem.” A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

Scottish Country Dog Dancing

April 22, 2015

I can’t get the clip to embed but if you like dogs and Scottish country dancing, Mary Ray, Richard Curtis and Levy at Crufts are a must-watch.


Lest we forget

November 11, 2014

At 11 o’clock on the 11th day of the 11th month,  the war that began 100 years ago and was supposed to end all wars, came to an end.

My maternal  grandfather was one of the thousands who left their homes to serve with the New Zealand Army.

My mother told us he wouldn’t talk about his experience and he buried all his medals in the garden.

A few years ago we got his records and found that part of his service was looking after the horses in Egypt.

Poppy Appeal Australia  pays tribute to the 8 million horses, donkeys and mules that died faithfully supporting their respective armies:


Photo: Incredible tribute to the 8 million horses, donkeys and mules that died faithfully supporting their respective armies. Faithful to the end. We will remember them.



Rural round-up

June 21, 2013

Ski patrol rescues sheep buried in snow – Thomas Mead:

Three mountain climbers needed an alpine rescue last night after bearing the brunt of a snow storm – but the stranded patients weren’t your regular mountaineers.

A ski patrol was part-way through a regular avalanche monitoring routine on Wanaka’s Treble Cone ski field when they spotted a little head sticking out of a snow drift.

A closer inspection revealed three sheep stranded in a snow drift, still breathing and warm, but buried in the snow.

Ski patrol member Luke Lennox says the surprising discovery left the team with the perfect opportunity to practice an alpine rescue. . . . (click on the link for a video).

Kiwi firm tackles burger giant at home:

US ICONIC company McDonald’s may have dumped lambburgers – but a thriving New Zealand fast-food company plans to take on the land of beef and burgers on its home ground.

After a successful drive into the Middle East, Burger Fuel, whose premium burgers are based on New Zealand beef, is strategising to enter the US, says New Zealand Trade and Enterprise chief executive Peter Chrisp. . .

New company becomes TB agency:

The Animal Health Board is relinquishing its role as the management agency for the National Bovine Tuberculosis (TB) Pest Management plan.

The role will pass to a new limited-liability company TBfree New Zealand Ltd. The Animal Health Board (AHB) will resign its role as the management agency on June 30.

From July 1, 2013 TBfree New Zealand Ltd and National Animal Identification and Tracing (NAIT) Ltd will become wholly-owned subsidiaries of Operational Solutions for Primary Industries (OSPRI) New Zealand Ltd. . .

Zespri running to keep ahead of the game:

THE GLOBAL business environment is evolving so quickly it’s “about running to keep up so we are not made obsolete,” Zespri chief Lain Jager says. 

“Two high-level strategic thoughts occupy our minds: where will our growth come from and how can we develop our advantage so we can make a margin and be profitable?” he told the Go Global export conference in Auckland. . .

Changes to Layer Hens Code of Welfare Proposed:

The National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC) is seeking public consultation on proposed changes to the Layer Hens Code of Welfare 2012.

The most significant effect of the Code is that it requires battery cages to be phased out by 31 December 2022. This was to be managed in three transition stages. While the final phase-out date has not changed, the potential for severe price increases has highlighted the need to move each of the transition steps back by two years.

The amended transition steps within the ten year period are as follows: . . .

Meat Industry Excellence Makes First Key Appointment:

Ross Hyland, an influential figure in both agribusiness and the commercial sector, has become Meat Industry Excellence’s (MIE) first key appointment.

“Ross’s commitment and success in New Zealand agriculture is well documented,” says Richard Young, Chairman of Meat Industry Excellence.

“Ross Hyland’s on-going commitment to continually improve the profitability of our primary sector will be vital as we push for a stronger and more vibrant red meat sector. . .

Fluufy cows – old beauty practice gains attention:

ADEL, Iowa — Grooming cows so they look like unusually large poodles is a well-known beautification practice in the show cattle industry.

But although it may be decades old, it’s just now getting attention on the Internet.

It started with a photo of a male cow named Texas Tornado who had a particularly fluffy coat. “Fluffy cow” photos are now making the rounds.

The practice is meant to help sell livestock for breeding or harvesting. . .

Pepper 1997 – 2013

April 4, 2013

Like many farmers, mine wasn’t particularly keen on the idea of a playing dog.

However, our office manager brought two puppies her dog had produced to work one day because someone near-by was going to choose between them.

My farmer told her she must make sure the pups were gone before our daughter and I got home but he was silly enough to tell us about them.

There was something in his voice during the telling which suggested that he could be persuaded to change his view on playing dogs. It didn’t take much and the pup came back to stay next day.

His mother was a golden labrador, we presume his father was a sheep dog because Pepper was black with a flash of white under his chin.

Like most pups he was mischievous, stealing footwear from the back door, playing with the sheets on the clothesline and chewing the bark of a newly planted flowering cherry.

He grew out of those tricks but not out of a propensity to take other people’s food. A painter who was working here left his lunch in a bag by the door, Pepper got there first and by lunchtime all that was left in the bag was the paper the sandwiches had been wrapped in.

Another day one of our staff called to drop something off on her way home from grocery shopping. She left the car door open and by the time she got back to it the cooked chicken she’d bought had gone.

His few misdemeanours were more than compensated for by his friendship and loyalty. He’d look at us with big, sad eyes whenever we drove out the gate and welcome us back with wagging tail when we returned. He’d greet each of our staff when they arrived in the morning, go to check anyone who was in the workshop and always accompanied me on my morning walks.

He was also musical. When anyone played a violin or bagpipes, Pepper would sit up straight and howl in time, if not in tune.

He was always a thousand acre dog. He wouldn’t go into his kennel voluntarily, preferring to sleep in a sheltered spot under a window or roam the garden and the home paddocks where he buried his bones.


For the last few months we’ve been keeping a careful eye on him as he slowed down and showed his age. His nose was still shiny and coat glossy but there was a growth by one eye and he had become very deaf.

It was the deafness and his propensity for sleeping where we parked which worried us and yesterday what we feared might happen, did.

Pepper lay down behind a car and one of our staff backed over him.

She was distraught but we don’t in any way blame her, we’d all had near misses and any of us could have done it.

My farmer took Pepper into the vet who said at nearly 16 he was already three years past his normal life expectancy.

An x-ray showed a broken spine and we took the vet’s advice that the humane thing to do for the old dog was to put him down.

My head accepts that this was the right course of action, but my heart is sad and as I type there’s a big space outside the door where Pepper used to be.

Elephants are bigger than rabbits

February 6, 2012

University of Tasmania’s Professor David Bowman has a suggestion of how to deal with the giant African gamba grass, introduced to Australia as food for livestock in the 1930s, which now wreaks havoc on the landscape and provides dangerous fuel for wildfires.

Elephants and rhinoceros should be introduced to the Australian outback to control the impact of damaging wild grasses, according to an Australian professor of environmental change biology. But other Australian academics warned the proposal risked its own set of problems. . .

Elephants are bigger than rabbits and have a much longer gestation period, but just think of the damage they could do if their new habitat and lack of predators enable a population explosion.

Ricky Spencer, senior lecturer with the Native and Pest Animal unit at the University of Western Sydney says introducing elephants would pose significant problems.

“If we did go down the road of introducing elephants to Australia, we had better develop the technology to clone saber-tooth tigers to eventually control the elephants,” he said in a statement.

Friends have a station in the Northern Territory where they combine farming with a hunting business.

The main targets are buffalos and pigs.

But given the damage these and other wild species they already have on their property do to their fences I don’t think they’d be keen on anything bigger.

Hat tip: Quote Unquote.


January 2, 2012

Some deer, a dog, a man and a boy with a video camera:

Hat tip: Skeptic Lawyer who also has a clip of a news story on the video.

Shrek for Te Papa?

June 10, 2011

Shrek’s dead but he’s not going to be buried – Cure Kids want him preserved so he can live on at Te Papa alongside Phar Lap.

If there’s a place for a horse at our palce, why not a sheep?

Shrek’s story is an amazing one and it shouldn’t be allowed to die.

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