Rural round-up

March 8, 2015

Legendary shearer David Fagan retires from competition – Diane Bishop:

David Fagan reckons he’s had a pretty good innings. And you can’t argue that.

After all, he’s one of the most successful competition shearers this country has ever seen, and is likely to see.

At 53, he’s hanging up the handpiece, competitively speaking.

Despite his legendary status, Fagan is surprisingly down-to-earth and matter-of-fact about his last season on the shearing circuit. . .

Devotion saves oasis on dry plains:

Peter Etheridge is passionate about wildlife. So much so that when this summer’s drought threatened to shut down the creek flowing through his 12ha property, he knew he had to act.

The deer farmer, who lives 7km outside Ashburton, teamed up with neighbouring farmers to keep Green Street’s Spring Creek alive.

It was a tough ask. Irrigating farmers in the area were already on a 100 per cent water restriction so no water could be taken from the Ashburton River which feeds the creek. However, by negotiating with the local regional council, Environment Canterbury, Etheridge and his neighbours were able to get a small amount of water released purely for environmental purposes. . .

Learning experience for Southland deer farmers – Diane Bishop:

Dipton deer farmer Brian Russell is at the top of his game.

But, he’s the first to admit he’s still got a “bit to learn” on his family-owned property The Rock.

Brian and his wife Kristine are large scale deer farmers farming two properties comprising more than 2100 hectares in Northern and Central Southland. . .

Shear diplomacy for US Consul – Andrew Bonallack:

Mr Ambassador sir, it’s time to take your jacket off.

Under hot lights and in front of a large crowd, the brand new US Ambassador to New Zealand donned a Golden Shears singlet over his shirt and waited for his turn to have a go shearing a sheep at Masterton’s War Memorial stadium yesterday.

Mark Gilbert, who officially became the US Ambassador to New Zealand last month, was enjoying a tour of the Golden Shears competition when the suggestion was made for him to have a go at shearing. . .

Marmalade champions – Gerald Ford:

Whareama couple Sally Duckworth and Alisdair Ross have conquered the world of marmalade, taking two gold medals at the World Marmalade Championships in Cumbria, United Kingdom, on Saturday.

The competition, known as the World’s the Original Awards, this year attracted more than 2500 entries from across Europe, North America, Asia and Africa, as well as the Middle East and Australia and New Zealand.

Only one entrant managed more than two golds at the event.

The couple make marmalade as Marmalada, on their property at the historic 1884 Langdale Homestead.

This was the second year Sally and Alisdair have entered the competition. . .

Wood chopping a crowd favourite at Field Days     – Barbara Gillham:

Competition will be at the cutting edge and records may be broken when axemen from around the country enter the Husqvarna Wood Chopping Arena this year.

Always a crowd-pleaser, wood chopping has been at Central Districts Field Days since it began 22 years ago.

Run by the Taranaki Axemen’s Club, competitors – including brothers Jack and Shane Jordon from Stratford – will be in action. Two of New Zealand’s top axemen, Jack was the youngest world champion two years ago at the age of 17. . .

 


Rural round-up

February 10, 2015

Watt family all pulling together – Sally Rae:

They say many hands make light work.

At Waitaki Orchard, near Kurow, there are many hands, although the workload is not always light, particularly over the busy harvest season.

But the remarkable Watt family, who own and run the summerfruit operation, take it all in their stride.

Justin and Julie Watt, along with their eight children, aged between 9 and 20, do not consider themselves anything out of the ordinary.

But their story is anything but ordinary as the close-knit family work together and the children step up to take on more responsibility, due to their parents’ serious health issues. . .

Challenge for A&P Shows to satisfy demands of new public – Allan Barber:

The 148th Warkworth A&P Show was held on the Saturday of Auckland Anniversary Weekend on a very warm day with no fear of rain which at least alleviated the committee’s first concern. In the north at least feed is still plentiful, although rain would be welcome, but there is as yet no major worry of drought; so we were able to plan the event and welcome the weather forecast without a guilty conscience.

Two years ago there were rather more serious concerns the Show wouldn’t reach its 150th anniversary, but a few things have happened since then which have pushed this undesirable outcome into the background. . .

– Allan Barber:

Ever since the Korean War over sixty years ago the price of wool has been in decline with a few upturns along the way. Over the period the fortunes of wool growers have suffered from massive lifestyle changes leading to reduced demand for woollen textiles and fibres and the rise of synthetics with properties capable of imitating, if not matching, those of wool at a lower price. Wool is not the only natural fibre to be affected, with cotton being hit even harder.

There are a remarkable number of parallels between the red meat and wool industries in the reactions to the situation which is not surprising given the respective price trends and the fact many of the farmers are the same individuals. Sheep and beef farmers’ opinions of the deficiencies of the meat industry are virtually identical to those of the wool trade, while proposed solutions are also remarkably similar. . .

Smoke-tainted grapes could be an issue:

The fire which burned through almost 600 hectares of forest and farmland in Marlborough in the past week could be costly for some grape growers as well.

Vineyards in the vicinity of the fire which burned over five days in the Onamalutu Valley near Renwick, may now have a problem on their hands with smoke-tainted grapes.

Wine Marlborough’s general manager Marcus Pickens said they did not know yet how many vineyards may have been affected by smoke from the fire, on the edge of one of Marlborough’s main wine producing areas.

But they were acting on advice from the Australian wine industry and its experience in dealing with the impact of bush fires on grape production. . . .

Minister welcomes launch of Safer Farms:

Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Michael Woodhouse today welcomed the launch of the government’s Safer Farms programme.

Safer Farms is a multi-year programme designed by farmers and the wider agricultural sector, WorkSafe New Zealand and the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC).

“The death and injury rate behind the farm gate is simply unacceptable. Someone is killed nearly every fortnight – this needs to change,” Mr Woodhouse says.

“Safer Farms is a new way of tackling a long standing problem hurting rural New Zealand. It’s about education, awareness and support for rural communities.” . . .

Sharing a passion for smart farming – Diane Bishop:

All eyes will soon be on Brian and Kristine Russell’s deer farming operation.

The large-scale deer farmers are the new Southland deer focus farmers. Their first field day will be held later this month, with Browns farmer Dave Lawrence as facilitator.

“We wanted a farmer with the right attitude and who is prepared to change. Brian is extremely positive and extremely passionate about the deer industry,” Lawrence said.

The Russells farm almost 10,000 stock units on two properties totalling 2165 hectares in central and northern Southland.

The 845ha Dipton West block, where the couple live with their three children, is used mainly for finishing, while the 1320ha Kowhai hill block, 20 kilometres away, is primarily used for breeding. . . 

 Attention to deer health can boost farm profits:

Deer farmers are being encouraged to have a close look at their animal health as part of the Passion2Profit initiative.

P2P aims to improve deer farm profits by developing new high-value markets for venison and removing barriers to performance on the farm. The initiative, which has just won funding support from the government’s Primary Growth Partnership, already has several activities underway.

“Animal health, feeding and genetics are the three big areas where farmers can influence the profits they make from deer,” says Deer Industry NZ chief executive Dan Coup. . . 


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