Rural round-up

April 13, 2015

Shearing king David Fagan calls time – Libby Wilson:

Shearing king David Fagan had a fitting send-off to his competitive career last night, cheered on by a capacity hometown crowd in his final shear in Te Kuiti.

Having shorn 26,000 sheep in the course of his 640 open wins stretching back 37 years, the 16-time national champion put down the handpiece after contesting the Running of the Sheep in his Te Kuiti home.

His final contest came against his nephew James Fagan, whose father John beat David to second place in the 1984 Golden Shears. . .

Running of the sheep craws big crowd to Te Kuiti – Mike Mather:

A mob of hundreds of determined sheep made their way down Te Kuiti’s main street on Saturday, flanked by thousands of cheering humans.

The ovine athletes were the unwitting participants in the Running of the Sheep, an annual event that is part of the town’s Great New Zealand Muster, held to celebrate its claim of being the country’s sheep capital, and which also includes the New Zealand Shearing Championships.

Although a tad skitterish at the start of their run, the flock behaved in a very un-sheeplike manner, running straight and true down the centre of Rora St, through the centre of the town.

Waitomo District Council community development co-ordinator Donna Macdonald said she was very impressed with the behaviour of both the 342 four-legged runners and their two-legged audience. . .

Nitrate absorption trialled – Allison Beckham:

Scientists are trialling a filter system which they hope will provide dairy farmers with a simple and cost effective way of removing nitrates and phosphorus before they reach waterways.

A nitrate catcher was commissioned recently near Waituna Lagoon, southeast of Invercargill, and a phosphorus catcher will be built nearby soon. . . .

Blazed a trail in sales – Sally Rae:

Looking back, Katrina Allan wonders how she ever managed to juggle motherhood with work and tertiary study.

But, with a determination to finish her university studies before her son started his, Mrs Allan (44) did manage, finishing a year before he started, although she joked that she never wanted to see another textbook again.

Mrs Allan has the distinction of being the first female salesperson at Alliance Group, having worked for the company for 17 years. . .

Securing Glenfern Sanctuary’s future:

Conservation Minister Maggie Barry has announced the Government will contribute towards a joint bid to buy Glenfern Sanctuary on Great Barrier Island for the nation.

The Nature Heritage Fund, which is allocated at the Minister’s discretion, will put a significant amount of funding towards a consortium including the Auckland Council and Great Barrier Local Board looking to purchase Glenfern.

The sanctuary, in Port Fitzroy in the north of the island, was founded by the late sailing champion Tony Bouzaid in 1992 and is now for sale. . .

We don’t know how lucky we are – Chris Lewis:

As New Zealand Dairy farmers we often take for granted the sophistication of our industry and the relative ease we have in producing food for the nation and the World. April will not be one of those months for me.

I received a phone call last month from a Tear Fund organiser about this woman who was coming over from Sri Lanka to talk about the benefits of a project that has been designed and supported by TEAR Fund and the New Zealand Government, with Kiwi expertise to improve milk quality.  She is Selina Prem Kumar and is the Director of the successful dairy project in Sri Lanka. Her story will shock and move you.

The Wanni Dairy Regeneration programme she heads, started during the protracted civil war in Sri Lanka, has brought together both Singhalese and Tamil small hold dairy farmers for the common purpose of raising their incomes and revitalizing the dairy industry which stalled during the conflict. . .

A hill lambing made simple:

Zan Kirk, from Low Kilbride, in Dumfries, has struck upon a novel way of making hill lambing that little easier if you are dealing with small numbers, perhaps on the scale that smallholders deal with.

‘There comes a time in everyone’s life when things need to be made easier, computers help in many ways, but not with lambing. So here is the fail-safe way to a simple, stress-free lambing – keep your pet lambs and lamb them!
We have been doing this for some time now and most of our flock started out life as pet lambs. This removes the inherent fear that most sheep have of humans and means that, as we are getting on and still lambing outside, if we need to catch a ewe, most respond to a ‘shoogle’ of cake. They can then be caught, popped into the transport box and taken up to the shed to be lambed in comfort, and with warm water.
On Sunday, my most pet ewe lamb from last year lambed, albeit not in the best place – right in the middle of the field! I wandered up, asked her if she needed some help and she just sat there pushing. I helped lamb her, saw the lamb was breathing fine, told her how clever she was, gave her an hour and brought her into the shed for her tea and toast. . .


Rural round-up

April 9, 2015

Fagan’s last championships:

New Zealand’s most enduringly successful shearer, David Fagan, begins his final competition today before retirement.

The New Zealand shearing and wool handling championships at Te Kuiti in the King Country will be the last for the 53-year old veteran before he retires from the circuit.

He has had a busy final season, racking up 12 open wins from 25 finals.

Doug Laing from Shearing Sports New Zealand said Fagan had the chance of several more titles before the week’s end. . .

Thriving in the best of both worlds:

Taking the good with the bad, being a sounding board for farmers is what Fonterra Shareholders’ Councillor Sandra Cordell thrives on.

Although there are often gripes and grumbles, there are plenty of positives to the job and Cordell says talking to farmers is invigorating.

“I respect and admire farmers’ passion and enthusiasm for their industry,” she says.

“Farming is about making the best of opportunities on the farm and how a farmer makes use of these.  Since being in this role, I have been blown away by farmers’ awareness of sustainability.” . .

Dog trails light up Taranaki – Sue O’Dowd:

Taranaki farming personality Bryan Hocken is claiming a world first when the Tarata community stages sheep dog trials under lights on Saturday evening.

The Tarata Sheep Dog Trial Club  is hosting a straight hunt under lights after its annual sheep dog trials on Friday and Saturday. About 30 huntaways are expected to compete in the trial, with the winner set to take home $1000.

“We’re just testing the interest,” said Hocken, who’s president of the Tarata club, established more than 100 years ago in 1908. “We don’t know if it’s going to take off. You can enter on the day.” . . .

Tussock Creek sharemilkers win Southland Otago award:

Tussock Creek couple Jono and Kelly Bavin have won the 2015 Southland Otago Sharemilker Equity Farmer of the Year title.

The other major winners at the Southland Otago Dairy Industry Awards, held recently in Gore, were farm managers of the year Nick Templer and Anieka Venekamp, and dairy trainee of the year Jeremy Anderson. . .

Trooper seeded Gallipoli memorial – Sally Rae:

High on a hill overlooking North Otago farmland is a very special pine tree. Reporter Sally Rae explains why.

Greg and Julie McEwan always knew their beacon-like landmark was special but didn’t know exactly what made it so precious.

That was until a chance meeting in Oamaru, between Mrs McEwan, from Corriedale, and Ikawai farmer Ron Mansfield, who recounted the remarkable story of his Uncle Joe.

For the tree is much more than a landmark; it serves as a monument to World War 1 and to a soldier who safely returned home. . .

Minister opens NZ primary sector Shanghai office:

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce has officially opened the Shanghai office of Primary Collaboration New Zealand (PCNZ) – a coalition of New Zealand food and beverage companies pooling their expertise in China.

Mr Joyce, who is currently visiting Shanghai to foster business ties between New Zealand and China, says the new premises will provide a boost to the export ambitions of a number of New Zealand’s major primary sector brands.

“PCNZ is a trailblazing collaboration between New Zealand companies who are showing how innovative models can overcome size and scale challenges in large markets such as a China. . . .

Macraes mine may receive reprieve:

The Waitaki mayor is welcoming news OceanaGold may keep its Macraes mine in north Otago open for another ten years, and start mining tungsten deposits.

The company was planning to shut the mine down in 2017 because of the slump in international gold prices.

The company has declined to be interviewed but a spokesperson says low oil prices and the falling New Zealand dollar against the US currency, now makes the mine more viable, along with its recent exploration success both at surface and underground. . .

Otago bunnies breeding like rabbits:

The Otago Regional Council says the number of rabbits in the region is increasing.

8400 rabbits were killed during the annual Easter bunny hunt at the weekend, 500 more than the year before.

The council’s director of environmental monitoring, Jeff Donaldson, said the summer produced a bumper crop of bunnies.

“With the recent drought we’ve had in Otago there has certainly been an increase in numbers over most properties. Rabbits prefer the drier conditions. . .


Rural round-up

March 18, 2015

A champion at work and play – Rick Powdrell:

For generations New Zealand has been blessed with numerous elite athletes from the wide variety of codes our sports mad nation participates in.

Through those generations we have seen a number of supreme elite athletes that have been outstanding in their particular sport, an athlete we describe as one out of the box.

Our generation has been privileged to witness ‘one out of the box’- shearer David Fagan. He has set numerous records, winning over 600 open events while been an inspiration to aspiring shearers and the farming community.

His record of 17 national championships, 16 Golden Shears titles, five individual world titles, seven world team titles and 10 world records is legendary and unsurpassed. . .

 The politics of effluent – Chris Lewis:

I have to say that when I entered farming politics, I never expected that a significant chunk of the conversations I would be having would be about the stuff that comes out of the back end of a cow.  The polite term is ‘effluent’ of course, but what is not polite is the significant impacts and costs involved with managing it.

Part of Waikato Federated Farmers role is to hold our regional council to account when warranted, and effluent has been a major bone of contention. However they are there to do a job, as are we, and sometimes it is just as important to celebrate them. Just as farmers feel we are always being criticised in the media, I imagine councils do too and as we well know this can result in an ill informed perspective being held by the public.

In the last six months the Waikato Regional Council have set up an Effluent Working Group that has worked with stakeholders such as councillors, council staff, dairy industry leaders and myself, to help navigate a better model of management going forward. . .

Fonterra confident $755 million price tag for Beingmate stake is good value – Fiona Rotherham:

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Cooperative Group said the $755 million price tag for 18.8 percent of Shenzen-listed Beingmate Baby & Child Food represents good value and will deliver long-term value to the world’s largest dairy exporter.

The transaction, valued at 3,464 million RMB ($755 million) is well above the $615 million Fonterra indicated it would cost for up to a 20 percent share last year when the deal was first announced.

But chief financial officer Lukas Paravicini said the $615 million was a net figure, once the proceeds from the sale of Fonterra’s under-utilised Darnum plant in Australia into the joint venture it’s setting up with Beingmate are taken off the purchase price. . .

Third ANZ Young Farmer Contest Grand Finalist Named:

James Hoban is the third Grand Finalist to be named in the 2015 ANZ Young Farmer Contest.

The twenty-nine year old took first place at the Tasman Regional Final in Kirwee on Saturday 14 March after a very close and tense Evening Show.

Mr Hoban went home with a prize pack worth over $10,000 including cash, scholarships and products and services from ANZ, FMG, Lincoln University, Ravensdown, AGMARDT, Silver Fern Farms, Honda, Husqvarna and Vodafone. . . .

Matua Crowned Winemaker of Year And Champion Wine of Show:

Chief Winemaker Nikolai St George added some impressive bling to the Matua awards cabinet on Saturday night at the 2015 New Zealand Royal Easter Show Wine Awards, triumphing over all to take home the Royal Easter Show Trophy for Champion Wine of the Show in addition to the Pullman Hotels Trophy for Champion Syrah for the 2013 Matua Single Vineyard Matheson Syrah. With an additional two gold medals, 10 silver and two bronze, St George then took to the stage again to claim the Royal Agricultural Society Gold Medal for Wine Maker of the Year, which he also won in 2013. . .

 Federated Farmers Exec wins Golden Lamb Award:

Federated Farmers is thrilled one of their own has taken out this year’s Beef & Lamb Golden Lamb Awards.

Rick Powdrell, Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre Chairman says “Hamish Buchanan has outdone himself and should be incredibly proud of what he has achieved.”

“The Golden Lamb Awards is a challenging competition in its quest to find the highest yielding, most tender and tasty lamb in New Zealand. For our Tararua Meat & Fibre Chair to take that national title at such a young age is very impressive.” . . .

 

 


Rural round-up

March 9, 2015

Scotsman wins Golden Shears open final:

The competition dubbed the ‘Wimbledon of shearing’ entered a new era at the weekend with the retirement of legend David Fagan and its first ever international winner.

Fagan, the long-standing champion, has 16 Golden Shears wins under his belt, but in the year of his retirement he did not make the final of the open event on Saturday.

Instead, he ended his 35 year career in the semi-finals, leaving the Masterton crowd to witness something the competition has never seen before in the 55 years it has been running.

In front of a full house of 1600 people, plus another 40,000 around the world who watched a live stream of the event, the Scottish national anthem rang out for the first time.

Scotsman Gavin Mutch, who now farms in Whangamomona in the King Country with his family, was initially lost for words at his win. . .

Hunter Downs water scheme a viable proposal – Annette Scott:

Proposers of a new $350 million irrigation scheme in South Canterbury have tagged their preferred option and unveiled the scheme costings.

The scheme proposes to irrigate 40,000ha from the Waitaki River.

Hunter Downs Irrigation chairman Andrew Fraser said its technical and economic feasibility had been confirmed with a second capital call going out before the end of this month. . .

Rules must be obeyed, ECan says – Annette Scott:

Rain that has fallen in the past two weeks has been welcome but has been no drought-breaker for parched Canterbury farmland.

As farmers desperately wait for nature to give them a much needed break, NIWA’s autumn forecast does come under a brighter rainbow for parched pastures and farmer anxiety as worst-decision time approaches.

A serious concern now is an autumn drought, which would be worse because there won’t be enough autumn growth to see livestock through winter. . .

Morrinsville sharemilker wins title –   Gerald Piddock:

Aaron Price is a young, fit, professional married man with a plan.

He is also the 2015 Waikato Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year winner, netting him $22,000 in prizes.

The 29 year old took out the major title at Friday night’s 2015 Waikato Dairy Industry Awards.

It was the fourth time he had entered the contest and had been runner-up twice.

Winning the title helped him achieve a short-term goal. . .

Bald Hills sold to overseas investor – Lynda Van Kempen:

Another Central Otago vineyard is changing hands to an overseas investor – the second this year.

The sale of Bald Hills, owned by Blair and Estelle Hunt, was approved by the Overseas Investment Office (OIO) this week.

The 11ha Bannockburn property has been bought by a Japanese investor, who has set up a company called Beecom (NZ) Ltd. . .

Planting an orchard to build a pre-school:

Planting an orchard as a marketing ploy – hardly from the pages of marketing textbooks but highly effective for the Pukeko Pre-School at Tauwhare, near Hamilton.

The recipients of a grant from Fonterra’s Grass Roots Foundation (as well as from the WEL Energy Trust), the pre-school kicked off its efforts to create a new $300,000 facility with a tree planting exercise late last year.

From the grants, the trust overseeing the new pre-school decided to plant about 45 trees – feijoas, blueberries, peaches, plums, apples, lemon, oranges, mandarins, limes, persimmons and some rosemary. A planting day involving about 40 parents and children saw the trees start their new lives after being purchased from a Te Aroha nursery. . .


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. . .

 


Shearing’s a sport . . .

February 24, 2015

One of the country’s greatest sportsmen, David Fagan,  has never been recognised in the Halberg awards and Jamie Mackay is launching a crusade to change that:

. . . At the time of writing the five times world champion had won a staggering 634 open-class shearing finals, not to mention the odd junior, intermediate and senior title he picked up along the way as he honed his craft.  

By the time you read this that tally could well be 635 since he was a hot favourite to win the Southern Shears in Gore. With no Rowland Smith and John Kirkpatrick to contend with this season he’s looming large to win his 17th Golden Shears title at Masterton and do likewise for the 17th time in his swansong at the NZ Shearing Championships at Te Kuiti.

If Fagan is successful at either of the aforementioned events then surely he qualifies to be recognised in the 2015 Halberg Awards. 

What more does the man have to do? . .

Fagan did win the Southern Shears in Gore at the weekend.

He also won the speed shearing competition at the inaugural Hilux Rural Games in Queenstown at Waitangi Weekend.

Even if he doesn’t win anything else this year, surely his skill, athleticism, his 635 open-class titles, including five world championships and his 16 Golden Shears titles should qualify him for an award.

He’s not just a champion, he’s a good sport and he’s willing to share his skills. He was working in sheds around Southland before the Southern Shears, teaching up and coming shearers.

Sport is defined as an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.

That should cover shearing.

Anyone who doubts it, should read Bulibasha by Witi Ihimaera. It has the most exciting sporting commentary I’ve ever read and the event was a shearing competition.

That shearing is also an occupation should be irrelevant – lots of other sports people are also paid to do what they do.

Shearing is a sport.

Fagan is one of New Zealand’s greatest sportsmen and he should be eligible for recognition at the Halberg Awards.

If the rules don’t allow his inclusion in existing categories then a special category that acknowledges his achievement should be made.


Rural round-up

February 9, 2015

Rural sports take centre stage – Paul Taylor:

Shearer David Fagan cemented his status as a true great of the sport with a thrilling victory yesterday.

Fagan (53) beat the 10 best shearers in the country to take the inaugural NZ Speed Shear Championship title, at the Hilux New Zealand Rural Games in Queenstown.

The 16 time NZ Golden Shears and five time world champion faced rival Dion King (40) in the final.

Fagan sheared two sheep in 42.26sec, ahead of King’s 44.48sec. . .

Safer farms launched today:

A six year safety programme aimed at reducing the number of deaths and serious injuries on farms is being launched today.

The programme, Safer Farms, is being launched by Work Safe New Zealand at Lincoln University today. . .

Best young farmer in the South – Paul Taylor:

Winton sharemilker Steve Henderson is the best young farmer in Otago and Southland.

Mr Henderson (28) won the regional final of the ANZ Young Farmer Contest after an exhausting day competing in the Queenstown sunshine on Saturday.

He will now represent the region at the nationals in Taupo on July 6.

”She was a pretty big day against good competition, so it feels good to go through,” Mr Henderson said. . .

Ewes wouldn’t say ‘running’ – Guy Williams:

It was billed as the Running of the Wools, but ”running” doesn’t quite sum up this sheep yarn.

Slideshow here

It had less of the stampeding and goring of Pamplona’s Running of the Bulls, and more of the barking, eye-balling and milling around of television’s A Dog’s Show. . .

The problem of food: Scientist puts spotlight on crisis:

“Food safety and security is one of the most significant challenges humanity has ever faced. We are entering a global crisis, and the complexity of the problem demands urgent measures.”

That’s according to Lincoln University Senior Lecturer in Food Microbiology, Dr Malik Hussain, whose comments come as part of an editorial in a special edition of the journal Advances in Food Technology and Nutritional Sciences.

At the heart of the challenge lie the pressing issues of a large, rapidly growing population, deteriorating agricultural soils, falling water tables, and the need to rapidly modify production methods based on climate change.

According to Dr Hussain, while food safety and security issues are nothing new, it’s the scale and interconnectedness of the problem that makes the situation more serious now. . .

Winton entrant wins top awards – Sally Rae:

Winton deer farmer Dave Lawrence, from the Tikana stud, won the champion of champions title at the Elk and Wapiti Society of New Zealand’s annual velvet and antler competition in Wanaka.

Mr Lawrence, who enjoyed considerable success in the competition, which attracted 63 entries, won the five year section, before claiming the top award. . .

Women’s programme receives support:

A programme to help upskill women on sheep and beef farms has just received significant new backing.

The programme, Understanding Your Farming Business, is run by the Agri-Women’s Development Trust with funding from the Government and industry collaboration, the Red Meat Profit Partnership.

The trust’s executive director Lindy Nelson said it helped women to gain a better understanding of what drives a farming business and how to measure on-farm performance. . .

Charity bike ride for rural mental health issues – Dave Goosselink:

The taboo subjects of depression and suicide in the farming community are behind a South Island charity bike ride.

Twenty-seven riders are cycling from Picton to Bluff to raise awareness of mental health issues, and for Southland farmer John Dowdle, it’s a very personal issue.

As well as getting up early to bring in the cows, Mr Dowdle has been busy training for a charity ride. He’ll spend the next nine days cycling down the West Coast along with 26 other riders, raising awareness for an issue that’s not often discussed. . .

New Zealand wine goes head-to-head with Australia and England to celebrate the Cricket World Cup:

The cricket pitch is not the only place New Zealand will be competing with the two sporting behemoths, Australia and England, during the upcoming Cricket World Cup. New Zealand wine is battling it out with Australian and English wine in a series of cricket-themed blind tastings this month to celebrate the start of the competition.

To kick-off the celebrations, New Zealand sparkling wine will compete with English sparkling wine in the “Battle of the Bubbles” on 19 February in Wellington. 12 wines from each country will be tasted blind by two teams, each headed by one Wine Captain. Jane Skilton MW will captain New Zealand with moral support from cricketing legend Stephen Fleming. Wine super-star Oz Clarke will lead the English team. . .

 


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