Rural round-up

March 9, 2017

The big deluge: Fresh weather warnings as slips affect Coromandel homes, close roads, power off:

Fresh dire weather warnings have been issued as slips force people out of Coromandel properties and roads remain closed across sodden parts of the North Island.

As water recedes and slips are cleared off roads from yesterday’s massive one-in-a-100-year deluge, Northland is being told to be on watch for potentially damaging thunderstorms to hit mainly south of Kaitaia as the region comes in for a period of torrential rain. . .

Lange, manager get access awards – Guy Williams:

The men responsible for opening up public access to high country land between Arrowtown and Glendhu Bay have been recognised by the Walking Access Commission.

Switzerland-based record producer Robert ”Mutt” Lange and his Arrowtown-based manager, Russell Hamilton, received Walking Access Champion awards at a ceremony at Parliament on Tuesday.

Mr Hamilton, who accepted the famously publicity-shy Mr Lange’s award on his behalf, said it was ”very nice” to be recognised..

How I beat the black dog within myself –  Jon Morgan:

The latest person to come out and admit they have had problems with depression is a young Methven farmer, Sam Robinson.

Writing on NZ Farming’s Facebook page, he spoke movingly about how bleak it can be to feel so down that you want to kill yourself.

He acknowledged that it is difficult for those who have no experience of mental illness to recognise the signs and be supportive.

He had one suggestion for what they could do – just to say to their mate next time they are in a social situation something like, “I think you are a good sort and I bloody like you“. . .

Cattle lost in fire: it’s horrible out there, the things I saw – Michael Pearce:

Larry Konrade of Ashland likes hunting everything from doves to huge whitetail bucks.

But when he left his house Tuesday morning with a favored rifle, he was dreading the day. He felt even worse when it was over.

“It’s horrible, just horrible. I left the house with (60) shells and used them all,” Konrade said. He said he probably killed 40 cows, “and in a lot of places there weren’t even very many left alive to put down.” . .

Nuffield scholars identify challenges for NZ – Richard Rennie:

Last year’s Nuffield Scholars are uneasy at competing countries’ ability to match or outpace New Zealand agriculture.

In a summary of their experiences the unbalanced rhetoric around emerging technologies was also noted.

Wellington based government agricultural development manager Jessica Bensemann reported her concern over New Zealand agriculture’s level of disconnectedness from global trading trends and patterns after visiting Asia, United States, Europe and the Middle East.

Instead she warned New Zealand’s primary sector appeared to be transfixed within the farm gate. . .

Rugged rural fellas wanted:

The call has gone out for young, gallant rural gents to compete for this year’s New Zealand Agricultural Fieldays’ Rural Bachelor of the Year.

Eight finalists will be selected for the popular competition, which takes place during Fieldays at Mystery Creek Events Centre from June 14-17.

The competition is in its seventh year and entries close at the end of March. . .


Rain From Nowhere

May 20, 2014

Farmers are reputed to be hardy and they have to be.

Even with modern equipment, methods and technology, farming is a physically and intellectually demanding occupation.

But that hardy exterior can and does hide deep, and too often dark, feelings:

Depression is an increasing issue for rural communities. The latest data released by the Ministry of Health shows there is a significantly higher rate of suicide in rural areas than in urban areas.

The most recent suicide rate for people living in rural areas is 16 per 100,000 people compared to 11.2 for every 100,000 people living in urban areas.

With mounting compliance costs, increasing local and central government demands, weather events, coupled with the reduced forecasted lamb and milk pay-outs, along with the normal stresses and strains of life, things are only going to get harder for rural communities. . . .

Stories about depression by Federated Farmers can be found here.

Depression among farmers isn’t peculiar to New Zealand.

Australian entertainer Murray Hartin, was concerned about it in his country and that prompted him to write this poem:

RAIN FROM NOWHERE

His cattle didn’t get a bid, they were fairly bloody poor,
What was he going to do? He couldn’t feed them anymore,
The dams were all but dry, hay was thirteen bucks a bale,
Last month’s talk of rain was just a fairytale,
His credit had run out, no chance to pay what’s owed,
Bad thoughts ran through his head as he drove down Gully Road.

“Geez, great grandad bought the place back in 1898,
“Now I’m such a useless bastard, I’ll have to shut the gate.
“Can’t support my wife and kids, not like dad and those before,
“Crikey, Grandma kept it going while Pop fought in the war.”
With depression now his master, he abandoned what was right,
There’s no place in life for failures, he’d end it all tonight. . .

You can read the rest of the poem here.


Charlotte Dawson 8.4.66 – 22.2.14

February 22, 2014

Has depression claimed another victim?

Media personality Charlotte Dawson has been found dead in her Sydney home.

Police have confirmed a woman’s body was found at the address in Woolloomooloo and there were no suspicious circumstances.

The New Zealand-born Dawson, 47, had a history with depression.

The former model was hospitalised last year after being bombarded with vicious Twitter messages.

She was a vocal anti-bullying campaigner and had been campaigning for cancer resources. . .

Her death will be referred to a corner but no suspicious circumstances  is usually police-speak for suicide.

Depression is a serious and often misunderstood illness.

Depression.org has an 0800 number to call and advice for anyone needing help for themselves or someone else.


Economic crisis a moral crisis

October 27, 2012

The experience of the Depression influenced my parents for life.

They spent moderately and saved well.

The idea of borrowing for something that wasn’t an absolute necessity or incurring a debt they couldn’t repay would have been anathema too them.

There was nothing unusual in that for them or their contemporaries.

It is no longer the norm, for many individuals and countries as Theodore Dalrymple ruminates:

. . .But to call the attempt to balance a budget ‘austerity,’ in other words to say living within your means implies ‘rigorous abstinence, asceticism,’ a kind of killjoy puritanism, is to suggest that it is both honest, just and decent to do otherwise. And this is indicative of a revolution in our sensibilities.

In fact, it is grossly dishonorable to live beyond your means, at least when you transfer to the cost to others, as is inevitable when borrowing becomes an entire, chronic way of life – as it has in many countries. Then repayment becomes impossible and is known in advance to be impossible; you continue to borrow so that you may continue to live at a higher standard of living than your earnings justify, in the full knowledge that you will either eventually default or, metaphorically speaking, pay back in tin the weight of what you borrowed in gold. Perhaps those foolish enough to lend to you in these circumstances deserve to lose some or all their money; but there is no disguising the fact that, at least according to traditional standards of morality, your conduct has been dishonorable, immoral and fraudulent.

If an individual owes money, the honorable thing for him to do is to restrict his spending in order to repay it, and not to borrow more merely so that he may maintain his current standard of living until such time comes when he must declare his bankruptcy. And I am old enough to remember the time when poor people refrained from borrowing for fear of not being able to repay the debt, and thus lose their self-respect. Their self-respect was more important to them than their level of consumption of inessentials. . .

 Of course, countries are not individuals. . .  Our individual sense on honor is not engaged when the borrowing is done by the government and the proceeds trickle down into our pockets.

It is in these circumstances that the moral corruption of living permanently on borrowed money that will never be paid back can be hidden from those who do so, though only vicariously. Their sense of responsibility is attenuated to the degree that they do not realize that they have any. The people in Greece, understandably but nevertheless wrongly, experience the lowering of their standard of living as unjust; they do not see it as a consequence of their undeservedly high previous standard of living, because that undeservedly high standard of living came to them via what for them was an abstraction, the government. In Spain, by contrast, it was private debt that was the culprit; but the population did not experience their high standard of living as economically unjustified either.

The idea that living within your means is a form of austerity, and not (other than in exceptional circumstances) the elementary moral duty of people of honor, shows that, underlying the economic crisis is a profound moral crisis in western society.

Living within your means was not just normal but right for my parents and their generation.

They endured an economic depression but not a moral one.


Fronting up to the black dog

December 23, 2010

It takes guts to win the battle with depression.

It takes guts to front up and apologise to those you’re hurt.

This post, the destruction that is depression, by Whaleoil does both.

It wins my blog post of the year for courage and for the example it shows to others who are fronting up to the black dog.


Dogged by the black dog

June 1, 2010

“Can I ask you about the plight of Whaleoil?”  Jim Mora asked me on our discussion on the internet on Critical Mass today.

I’d been mulling over a post about him since reading Cactus Kate’s plea to Save The Whale in response to the Herald on Sunday story in response to this post by Whaleoil and comments from his wife on Gotcha.

I came across Whaleoil on the internet when I first started blogging and treated it with caution. I admired some of the posts, especially those which broke news which influenced the mainstream media. I was moved by the way he was so open about his struggle with depression but found other posts offensive.

Since then I’ve met him a couple of times. The first was at a National Party conference last year and the second, very briefly at another conference last weekend. The next day I read the HOS story and found Cactus’s post about it when I got home late that evening.

Several pennies dropped – clinical depression explains the contrasts between the intelligent and reasoned posts and the vitriolic ones.

Those who know him well have written on this. I don’t know enough to add anything on him, but I do know a bit about depression and other mental illness.

Most of us understand physical illness and have sympathy for those who are unwell.

Mental illness is different.

Those who’ve never experienced or been exposed to it find it difficult to understand and there’s often a feeling that people just need to pull themselves together.

Anyone who has been dogged by the black dog themselves, or had to cope with it in family and friends will tell you it’s not that simple and often that it’s not just the illness which is problematic, the treatment can be too.

Medication can help some people. In others it doesn’t and may cause side effects which can be as difficult to deal with as the problems it was supposed to treat. Working your way through the mental health system can be a nightmare and finding a mental health professional who can make a positive difference is another challenge.

I know stories, which aren’t mine to tell, of people’s battles with depression. From them I have some appreciation of  how difficult it is even for those who have loving and caring family and friends to support them; the frustration which even intelligent, articulate, positive  and assertive professionals who are used to dealing with complex problems in their work face in trying to help family or friends who are depressed  and how the system which ought to help so often doesn’t.

I hope Whaleoil and his family find the help they need and wish them the strength and love to tame the black dog and send it packing.

Related posts:

Keeping Stock on Helping a Fellow Blogger.

Roarprawn on Whales Tale  and Saving the Whale.

Kiwiblog on Cactus on Whale

Stepehn Franks on Whaleoil and Insurance.

Motella on Whale Wars.


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