Celebrating winners

03/10/2018

My farmer spotted these signs in Sydney a couple of months ago:

They were part of a campaign to raise money to help drought-stricken farmers.

”Would we get that sort of support in cities here?” my farmer asked.

When relatively few people now come little closer to farms than a glance out a window as they drive down a main road, and the anti-farming lobby is so vocal the answer could well be no.

But this gives me hope:  the ODT opines that the All Blacks are not our only winners: 

. . . Rugby experts suggest New Zealand’s winning formula is not as dark an art as our black jerseys suggest. Instead, they say, it is a result of hard work and good management, of understanding what the fundamental parts of rugby are, and ensuring players from a very young age learn those basics. In other words, cleverness and hard work.

So can we not dominate a global industry with our cleverness and hard work the way we dominate rugby? Imagine the benefit to New Zealand, to our economy, to our employment rate, to our tax take. The answer of course is obvious: we do. In farming
.

I’m a fan of Fred Dagg and Wal Footrot but sad that those images are close to reality for too many people who don’t know farmers and understand farming.

Our farmers are the All Blacks of international agriculture. Our livestock herds roam farms of natural grass, grass fed by little more than rainwater and manure. The resulting products are the envy of the world, yet our farmers compete on price with factory farmers from other nations, despite receiving none of the tariffs and subsidies many of our competitors do.

Our world-renowned horticulture industry employs thousands, sending prime produce across the globe despite the genuine tyranny of distance implicit in an industry where fresh is considered best
.

I wonder if there is still a lingering snobbery about people who get their hands dirty that means at least some urban people don’t recognise the many skills food producers need and excel at?

The irony is when the All Blacks win their innovation, hard work and brilliance is celebrated. When our farmers win, day after day, year after year, it seems a growing portion of New Zealanders feel nothing but resentment that farming is not just swaying grass and wildflowers. Instead they see a dark industrial evil, polluting rivers, producing emissions and ruining landscapes. Clearly there is an image problem needing fixing.

Mistakes have been made in the past which will take time to repair; and some by accident or deliberately, are still not using best practice.

But those are the minority. Most farmers take their responsibility to look after their stock, their land, waterways and the wider environment, and to treat their staff well, seriously.

Of course, animal welfare, land-use and pollution are serious issues; that is not up for debate. But it is hard to imagine another economically equitable industry without its own unwanted by-products.

Farming requires the landscape to remain covered in photosynthesising plant life. It is spread around the country, ensuring the ongoing existence of hundreds of small communities. In New Zealand, farming is cleaner, kinder and more efficient than virtually anywhere else on earth. It provides healthy, active, well-paid outdoor employment for thousands of Kiwis, and pays for the employment of many thousands more in support roles, including this country’s world-leading agricultural-science industry.

Thankfully many New Zealanders do still value what farming offers New Zealand. They know we are, as a country, world champion farmers and we are immeasurably better off because of that. It is right and natural to celebrate the exploits of our rugby players as they continue to do us proud on the international stage. But let us not forget that it is not the only international stage we excel on. Our farmers are proof of that.

This is high praise.

It is heartening to know that the hard work of farmers, their staff and the many people who service and supply them is recognised and celebrated.

 

 


John Clarke 29.7.48 – 9.4.17

10/04/2017

John Clarke, satirist and comedian extraordinaire has died.

Born in Palmerston North, he studied at Victoria University before heading to London, where he gained a break through with a part in the 1972 Barry Humphries comedy The Adventures of Barry McKenzie.

Clarke came home a year later, and was in the cast of New Zealand’s first sitcom, the student-flat comedy Buck House.

By then, Clarke had already pioneered his iconic character Fred Dagg in short TV sketches and a Country Calendar ‘spoof’ edition. . .

Clarke moved to Australia where he continued to delight audiences as a writer and satirist.

For 25 years he and Brian Bryan Dawe poked the borax at politicians in Clarke and Dawe.

You can see some of his work at Mr John Clarke, read his bio at NZ on Screen and listen to an interview with Jesse Mulligan at RNZ.


Quote of the day

29/07/2016

They helped to invent their version of Fred Dagg and that’s a great kindness by an audience. If you’re in people’s memories, that’s a very precious place to be. John Clarke who celebrates his 68th birthday today.

 


366 days of gratitude

28/06/2016

If it weren’t for my gumboots was one of Fred Dagg’s contributions to New Zealand’s cultural history, albeit that the song originally came from Britain, where they call the footwear Wellingtons.

The basic model tends to be a bit sloppy and cause undue wear on socks. These days you can get more upmarket styles, including those with neoprene inners which hold your feet firm, doing less damage to socks and keeping  your feet warmer.

But whatever you call them they are very useful if you’re working in mucky conditions or when your inner child prompts you to jump in puddles and I’m grateful for them.


Hokitika new gumboot capital?

16/07/2012

Taihape claims to be the gumboot capital of the world but it has a challenger.

AgFest West Coast was held in Hokitika at the weekend and the organisers set out to make a world record for the most people wearing gumboots at a single event.

The Facebook page records:

Wow what an awesome few days and event! Thank you so much to everyone that turned up to support AgFest and to all those Exhibitor’s that attended and stood though the rain for the 2 days! We hope that everyone got something out of our event and had an enjoyable time.  . .  And yes we did get the World Record for most Gumboots worn to a single event with 1605 pairs of gumboots recorded!

Given the wild weather on the West Coast at the weekend and that Westport was cut-off yesterday, gumboots would be footwear of choice for the sensible in those parts.

As Fred Dagg would no doubt have said had he been there, If it weren’t for you gumboots where would you be? . . .


When life imitates satire

18/11/2011

Tweet of the day:

He could be right, the campaign is decending to a farcial level in which Fred Dagg would have revelled.

Hat tip: Election 2011 Live


Can’t save them from own incompetence

16/06/2011

Quote of the day:

As nice a guys as we are in National, we can’t save Labour from its own incompetence.”

Simon Bridges on Breakfast  in response to a comment on Labour’s website woes which were exposed by Whaleoil.

Apropos of this Whale has replied to a letter from Labour’s general secretary Chris Flatt  agreeing to his requests with nine conditions including:

5. Fred Dagg gets his right­ful posi­tion at the top of the Labour Party List. In perpetuity.

While Fred would add a much needed rural voice to the Labour list I suspect someone of his entrepreneurial and independent spirit would be out of place there.


We Don’t Know How Lucky We Are

20/05/2010

Day 20 of New Zealand Month is also Budget Day which reminded me  of Fred Dagg singing We DOn’t Know How Lucky We Are.


If it weren’t for my gumboots . . .

26/08/2009

Getting a new product on the news is advertising money can’t buy.

It doesn’t happen very often and when it does it is usually for something a lot more glamorous than gumboots.

But Skellerup has made the news with its new five-star Quatrro.

Gumboots haven’t changed much since they were first made in rubber in the 1850s. Improvement has been a long time coming but Jamie McKay has been singing the praises of the Quatrros on the Farming Show where he’s been giving them away.

Woollen felt lining and moulded inner soles inside, tapered cleats to release mud and anti skid zones on the soles are a big improvement on what’s been keeping feet free from muck for generations. No doubt those who wear them every day, especially the people who spend hours standing round dairy sheds, will appreciate the added comfort. They will be able to justify paying $165 for them too.

But I only use gumboots for the rare emergency appearance in the dairy shed, an occasional stint as junior in the sheep yards and gardening which means I’ll be sticking to the old faithfuls.

They still, as John Clarke, aka Fred Dagg sang, keep out the water and keep in the smell; and for the amount of use mine get, that’s all I really need from them.


Fred Dagg – Gumboot Song

14/05/2009

Day 14 of the tune a day challenge for New Zealand Music Month and we’re going rural with John Clarke, aka Fred Dagg, and the Gumboot Song.

Fred, or John, adapted the Welly Boot Song which Billy Connolly made by adapting The Work of the Weavers.

They don’t make gumboots like they used to, but they don’t wear them like they used to either.

A rural principal organising a gathering for city colleagues included a tour of a cow shed and took the precaution of advising the visitors bring their gumboots.

A few had to buy some specially, one had never even owned a pair – and showed it by not tucking her trousers inside the boots when they got to the mucky bits.

If city kids don’t own gumboots any more what do they wear when they’re playing in the mud, or don’t they do that anymore either?

Back to music and catching up on yesterday’s post from round the blogosphere:

Keeping Stock had the Bro’ Town crew with Morningside 4 Life – the Musical

Over at Rob’s the Warratahs are singing St Peter’s Rendevous

And Inquiring Mind took us to the Ancient Briton, a delightful pub in Naseby, where Phil Garland sings Up On Yorkies Run

And RightoChaps thinks NZ music month is stupid.


Untouchable Girls – Topp Twins

07/05/2009

Day seven in the New Zealand Music Month tune a day challenge.

The Topp Twins with Untouchable Girls.

Ladyhawke sings Paris is Burning at Inquiring Mind.

Fred Dagg reckons We Don’t Know How Lucky We Are at Keeping Stock.

And The Muttonbirds are singing Ngairie at Rob’s Blockhead Blog.


Kiwi unless it suits to use the Aussies

06/04/2009

Those Kiwibank ads, putting down the Australian banks, push all the nationalistic buttons.

They obviously aren’t concerned that the ones which use the Fred Dagg voice are doing it without John Clarke’s permission.

But if their point of difference is nationalism they’ve set themselves up for a fall when their actions don’t match their words.

The ODT broke the story that Kiwibank uses an Australian call centre to handle its Kiwisaver customers.

Kiwiblog called it hilarious hypocricy and Fairfacts Media also uses two h words – humbug and hypocricy.

ODT areaders aren’t amused but they do agree it’s two faced. An on-line poll which asked if the bank should use an Australian call centre, unscientific though it might be, was decisive:

Yes, if it makes economic sense got  6% (13 votes);  7% (15 votes) went to don’t care and  87% (180 votes) went to No, not in light of its ad campaign.
A total of 208 votes probably isn’t statistically significant. But it does indicate the bank will have a credibility problem if it’s only Kiwi until it suits it to cross the Tasman for services.

We don’t know how lucky we are

29/01/2009

In the depths of the 1980s ag-sag the Oamaru Mail decided it had a duty to cheer people up and announced a policy to put only good news on the front page.

That didn’t last long because it soon became obvious that it was more than a wee bit silly to give the front page lead to a story of little substance because it was “good” news and put stories of far more substance and importance on page three because they were “bad” news.

Highlighting the positive should be left to censors and propoganda merchants not the media, but that doesn’t mean they should go to the opposite extreme and be prophets of doom.

Alf Grumble has declared war on sad sacks  and I think he has a point – and not just because I was flattered when he saluted me as the bearer of glad tidings   and quoted from my opinion piece  in the ODT (though I don’t think he realised that  it was written by me).

Commentators, analysts and others whose opinions are sought by the media are painting a very gloomy picture and while there is no doubt we are in troubling ecomomic times, out here in the real world things aren’t that bad.

And maybe that’s part of the solution – the doomsayers are breathing the stale air of the big cities but if they got out into the provinces they might realise there’s no need to get depressed.

It worked for Colin Espiner who’s returned to work with a positive outlook after a few weeks out of Wellington and what he’s saying is a fairer reflection of what’s happening in rural New Zealand than the bad news stories which are making the headlines.

A small town retailer told me he’d had the same turnover in the six weeks to mid January this year as he’d had in the whole three months of last summer; the milk payout is down from last year’s record but Fonterra’s $5.10 is still the third highest yet; sheep and beef returns are well up; interest rates, fuel and fertiliser prices are dropping  . . .

I’m not saying we should break out the champagne but like Busted Blonde I can play Pollyanna and see plenty to be happy about so maybe what’s needed is a bit of balance in economic and social reporting so we don’t get talked into a depression.

And maybe we need to remember Fred Dagg and appreciate that we don’t know how lucky we are.


Urban-rural rift’s a myth

19/07/2008

The urban-rural rift  is a myth a forum organised by the Institute of Agricultural and Horticultural Science concluded. But there is tension where country and town conflict in lifestyle land.

A day-long discussion at Massey University, to look at the link between town and country, was set against the backdrop of the sale in the past year of 46,000 hectares of farmland in lifestyle blocks of less than four hectares.

About 100 scientists, academics, farmers, students, lobbyists and other interested observers at the event organised by the Institute of Agricultural and Horticultural Science heard from nine speakers – a politician, an historian, a bureaucrat, an economist, a walkways commission member, a geography professor, a local government planner, a farmer and an environmental manager.

Historian Jock Phillips looked at how we got to where we are.

As New Zealand’s population changed from being rural to urban last century a romantic myth began to grow of the farmer as a larger-than-life sporting and war hero.

This lasted till the 1980s when it began to disintegrate amidst the humour of the Footrot Flats cartoon and television’s Fred Dagg.

A rift began to open, according to Dr Phillips. Rural people did not like being made fun of and at the same time two issues arose that further polarised town and country.

They were the 1981 Springbok Tour and homosexual law reform.

“These cultural issues became a battleground where people came to terms with their rural and urban identities,” he said.

These issues are often given as ones on which there was an urban-rural divide. There may be figures to back up this contention but anecdotal evidence suggests country people’s views weren’t markedly differnt from those in town.

The rift had closed in recent years as farmers had learnt to take on urban values, he said.

For example, country shows had changed to appeal to town visitors – where once pigs were shown in pens now they raced over obstacle courses.

But if this goes too far shows lose their rural character and they become just another event. We went to the Melbourne Show last year, most of it was just side shows and entertainment with stock and country exhibits looking like an after thought. The Upper Clutha Show in Wanaka hs got it right – with high quality exhibits which appeal to town and country yet it still retains its rural character.

City life and values had become central and country people had been forced to turn to that world. They could no longer assume their children would want to stay on the land.

One speaker at the AGMARDT breakfast at last week’s National Bank Young Farmer contest said in the old days the bright offspring were sent away to the city and the slower ones stayed back on the farm, but it’s the other way round now 🙂

Dr Phillips said that while the physical rural image had been dented it had gained values of science, technical knowledge, education and specialisation.

“It is the making of modern agriculture and horticulture.”

However, some stereotypes still remained in the thinking of urban people.

Many children had a Fred Dagg image of farming and did not see it as a viable career and some city dwellers yearned to escape to the country, seeing it as a “geriatric rest home”.

I wouldn’t think many of today’s children recognise Fred Dagg because it’s more than 30 years since John Clark took the character across the Tasman. As for a resthome, if that’s what you want surely you’d be better in town close to public transport and healthcare?

Other address came from Kapiti Coast District Council strategy planner Gael Ferguson and Rangitikei sheep and beef farmer Ruth Rainey.

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