Where there’s steam there’s sparks

January 24, 2015

Bringing a steam train from Dunedin was a popular idea with the 400 seats on offer snapped up by people keen to enjoy the journey and the destination.

When I went into Oamaru around midday yesterday businesses in the town’s historic precinct was ready and waiting for the passengers.

But while the idea was popular it wasn’t such a good one in the middle of a very dry summer.

Where there’s steam there’s fire and where there’s fire there are sparks, some of which ignited the tinder dry growth along the railway line:

Firefighters are battling a cluster of large scrub fires stretching for kilometres south of Oamaru.

The fires, which began about 2.30pm, were believed to have been sparked by a vintage steam train on an excursion from Dunedin, passengers on board said.

Thirteen fire appliances and two helicopters armed with monsoon buckets were helping tackle the fires, which stretched from Maheno north as far as Oamaru, Otago Rural Fire Authority principal rural fire officer Stephanie Rotarangi said. . .

fire

 

There were four helicopters by late afternoon and friends were busy dampening down hot spots on their boundary and spraying canary seed to keep it wet.

fire 2

 

fire1

 

The worst appears to be over now but it will be a nervous night for people near the line.

Stuff has more on the story and photos here.


Rural round-up

May 11, 2013

$3000 colt now worth $1 million – Shawn McAvinue:

A sensitive Middlemarch colt who sold for $3000 is putting silverware on his rider’s mantelpiece and is now worth more than $1 million.

Clifton Promise, the mount of Jock Paget (29), the winner of the prestigious Badminton horse trials in England, was bred in Middlemarch by Kathryn Abernethy (53), of Mosgiel.

The winning 14-year-old gelding was the offspring of her Middlemarch mare Darn Style and Maheno-based American stallion Engagement. . .

Regional finalist brushing up skills – Sally Rae:

Life has been hectic lately for Dean Rabbidge.

Mr Rabbidge (27) will represent Otago-Southland in the grand final of the ANZ Young Farmer Contest in Auckland later this month.

When he was not busy working on the farm, he could be found in the office, ”head down in the books”, he said. While at times the extra work could feel a little overwhelming, at other times it felt like he had it under control. . .

Beyond Reasonable Drought:

First the long drought, then the torrential rain – farming in Northland isn’t for the fainthearted! It takes guts to keep going in spite of the weather, the high dollar, and rising prices.

But it takes more than just guts to make a profit. It takes planning, flexibility, and the ability to assess the profitability of “what if” scenarios accurately and quickly.

In the past a farm’s annual financial accounts, probably at least a year old by they time they were completed, were the only way farmers had of deciding whether what they were doing was profitable. That is totally inadequate for today’s farm businesses. . .

Government and fishing industry trial technology:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and the Department of Conservation (DOC), in partnership with the fishing industry, have recently trialled an electronic monitoring programme in the Timaru set net fishery.

The trial used electronic monitoring technology to automatically record information such as vessel location and interactions between set net fishing vessels and protected species, including Hector’s dolphins. Electronic monitoring involves using on board sensors, cameras and GPS receivers. . .

Rare breed proves real hit with judges

Colin Lyon hopes more beef farmers will consider trying his rare breed of cattle after making it to the Steak of Origin semifinals for the second time in three years.

He was a semifinalist in this year’s competition with his braunvieh/angus cross entry.

The Steak of Origin aims to find the most tender and tasty sirloin steak in New Zealand. The finalists were decided by a panel of judges in Christchurch yesterday.

His entry was a 27-month heifer, which had a carcass weight of 345 kilograms. . .

Astronuats boost Waikato milking:

Gavin and Susan Weal have become the latest dairy farmers to enter the space age by employing Astronaut A4 robots, made by Lely, on their Pokuru farm near Te Awamutu.

The Weals decided to spend nearly $1 million on three robots when they were faced with building a new dairy shed for next season when they sell 44 hectares of their Candy Rd family farm west of Te Awamutu.

From June 1, the Weals will milk 200 cows on 73ha, having previously milked 280 cows on 117ha. . .

Invivo Wines Awarded Gold Medals At World’s Largest On-trade Focused Competition:

New Zealand’s Invivo Wines has been awarded prestigious gold medals for both their Invivo 2012 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc and 2011 Invivo Central Otago Pinot Noir at the world’s largest on-trade focused wine competition, The 2013 Sommelier Wine Awards recently held in London.  

The tasting panel for the Sommelier Wine Awards reads like a Who’s Who of the UK hotel, restaurant and sommelier scene, with a total of over 80 judges from some of the UK’s top establishments taking part in judging over 1800 wine entries. . .


How far is too far for fuel?

June 24, 2009

The petrol station at Hampden, north of Moeraki on State Highway 1, has closed.

There are fuel stops at Herbert and Maheno about 10 and 14 kilometres further north so it’s not too much further for travellers, but how long will petrol stations stay in very small towns?

When I stopped for fuel at a small town petrol station yesterday the owner told me that if he hadn’t recently put in new tanks he’d have been tempted to stop selling petrol and diesel and stick to servicing vehicles because the margins on fuel were hardly worth the trouble.

I’m training myself  to check the fuel gauge before leaving bigger towns on long journeys because it can be a long way to the next petrol station, especially outside business hours.

However, the training isn’t complete and I’ve been fortunate to find bowsers which enable you to pay by credit or Eftpos card which have saved me from running out of fuel late at night a couple of times.

Travellers not used to long distances between fuel stops could easily get caught short.

It’s also a problem is for people living in or near the small towns which no longer have fuel outlets. Some, particularly the elderly, do most of their driving within a relatively confined area of where they live and they’re forced to do a longer trip simply to refuel.


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