Rural round-up


$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. . .

Human face of financial meltdown


The ODT  puts the human face on the international financial crisis with a story of a couple who have lost $2 million because they had to default on unconditional agreements to purchase two Middlemarch farms.



This Friday’s poem is James K Baxter’s Farmhand from New Zealand Farm & Station Verse, published by Whitcombe & Tombs.

It was written several decades ago but the difficulty facing young rural men looking for love may even be worse now.

There are more women in the country in what were once regarded as male occupations, including vets, stock agents and fertiliser reps, but not enough to compensate for the loss of rural schools and businesses which used to bring young women to the country.

Expectations have changed too so young women are probably less willing to sacrifice their careers for love and life on a farm than their mothers might have been.

Rural communities have come up with several innovative ways to counter the lack of women, the most well known of which is probably the Middlemarch’s biennial singles ball. 



You will see him light a cigarette

At the hall door, careless, leaning his back

Against the wall, or telling some new joke

To a friend, or looking out into the secret night.


But always his eyes turn

To the dance floor and the girls drifting like flowers

Before the music that tears

Slowly in his mind an old wound open.


His red, sunburnt face and hairy hands

Were not made for dancing or love-making

But rather the earth wave breaking

To the plough, and crops slow-growing as his mind,


He has no girl to run her fingers through

His sandy hair, and giggle at his side

When Sunday couples walk. Instead

He has his awkward hopes, his envious dreams to yarn to.


But ah in harvest watch him

Forking stooks, effortless and strong –

Or listening like a lover to the song,

Clear, without fault, of a new tractor engine.


                – James K. Baxter –

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