Digging deep to help neighbours

08/07/2014

Our district has been deeply shaken by the shooting of more than 200 sheep.

But good can come from bad and that was illustrated at the special fundraising sale at Waiareka yesterday:

The sale raised close to $22,500 for the Stackhouse and Dodd families, both victims of recent sheep killings on their properties, with stock agents reporting ”generous” prices being paid.

Meanwhile, about $11,400 has been deposited in the Westpac bank account set up by Rural Women NZ North Otago.

When contacted, Ngapara farmer Peter Stackhouse said he was overwhelmed by the support shown.

”Words can hardly describe it … we’re really, really privileged to be in the North Otago area. We didn’t expect anything; it’s very, very humbling,” he said. . .

While the sale was about country people showing their support, he said he had also had calls from urban dwellers who were also very concerned and thinking about them.

The next best thing now would be for someone to be apprehended for the offending, he said.

Tapui farmer John Dodd said it showed ”good human nature against the opposite side of it” and he thanked the public for their support.

”Once you pick on one farmer, in my opinion, you’re picking on the whole lot. Farmers respond with kind hearts,” Mr Dodd said.

The sale was an initiative of Federated Farmers and the community, and it drew a much larger crowd than usual to the weekly Waiareka stock sale.

Organiser Greg Ruddenklau was ”over the bloody moon” with the result, after 168 sheep and several cattle beasts were donated.

”It just shows how much people care really, doesn’t it?” Mr Ruddenklau said.

While demonstrating the level of support for the farmers affected, it also showed that people ”don’t want these sort of things happening in North Otago, or anywhere”. . .

During spirited bidding, auctioneer Rod Naylor quipped: ”I wish it was like this every week”. . .

Mr Naylor said prices overall at the sale were ”generous”, compared to usual market value, which showed the buyers’ goodwill.

He described the result as ”tremendous” saying both the numbers of stock yarded and the prices achieved were higher than what had been expected.

Police said there were no further reported similar incidents over the weekend.

The first incident happened over the weekend of June 21-22 when 195 sheep were killed on the Stackhouse property, and at least a further 20 sheep were killed on the Dodd farm the following weekend.

In both incidents, police believed a firearm was used. Police actively patrolled the Ngapara area over the weekend and would continue to conduct patrols in the area, Detective Warren Duncan said.

A small investigation team, including some Dunedin staff, was working through information received from members of the public and carrying out inquiries.

Anyone with information should contact Oamaru police on (03) 433-1400 or call Det Duncan confidentially on (03) 433-1416.

Everyone in the area knows that this could have happened to anyone of us and everyone is happy to dig deep to help neighbours.

Money can’t replace decades of breeding which went in to the stud stock which were shot, nor can it take away the fear. But the generosity and good will locally and from further afield is heart warming.

We’ve been impressed by the police response too.

One of our staff was stopped and questioned on his way home late on Saturday night and a woman who had stopped to admire the stars found her car surrounded by police.


More sheep shot

01/07/2014

A week after nearly 200 sheep were shot on a North Otago farm at least 15 more have been shot on another farm in the area on Sunday night or early yesterday morning.

. . . They [police] are not yet saying whether they were shot dead or whether they think the deaths are linked.

“Both of these events are very unusual but we appreciate that they will be creating a high level of concern amongst local farmers and the community in the Ngapara area,” says Detective Warren Duncan.

Witnesses who may have seen anything in the Crown Hill, Conlans Road and Peaks Road area were asked to contact police.

Last weekend, 195 sheep were shot at Peter Stackhouse’s property over two nights. Many had to be put down because the bullets did not kill them.

Police were baffled as to why so many were shot but not taken for their meat.

However, Det Duncan said “good information” had come in on the killings. . .

The area has been plagued by unsolved crimes going back several decades:

Whether you believe in lunar madness or not, there is evidence to suggest the full moon has cast its spell over Ngapara in the past 40 years.

As inquiries continue into the slaughter of about 195 sheep on a Ngapara farm last weekend, so too do investigations into a 40-year trail of unsolved crimes in the area – most of them committed during a full moon, according to Oamaru police.

”[Farmers] all know that on a full moon [the offender(s)] plays up – full moon, watch out, keep everything locked up,” Community Constable Bruce Dow, of Oamaru, said.

”They say: ‘Full moon, [they’ll] be out there tonight’.”

A sense of fear remained in the community and farmers had always been aware of suspicious activity, he said.

”This has been a bone of contention for that community for years and years and it’s not stopped,” he said.

”It’s criminal behaviour by an individual or individuals and it’s causing the community of Enfield, Ngapara and Georgetown a lot of concern.

”It hasn’t been forgotten – if the offender out there thinks that he or she has got away with this, they are fooling themselves.”

Police can trace a series of fires and sabotage of vehicles and farm equipment back to 1975 in the Ngapara area, extended in some cases to Enfield and Georgetown.

Const Dow said the unsolved crimes were unlikely to be linked to the shootings of ewes and hoggets on the Stackhouse family farm last Friday and Saturday nights, but police were still appealing for information. . .

Historic crimes in the Ngapara area included theft of property from tractors, stock theft, arson of hay sheds, paddocks, forests and houses and serious damage to tractors, and machinery.

”Engines have been destroyed on tractors, headers and vehicles, we believe by the use of carborundum, a grinding paste,” Const Dow said.

”Tyres have been punctured, wheel nuts have been loosened off tractors and cars. Sheep have been stolen and ear tags from one farm have been found down offal pits of another.”

Fences had been cut, electric fences tampered with and one farmer lost more than 2250 litres of diesel when the taps from a fuel tank were turned on.

The Stackhouse family farm was also targeted about 20 years ago, with farm machinery seriously damaged, Const Dow said.

In many cases, damage had been subtle, such as holes drilled in hydraulic hoses and nail holes poked into a tractor’s air filter.

”Everything has been covertly done – they’ve been done under cover of darkness and a lot of them were done so they wouldn’t be discovered until when the equipment was needed the most,” he said.

”Old-timers … will remember lots of these incidents and they will have a very firm opinion of who’s caused it.” . . .

Not only old-timers have a firm opinion of the identity of the perpetrator of the on-going crimes but there has never been enough proof to lay charges.

However, these mass shooting are something new and very unwelcome.

While killing other people’s stock for meat can’t be condoned it can be understood.

But this senseless shooting, killing and leaving some animals still alive but badly injured, is evil and has left everyone in the area very worried.

The crimes have also galvanised community spirit. An email arrived from Federated Farmers advising:

Community fundraiser in support of the Stackhouse Family – Waiareka Sale, Monday 7 July

Federated Farmers and the North Otago community are holding a special fundraising sale to assist Peter and Janine Stackhouse  following the recent brutal attack on their stock, where approximately 200 sheep were shot.

When:Monday 7 July 2014

Where: Waiareka Sale Yards (after their usual morning sale)

If people would like to donate ewes or lambs it would be greatly appreciated, if so, we’d ask for ewes or lambs to be delivered to the Waiareka sale yards, on the morning of the sale (Monday, 7 July).

If you’d like to donate stock but are unable to deliver them to the sale yards, please contact Greg Ruddenklau on (03) 432 4006 or 027 429 6179 to organise a pick up.

If instead you’d like to give a cash donation to the Stackhouse’s, a fundraiser account has been set up by Rural Woman NZ and the details are below.

Federated Farmers would like to publicly thank PGG Wrightson, Rural Women NZ North Otago and CRT Farmlands for their assistance.

Fundraiser details:

Deliver ewes or lambs on the morning of the sale, or if this is not possible, please contact Greg Ruddenklau on (03) 432 4006 or 027 429 6179 to organise a pick up.

Fundraising account for cash donations:

Westpac: 03 0937 0071238 00

Account: Rural Women NZ North Otago

Reference number: “Farm Stock”

For more information please contact

Lyndon Strang
Vice-President Federated Farmers North Otago


Rural round-up

25/06/2014

Neighbours to sheep shooting worried:

Neighbours of a North Otago farm where nearly 200 sheep have been shot say they also fear what will happen next.

Police are investigating the unexplained slaughter in Ngapara, 30km inland from Oamaru at the weekend. Peter Stackhouse discovered the dead sheep, and others wandering injured, at sites about 1km inside his farm over two successive nights.

On Saturday morning, he found 110 sheep that had been killed and though he shifted the flock, another 80 hoggets were killed on Saturday night.

Mr Stackhouse said the the killing of his stock was a great shock and he was not sleeping well, worrying about what will happen next. Although the sheep were shot, he had not found any spent cartridges or bullets. . .

Lincoln and Canterbury – is a merger the solution? – Keith Woodford:

Last week I wrote how Lincoln University is facing hard times, and is shedding lecturing staff in core areas of land-based education. I suggested one solution could be for Lincoln to become much more focused on its true areas of specialisation and to greatly reduce the managerial and marketing spend which has recently ballooned. The other alternative is to link with Canterbury University.

Unfortunately, the first alternative is unlikely to occur. It would require the senior management team to reverse key policies with which they are collectively associated.

So the other alternative of joining with Canterbury University now needs careful scrutiny. The Tertiary Education Commission stated earlier this year that in its opinion New Zealand had too many Universities, and if that really is the case then Lincoln surely has to be first cab off the rank. Also, Lincoln’s Vice Chancellor (VC) himself said some two years back that, if his proposed growth strategy failed, then the alternative would be to join “the fine university down the road”. . .

Sex and inbreeding (in bees) – Peter K Dearden:

Tomorrow I am speaking at the National Bee Keepers Association conference in Whanganui and thought I might write a bit about what we have been doing to help me get things clear.

Much of my research work is on bees; trying to learn how they work, trying to find new ways to protect them and, occasionally doing research to help the beekeeping industry.

Beekeeping is a reasonably large business in New Zealand, making over $100 Million per annum in bee-related exports. More importantly, it is estimated that Bees bring $5.1 Billion each year to the New Zealand economy through pollination. Bees are a vital part of our primary production sector and we need to care about them. . .

Alliance venison plants cleared for China:

The Alliance meat group has had a breakthrough in getting both of its venison processing plants certified to supply the China market, that doubles the number of listed New Zealand venison plans to four.

New Zealand has had a long established trade in deer velvet or antler to China and some other deer products.

But venison is relatively new to that market. . .

Return to profit: Blue Sky smiling – Sally Rae:

Blue Sky Meats’ return to profitability spells an end to about two and-a-half years of turmoil in the international sheep meat industry, chairman Graham Cooney says.

Directors were ”quite rightly proud” of how the Southland-based company had not only survived but moved forward in a time when the sheep meat processing and exporting industry had reputedly lost $200 million, he said.

The company has recorded a $1.946 million after-tax profit for the year to March. . . .

South Canterbury ag-student is finalist in Green Agriculture Innovation Award:

Twenty-year old University student Genevieve Steven, of Timaru, is the winner of the Viafos Youth Award, putting her in the running against nine other finalists as the supreme award winner of the inaugural Green Agriculture Innovation Awards (GAIA) in New Zealand.

The youngest contender for the award, Ms Steven is in her second year at Lincoln University on a DairyNZ scholarship studying biochemistry, animal sciences, plant sciences, soil science and management papers.

Her ultimate goal is a move into biological farming. “I would like to be an educator and advisor to farmers already using the principles of biological farming, but also take the concept of ‘biological farming’ to those who don’t know much about it. I enjoy the challenge of changing people’s perceptions.” . . .

Grower lauds sugar beet ‘wonder fuel’ – Diane Bishop:

Sugar beet is the new wonder fuel, according to Southern Cross Produce owner Matthew Malcolm who has started growing and harvesting sugar beet for the dairy market.

“I can see a real future for it.

“With a lot more wintering sheds going up there will be a bigger demand to take the crop to the cows,” he said.

Malcolm, who has grown 10 hectares of the crop on his Woodlands property in Southland, was keen to try sugar beet which has a higher sugar content than fodder beet. . .

2014 Young Viticulturist of the Year set to be the biggest and best yet:

With just two weeks to go until the first regional rounds of Young Viticulturist of The Year 2014, this year’s competition is shaping up to be the biggest and best yet! Now in its ninth year Young Viticulturist of The Year will host a fourth regional competition for the first time with Wairarapa Winegrowers, joining Hawkes Bay, Marlborough and Central Otago.

Competition organiser, Emma Taylor said “Since the success of Braden Crosby from Borthwick Estate who was the 2012 national champion, it seems that many viticulturists in the Wairarapa region have been inspired by him and there is now enough interest for Wairarapa to hold their own round of the competition.” Braden Crosby will use his experience as a past competitor to shape the competition which will be held at Te Kairanga Winery on the 30th July alongside the regional Silver Secateurs competition. . .

 


Shot sheep shock

24/06/2014

The shooting of around 200 sheep on a Ngapara farm has shocked the community.

Peter Stackhouse’s farm is in out-of-the-way Ngapara, about 25 kilometres inland from Oamaru, and the offenders left no clues as to their identities or motives.

Mr Stackhouse discovered a paddock on his 240ha farm looking like a battlefield on Saturday morning, littered with dead and bloodied sheep.

“I initially thought we must have had dogs in overnight. And then I looked at a few and I thought that it’s odd that their legs aren’t ripped apart or something,” he says.

He wanted a second opinion, with his vet confirming the head and leg injuries were all from bullet wounds.

But many of animals still had to be euthanised.

“[The vet] and I spent probably two to three hours walking around cutting the throats of lots of them, because they weren’t dead. They were lying on their sides kicking, or some were walking around in a dazed state,” says Mr Stackhouse.

The first paddock targeted by the offenders is more than 1 kilometre from the nearest road. Police can’t find any evidence of wheel tracks, and it’s believed the shooters had to have walked in to access the area.

The stock loss will cost the small farm around $30,000. . .

The family has been farming around Ngapara for decades and are community stalwarts.

That is a big loss for them but and it’s made worse when it’s combined with cruelty to animals and the knowledge that at least one person with a firearm is at large with evil intent in the area.

That police found no tyre tracks, footprints or cartridges deepens the mystery and the concern.


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