Land Girls

25/04/2018

Farming was a reserved occupation which exempted farmers from conscription during World War II.

Many country men enlisted anyway leaving a shortage of labour on farms which in those days had little mechanisation.

Young women were enlisted to fill jobs vacated by men in the services, some of them became Land Girls, one of those was Sadie Lietze (nee Stuart):

. . .  Lietze was interviewed and she chose the Womens Land Service. A week later tickets arrive in the post. She was being sent to Omarama to work at the high country station, Tara Hills.

“Omarama was a place I had never heard of, never been. I had to look in the map to know where Omarama was. It was quite an experience for me. I was just 19. I had never travelled much or been away from Dunedin.”

The 94-year-old recalls the trip to the high country station, where she would remain for two years, vividly:

“I left in the morning by the Mail Bus … My new boss met me in Omarama. As we travelled the three miles to Tara Hills Station in a jogger, a two wheeled cart pulled by a horse, similar to a trotting sulky. Little did I know I would stay two years as a cowman, a gardner, assistant rabbiter and horse breaker, a musterer, a wool classer and a general rouse about.

“I milked cows morning, night – every day of the year and never had a break. You would get Saturday afternoon off to do your washing. I just did everything that was asked. I did it. People say to me, ‘why did you do it?’ I say, “well, you did it because it was a war effort’.”

Growing up on a dairy farm, Lietze was using to milking cows. But the back-aching task of rabbiting was hard, she says.

Rabbits were real problem. Trapping rabbits was a fulltime job in winter. Rabbits were trapped, gutted and hung in twos on a fence at the road gate. These were picked up an hung on the rabbit truck and taken to Pukeuri Freezing Works near Oamaru to be later sent to England for food.

“After trapping we poisoned the rabbits. A furrow was scratched along the foothills, carrots were packed into saddle bags and I would walk along dropping sliced carrots into the furrows.

“Two days later I would do it again. I had to dig a huge hole big enough to bury a horse in.

“Then the next day I would drop carrots which had been laced with strychnine. The following day we would pick up hundreds of frozen rabbits, take them in the saddle bags to the big hole. Here we would skin them.

“It was a back-aching chore. In the evening we would stretch the skins on wires and hang them on a line to dry. When we had almost forgotten the pain we would start again on another block.”

The biggest hardships were the conditions and the cold, she says.

“There was no electricity. A Delco engine charged batteries for light and the wireless, which we listened to for the War News at nine o’clock. Then I would go to be and be up again at 6am. I just slept in an old hut. You take the sack off the floor and put it on you – it was freezing. Omarama is cold and you put the sack on top of your bedding to keep you warm. I wasn’t the only one.” . . . 

Some Land Girls had been brought up in the country and relished the opportunity to work on farms, often those of their families. But when the war was over and their fathers and brothers returned they weren’t given the choice of keeping their jobs.

Some women who farmed during the war were farmers’ wives who had no choice but to step into their husbands’ boots to keep the farms going.

It wasn’t easy work and it often wasn’t easy for either partner when the war was over.

One returned service man told me when he came home both he and his wife had changed and his children didn’t know who he was.

They called us the heroes, but it was the women who stayed behind who were the heroes.

My wife took over the farm and ran it while looking after the children and managed it all by herself.

She’d been doing it all for all those years then I came home, thinking I knew it all and took over.

These days, one of us would have walked out, but then you got on and made the best of it.

 


Rural round-up

24/03/2014

New evidence that A1 relative to A2 beta-casein affects digestive function – Keith Woodford:

A new paper has been published in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition titled “Dietary A1 beta-casein affects gastrointestinal transit time, dipeptidyl peptidase-4 activity, and inflammatory status relative to A2 b-casein in Wistar rats”

The key findings are:
1. A1 beta casein slows down transit of food through the digestive system relative to A2 beta-casein and this is an opioid effect.
2. A1 beta-casein induces a pro- inflammatory effect in the colon which is also an opioid effect.
3. A1 beta casein relative to A2 beta-casein causes up-regulation of the enzyme DPP4 in the small intestine and this is apparently a non-opioid effect.
4. In contrast to the A1 beta-casein, there is no evidence of opioid effects from the A2 beta-casein in relation to either food transit times or pro-inflammatory effects. . . .

Benefits of collaboration – Sally Rae:

Collaboration and partnerships.

Two words mentioned often during a Federated Farmers high country field day in the upper Waitaki last week.

It was a fitting location for such an event, with what could be dubbed the ”green versus brown” debate a very hot issue in both the upper Waitaki and neighbouring Mackenzie districts.

Starting in Twizel, about 140 people travelled in a convoy of vehicles through Doug McIntyre’s dairy farm operation, on to Ohau Downs, where Kees Zeestraten is battling to bring irrigation to his property, then through Ribbonwood Station and into the Ahuriri Valley before viewing irrigation development at Tara Hills near Omarama. . .

Millions spent but no irrigation yet – Sally Rae:

Kees Zeestraten has spent close to $3 million trying to get water to irrigate Ohau Downs.

He admitted he was ”gutted” it had cost so much to get to that point – and still not have water.

Meanwhile, the flats of the 5200ha Omarama property, where he intended to do his irrigation development, were, as North Otago Federated Farmers high country chairman Simon Williamson said, ”pretty depleted”, with hieracium taking over and tussocks struggling to survive.

”In general, you would not say it’s in great health. It’s certainly not knee-high tussocks waving in the wind,” Mr Williamson said. . .

Green hues advancing in the high country – Sally Rae:

‘You wouldn’t get a better landscape. Green is as much a part of it as the tawny brown landscape in the background. What are they worrying about? It fits in.”

That was the comment of High Country Accord chairman Jonathan Wallis, after viewing the result of irrigation development on Tara Hills at Omarama.

The contrast between the green, irrigated flats of the property and the surrounding brown hills was vivid.

The 3400ha station, best known as a research property, was bought by Dave Ellis two years ago. . .

Sorting out key issues – Bryan Gibson:

Prime Minister John Key will hope his visit to China last week will have done the trick in terms of reassuring the government in that country and the buying public that our milk products are safe and our food-safety regime is robust.

A report, covered in this week’s Farmers Weekly, says New Zealand’s infant formula industry is in pretty good shape, but faces many challenges as China looks to tame the “Wild West” market that has taken shape there.

Audits of this country’s processing plants by Chinese authorities are under way and there will be many eager to know the results. . .

Foundation’s Australian links pay off:

The Foundation for Arable Research says its foray into Australia last year is paying off.

Foundation chief executive Nick Pyke said the link with Australia enables it to leverage off the much larger investment in cropping research being carried out across the Tasman.

“We have had some involvement in programmes which are quite different for them (Australia) because of the way we grow crops here in New Zealand, so they have learnt from that”. . .

Auckland Hauraki Dairy Winners Dominant:

The major winners in the 2014 Auckland Hauraki Dairy Industry Awards, Bryce and Rosemarie Costar, have well achievable goals to keep them focused and heading in the right direction.

The Onewhero couple were named the region’s Sharemilker/Equity Farmers of the Year at an awards dinner in Pukekohe last night . Ngatea contract milker Simon Player was named the 2014 Auckland Hauraki Farm Manager of the Year and Paeroa dairy farm assistant Marion Reynolds won the region’s Dairy Trainee of the Year title.

Bryce and Rosemarie Costar are 55% sharemilking 300 cows on a family farm owned by Bill Costar. They won $20,200 in prizes. . .


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