One year old today

April 22, 2009

It’s a year today since I launched Homepaddock with a post on Doc Cutting Staff.

Blogging started slowly with just 10 posts from April 22 until the end of the month, climbed to a peak of 390 in October when I was in serious danger of having an unhealthy attachment to my computer. I calmed down after the election and a holiday in Argentina in December when I spent several days at a time without internet access put things back in perspective.

The first comment was made on a post about the farmers’ slice of food  prices on May 15. The first link was made, by The Hive on a post about Phil Goff admitting Labour might lose, five days later. Even though The Hive is no longer live, it’s not unusual to get several visitors a day from there.

Homepaddock entered the Tumeke! rankings  at 115 for May and leapt to 21 in June. It was at 16 the following month and has stayed in the top 20 since then.

Open Parachute’s view isn’t quite so flattering and the Halfdone stats are usually a little more generous.

However, it doesn’t matter which of those you look at, the gap between Kiwiblog  ,which is always number one, and the rest of the New Zealand blogs is huge and one indication of his popularity is the way visitor numbers soar if he links to one of my posts. If blogging was education, he’d be a university professor, those which come next would be close to graduating and I’m still at kindy 🙂

While Kiwiblog links generally result in a surge in visitors, the blog which consistently refers most visitors is No Minister. Most visitors, most days come from there.

Other visitors get directed here after doing searches and some of the terms they use suggest they’ll be disappointed when they find that anything blue is of the political rather than the pornographic kind.

Every now and then I’m asked why I call the blog Homepaddock. The home paddock is the one closest to the house where the pet lambs live and in the days before motor bikes it was the where the farm horses were usually kept. It’s supposed to show I’m on a farm though don’t claim to be a farmer.

Part of the fun of blogging is the feedback, thank you for popping in and thank you especially to those of you who link and leave comments.


Halfdone blog rankings

December 2, 2008

Scrubone at Something Should Go Here Maybe Later has compiled the Half Done November blog stats the top 20 of which are:

HD Rank Blog Last Tumeke Rank Alexa Alexa NZ Authority HD Score
1 Kiwiblog #1 62615 99 252 2
2 Whale Oil Beef Hooked #7 134113 276 93 40
3 The Standard #2 199522 268 111 48
4 Public Address #3 216349 794 174 99
5 Not PC #6 239877 538 95 136
6 No Minister #4 237322 433 64 161
7 Policy Blog: Chris Trotter & Matthew Hooton #10 202188 717 60 242
8 The Hive #5 241742 602 54 269
9 New Zealand Conservative #23 359340 557 52 385
10 Homepaddock #17 358477 763 68 402
11 Tumeke! #12 436170 807 73 482
12 Dim Post #13 355942 544 39 496
13 Cactus Kate #14 347784 806 46 609
14 New Zeal #16 414241 4467 215 861
15 Poneke’s Weblog #18 527522 1575 86 966
16 Roar Prawn #11 386652 861 32 1040
17 The Inquiring Mind #15 438737 1262 50 1107
18 Frogblog #8 94021 208 118 1326
19 Something should go here, maybe later. #34 811342 1529 66 1880
20 No Right Turn #9 907936 3070 129 2161

The blogosphere had some comings and goings in November – Roarprawn took a holiday, but has returned; Matthew Hooton and Chris Trotter left Policyblog but the latter moved to Bowalley Road, Anti-Dismal and The Hive closed and there have been two newcomers: Dear John and The Bull Pen.

I suspect Homepaddock’s 10th spot on the Half Done rankings is a lot higher than the Tumeke! rankings which Tim Selwyn is compiling now because I’ve noticed a fall in visitors and comments since the election.

Apropos of that in November:

* I wrote 226 posts.

* Received 14,414 visitors, including the most on any one day (1,160 on November 4th because of a post about the Melbourne Cup photo finish which must have shown up  high on Google searches).

* Had 378 comments, the most on a single post was 14 on November 10 about the blue wash being bad for democracy.


Final sting?

November 20, 2008

Does this mean  The Hive  was only resting or has Queen Been just popped back for a final sting?


Four down . . .

November 15, 2008

First Chris Trotter and Matthew Hooton  hung up their keyboards, then Busted Blonde announced she and the prawns are taking an extended holiday from Roarprawn.

And today Queen Bee posted a final dispatch over at  The Hive .

All have made an intelligent (well, apart from Chris when he wrote under the influence of psychosclerosis) contribution to debate on the blogosphere.

I’ll miss them, though other things on my to-do-list might benefit from their absence which will give me fewer excuses for work avoidance. 🙂


Is it all about dairying?

November 5, 2008

Is there a connection between Dutch dairy interests and the leaked tapes from the National Party conference?

The Hive  has joined some dots and reached that conclusion.

Whether or not she’s right about the links there is no doubt that European farmers will have a lot to gain when New Zealand dairying is severely constrained by the Emissions Trading Scheme.

Not only would that be bad for the New Zealand economy, the irony is it would be worse for the global environment because our pastoral dairy system is much greener than the European feed-lot one.


Tumeke! rankings

October 23, 2008

Tim Selwyn at Tumeke! has updated the New Zealand blogosphere’s rankings with the top 20 for September.

Kiwiblog retains its well deserved first place.

Policy Blog (up 7 to 7th), Dim Post  (up 4 to 12th) Roarprawn  up an impressive 21 to 13th and Cactus Kate (up 1 to 14th) have overtaken Inquiring Mind  (down 4 at 13th) and Homepaddock which has dropped 4 to 16th.

Among my other regular reads, The Hive  is up 4 to 4th, Not PC  has gone up 2 to 7, No Minister  has dropped 4 to 10th,  Poneke  is down a couple to 17th, Keeping Stock has dropped a place to 18th and the Visible Hand in Economics is up 3 to 19th.


Organised crime behind melamine milk poisoning

October 18, 2008

Ministry of Foreign Affairs briefing papers suggest organised crime was behind the melamine poisoning of milk in China.

“The Chinese milk supply has been targeted by Chinese organised crime, which has been adding as a byproduct of the chemical industry, melamine, to raw milk supplied to processing plants,” the paper said.

“The harmful impact on consumers, particularly Chinese infants who are the most at-risk group, is the most serious concern,” the paper said.

. . . San Lu which makes infant formula and in which Fonterra has a 43% stake was one of the companies chich inadvertently used poisoned milk.

The document has been released to the Weekend Herald under the Official Information Act, although large chunks of the report had been deleted.

Among the deleted sections was one on New Zealand’s “international responsibilities”, while another missing piece covered the response by Chinese authorities to Fonterra’s concerns about the milk.

However, part of the paper indicates tension between Fonterra and Chinese authorities.

“Fonterra advises that by mid-September all of the adulterated product should have been accounted for or consumed,” the paper told the Government.

“This suggests that despite the authorities’ reticence to support a full product recall, Sanlu/Fonterra have managed to achieve a similar outcome through a variety of other methods.”

That supports Fonterra which says they did everything they could once they knew there was a problem.

The company has always said its first concern was the chidlren who were poisoned and their families but there were also concerns over its, and New Zealand’s reputation.

However, The Hive  quotes from another Herald story (which isn’t on line) that says that in China it’s Australia which is being associated with the scandal rather than New Zealand.

Perhaps we can thank Cactus Kate for that.


Trust them to put politics before ethics

October 14, 2008

Labour’s decision to make political capital out of the financial crisis may be part and parcel of an election campaign.

But dragging the governor of the Reserve Bank governor Alan Bollard into their game is yet another example of the disdain Helen Clark, Michael Cullen and their colleagues show towards the convention of an apolitical public service.

Inquiring Mind says it’s politcally smart but ethically wrong.

The Hive thinks Alan Bollard should resign for not briefing National and sees the need for constiutional change.

Kiwiblog says Bollard’s decision not to consult other parties undermines confidence in the public service neutrality and then gets personal .

Roarprawn says Bollard has been compromised.

Keeping Stock is outraged.

No Minister says it’s more evidence Labour can’t be trusted.

The Herald reports on some reservation National and Bollard have about the deposit guarantee scheme.

And Garrick Tremain says:


Views on the poll

October 10, 2008

Tim Selwyn at Tumeke! says no-one has told Centrebet about the latest Roy Morgan poll because the odds on Helen Clark winning have gone out to $4.50.

The Hive  notes The Greens & Act have earned their improved ratings.

No Minister   says this poll shows the Maori Party holds the balance of power.

Inquiring Mind  hopes it’s a rogue result.

Jafapete  says it’s game on.

Roarprawn also notes the Maori Party are king or queen makers.

Matthew Hooton has a poll of polls which is a little more comforting.

Cicero  is sceptical.

Frogblog thinks Roy Morgan is a sweet talker but wonders if the poll’s a rogue.

Tim Watkin says it’s out of step with other recent polls but John Key may have put an unlosable election at risk by trying not to rock the boat.

Bomber sees a seachange


Chinese farmers victims too

October 5, 2008

The production chain from pasture to plate is a sophisticated one in New Zealand with high standards for quality at every link.

The New York Times  paints a very different picture in China where turning grass into milk doesn’t seem to have evolved much beyond peasant farming and where the farmers are as much the victims of the melamine milk poisoning scandal as the consumers.

Hat Tip: The Hive


There may be a reasonable explanation

October 3, 2008

as to why an Otara shop owner was arrested and charged after he was stabbed during a fight outside his shop.

But it’s not immediately obvious.

Keeping Stock, and The Hive share my confusion.


AG let us down over EFA

October 3, 2008

Auckland University law professor Bill Hodge says the Attorney General failed to protect our right to free expression by upholding the Electoral Finance Act.

Is this failing because the AG is not a lawyer? Or is there something more here because this is the second criticism of Michael Cullen today.

The Hive points to the front page lead by Ben Thomas in today’s National Business Review which says Cullen misled Cabinet over the Canadian airport deal.

Somehow Thomas has e-mails that show that Dr Cullen refused to allow Treasury officials to consult the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade on the legal implications of any moves to block the sale of airport shares in preparing its advice. As a result, Treasury, who are not expert in this field, gave incorrect advice to Government.

Did someone say the election is about trust?


Homepaddock blocked by MoH!

October 2, 2008

The Hive reports that Homepaddock has been blocked by the Ministry of Health.

Any employer has the right to take a tough line on employees wasting their time blog-surfing during working hours so I don’t have any objection to the blocking per se. But if the MoH block is allowing their staff to waste their time on blogs without my blue tint we have a problem.

However, the usual reason for blocking a website is offensive content and The Hive’s sources say that is the reason behind the Ministry’s censorship.

I make no attempt to hide my polticial bias so have no objection to being called unbalanced, I also accept the scorn of those who know better when I make silly mistakes. But I take strong exception to the accusation that this blog contains offensive material.

When writing on rural issues you can sometimes stray into subjects which might be construed as crude in other contexts and I did write a post about porn in the paddock, way back in June.

I’ve also done a couple of posts about neutering options which mentioned Winston Peters and cryptorchid in the same sentence.

It’s sad reflection on society that the search terms employed most often by visitors lead them to a post on pc gone mad which mentions children in their birthday suits at a swimming pool, and a couple of posts on topless women on motor cycles. They’ll be disappointed when they get there because, like every other post I’ve written they’re free from obscene words and images. 

The only other posts I can think of which might have been caught in a censor’s net would be several I’ve written recently on the melamine milk scandal. I’ve mentioned more than once that formula is second best and it’s better to feed babies as nature intended. In doing so I’ve made no effort to avoid the obvious term for what happens to be a part of the body which might excite a dirt-alert in another context.

If that’s what’s caused the problem then sites such as La Leche or Plunket probably run into the same problem.

That would be a pity because some MOH staff might have a legitimate work-related interest in those sites and in the melamine milk scandal.


There were warnings in China

September 28, 2008

The New York Times gives a background to the melamine milk poisoning in China which confirms it shouldn’t have been unexpected.

The three page article which is worth reading in full lays the blame on the Communist administraion, the desire to look good for the Olympics and constraints on media which thwarted attemtps to publicise concerns.

It also says contamination wasn’t unusual:

Some dairy farmers interviewed this week in Hebei Province said it was an open secret that milk was adulterated, although many claimed they did not know that melamine was being used. Some dairies routinely watered down milk to increase profits, then added other cheap ingredients so the milk could pass a protein test.

“Before melamine, the dealers added rice porridge or starch into the milk to artificially boost the protein count, but that method was easily tested as fake, so they switched to melamine,” said Zhao Huibin, a dairy farmer near Shijiazhuang.

Mr. Zhao said quality testers at Sanlu took bribes from farmers and milk dealers in exchange for looking the other way on milk adulterated with melamine. “In this business, bribery keeps everyone silent,” he said.

This is why strict quality controls all along the production chain which we have in New Zealand are so important.

But quality controls can’t be trusted if there isn’t openness and a lack of corruption.

Hat Tip: The Hive


Passing on the brillante baton

September 18, 2008

How exciting and heart warming it was to check in to Homepaddock yesterday morning and discover I’d been blessed with a Brillante Blog award.

It was bestowed by Deborah who’s In A Strange Land  where she writes intelligently and thoughtfully on feminism, motherhood, parenting, work,  politics, life . . . and occasionally posts on food with photos that cause weight gain if you look at them too long.

Once you get a Brillante you’re invited to spread the happiness by passing it on to blogs you enjoy.

The rules are simple:

1. Put the logo on your blog.
2. Add a link to the person who awarded it to you.
3. Nominate at least 7 other blogs.
4. Add links to these blogs on your blog.
5. Leave a message for your nominator on her/his blog.

So after a day of contemplation my nominees in alphabetical order are:

Annie Fox the nom de blog of Anna Wolf whose posts are warm, witty, passionate, frank, down to earth and full of life which is all the more remarkable because she’s writing about dying.

Phillipa Stephenson at Dig-N -Stir . There is on-going discussion about the difference between journalism and blogging. Pip does both supberbly, writing concise, well researched posts which reflect her knowldege and interest in the subject matter, her ability as a wordsmith and, where appropriate, her wit.

Dim Post for showing you can take a dig without getting dirty; and because every day is improved by humour.

Ex-expat who makes me think with posts that are educational, enlightening and/or entertaining.

Will de Cleene at goNZofreakpower whose posts aren’t frequent but point me to places I wouldn’t find by myself.

Adam Smith at Inquiring Mind  earns the award for the quotes and cartoons of the day by themselves. But there’s more: well reasoned posts on a variety of topics with special mention for not confining himself to New Zealand.

Inventory 2 at Keeping Stock for the quanity, quality, consistency and variety of his posts with extra points for his enthusiasm and sense of humour.

David Farrar at Kiwiblog because I can’t go past the godfather of the NZ blogosphere. It helps that I share many of his views, but even when I don’t, I admire his well written, researched and reasoned posts. He’s open about his bias but never bigoted.

Dave Gee at Life from Right Field because we southerners must stick together and with special mention for originality and pictures.

Macdoctor if he employs the same wit, intelligence, reason and compassion in medicine which he displays in blogging I’d be very happy to be his patient.

Monkeywithtypewriter , not just a token primate, he’s also got perception and a sense of humour.

The team at No Minister because they often amuse, sometimes shock and enable me to feel moderate. They get a special mention for visuals too.

Not PC for the art and architecture.

NZBC goes for quality rather than quantity and gets bonus points for humour and orginality.

Poneke for the quality of posts in which he uses the skills that made him an award winning journalist. Besides, you’ve got to admire a bloke who’s besotted with buses.

Busted Blonde at Roarprawn because she’s upfront, sassy, witty, in the know and shares it with style.

Bernard Hickey at Show Me The Money because he takes numbers and adds words that make sense of them.

Queen Bee at The Hive : she’s got contacts, she gets the facts and she’s the miistress of succinct posts with sting.

The team at Tumeke! for variety and originality. Tim Selwyn deserves an honourable mention by himself for doing the monthly blogosphere rankings.

Well the rules did say at least seven.

P.S. I have an aversion to chain letters or anything resembling them and I can do the maths: if seven people send something to at least seven people who send it …. it won’t be long to run out of blogs which haven’t got it. So should any of you on whom I’ve bestowed a Brillante want to change the rules or ignore them altogether, I won’t be offended, you won’t be courting calamity, your family and pets will be safe and the sky won’t fall in.


Spot the difference

September 17, 2008

The cover story in this weeks Listener (previewed here) asks whether the unions still love Labour. One of those interviewed is Matt McCarten who is general secretary of Unite.

The success endorsed McCarten’s view that staying aloof from political allegiance is more valuable than affiliation. Why, he asks, under MMP would any other party want to help you if all your funding and membership support was going to its comeptition?

He says those unions with “blatant” support for Labour are not necessarily furthering the interests – or felfecting the concerns – of members.

Then we have The Hive’s  transcript of a Radio Live discussion between Marcus Lush, Matthew Hooton and McCarten: 

Lush: . . . Obviously its going to be very important for the Labour party to get these peoples registered and out there voting. . .

McCarten: Yeah well, well, the enrolment is to get out the vote and that’s Labour’s only chance, I mean that is very, very big in the unions, and the electoral enrolments group are spending a huge amount of resource in doing that. But one of the things, the problem they’ve got, a lot of the vote, you know, doesn’t care, and so the unions have got 20% of their membership are not even enrolled, and so they’ve worked out if they can get that up, well that’s going to be 70,000-80,000 extra in, in, in the vote . . .

Can you spot the fundamental difference in the message between these two interviews?


Thanks Owen

September 12, 2008

Some have questioned whether Owen Glenn’s philanthropy was sufficient to earn a New Zealand Honour, but the Herald says  he deserved it before and he’s more than earned it now:

New Zealanders should consider today what a debt we owe Owen Glenn. He cared enough for his good name in this country to come here and clear it. In doing so he will surely rid us of a politician who misused his considerable talent and charm to mislead the public on important policies, sow fear and suspicion of change and survive on a populism that has turned out to be not only destructive but dishonest.

Mr Glenn deserved the high honour bestowed on him at New Year for financial endowments such as that of the Auckland University business school. Scarred by his brush with New Zealand politics, he might not realise that he has earned his honour doubly now.

We would have even more reason to be grateful if, as The Hive requests, he could provide some ammunition to counter the attacks on him from the unholy alliance of Labour and New Zealand First.


Anonymity rules ok

September 4, 2008

If you’re making your views public on a blog should you also make your name public?

Adam Smith  over at Inquiring Mind brought this issue to my notice when he noted that Policy Blog has an issue with psuedonymous bloggers.

My name and political affiliations are there for all to see on the “about”  page of this blog. But I don’t have a job or business which might be compromised by anything I write.

Other people are not so fortunate.

Adam, Inventory 2 at Keeping Stock, Queen Bee at The Hive and Busted Blonde at Roarprawn all choose to keep their identities to themselves. But it’s not only those on the right of the blogosphere who prefer to blog anonymously, Poneke who has declared his blog a politics-free zone and Jafapete on the left also use pseudonyms.

If they were launching personal attacks against other people I would be less relaxed about their anonymity. But all of them write well reasoned and intelligently argued posts and comments – even those with which I disagree 🙂 – and I have never known any of them to indulge in personal invective.

I happen to know who Poneke is but respect his reasons for not telling the world his name. No doubt some people know, or guess,  who is behind his or the other pseudonyms.

They they choose not to blog under their real names is their perogative, and the people over at Policy Blog have the right not to accept their comments.


ETS won’t harm agriculture?

September 3, 2008

Climate Change Minsiter David Parker obviously doesn’t understand the Emissions Trading Scheme he has introduced to parliament because:

Mr Parker said there was no evidence the scheme would have an adverse impact on agriculture.

I’m with The Hive who asks if Parker has misled parliament.

He obviously hasn’t taken any notice of Federated Farmers:

Federated Farmers president, Don Nicolson said today, “News that the emissions trading scheme bill has passed its second reading is bad. It is too rushed. What we have is a whole lot of short term political gamesmanship that is divorced from the real world.

“The reality is that the ETS will have a significant impact on our economy, and likely, little impact on the global environment. Science has a long way to go to develop the economical tools to help farming families get even more efficient than they currently are. The risks of this legislation will be felt by farmers and other New Zealanders for decades,” Mr Nicolson said.

“Agriculture will be affected by the ETS from day one. Already farmers are facing significant increases in input costs that are having a big impact on farm viability. The ETS will only make this worse.

“We have heard some suggestions that New Zealand needs fewer animals on farms. For various reasons it is forecast that New Zealand will have nine million less sheep and lambs over the next year. That’s a drop to 21 million sheep from a high of about 70 million. While meat and fibre farmers have had their worst year, financially, for half a century, the ETS will make this situation worse. It will result in less money for farmers and therefore have a negative flow on into New Zealand cities.

“This is a giant leap into the abyss. These politicians seem to have forgotten that it is agriculture that is laying New Zealand’s golden egg. Our farming communities are working very hard every day to produce food and fibre that New Zealand sells to the world and helps pay many of New Zealand’s bills.

“If we want to try and remain a first world country, rather than a third world country, the simple fact is, we need agriculture to prosper and grow. We can’t afford to kill New Zealand’s golden goose. If we do, we will have rural ghettos and a lower standard of living for all New Zealanders. Here’s hoping we don’t kill the golden goose and develop rural ghettos.

It won’t just be rural ghettos. Like it or not agriculture is the cornerstone of our economy, if it goes down the rest of the country goes with it.


Labour list version 3

August 31, 2008

The Labour list is now on version three (the first one had Judith Tizard at number 1; the second had Lesley Soper at 77 when she’s at 44 – still almost certainly not likely to be back in parliament but not as insulting as 77).

The Hive has a prediction of who’ll be in and who’ll miss out here.

Inventory 2 from Keeping Stock left a comment on the previous post pointing to a correction at No Minister : Sir Ronnie Flanagan is not the British Home Minister.

Keeping Stock also linked to the analysis on Kiwiblog which includes this summary based on public polls and not knowing which electorates will be won or lost:

So what will Labour’s Caucus look like? Well on the current public polling scenario giving them 45 MPs, it would be:

  • Only 8 MPs or 18% from the South Island
  • 38% female, which isn’t bad at all
  • 49% would be aged in their 50s though
  • They would have only six Maori MPs – the same number as National! They would be Horomia, Mahuta, Jones, Ririnui, Mackey, and Davis
  • Four Pacific Island MPs – Laban, Sio, Chauvel and Sepuloni
  • Three Asian MPs – Choudary, Prasad, and Huo

What does it say when they’ll have just 8 Labour MPs in the South Island?  

It’s a sad reflection on the party’s view on the importance of the mainland. Although we may well be better off without more of them 🙂

Apart from that this list means the Labour caucus will have fresh blood at the expense of several sitting MPs who now face a life outside parliament. If their idea of their importance is higher than their list placings indicate that will not make the Labour caucus a happier place to be.

What does it say about democratic selections porcesses too? That’s eight new propsective MPs who have been selected by the party elite rather than members at large.


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