Rural round-up

January 11, 2018

Retiring meat industry leader goes farming – Heather Chalmers:

Retiring Anzco founder Sir Graeme Harrison says the meat industry remains in a battle for survival, writes Heather Chalmers.

Life is turning full circle for retiring Anzco Foods founder and chairman Sir Graeme Harrison.

Harrison who has sold his shares in Anzco and steps down as chairman as its annual meeting in March, is now turning his attention to farming. After 34 years with the company he is relaxed about moving on, with the succession plan well signalled.

Again living in Methven, where his family farmed and trained racehorses in his younger days, his new focus is a hill country property with flats at Alford Forest in the Mid-Canterbury foothills. The sheep and beef property is farmed by his daughter and son-in-law Michelle and Daniel Carson, and he intends to take an active role. . . 

Fears tōtara trees could be wiped out on the East Coast – John Boynton:

There are calls for more to be done to save tōtara trees in the Raukumara Forest Park Range from being wiped out by pests.

Possum and deer are killing the ancient native trees and are also causing a decline in the numbers of other native plants and animals in the forest.

The Raukumara Forest Park Range spans 11,000ha across the East Coast of the North Island and consists of dense, isolated and uncompromising terrain.

It has proven to be the perfect breeding ground for possum, deer and red goats which are causing major damage to the forest ecosystem. . .

Nothing sheepish about advocacy on this farm – Owen Roberts:

From the time they graduated (two years apart) from the University of Guelph in the 1990s, through to their current leadership roles in Ontario agriculture, Mark and Sandi Brock have become widely known for their honest and public portrayal of modern farming.  And they’re challenging other producers to join them, to make sure urban Canada is getting the right messages.  

“Agriculture needs to align itself with influencers and stop talking to itself,” Mark says. “We need to be giving unified messages that people are less apt to forget.” . . 

DYNE wins the inaugural Woolmark Prize Innovation Award:

DYNE was today announced the inaugural winner of the 2017/2018 International Woolmark Prize Innovation Award, presented at a special event during Pitti Uomo at Stazione Leopolda in Florence.

The award was judged by a highly esteemed panel, led by Future Tech Lab founder/CEO Miroslava Duma and included Amber Valletta, Elizabeth Von Guttman, Emanuele Farneti, Julie Davies, Livia Firth, Miroslava Duma, Nonita Kalra, Phillip Lim, Riccardo Vannetti, Sarah Mower and Stuart McCullough along with representatives from the International Woolmark Prize retail partner network.

The Innovation Award powered by Future Tech Lab celebrates the collection with the most innovative and creative wool fabrication, process or development and was awarded to the finalist who demonstrated the most exciting approach to help reduce its social and environmental footprint. DYNE will receive $100,000 along with commercial opportunities. . . 

Bodice wins the 2017/18 International Woolmark Prize for women’s wear:

Bodice was today announced the womenswear winner of the 2017/2018 International Woolmark Prize, presented at a special event during Pitti Uomo at Stazione Leopolda in Florence.

The award was judged by a highly esteemed panel, including Amber Valletta, Elizabeth Von Guttman, Emanuele Farneti, Julie Davies, Livia Firth, Liya Kebede, Miroslava Duma, Nonita Kalra, Phillip Lim, Riccardo Vannetti, Sarah Mower and Stuart McCullough along with representatives from the International Woolmark Prize retail partner network: Boutique 1, Boon The Shop, David Jones, Harvey Nichols, Hudson’s Bay, Lane Crawford, L’Eclaireur, mytheresa.com, ORDRE, Parlour X, Ssense.com, Sugar and Tata CLiQ Luxury.

Representing India, Pakistan and the Middle East, Bodice was selected as the womenswear winner, praised for technique and the manufacturing process. Inspired by her grandmother who used to upcycle saris into quilts, Bodice addressed the issue of consumer waste in fashion with traditional techniques of recycling and cultural beliefs in the spiritual power of cloth to affect our wellbeing.  . . 

Matthew Miller wins the 2017/19 International Woolmark Prize for men’s wear:

Matthew Miller was today announced the menswear winner of the menswear 2017/2018 International Woolmark Prize, presented at a special event during Pitti Uomo at Stazione Leopolda in Florence.

The award was judged by a highly esteemed panel, including Amber Valletta, Elizabeth Von Guttman, Emanuele Farneti, Julie Davies, Livia Firth, Liya Kebede, Miroslava Duma, Nonita Kalra, Phillip Lim, Riccardo Vannetti, Sarah Mower and Stuart McCullough along with representatives from the International Woolmark Prize retail partner network.

For Vogue Italia Editor-in-Chief Emanuele Farneti, Matthew Miller presented a well-balanced collection, with attractive price points. “He showed a good combination between innovation, commercial viability and pieces which will be worn by men on the street.” . . 

So what do Canadian farmers do in winter? – Jake Leguee:

Today is winter solstice—the darkest day of the year.

Here in southeast Saskatchewan, where my family farms, we’ll see about eight hours of daylight. The sun rises a little before 9 am and sets around 5 pm, local time.

It raises a question that I sometimes hear from friends who don’t work in agriculture: What do crop farmers do all winter?

 

Teachers sometimes joke that they went into education for three reasons: June, July, and August. There’s a similar gag in farming: Our seasons are April, August, and Arizona.

As much as I wish I could boast about relaxing all winter by the pool in Phoenix or Tucson, the truth is that I work on my farm year-round—even during the winter, when the nights are longer than the days.

The job of a farmer never ends. . .


Who’s putting jobs and people first?

June 20, 2014

The government is to introduce special legislation to enable the recovery of high value native timber blown over in Cyclone Ita on West Coast public conservation land, Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith has announced.

“We need to take a pragmatic approach and enable the timber to be recovered where it can be done so safely and with minimal environmental impact. This initiative will provide welcome jobs and economic opportunities for the West Coast at a difficult time, and will provide a financial return to DOC that can be reinvested in conservation work,” Dr Smith says.

Cyclone Ita hit the West Coast on 17 April this year and caused the worst windfall damage in generations, felling an estimated 20,000 hectares of forest and causing significant damage to a further 200,000 hectares.

The West Coast Windblown Timber (Conservation Lands) Bill confines the recovery of useable wood to areas affected by Cyclone Ita and specifically excludes World Heritage Areas, national parks, ecological areas and the white heron sanctuary reserve at Whataroa. Authorisations are only to be issued where the Department’s Director-General is satisfied the proposed method of removing the timber is safe for workers and the public, and minimises environmental impacts. The recovery of timber is limited until 1 July 2019 when the Bill expires. All revenue from royalties will go to the Department of Conservation.

“A law change is needed because the current Conservation Act makes no provision for timber recovery in this sort of extreme event. The Bill will be introduced and passed by Parliament next week under urgency. This is necessary because the large volumes of beech timber will soon deteriorate with sap stain and borer. I am grateful for the common sense support from the United Future and Māori Parties that are enabling Parliament to quickly resolve this issue.

“It is estimated that several million cubic metres of beech, rimu, matai, totara and miro trees have been felled. Stumpage prices for rimu are $250 per cubic metre, and $60 per cubic metre for beech. It is not possible to estimate the volume and value of timber to be extracted because the safety and environmental constraints may require high cost options like the use of helicopters. This law change will enable the detailed work to be done by operators on recovery proposals so as to determine where recovery is viable and safe.

“It may be appropriate to consider a permanent change to the Conservation Act to enable windblown timber in these sorts of situations to be recovered in future, but I am reluctant to do so with urgent legislation of this sort. The Department of Conservation will be commissioning research on the effects on forest regrowth and ecology by comparing similar windblown areas where timber has and has not been recovered to help make a long-term policy decision on this issue.

“It is a tragedy that so much forest has been wrecked by Cyclone Ita but no good purpose is served by leaving it all to rot. The wood will displace some of the $65 million of tropical hardwoods we import each year and give New Zealanders access to our own beautiful native timbers,” Dr Smith concluded.

The move has the support of the Maori Party:

The Māori Party is thrilled that urgent legislation is to be passed by Parliament to allow for the recovery of native timber that has fallen onto West Coast public conservation land as a result of Cyclone Ita. Co-Leader Te Ururoa Flavell joined Dr Nick Smith on the West Coast today to make the special announcement.

“We see this as a great opportunity for the West Coast at a time where the community has had to bear the brunt of the storm. This legislation will open up long-term employment and commercial opportunities for the community and I am proud to be part of today’s announcement,” says Te Ururoa Flavell.

“The Māori Party support this initiative because we see it as a way for the West Coast to take a silver lining from the storm that hit their community on April 17 this year and caused the most devastating windfall damage in decades.”

“Had we not supported the legislation, the timber would have deteriorated and lost its commercial value. In particular, beech sapwood must be recovered within a month before sap stain fungi and beech borer begin to destroy the value of the timber, which is why there is a need for urgency. The felled rimu can be recoverable for up to five years, providing opportunities for long-term employment,” says Te Ururoa Flavell.

“Of course, the safety of the workers will be of paramount importance and authorisations to remove timber will require that the operators provide health and safety plans to show their removal methods would be safe for both the workers and the public. The legislation also provides for public exclusion from areas while timber recovery operations are taking place for their own protection.”

“Ngāi Tahu has expressed their support in principle for the opportunities presented by the legislation and we will support their preference for opportunities for the harvesting of the wind-blown timber and its proceeds to be reinvested into the West Coast community. We will also seek to ensure that the recovery is undertaken in a manner that respects and addresses any environmental and cultural matters of concern that the iwi may have.”

“While we are sad to see that so much native timber has been blown over by Cyclone Ita, we are delighted that Ngāi Tahu and the rest of the West Coast community will benefit from the passing of this legislation,” says Te Ururoa Flavell.

United Future leader Peter Dunne says the timber recovery is the logical response:

. . . “It is very unfortunate so many trees were blown down in this storm but there is just no benefit in leaving the timber to rot” said Mr Dunne.

Parliament will consider urgent, special legislation to enable the recovery of the high value native timber.

UnitedFuture will support The West Coast Windblown Timber (Conservation Lands) Bill which confines the recovery of useable wood to areas affected by Cyclone Ita and specifically excludes World Heritage Areas, National Parks, Ecological Areas and the White Heron colony.

“This timber recovery plan is the common sense, practical, and logical response to a natural process.

“I am satisfied by the environmental protections and health and safety regulations to which operators will be subject when the timber is removed.

“This will ensure that the West Coast’s unique environment will be protected” said Mr Dunne.

“New Zealand’s hardwood is some of the most beautiful in the world and I am pleased Parliament will enable New Zealanders to access it rather than leaving it to rot” he said.

Former Former Westland Mayor and now National Party candidate Maureen Pugh approached the Minister and asked that permission be given for logging:

. . . “It just seems like a very practical solution to an event that’s happened,” says Ms Pugh.

She says the logs, which are a mixture of rimu, totara and beech, could be worth up to $50,000 each. . . .

The proposal’s being welcomed on the coast – Grey District Mayor Tony Kokshoorn says it makes sense as it has the potential to create money. . . .

this is a very good example of a candidate being proactive for the people who’s support she’s seeking.

Contrast that with the Green Party which doesn’t attempt to win electorates and therefore doesn’t have to worry what’s best for the people in them:

 . . . the Greens say it would require a law change and they’d never support it.

“Generations of New Zealanders campaigned to protect West Coast forests – allowing trees to be taken from timber would completely cut across that,” says Green Party conservation spokesperson Eugenie Sage. . . .

Nature dealt the trees the killing blow.

If they are left where they are they’ll rot.

There is a small window of opportunity to recover the fallen trees which will provide work and replace imported timber.

It will be done with safeguards for workers and the environment and all profits will go to the Department of Conservation to fund more conservation work.

But once more the Green Party will put politics and its own blinkered ideology before people and jobs.


‘Tis the season . . .

November 26, 2011

. . . for new potatoes and you won’t find any finer than these.

Rare Earth new potatoes are grown a few kilometres south of Oamaru in tarry Totara  soils.

The link above will take you to a photo.

There are no new potatoes more delicious than those from around Oamaru and these are the best.

Best served simply – rub the dirt off the skins under running water, boil until tender in water with a sprig of mint.

Drain and serve.

I don’t even add butter, but those who do say they’re even better that way.


Our rain gauge overfloweth

May 25, 2010

Our rain gauge holds only 25 mls.

My farmer tipped out 20 early yesterday evening and it was overflowing first thing this morning.

At Five Forks just over the hill  and Totara about 10 kilometres as the crow flies, they’ve had 80 mls. Glencoe on the eastern edge of the Kakanui Range, above Waianakarua, has had 100 mls and  there’s been 120 at Weston which is about half way between Oamaru and home.

The Kakanui River is rising at a rate of about 45 mls  mms an hour.

Recent rainfall softened the ground so a lot has soaked in but we’re starting to get run off. The radio is broadcasting advice for country people to stay at home and State Highway 1 is closed at Deborah.

I don’t need to use that stretch of road but there are a few spots between here and town which flood.

I’m supposed to be MCing the Enterprising Rural Women Award presentations at the Rural Women NZ annual conference in Oamaru this evening.  I’ll make a reconnaissance  this afternoon to see if the roads are passable. If they are I’ll take  the precaution of packing a toothbrush and change of clothes with me in case I get there then find I can’t get home again.

Not wanting this to be seen as a sign of ingratitude, I’ll declare the drought over and be grateful that we will now be set up for good spring growth.


It rained

April 16, 2010

We got 15 mls of very welcome rain last night.

The near-empty irrigation dam shows how much it was needed.

Now the pressure is off the irrigation and we might be able to stop watering for the season.

Last night’s fall brings us to a total of 27 mls – just over an inch in old money – for the month and about 50 mls this year, though still only 336 mls in the last 12 months which is well under the annual average of around 500 mls.

While the rain made a big difference to us because we’re irrigated, it wouldn’t have done much more than lay the dust on dryland farms and it was localised.

Totara, about 10 kilometres as the crow flies from us, received only 9 mls and our hill block at Waianakarua about 20 kms away got only 4 mls.

The downpour came with a thunderstorm which brought a lot of water in a very short time. We don’t complain about rain here so this is an obesrevation not a moan – it also brought a flood inside the conservatory which took three buckets and seven towels to mop up.

Memo to self: clean the spouting before it rains again.


Tuesday’s answers

July 21, 2009

Monday’s questions were:

1. Who said, “Curiosity is freewheeling intelligence.”?

2. Who wrote The Sundowners?

3. Where in New Zealand is Sebastopol Hill and who is commemorated by the cairn on top of it?

4. Which country has the lowest high point?

5. What is an epistrophe?

Tuesday’s answers follow the break.

Read the rest of this entry »


Too much water dilutes flavour?

January 7, 2009

Almost every area has produce of which it can be proud and one of North Otago’s culinary treasures is its new potatoes.

There is a happy mix of climate and soils which produces potatoes with a distinct and delicious taste.

So good are they that others have tried to trade on their reputation.

A couple of years ago a Kakanui grower saw boxes purporting to contain North Otago new potatoes while visiting Nelson in October. Knowing his own crop was still some weeks away from harvest he did a little detective work and discovered they weren’t North Otago potatoes but Nelson ones pretending to be their superior southern cousins.

When the first new potatoes of the season appear in the supermarket we resist them. Knowing they come from further north and never measure up to those grown in North Otago we wait to enjoy the local ones.

This season, however, I reluctantly admit that the Kakanui and Totara spuds didn’t live up to my expectations.

In light of the discussion by JC and Fran O’Sullivan four posts back  about too much water diluting the flavour of tomatoes, I wonder if that applies to potatoes too because the one major difference in the production of this season’s crop and those of previous years is irrigation.


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