Kumara Pie

Kumara Pie

3 large kumaras or Sweet potatoes
1 480 gram tin of Pineapple rings
brown sugar

Peel and cut up the Kumara into small pieces and cook until soft. Drain and mash with butter and pineapple juice. Place mashed kumara into a baking dish. Place the pineapple rings on top. Sprinkle with brown sugar and grill at 180 deg celsius for 20 minutes.

This can be combined in with Cheese sauce and smoked fish for extra body and flavouring. A touch of fresh basil can also enhance the flavouring

Dinner with Amy and her...Basement Cat

Tonight we had dinner with Amy....little did we know there was in fact a very evil plan and conspiracy to get us all addicted to the deadly chocolate pudding. Moussaka made with eggplant combined with meat and vegetables was just the beginning....A friendly chat about life the universe and everything..then came the chocolate pudding. Dangerous. Then a small minion appeared demanding more chocolate pudding. I gave him mine perhaps realising the entire thing had been a conspiracy afterall. Leaving time came. Getting in the car........then...he appeared...held so lovingly by doting minion...BASEMENT CAT..........we escaped just in time....

Actually we had a beautiful dinner with Amy and her family tonight. The food was awesome, the company more so and we had a ball. Thanks Amy we had a really great time. But please....don't arrange for Basement Cat to make us sign any contracts the price of Chocolate pudding is just too much. Amy took the photo on my digital camera...so sign the contract then why don't you.

Kumara Country

Since I didn't have to drive to Dargaville on Friday I managed to get some more photos of the Ruawai area where kumaras aka sweet potatoes are grown. Ruawai is known as the Kumara Capital. Most of New Zealands' Kumaras are grown there. I love Kumaras especially with a raost dinner. Kumara pie is nice too. I'll have to post up the recipe some time.

Art Stuff - Plants in our Bush

I love our bush. I drew this lovely specimen of a Kiekie Freycinetia Bauriana -Banksii growing on one of our Nikau Palms over a period of several days in between family, animals and now deadlines for the next publication going out for our town newspaper. My Mum wondered why I was drawing plants instead of the animals. Well you have to learn to draw everything I told her. Pointless creating a painting of a native bird for instance sitting on nothing but empty air! One great painter of birds is the talented Raymond Ching. My mum has a book on him. Raymond sketched all kinds of things including the plants the birds either nested in or ate from the fruits. He's a great artist and his work is in galleries all over the world.


Approval not sought from CEO the designer is fired

Esther & Rachel

This photo was before the digital camera era. So much easier not having to scan everything. I'd say there'd be a major consensus on that score. This photo was taken on the 21st of November 2006 at 6 pm after I had had to give the young cow a hand to calve the little heifer my mother named Rachel. Esther was a Red Devon the calf fathered by our long since gone Hereford commercial bull. Both have since left the farm sold to a neighbour of ours and they're doing just great. Red Devons are great for both dairy and beef. They have great temperaments and are ideal for smaller properties. They thrive on poorer pastures and have easy calving. Rachel was really an experiment to see what kind of calf we'd get by crossing Hereford over Red Devon. The verdict a nice calf - if she had been a bull we would have been eating her by now. Yum roast beef.

Fonterra warns of ongoing dairy market volatility

18 November 2008

Fonterra signals ongoing volatility in dairy markets

Fonterra Co-operative Group says there is likely to be more volatility in global dairy prices after a financial year in which prices went on an unprecedented rollercoaster.

In Fonterra’s 2007/08 Annual Review sent to shareholders this week, Chairman Henry van der Heyden said market unpredictability, rising costs, a high currency and financial turmoil made for a challenging business environment in the financial period ended July 31, 2008.

“However, Fonterra worked within this highly volatile environment to bring shareholders the best result since our formation,” said Mr van der Heyden.

“It is clear that 2007/08 has fundamentally changed market dynamics and volatility is more likely to be the norm, rather than the exception, in the medium term.

“With global financial confidence tenuous at best and the inevitable lag between price signals guiding farmer decisions around production, there is every possibility of an imbalance between demand and supply influencing prices.

Average dairy prices achieved by Fonterra during the 14 months to 31 July were US$4,350 per tonne, compared with US$2,673 a tonne in the previous 12 month period. International milkpowder prices peaked at around US$5,000 per tonne in late 2007 but more recently have fallen back to around US$2,600 a tonne.

The Annual Review details how Fonterra achieved its best-ever financial result in 2007/08, generating $9.3 billion for farmer shareholders.

About $9 billion was paid to farmers in the Milk Price component of payout, representing $7.59 per kg of milksolids (kgMS). The Milk Price is driven by Fonterra’s sales of New Zealand dairy products into global markets.

Profits from the company’s global commodity and ingredients businesses and consumer brands businesses generated an additional $364 million, or 31 cents per kgMS, in Value Return for shareholders. Of this Value Return, $277 million (24 cents per kgMS) was retained to strengthen Fonterra’s balance sheet.

Mr van der Heyden said the payout, achieved amid a period of unprecedented volatility in commodity, currency and financial markets, was the highest in 43 years (in inflation adjusted terms) to the Co-operative’s 10,724 suppliers in New Zealand.

However, it was a year in which farmers had been hit by serious drought, farm input costs had risen sharply, and Fonterra’s share price had fallen by 18%. Mr van der Heyden said the year was also marked by the events of raw milk contamination in China, which stretched across the whole Chinese industry.

While the payout was strong, the Fonterra Fair Value Share (FVS) Price had been affected by the increased cost of capital globally and high commodity prices cutting into margins for the ingredients business. The FVS price set at $5.57, within the range determined by an independent valuer, represented a decline of $1.22 from the share price of $6.79 in the 2007/08 season.

The drop in the share price enabled farmers holding excess shares to surrender shares, with a net amount of about $300 million returned to shareholders. The change in share price was a key driver of the TSR (total shareholder return) for the year of negative 13.4%.

Chief Executive, Andrew Ferrier, said Fonterra worked through some of the most demanding and unpredictable business conditions in recent memory to record its highest ever sales revenue and payout in 2007/08.

He said Fonterra achieved a 63% increase in the average commodity sales price realised for the year, to US$4,350 per tonne, which helped offset a 7 cent negative currency impact. Fonterra’s average conversion rate was US74 cents.

Group revenue was NZ$19.5 billion for the 14 month financial year to 31 July 2008, equating to an annual turnover of about NZ$17 billion.

Mr Ferrier said there were significant operational gains and cost reductions during the year in Fonterra’s core business across milk collection, manufacturing and supply chain operations. Many such as energy savings, waste reduction and transport efficiencies delivered a win-win for the business and the environment – delivering on both financial and sustainability goals.

He said Fonterra’s overseas business operations continued to perform well, generating higher returns for shareholders. And despite high commodity prices during the year, Fonterra’s consumer brands businesses performed well, holding up and, in many cases, increasing margins.

In total, segment operating profits (EBIT or earnings before finance costs and tax), were $614 million or 52 cents per kgMS. After deduction of finance costs and tax, the available Value Return (profit) was 31 cents.

Looking across the individual segments, Mr Ferrier said the profit (EBIT) for Fonterra’s Commodities and Ingredients business was $367 million, down from $918 million the previous year. He said in a typical year, Fonterra Ingredients’ value add business achieves healthy margins by using world priced ingredients in its commodities and specialty blended products destined for the higher value markets, such as US, Europe and Japan.

“However, with average commodity prices at record levels, the price differential between global prices and in-market prices fell sharply, putting margins under severe pressure. We are continuing to look for new opportunities to counter these margin pressures.”

Australia and New Zealand's profit was $203 million versus $200 million last year. Mr Ferrier said ANZ's underlying operating performance on a like-for-like basis improved from last year by $53 million.

“This is a very good performance – especially with milk costs at historic highs and a lot of margin and competitive pressure in the market. ANZ has Trans-Tasman leadership positions in cheese and spreads, and leads outright in milk, flavoured milk, dairy desserts and ice cream in NZ.”

He said while there was strong price competition for milk in Australia, a good performance in this market was offset to some degree by performance in the New Zealand market, where margins were squeezed by the high commodity prices.

Fonterra’s Asia/Africa and Middle East business recorded a profit of $90 million before an impairment charge of $139 million relating to the write-down of Fonterra’s investment in San Lu.

The profit for Latin America was up from $58 million last year to $129 million, again as a result of increased margins and volumes in the Latam segment. Fonterra increased its 56.8% shareholding in Soprole to 99.8% in April 2008 buying the Fundacion Isabel Aninant’s 42.6% shareholding for $286 million.

Mr Ferrier said Soprole has been a consistently strong performer for Fonterra over the years, with the company holding over a third of the local fresh dairy market in Chile and was an innovator with new products developed in the last three years accounting for more than 40 per cent of the company’s sales.

All I did was be Politically Correct in my cordial greeting and I got...

Hot off the Press - Federated Farmers Press Release Don Nicolson Speech notes Telford Rural Polytechnic Address Full version

21 November 2008

Don Nicolson speech to Telford Rural Polytechnic graduands at 1.00pm

Stand tall. Take pride in being a farmer as your future starts right here, right now.

I would like to acknowledge the Chief Executive, staff and members of Telford’s Board of Management, for giving me the privilege of honouring your hard work today.

I am a little awed at being here for my motto, many years ago, at school and college, was not dissimilar to that of Mark Twain’s:

“I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.”

To the graduates of Telford Rural Polytechnic you are the future and what an exciting future awaits you in the years ahead.

This ceremony is not the beginning of the end for your education. Rather, it is just the end of the beginning. We farmers never cease learning.

Some of you will go onto higher education. Others will embrace life’s university and build a practical career.

Whatever you do, here and abroad, you have been the beneficiary of an excellent academic foundation at Telford.

While your friends may have gone onto study law, accountancy, commerce or medicine, you have embraced the farming profession.

For we are a profession. A profession with many exciting arms.

Forestry, agriculture, equine, bee keeping, grains and seeds as well as agribusiness.

We are all farmers. Farmers whose commitment to the land generates the wealth that keeps our country afloat.

As farmers, it is often easy to play down what we do and what we achieve.

I wish you, when you return to your farms and homes to go away with one single thought. One single proposition.

Farmers are the founders of civilisation.

“When tillage begins, other arts follow. The farmers are the founders of human civilisation.”

That was written 144 years ago by Daniel Webster and how true it is.

Without safe, reliable and wholesome food nothing would be possible. Not literature, not music, not art, not science, not engineering. Nothing.

Our labours and those of our forbears created the climate for communities to form and for learning to flourish.

We are the founders and maintainers of human civilisation.

You are now about to embark on varied careers in New Zealand’s most dynamic and progressive profession. Agriculture.

Agriculture is the undisputed backbone of our economy.

65% of everything we sell to the world comes from the land and the sea. If we include mineral exploration, that reaches a massive 75% of New Zealand’s total exports.

Three quarters of New Zealand’s wealth is generated by a mere 14% of its population.

Now if that doesn’t give you bragging rights with your urban cousins, I don’t know what will!

In 1985, before many of you were born, New Zealand agriculture abandoned subsidies to live in a world where we made our own way, under our own steam.

At the time many, including a rather famous ex-Prime Minister, predicted the death knell for our great profession.

Yet we resilient, canny, efficient and entrepreneurial farmers responded with verve and gusto the world had never seen before.

Let me explain it like this.

For 25 of the last 27 years, New Zealand agriculture has outperformed every single sector of the New Zealand economy.

When times got tough, we got tougher. When things got better, we got even better. That’s the farming way.

You may be joining our great profession at a time when the world economy is uncertain. But don’t be uncertain about your future. Not for a single moment

We are engaged in life itself.

We farm in a world where 800 million people are hungry right now. A world where global food reserves are at their lowest for nearly 35 years. A world that has 80 million new mouths joining it each and every year.

The future of New Zealand is farming in a world that needs more food and not less.

While we await the wall of subsidies to fall around the world, they will fall like dominos. This will create new market opportunities for you that I can only dream of.

While we face many challenges ahead you will have no regrets for the choice you made to study here at Telford.

From all your colleagues in the farming profession and from Federated Farmers I salute you and welcome you.

Stand tall. Take pride in being a farmer as your future starts right here, right now.

Red Hot off the Press -Federated Farmers Media Relase Fonterra Revised Forecast $6 per kg milk solids

Received at 12.50pm on the email
21 November 2008
Fonterra revised forecast

“While farmers will be disappointed at the revised forecast of six dollars per kilogram of milksolids, it was not unexpected,” said Willy Leferink, vice-chairman of Federated Farmers Dairy.

“The world economic situation is so unusual and so debilitating to trade, that Fonterra’s latest announcement at least gives some certainty.

“World commodities have literally found a big hole and jumped into it and dairy is not immune. Oil has plunged more than 60% since July and Wheat is down 56% since March. It puts into perspective the 24% decline in international dairy commodity prices over the past eight weeks. It is one of the toughest international trading conditions in memory.

“The one message dairy farmers have from this announcement is to tighten our belts and not look for any immediate rebound. That’s sensible given the continuing turmoil on world markets. The shame is that urea and fertiliser costs here in New Zealand remain stubbornly high.

“A critical challenge for the new government is to control compliance costs at both central and local government levels. On-farm inflation has been running rampant over recent years driven largely by compliance. The new government must reign this in, and quickly.

“The Reserve Bank too has to look at this revised payout and factor it into the 4 December OCR announcement.

“I wish to point out that the long term fundamentals for dairy are solid. Adjusted for inflation this still represents one of the better payout indicators since the early 1970s, if it can be maintained. If being a small word with a very large meaning.

“New Zealand farmers provide the staples of life. While people can forego a new car they cannot forego food. That means we are still bullish in the medium to long term but the economic taps are being turned down, ” Mr Leferink concluded.

Paws to Consider -The Clouded Leopard Project Blog

Authored by The President of the Clouded Leopard Project Karen Povey. This is a project based at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium supporting the conservation and research of the endangered Clouded Leopard. We forget sometimes that the cat family has more than just Lions, tigers and our family pets. These beautiful cats are being slowly but surely wiped out by habitat destruction and the illegal fur trade. Check it out it's a great blog and well worth reading.

Off the Farm - Opo the Dolphin Memorial

He's Opo the friendy dolphin. He's friendly as can be. If you should want to learn to swim. You couldn't do better than learn from him. He’ll very soon get you into trim. And he's giving instruction free. Down at good old Opononi by the sea
-from the song 'Opo the Dolphin' by Crombie Murdoch 1956
In the Summer on 1955/56 a friendly young bottle nosed dolphin swam into the Hokianga Harbour and began to play with the local children. She was named Opo after the small coastal settlement of Oponini where she played and frolicked with the locals. Opo became an overnight sensation. Over that warm summer thousands flocked to the Hokianga to experience and see the friendly dolphin. Film crews documented those warm summer days when Opo the Dolphin would come to play. A sad ending though came for the legendary dolphin. She was found lying dead on some rocks - the victim so it was believed from dynamite used for fishing. She's been gone now for fifty two years but perhaps Opo's legend will live on for generations yet. I told my kids the story of Opo and of the time when I was just nine years old having my photograph taken with the memorial to her. My father took the photograph and somewhere it's still there in amongst all the thousands of others my mother still has stored away. I hope to find it one day and show my kids that image, and relive the memory of a magical trip to a little place where a dolphin used to play.

You heard him. You can't see the Wizard!


Around the farm

Not much went on today. Just the weeds, the broken fence staples and a couple of magpies doing their best to give Mr Hawk a hard time. Mr Screech had gone for a holiday maybe. Hard to know. He'll be back no doubt with his little fuzzy brood and the Mrs Screech to start up the neighbourhood disturbance at 5 am tomorrow morning. Was it hot today or was I imagining the half dead chicken on the driveway. Nah just the strange little red hen Picken sunning herself was all Inaya named her. Hope everyone has had a great day or evening depending on which part of the globe and timezone. It was a good day.


Website to check out - Steve Baldwin The Wild Parrots of Brooklyn

Years ago I used to breed Lovebirds, Lorikeets, Indian Ringnecks and Eastern Rosellas. I love parrots. I came across this fantastic website the Wild Parrots of Brooklyn by Steve Baldwin a talented photographer living in New York who is passionate about the wild parrots living in the Brooklyn area. Loads of information of the multitude of different parrot species to be found there accompanied by fantastic photographs including a great photo essay. Check it out - you'll love it!

Red Hot off The Press - Federated Farmers Media Release "Jim's back as opposition agriculture spokesman"

Hot off the email

19 November 2008

‘Jim’s back’ as opposition agriculture spokesman

Leader of the Opposition, Hon Phil Goff, speaking to Federated Farmers National Council in Wellington, confirmed the Hon Jim Anderton, is to become as the Opposition agriculture spokesperson on behalf of both Labour and Progressive parties.

“A strong opposition is important to a robust and democratic political system. Mr Anderton brings much experience and knowledge to his role,” said Don Nicolson, president of Federated Farmers.

Mr Nicolson says Mr Anderton, who was agriculture minister in the last government, has a good understanding of the portfolio area and had become an advocate for farmers.

The announcement to farmers at the Federated Farmers National Council came in response to a question asking if Mr Goff would consider taking on the portfolio. With agriculture bringing in 65 percent of export receipts or $24 billion dollars, it was suggested Mr Goff with his knowledge of trade, would also make a good minister of agriculture.

“Federated Farmers has identified a lack of rural representation in the Labour party and looks forward to building relationships and encouraging better understanding with the reformed Labour and Progressive coalition,” concluded Mr Nicolson.

Was this..Devine Intervention?

Art Stuff - The Wierd & Wonderful

One thing I love about Australia is their wonderful wildlife. While one particular marsupial (the Brush tailed possum pop. 71 million) over here is causing major destruction on my bush and everywhere else in New Zealand - all the others I just think are wonderful. This is a Tree Kangaroo I can't remember which sub species it was that I was drawing. Wonderful creatures and fun to draw. Next time I go over sometime in the next decade before my brother and sister in Gosford start growling again, I'll have to go and see a live one for sure.

Hey! Want a Lettuce?

Every now and then a lovely lady named Barbara turns up in Maungaturoto with lots of lovely fresh vegetables and farm eggs. When she does come everyone is soon there to nab them. Here's some photos of some of the really great people who are in the community.


Art Stuff - African Wildlife "Leo" the Lion

Leo or Aslan or whatever name he might be called was a challenge. He's not perfect but I learned a lot from doing him. I think I'll reread my book I have on Lion anatomy and do a few more drawings. Then do another one. However imperfect he is (there are people out there that are ten times better at this stuff!!) he turned out not half bad. Hope he isn't in my bush.......

Art Stuff - Dingy at Whakapirau

I love Whakapirau it's such a great place just to go and relax for an afternoon and forget all your troubles for a while. I have to keep reminding myself of just how lucky we are to have it at all. A privilege for sure. I did this little dingy one afternoon last year. Sorry about the scribbled notes all over it. It was a fun afternoon for sure.

Red Hot off the Press -Federated Farmers Media Release "Prime Minister-Elect backs farmers to save the economy"

Just received on the email

18 November 2008

Prime Minister-Elect backs farmers to save economy

“New Zealand farmers are global champions at food production and are at the top of the list for economic development,” said Prime Minister-Elect, John Key, to Federated Farmers National Council today in Wellington.

“Mr Key’s speech left us no room for doubt. Farmers are at the core of the new government’s plans to get our economy out of recession. It is clear he is well briefed and informed and has put to us a clear path,” said Federated Farmers president, Don Nicolson.

“Mr Key’s speech reflected the fact that he has read and digested Federated Farmers manifesto, released pre-election. Federated Farmers can confidently sit down with his new ministers after he returns from APEC. We look forward to discussing the review of the emissions trading scheme, reform of the RMA, protection of property rights, infrastructure and animal identification and tracing as well as the Federation’s other top election issues,” Mr Nicolson said.

“Currently the RMA has become skewed towards environmentalism as opposed to the environment.

“Federated Farmers welcomed Mr Key’s appointment of Tim Groser as Trade Minister and New Zealand’s negotiator on climate change. I fully agree with Mr Key that New Zealand needs to get it right in the second commitment period for Kyoto. Mr Key made it clear his government will not put New Zealand farmers out of business ‘just to get a gong from the United Nations’.

“I especially liked it that Mr Key said it was ridiculous farmers were being asked to change with nothing to change to.

“Mr Key said ‘my big concern is we will lose our farming competitive edge to Latin America and we can’t afford to’. Clearly, being the only country proposing to put animal emissions in the ETS would put us as a massive commercial disadvantage. It’s heartening to hear the Prime Minister-Elect acknowledge the risk to our economy,” said Mr Nicolson.

Federated Farmers was also encouraged that the incoming government understands the need to build rural infrastructure including the need for water storage that will assist water allocation, as well as rural broadband, transportation and investment in medical and social services for rural areas

Hot off the Press- Federated Farmers Media Release "The Time to claim back our future is right her,right now." Don Nicolson open address

These speech notes are quite lengthy but worth a read.


9.45am, 17 November 2008

Don Nicolson opening address to Federated Farmers National Council

The time to claim back our future is right here, right now.

Icon, Te Papa Wellington

Good morning and welcome to National Council 2008.

This is your national council and my first as your president.

It is perhaps auspicious that we start this council on the birthday of George Gallup, the American pollster, for the theme of this conference revolves around politics.

The importance of farming and Federated Farmers is underscored by the Prime Minister-Elect, John Key speaking in his first major public engagement since the General Election. Later today you will hear from Jeanette Fitzsimons and tomorrow morning, the new Leader of the Opposition, Phil Goff. We had Rodney Hide from Act speaking tomorrow but he sends his apologies as he is now required in parliament to be sworn in. The Maori Party also sends their apologies.

So why are the political leaders coming to see us?

It is because they know that New Zealand will not turn the economic corner without us.

We are the engine room of the economy. 65% of everything we sell to the world comes from our land and sea.

Stand tall. We farmers seem to be an under appreciated group of over achievers standing between recession and a deep depression.

Despite years of economic experimentation the importance of farming to our economy has grown, not diminished.

In saying this I am reminded of a Chinese curse that goes ‘don’t wish too hard for what you want as you might get end up getting it.’

We now have a government that is making the right sounds.

My pledge to you is to ensure this election results in tangible benefits for farming.

Treat us with respect and dignity and economic prosperity is assured. Don’t and the future is bleak.

Wasn’t it amazing that farmers got only one mention in a leaders’ debate, and that was in response to the video question, ‘why is New Zealand the only country on earth to include farm animals in an emissions trading scheme?’

Yes indeed.

Frank Brenmuhl along with Conor English and I, have just returned from meeting with the International Federation of Agricultural Producers.

They too asked us why New Zealand is going down this track when Kyoto doesn’t ask for it, doesn’t require it and doesn’t expect it. They are shocked and concerned.

This is bad in a world with 800 million hungry people and with world food reserves down to a mere 35 days.

To prove it is not a third world issue, in May, the United States had only enough bushels of wheat in reserve to make one loaf of bread for each of its 300 million citizens.

We have been too defensive as a profession, for we are a profession.

Our politicians and media too are inward looking and I guess, we are all guilty of being a little bit too kiwi.

It seems a peculiarly New Zealand disease that we can’t recognize a good thing when we see it.

Let us remind ourselves how Chris Trotter described us in his weekly column earlier this year:

“Backbone of the nation; earners of our overseas funds; selfish; insular; and possessed of a sense of moral superiority over everyone whose front door looks out upon a street instead of a paddock.”

Stand tall farmers. The Oram and Trotter prophets of doom are wrong.

We are the sunrise industry. The alpha and omega of New Zealand’s future. The once and future driver of the New Zealand economy.

We are a good for the world.

I’m not just talking about the tens of millions who look to us to sustain their families. I’m talking about our environment, locally and globally.

In this I wish to send a clear and unambiguous message to the environmental lobbyists. Those who do, farm. Those who don’t, don’t and generally couldn’t.

It’s high time to tell our story and what a compelling story it is.

The new government must prove to us they are pro economic advancement and not economic regression. Farming by permit would be disaster.

I am heartened to see the new National led government listening to farmers on the Emissions Trading Scheme.

It was our concerted campaign over the last few years that now has the ETS undergoing review.

Not only that but we also won a policy commitment to amend the much loved resource management act.

Sadly the review of compensation is to take place after the first 100 days. We’ll keep a close eye on this but my message to the government is to act with decisive resolve and do what is right.

Give us the full authority over our own land.

I wish to pay tribute to former president Charlie Pedersen and his team and more latterly, to my team, for convincing National and Act to amend the RMA and that the inclusion of farm animals in the ETS is high folly.

I don’t want you to think the ETS is dead, gone and buried.

Both the National and Labour blocks have embraced climate change.

I know there are sceptics here but we must live in the world of political reality and National is signed up to an ETS of some form.

In 1985 New Zealand agriculture went cold turkey on subsidies and embraced the original ETS, an Efficiency Trading Scheme. Aside from your Federation, no one recognised this in the lead up to the emissions trading farce.

At the time we were told the world would follow.

23-years later we are still waiting. New Zealand remains the western world’s only beacon of unsubsidised agriculture.

Our mission as your Federation is to ensure the new ETS does not replicate the same mistakes of the one rushed through Parliament with indecent haste in the lead up to the general election.

A root and branch review is one thing.

Ensuring it does what it is meant to do is another. A badly constructed emissions scheme will be the death knell for agriculture in New Zealand. This is not melodrama but fact.

There is no room in any way, shape or form for farm animals in any Emissions Trading Scheme.

To gauge how wrong the last government got it, speak with your colleagues from Europe, the Americas, Asia and Africa. Last week, in Canberra, they shook their heads in utter disbelief at why farm animals were included in our ETS.

Our efficiency as farmers means we farm with the lowest carbon footprint in the world.

New Zealand’s farmers act globally by farming locally. I’ll repeat that, New Zealand’s farmers act globally by farming locally.

I have a loud message for the incoming Government and for the Opposition. Do not include or advocate for farm animals in any emissions scheme.

23-years after we got off the subsidies drug the situation for agriculture has flipped.

Farmers face the perverse situation that people are being subsidised to fight farming and infrastructure development, through the Environmental Legal Defense Fund.

Councils are telling us what we have to do with our land ‘for the benefit of wider society,’ but with no requirement to compensate us for loss of productive land or productivity.

Even our export processors are demanding animal tracing and identification so that they can have a marketing advantage with NAIT. Guess who’ll subsidise this? Yes us yet again. Will it provide the guarantees they claim, no it won’t.

This is why I return to the emissions trading scheme as it illustrates the mountain we have to climb.

Before the review our lobbying won, it was a plan to redistribute our efficiency to the rest of the world. We were being touted as the first in the world yet again to create a so called marketing advantage, sound familiar?

I ask why should we be a farming light brigade charging blindly into an emissions trading valley of economic death?

With the ETS you can’t get better by producing much less. With the ETS you can’t pay for schools, healthcare and social services with agricultural production in reverse gear.

Your Federation and I have much to do on both sides of the Treasury benches.

This work has to be bipartisan.

We have to work with Labour as much as with National to take the politics out of agriculture.

There is little point in winning with one party only to lose when the other takes power three, six or nine years later.

While I applaud National and David Carter’s appointment this is muted for the moment. Let’s wait until 14 April 2009 to review the changes of the first 100 days.

There are big expectations of delivery and RMA compensation is to be looked at after this first 100 days.

In the meantime, you and I, must convince the government’s urban MPs and those of the Opposition, that New Zealand’s on-farm efficiency means we are a climate force for good, in a world that needs more food, not less.

We need to get our MPs on side to see the day-to-day issues that block us from realizing our fullest potential. We must front foot our dealings with politicians and turn them from spectators to cheerleaders.

We need our marketers, producers and promoters to tell the world the good story New Zealand’s farmers have crafted over generations.

We also must actively dispel the myth that we can make more money with less production.

Less is not more in agriculture and while loathe to quote Stalin, I think he had a point when he said ‘quantity has a quality all of its own.’

New Zealand’s farmers have uniquely responded with both quality and quantity.

Despite this our sheep and beef farmers have suffered the worst prices for five decades and the commodity outlook for dairy is uncertain.

Supermarkets, whether in New Zealand or London, have seen their profits soar.

As our returns have imploded theirs have exploded.

This is what puts a fire in my belly and a passion to fight for a better industry. To New Zealand’s farmers it seems like too many are having an ever increasing chunk of the ‘hand that feeds’ the economy.

The increasing volume of regulation encourages employment in the state sector to expand adding extra costs we farmers all pay for.

I wish to put this at a human scale.

In 1999 government cost every man, women and child in New Zealand $9,382. By 2007 the cost of government had soared to $17,019. $17,019 for what?

Did the health and education system improve by such a rate? Did we suddenly find our society was a much safer place to live? Did our productivity magically double?

The result of this means we farmers have to squeeze more from the environment we work within.

Farmers know that they must work the land in a way that does not compromise future food production potential by damaging the environment.

We run ecosystems. They’re called farms.

It angers me to see lobby groups suggest we farmers are not paying our fair share and that we ignore the environmental costs of our farming operations.

These groups make spurious claims that the use of natural resources is actually reducing the wider community’s quality of life.

I’m so pleased to say that we caught out Fish & Game and Forest & Bird on this score with our peer review on their report into water quality. The lack of denial on their behalf is deafening.

Federated Farmers will not accept spurious claims and pseudo scientific research on my watch.

We must challenge these badly constructed reports with facts and reason. If we don’t it impugns our reputation as one of the most trusted professions in New Zealand.

Stand tall farmers.

We farmers will no longer accept a policy nexus that has retarded us from farming to our full potential.

Policies such as the RMA, inflexible employment law, under investment in training, a lack of infrastructure investment in roads, rural broadband, water storage and much more, all means we are probably farming only at 60% of our potential.

Each week, incrementally, it is getting tougher to farm. That has to stop. It will stop.

Your Federation’s response is to work for a policy environment that will enable farmers to get on and produce food. That started in the week of the election with a manifesto that is now in the hands of John Key, Phil Goff and our other political leaders.

The secret is that we have no agenda aside from producing food that families eat. Food that is exported to the world creating wealth here in New Zealand. Food that defines our soul and our character as a nation.

We are the ultimate greens and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Stand tall farmers; the time to claim back our future is right here, right now.

Off the Farm - National Bank Building Paparoa Circa 1914

Now home to the Sahara Restaurant in Paparoa. This building won an award for its restoration. A few stories go with the former National Bank. One of them involved a bank clerk named David Dafaur who went missing at nearby Pahi in 1912 before the erection of this particular building. He and a friend had been at the Pahi Hotel before heading off back to Paparoa. His friend fell off his horse and had died from a broken neck. David Dafaur had returned to the Pahi Hotel in a state of shock and for some reason had gone to the nearby wharf where his hat blew into the water. He had dived in after it leaving his bank keys behind on the wharf which were found. He was feared drowned and some suspicion was raised in regard to the finances at the bank. The accounts were found to be in good order. David Dafaur was found a day later sitting on the door step of the bank soaking wet and looking the worse for wear. He recovered later in hospital in Auckland before serving in World War 1 returning later to New Zealand. The Kauri Museum were handed a photo of David Dafaur recently. The entire affair of David Dafaurs' disappearance was headlined in the papers of the time as "The Paparoa Mystery". Such were the nature of those times.


A Picture that really did say a few words with great meaning

While sorting out through my pile of bits and pieces in the art box I came across a small clipping I had snipped out of a magazine in 1999. The picture "Storm Warning" by New Zealand artist Colin McCahon. The value then of the painting stood at NZ$1.5 million. The contraversy surrounding its sale by Victoria University was second to none. The painting was considered to be a public artwork and of significance in the art world. The painting was subsequently sold to private collectors and eventually was diplayed in the new Adam Art Gallery at the university. This is still my favourite New Zealand painting of all time and by a man of immense talent to go with the words written on the image.

What Happened After Leo and Fairy forgot to put in the plug

Whoops Leo and Fairy you had better tell your Hooman the truth now you have had your first Purrthdays that Leo forgot to put the plug back in and....a Minion of Basement cat came through ur drain and took all your new toys!!!

Very Hot off the Press - Federated Farmers Media Release Ministerial appointments welcomed by farmers

This just received on the email

17 November 2008

Ministerial appointments welcomed by farmers

Federated Farmers president, Don Nicolson, has welcomed confirmation the Hon David Carter MP is New Zealand’s next Minister of Agriculture and Forestry and that Finance Minister, the Hon. Bill English MP, will be taking on the key Infrastructure portfolio.

“David Carter will bring practical farming experience to the portfolio and to the cabinet table. Bill English’s appointment as Minster of Infrastructure perfectly ties up the issues of funding and delivery.

“Both Ministers know how rough things have been for farming, especially for meat and fibre producers suffering their worst returns for five decades. That makes it vitally important we have the infrastructure tools, such as water storage, to ensure we can farm profitability for New Zealand.

“The squeeze on farm profitability is a big issue for our members. We’ll be looking to Mr Carter for initiatives that will help alleviate the compliance burden farmers are shouldering. In this I am certain he will find common ground with Act’s Rodney Hide, as that person is Minister of Local Government and for Regulatory Reform. Two areas of interest for farmers.

“Mr Carter is a very good political operator. I know he is comfortable working with parties on all sides of the spectrum in the MMP environment. These skills are needed to get cross party consensus on the prime driver of the New Zealand economy, agriculture,” Mr Nicolson said.

Federated Farmers felt the current economic climate presented New Zealand with a lot of challenges. The country is in recession facing fiscal, trade and balance of payments deficits. Farming represents New Zealand's best option to lift its economic performance. Farmers looked to the new Minister and the National-led government to facilitate what amounts to an ‘agricultural wave.’

“If I can voice one disappointment that is Mr Carter’s Cabinet rank of ten. I would have hoped agriculture and Mr Carter deserved a much higher ranking to send the important signal that New Zealand needs to farm its way out of recession.”

“Federated Farmers looks forward to sitting down with the new ministerial teams to discuss the review of the emissions trading scheme, RMA reform, property rights, animal identification and tracing as well as the Federation’s other top election issues," Mr Nicolson concluded.

Miracles do happen after all and I have a huge smile on my face

Right now I am smiling. For two long weeks I have been hunting high and low for two small but very important pieces of paper. Birth Certificates and could I find them? NO! So I ordered some new ones. They never arrived. Postal service are still searching for them. Doesn't matter now Inaya and I both had the strong feeling we had turned our entire house into a replica of a nuclear strike zone for - really nothing. but in process some things we had been looking for have now been found. Now I can sort out things. Great ! Little please to the powers that be-paid off. Anyway that is a huge relief and I found my little friend here. He's a little Rwandan Mountain Gorilla. I did him about five years ago - for practice. Glad I did.

Ding-Gobble! Our Turkey Door Bell

Turkeys are downright ugly and Hoi Hoi was no exception. If you've read the caption beneath my mugshot you'll know I have a bad habit of collecting baby animals. Hoi Hoi was no exception. Found still hatching out of his egg, after mother turkey had decided this egg wasn't going to stay in her nest anymore. Softy here took pity on the still hatching turkey chick and shoved him into her pocket, before carrying on with the spraying I was doing at the time. At 3 pm the kids came home and well the decision was final when the girls saw a little turkey chick begging to be saved. Turkeys are difficult to raise so I was told by one of locals. Hoi Hoi needed company so off we went down to Koanga Gardens and came home with two more fuzzy babies. Sadly one weakened and died a day later. Maggie and Hoi Hoi grew up together and if anyone turned up at the farm Hoi Hoi would start gobbling and kick up a fuss. One good thing it kept my former in-laws from coming into the gate and start causing me and the kids more trouble.(LOL) Sadly Hoi Hoi dislocated his leg and died just a short time after his accident. I miss Hoi Hoi strangely enough and so does my Mum - she used to spoil him rotten with treats every time she came to visit.

A note From Augie on the Pet Stroller

Augie Ray who markets the Pet Stroller kindly left his side of the story with the Pet Stroller. Augie pointed out that while I may think it's stupid there really is a practical reason why this product is marketed and besides this blog encourages healthy debate. I try not to offend people and appreciate the feedback Augie stated this:

You posted a link to our site. Thanks, even if you think the product is stupid.

But, if you don't mind a different perspective on pet strollers, please remember that not all dogs and cats are alike. You ask, "Don't cats and dogs have four legs." Well, no, not all do. Some are injured, and some older pets cannot get around like they used.

Even pets with four healthy legs can still benefit from a pet stroller. They're great for older pet owners, valued by people who want to take dogs to places leashed animals might not be welcome (like outdoor cafes), and are helpful for permitting cats to get fresh air (since it is dangerous to permit felines to wander free out of doors in cities and suburbs.)

Just wanted to share a different perspective. Not all dogs, cats, and pet owners alike. While many people may not need or want a pet stroller, there are many who do!

Augie thank you. I grew up in the city so I can relate to the points you have made.

Seriously if someone does have a need because their pet is injured, old or needs that little bit extra TLC check out Augie's Pet Stroller


Wildfires destroying hundreds of California Homes

I picked this article up on the NZ Herald site this morning. Hundreds of Californian Homes have been burnt to the ground. Let's think of those affected who don't have a home to go back to tonight and the brave people who are laying their lives on the line to put the fires out. Thinking of you guys in California - hang in there.

Off the Farm - Old Church Oruawharo Topuni Northland New Zealand

I had always wanted to pay this place a visit and finally had the chance a few weeks ago. This little church has quite a history with it and has a strong connection with the history of our own local area. Orauwharo was where the Wesleyan missionary Reverend William Gittos had his original mission during the early years of colonial settlement. He was the son of Benjamin Gittos who fled their home at "Ingleton" at Hokianga, taking his family to Auckland when local Maori began attacked the settlements in Northland. William remained worked as a carpenter in Auckland before going to Melbourne in 1853 He returned to New Zeland in 1855 and was ordained as the Reverend William Gittos. Rev. Gittos held a strong influence in the local communities scattered around the upper reaches of Kaipara Harbour. Thanks to Timepsanner for the correct information. More on the Gittos Family can be found on Timespanner. It's a great blog I love the stories and the history Timespanner has taken time out to research then post on the net. Way to go Timespanner!


The Legendary Purple Death - and it's real!

Sapich Brothers Wines in Henderson Auckland NZ many years ago produced a deadly purple brew aptly names Purple Death. It's a liqueor and it's absolutely legendary for not only it's powerful kick, but for the label that comes on the bottle. I figured that by now the old favourite would have died a quiet death. Not good old Purple Death. Read the label very carefully - believe me it's absolutely genuine. Good old Sapich Brothers for keeping the legend alive.

Mr Screech all ready for Christmas Cheer by Inaya

Inaya was going to throw this great picture of Mr Screech in the bin. No way would I let her. She had even signed it like I do when I do my cartoons. Mr Screech has got his Santa's hat on all ready for December 25th. No sign of the Screech Clan today I'm figuring they must have decided to have lunch somewhere else. I still like their big giant pink feet. Great birds but noisy and they eat my plants sometimes mutter....Hope you like Inaya's efforts. I think it's awesome. So no this one won't be visiting the bin -ever.

Really Stupid inventions for your pets

Feather Previously "Grumpy Chicken" took her new role as Fashion Poultry like a star
Actually she is so tame (we hand raised her) she didn't mind and no she wasn't harmed.

Just for fun I did a google search on really stupid pet products and came up with one heck of an interesting list.

  • Nail Polish for dogs - are they insane?
  • Wigs for dogs - useful maybe if you have a premature hair loss (the owner that is)
  • Cat Clothing - ah....but cats have fur why do they need clothes for?
  • A cat 'merkin' - some kind of wierd fur attachment that you use to cover up your kitties shaved fur after they've had surgery. Okay...do they have that for politicians? A paper bag maybe? Or better still a dumpster bin.
  • Pet Stroller - design stolen most likely from that New Zealand couple that invented the original one for kids. Don't cats and dogs have four legs. Why do they need three wheels as well -ah ha! I know for that extra mileage when oil prices go up again.
Those five above were listed on the Extraordinary Pet Blog as being the five most pointless pet products.

And if you're into Pet Fashion and style check out Pet Style News

And on the Farm here..Inaya came up that little number in the photo. A Chicken Boa for your...cat? Or maybe we should just forget the whole design concept completely. I'll go back into my hole now and thumb through my Pet Fashion Magazine - the one that says NZ Farmer's Weekly wonder if they have clothes for chickens. Hate to have wondered about that..... or...this which had...a gold fish walker?

This one I just can't explain - Devil Bunnies

Timespanner tends to send me some really brilliant links and this one just topped the lot.

Devil Bunnies (not real ones of course!!) The top of the webpage starts like this

"After falling down a rabbit hole, you seem to have stumbled upon a whole new world.

The first hint is the axe wielding man wearing a battered Stetson hat alongside a fourteen foot ferrotti, battling a horde of cute bunny rabbits. They fight valiantly, but without hope of success against the fluffy odds.

In a flash of insight you realize you have fallen into the reality of:........."

I think Basement Cat has some fluffy competition..check it out

Don't lose your Gravity!