2009-01-10

Moons,corn,old things, noisy chickens and the end of Mrs Screech


I realised today I hadn't posted anything yesterday apart from the media release that was. Just Federated Farmers making their point known. Fair enough too. Blog catching up - I am slowly but surely getting there. Rachel at Kyfarm Life has some great photos posted of organising the hay for the feeding out plus some great dawn shots and some of the horses having a great old time. Check it out.

One of my cousins asked me recently if I'd ever consider moving back to Auckland City where I grew up lived and work. For now that answer is a big clear No. I'm sitting here at the computer watching a hawk circling over the trees figuring on how he's going to get the ringnecked pheasant busily making his presence known to half of the local neighbourhood. Mr Screech is outside eyeing up the chicken's food and as usual screeching his head off. We found out Mrs Screech had been run over by a truck which explains why we have a single Screech here instead of the clan. Such is life here on our crazy farm. Would I change it - not right now I wouldn't. Rain is predicted but so far zilch happening there.


Yesterday the kids and I ended up going to Maungaturoto to get some lunch and have a look around in the shops. I saw Julie one of the local cafe owners. I had restored her once very sad looking roadside sign for her. Next thing I know the kids and I are being given a gecko template a can of gold spraypaint, and a step ladder. Well we trudged down the road with all this stuff, ended up having to hike through a paddock so we could avoid getting zapped by a very powerful mains electric fence. I hate heights and shaking in my jandals (gumboots were left at home) there I was up on a ladder doing a silhouette of this gecko with a can of gold spray paint. And here's the result.
We we got back to the cafe hot and bothered, and were treated by Julie to a wonderful lunch and cold milkshakes - really awesome of her to do that. While we were in her cafe I spotted this old Tip Top tin tray. Pre 1974 at least because they're using the old imperial measurement. Strangely enough Tip-Tip has a family connection. My great-uncle Harold Kinniburgh used to be on the Tip-Top Board of Directors. So I was really thrilled to see it there on display for everyone to enjoy.
Heading home we spotted a local family selling corn on the side of the road. So we ended up getting some actually today. Yesterday though I took some photos...bad habit that.

Around sunset I spotted the moon just coming out and the sky was still blue in the east.

About 5 minutes later the sun back lit the clouds with stunning pinks and I got this shot. It was awesome to see. I wish I had a digital SLR which would show a better image of the real scene. In another year maybe ten I'll get one. Kentucky is still on the number one things to save for list.

This morning two very noisy hens decided to have a cackling match right outside the house. Maggie May and Feather the dumb chicken were making one heck of a racket. Lucky for them they won't ever go in my pot. Not these two. We hand raised both of them from day old chicks. Maggie hatched Feather in 2006, but we raised her since Maggie just wanted to pick at the chicks. Three roosters and one hen. The roosters of course are no longer here. I've got more to blog about but this post is long enough and I have some more blogs to read. So I'll say Hi Guys!!! I'll be over to visit really soon.

2009-01-09

Media Release - Spilled hydro water highlights untapped economic resource

Spilled hydro water highlights untapped economic resource

“What could farmers on the North Island’s east coast do with a smidgen of the water Meridian Energy is currently spilling from its southern lakes?” asks Hugh Ritchie, Federated Farmers water spokesperson.

While the North Island’s east coast is parched by low rainfall and high temperatures, the southern hydro lakes are at full capacity. Approximately 200 cubic metres a second is being spilled from Lake Benmore; enough to fill six Olympic sized swimming pools every minute. Federated Farmers points to the first spill at Benmore since 2004 to highlight the need for increased water storage throughout New Zealand.

“Lake Benmore shows us that we don’t lack for rain or snow in either island. We just lack the means to store it in most parts of the country,” Mr Ritchie said.

“Many parts of the country have a surfeit of water over autumn, winter and spring but come summer, our towns and cities face hosepipe bans. Why does this occur in a country with a maritime climate like ours?

“The negative economic impacts of drought are well known by farmers and economists. Last year’s drought is widely attributed with tipping the economy into recession, affecting every single person in New Zealand.

“Federated Farmers is positive that summer can be transformed into a fully productive season in many parts of New Zealand. Given the primary sector contributes two-thirds of all export revenue, the opportunity to increase productivity upwards of a quarter is a major economic opportunity. Water storage is literally an economic magic bullet.

“David Carter, the new Minister of Agriculture, deserves praise for placing water storage centre stage. But he is only one voice in Cabinet. The crux of the issue is that water storage is all about economic growth and transformation. Using only a small percentage of that which runs out to sea will make a huge economic difference,” Mr Ritchie concluded.

Federated Farmers economics and commerce spokesperson, Philip York, used the water spilling out of Lake Benmore to repeat Federated Farmers support of greater transparency in the electricity industry. The Federation is a member of the Consumer Coalition on Energy (CC93) which has been calling for a review of the electricity market. The Federation asks if it is now time to examine the profits made by electricity suppliers.

“Federated Farmers’ members want to know if electricity suppliers are giving their customers a fair deal or not. That’s why we support the Electricity Commission forcing companies to reveal their cost components by way of enhanced disclosure and why we want the Government to undertake a review of the electricity market.

“Members are calling me and this reveals a lot of uncertainty as to whether the profits being made by electricity suppliers are reasonable or not. This uncertainty undermines confidence in the entire electricity market. Transparency is in the best interests of everyone,” Mr York concluded.

2009-01-08

Cat takeover on the table top and other mad goings on

Sometimes I wonder if this place I live in really is truly mad. The media releases seemed to be working overtime after me hoping things would be nice and quiet - not. The stench of bog odour has finally been washed away. A slight dose of sunstroke has totalled me over completely so it's lay off the farm work just a bit. Things have still gotta be done as we who live on farms big or small all know. Breakfast came and went then this happened...........

Lets just say this one is a Table Cat - maybe a watch cat for Celing Cat or a secret Basement Cat minion pretending to be on Celing Cat's side...hmm I'll let the majority decide there.........

Another scorcher and I'm hoping rain will come very soon. The kids and I decided after being roasted all day an icecream at the local petrol station was the order of the day. I have been trying to catch up with everyone's blogs..failure on my part to even get there with everything going nuts..

Hope everyone is well and still having a great new year. I'll be over to say Hi as soon as I can the old fatigue has been a little more than usual these last few days. I over did it draining the bog but it beats getting eaten alive by mosquitos for sure.

Media Release - New report reveals farm input costs decline

New report reveals farm input costs decline

“Agribusiness lender Rabobank revealed yesterday that skyrocketing fertiliser prices are finally on the decline,” says Philip York, Federated Farmers economics and commerce spokesperson.

“Following the record high prices of 2008, Federated Farmers is delighted with the results of the Rabobank report, Farm inputs – the key to productivity.

“Farmers struggling with high on-farm inflation and increasing rates will be jubilant to hear US dollar prices for major inputs like fertiliser have fallen by up to 75 percent. This provides some relief for farmers. Previously rising input prices and declining commodity prices have forced farmers to closely examine on-farm costs.

“The 2008 season will be remembered for the rise and fall in world food commodity prices. On farm inflation has also been a major factor impacting profitability. We hope the latest cost decrease signals a turnaround for 2009. International fertiliser prices are expected to remain low for the next three years due to increased production and the low cost of crude oil.

“The next challenge will be for Government, local and central, to tackle farm compliance costs. Farmers are also under pressure from increasing rates. These must be constrained as councils move to review their Long Term Council Community Plans,” Mr York concluded.

2009-01-07

Media Release - Latest Fonterra auction reveals need for independent review

7 January 2008

Latest Fonterra auction reveals need for independent review

"The latest 9.3 percent fall in the price of Whole Milk Powder (WMP) on Fonterra’s new internet-based auction highlights the need for an independent review of the auction system,” says Lachlan McKenzie, Federated Farmers Dairy spokesperson.

“Commonsense tells us that an auction in a bear market only makes for happy buyers. Fonterra’s auction seems locked in a downward spiral with prices off a jaw-dropping 54 percent since July.

“Supplier-shareholders need to know whether this auction system is extracting maximum value out of WMP and frankly I don’t think it is. Given this rate of decline, will we be paying buyers to take milk powder by this time next year?

“Late last month Federated Farmers asked for a Fonterra-led review of the system to assure supplier-shareholders. This was dismissed at the time. The latest auction result means we must now call for an independent review.

“There is a lot of uncertainty out there and the new auction system is only adding to that uncertainty. Farmers look at the near vertical drop in WMP prices since July 2008 with the new auction system. They then have to brace themselves for an almost certain cut in the forecast milksolids payout later this month.

“That’s why an independent review of the auction system is needed. What shareholder-suppliers want is confidence that Fonterra is acting in their interests. If an independent review found nothing wrong we would be extremely pleased. Then again, a review might throw up alternatives to the auction system that will improve returns back to supplier-shareholders.

“A greater return for your hard effort is what farmers work long hours for,” Mr McKenzie concluded.

Media Release - Value of compulsory national ID scheme questioned

7 January 2009

Value of compulsory national ID scheme questioned

“If the proposed compulsory national ID system for livestock isn’t about food assurance and boosting farmer returns, then why on earth is the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry pouring millions of dollars into it?," asked Lachlan McKenzie, Federated Farmers board spokesperson.

Federated Farmers is asking this question after a major meat export company said the Federation was confused about food safety and traceability. This company said it wished to see New Zealand copy Australia’s visual tag requirement for sheep, introduced into Australia on 1 January 2009. A mandatory visual tag requirement was introduced after Australia failed a periodic European Union audit. The Federation also expressed concern that this supposed model, the Australian National Livestock Identification System (NLIS), is prone to data error. According to the Australian Beef Association, between 20-30 percent of the data on the NLIS system is incorrect.

“Some of the claims about the proposed compulsory animal ID scheme, called National Animal Identification and Tracing, or NAIT, are just unreal. The fundamental issue for farmers is this, if it doesn’t add to food assurance over and above our current world-class New Zealand Food Safety Authority (NZFSA) and doesn’t generate more income for farmers and this country, then what’s the point?,” Mr McKenzie asked.

“Brazilian beef got kicked out of the EU because Brazil has endemic foot and mouth. Brazil lacks the same controls and assurances that New Zealand’s Animal Health Board (AHB) and NZFSA provide. These are controls and assurances the EU and our other trading partners are happy with and accept. We are currently recognised as the best in the world and NAIT will add nothing to vital food assurance.

“NAIT advocates claim it will make New Zealand food exports a premium product living up to our ‘clean and green’ image. If that’s true, then why hasn’t one of the major meat processing companies offered farmers a substantial price differential to adopt a voluntary animal ID system?

“NAIT advocates further claim it will aid ‘rapid’ market re-entry if we ever suffered a biosecurity incursion. I have a two word answer to that - South Korea.

“While it took the Americans five long years to get their beef back into South Korea last year, causing mass riots in the process, they have, within a few short months, shot back to the number two slot for imported beef in that market.

“The big loser in the Korean market is Australia, which has compulsory animal ID but has never suffered from BSE. Despite this, they are rapidly losing a large chunk of this market to the Americans who have suffered BSE and operate a voluntary animal ID system.

“While New Zealand’s share of the Korean market is down slightly since the Americans re-entered, our lack of compulsory animal ID is not an issue. What sets us apart is the high NZFSA and AHB standards accepted by the Koreans, the Europeans and our other trading partners.

“This tells Federated Farmers that a voluntary animal ID scheme aimed at proving the concept, systems and economic value to farmers, is the only logical way forward. It also requires the meat processors to put up or shut up on the value return they claim animal ID would bring farmers,” Mr McKenzie concluded.

2009-01-06

I smell like a Bog Monster!!!!!


I'm surprised no one can smell me from across the globe, not even a shower has got rid of the stench of stagnant bog water - yuk.

After finally breaking the back of the infamous Mozzie Stronghold. The bog has been emptied. The goldfish are having a wonderful time in their newly extended pond eating lots of Mozzie Wriggle creatures, who will have no future as Squadron leaders anytime soon. I had to go into the fishpond and lift up some of the water lilies and move them so oxygen would go into the new part of the pond. In the meantime I had a wonderful conversation with several frogs and the goldfish trying to work out what the strange stilt creature was doing mucking up their pond. More to do but that can wait for a couple of days. I've had it.

The Terrorist no longer has a playmate. The Kamakaze Calf was returned safely to her owners this afternoon thank goodness. Today has been scorching hot, same as yesterday. The cattle of are going through around 200 litres of water a day and the horses around the same. Sasha is continuing to put on weight which is a good sign. The good grass and the change of feed has helped greatly. My diagnosis of Picken the Chicken's vitamin E deficiency was spot on. She's improved a lot and isn't falling over so often. Good sign there.


I am going to try and get some art work done and forget my very painful sunburn for a couple of days. And finally get over to all my favourite blogs and read them!!!! Well I am going to go now and find some very strong smelling perfume. I wonder if Chanel has a Bog Water Scent available....

Investigations begin into Dargaville fire

Investigations begin into Dargaville fire

7:28AM Tuesday January 06, 2009

Source: Newstalk ZB/NZPA

The scene of a big blaze in the Northland town of Dargaville, 5th Jan 2009 (Source: ONE News)

ONE NewsThe scene of a big blaze in the Northland town of Dargaville, 5th Jan 2009

Fire Safety Investigators are expected to arrive at the scene of a big blaze in the Northland town of Dargaville.

Two fire crews are still at the scene of the fire which destroyed five shops on Monday night.

The blaze started in a paint shop in Normandy Street around 7.30pm and took nearly two hours to put out.

It quickly spread to two neighbouring buildings, a video store and a decorations shop.

About 100 fire personnel were called in to control the blaze which was brought under control after about 2 1/2 hours.

No one was injured and the buildings were believed to be empty when the fire started and with no toxic fumes reported there had been no evacuation orders.

Dargaville Volunteer Fire Brigade chief fire officer Mitch King said the service received many calls saying there was a building on fire between Victoria and Normanby Sts.

King says firefighters found an interiors store, where the fire was believed to have started, well ablaze.

"Due to the ferocity and size of the fire it was unable to be contained and more fire trucks and crews were needed from several centres around Kaipara, Whangarei and Maungaturoto," he says.

Owner of Foster's Home Decorating Ken Foster said he watched helplessly as his furniture shop went up in flames at around 7.30pm.

He said the business he and his wife Elain had worked hard to build up over many years was just a blazing inferno with an estimated stock loss of $500,000 and the building containing it, believed to be around $1.5 million.

"My whole life's in there mate and we'd just about done 26 years," he told the Dargaville and Districts News.

Foster says the couple bought the building in 1994, having moved in from premises across the road.

They then built it up to an up-market furniture store and Resene colour shop.

Foster says the building was insured for replacement value.

King says the fire was the biggest the town has seen since the mid-1960s, and about five business premises believed to be aged around 70 to 80 years old, had been destroyed.

Sourced from TVNZ Website

Lion Man auctions photos on eBay

Lion Man auctions photos on eBay
Sunday Jan 04, 2009

Autographed pictures of Lion Man Craig Busch and his big cats are being sold on an internet auctions site.

It's Busch's last-ditch attempt to drum up some cash for the costly court battle with his mother Patricia over the future of the Zion Wildlife Park near Whangarei.

He is offering the 14 x 21cm photos on eBay in a bid to be reunited with the 42 lions, tigers and other species kept at Zion, the Sunday News reported today.

The photos feature a lion, tiger or cheetah under the heading 'Signed lion man photos - help Craig Busch return to Zion'.

In the advert, the Lion Man asks bidders to buy a photo to help him buy back the park.

He has written on the auction site that his employment dispute with his mother goes to court later this month. In the meantime "he has to ask permission every time he wants to go to and from the Lion Park where he lives, and is denied access to the animals he loves and who love him".

Some of the photos have already been snapped up, with the first going for $79 and the second for $262.

More photos will be put up for auction in the coming weeks.

Last month, a High Court judge refused to grant Mr Busch an interim injunction, as he tried to get control of his Whangarei wildlife park back off his mother.

TV personality Busch had alleged Patricia Busch had overstepped her authority in sidelining him from the business he built up, after she injected money to keep it operating.

Busch agreed to let his mother take over in 2006 after a period of personal difficulty. He was convicted that year of assaulting his partner.

Mrs Busch raised a loan of about $1.7 million against her own property to repay her son's company and personal debt.

In exchange, she was given power of attorney, sole directorship and her son's shares in the wildlife company.

Justice Heath suggested Busch sell his shares, or have Mrs Busch buy them, or sell the park to a third party.

It is likely to return to court later this month if mediation does not resolve the conflict.

- NZPA

From the New Zealand Herald Website

Media Release - Rainfall reduces immediate drought risk but the North Island’s East Coast remains a concern

6 January 2009

Rainfall reduces immediate drought risk but the North Island’s East Coast remains a concern

“Rains in late December have helped relieve the immediate risk of drought in parts of East Coast of the North Island. However, existing soil moisture deficits and high daily temperatures in Gisborne-Wairoa and the Hawke’s Bay mean that by late January, conditions could be of concern to Federated Farmers,” said Frank Brenmuhl, Federated Farmers’ adverse events spokesperson.

Good rainfall in the Waikato has provided a degree of relief for that province and the same applies to much of Canterbury. Indeed, North Canterbury suffered a narrow but intense hailstorm Saturday, causing damage to arable crops estimated at a cost of over six figures. This showed the diverse nature of adverse events that Federated Farmers assists its members with.

"Our current focus is on the East Coast of the North Island. The Gisborne-Wairoa province has had below average rainfall for nine of the last twelve months. This includes June and August right through to December. The lack of winter and spring rain has resulted in soil moisture deficits hitting 160 millimetres in many parts of the province. With daily temperatures hovering around 30o Celsius, soil moisture deficit is getting worse.

“Not far behind Gisborne-Wairoa is the Hawke’s Bay. The last significant rainfall in the Hawke’s Bay was on Christmas Eve but the picture is very different north and south of Napier. To the north, good rainfall in December means it is tolerable for the moment but high daily temperatures are now seeing it backslide. To the south of Napier, very little rain fell over much of the province and conditions are dry and hot with mounting soil moisture deficits.

“The ground conditions in some parts of the East Coast resemble concrete. Without a decent fall of rain these two provinces will come under intense pressure around late January.

“Federated Farmers, together with the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, will be keeping an eye on conditions and will be meeting soon if sustained rain does not fall in the next few weeks. This also highlights the pressing need for water storage infrastructure.

“Slow steady rain over a week and upwards of 100 millimetres is needed to soak deep into the soil in order to turn this picture around,” Mr Brenmuhl concluded.

Very Red Hot off the Press - Federated Farmers Media Release 'Hail storm hits North Canterbury farmers'

6 January, 2009

Hail storm hits North Canterbury farmers

“The man who survived for more than 30 hours adrift on a jet ski during Saturday’s hail storm was incredibly lucky, but that storm hit many North Canterbury cropping farmers hard,” says Paul Stackhouse, North Canterbury Federated Farmers Grain and Seed chairman.

“The golf ball sized hail stones that swept across North Canterbury on Saturday carved a six to eight kilometre path of destruction through crops, with the damage estimated to be well in excess of one million dollars.

“I know of one farmer who incurred $250,000 worth of damage to his crops. A number of Rape Seed crops were also badly affected by the hail stones. This includes one farmer who saw some 40 hectares of crops literally stripped bare.

“The heaviest hail stones fell from the Waimakariri River to north of Amberley. If farmers had crops of any kind under that storm when it hit those crops would have suffered damage.

“The storm also had an affect on North Canterbury vineyards. I know of one vineyard between Amberley and Broomfield that was heavily damaged,” Mr Stackhouse concluded.

Chris Sundstrum, North Canterbury Federated Farmers provincial president, says three of his neighbours each lost about 30 percent of their crops.

“All of my bailage was punctured and had to be rewrapped. The hail that passed over on Saturday afternoon was as large as golf balls. I’ve never seen hail that size before. Quite a few cropping farmers would have lost about $100,000 each,” Mr Sundstrum concluded.

Very Red Hot off the Press - NZ Diary Trust Media Release 'DAIRY AWARDS ENTRIES CLOSING'

DAIRY AWARDS ENTRIES CLOSING

Entries in the 2009 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards, incorporating the Sharemilker of the Year, Farm Manager of the Year and Dairy Trainee of the Year competitions close on Friday (January 9).

National Convenor Chris Keeping says time is running out for those interested in entering one of the 12 regional competitions being staged around the country. Up to $50,000 in cash and prizes is on offer to the regional competition winners as well as the opportunity to represent the region in the national finals.

“There are a huge amount of benefits to be gained by entering the competition, from gaining a good reputation to meeting new people and collecting some valuable prizes.”

Ms Keeping says the global economic crisis has had a dramatic effect on the dairy industry in the past few months and this had dampened optimism.

“I am still hopeful that we will meet our entry targets and, through entering the competitions, assist hundreds of ambitious young dairy farmers to gain the confidence and support needed to take the next step in their dairying career.

“The New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards are all about identifying and promoting the industry’s best and brightest. The dairy industry has a well known pathway from dairy farm trainee on to farm owner and these awards seek to recognise those outstanding performers in each part of that progression as well as those doing an excellent job.”

The awards are supported by national sponsors Westpac, Honda, DairyNZ, Ecolab, Federated Farmers, Fonterra, LIC, Meridian Energy, Ravensdown and RD1, along with industry partner Agriculture ITO.

The 2009 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards national finals will be held in Wellington on May 16.

Entry forms can be downloaded from www.dairyindustryawards.co.nz.

2009-01-05

The best laid plans of Mosquitos, Kamakaze Calves and Rusty Spades


Until now, we've been relatively free of being bitten alive by our old least favourite insect the bad old mosquito. Not the last few nights we haven't. Literal squadrons of hungry female mosquitoes have invaded our home and the flyspray and insect repellant have been working overtime. Cause - the bog behind our house. We have several small springs that decided to pop up one winter's day and haven't gone down anytime since. Stagnant still water of course makes an ideal nursery for the larvae. An investigation over by the bog beside the fishpond revealed an entire bogs worth of wriggly creatures waiting their turn to become the next squadron mozzie leaders of their generation. Kerosene on the water's surface usually does the trick but....the fishpond is right beside the spring and the bog so I had to come up with another solution. The spade. So far we're into day two of digging. The wriggly critters are now figuring they have a nice new stinky place to swim...they will for another day perhaps until I finish digging down to the same depth as the fish pond that is then...open it up so the goldfish can have a nice big feast on unwelcome mosquito critters. Yet again today, I'll be turning into Swamp Thing's sidekick and heading back to the bog.


Waking up this morning at 5.30 am staggering out to get a coffee and say good morning to the Terrorist...she had company. The Kamakaze calf had decided electric fence or not she needed company...growl....There she was with the Terrorist looking at me as if she had always been part of the madness here. At this rate I'll be needing the men with the white coats to come and take me away for a very long holiday from the craziness...groan. I'll be back a little later once I've dealt with the problem and dug some more of the bog out...I am totalled.........mutter.