If looks could kill...

Well the above could prove that theory. Emerald decided today what was on the bench looked far more appealing than what was in her cat bowl. Unfortunately for Emerald she was sprung before she could help herself to our food. Told off she slinked away then onto our old chest freezer and gave me a look that could have killed - in theory anyway. It was the dirtiest look I have ever seen a cat make. Hah hah caught on camera too. I am not popular with Emerald she isn't talking to me.
And neither was River it seemed. She was far too busy enjoying all the new spring grass I had let her and the others onto today. By tomorrow not much will be left so I'll have to move them on again. It's rubbish grass really. Kikuyu to be exact and I hate the stuff. Low on calcium and for lactating cows it isn't really ideal. Mine seem to be okay at this stage but I'm monitering them all the same.
This is Ocean Inaya's pet cow that will never leave here - not unless things change here and I doubt that will be for a very very long time. I'm not running off screaming into the hills just yet.
The Terrorist is growing but she is still one of the smallest Jerseys I have ever seen. She's 15 months old but isn't much bigger than an 8 month old Fresian calf. That's small. Despite it all she's getting along just fine and still sounds like a calf with a distinctive MEEEEEEEE - no moo to heard anywhere. We were planning on sending her down to friends of ours but Mum suggested we send Stream instead which I think is a better option. The Terrorist is the cause of this entire blog. If I hadn't got her then Mad Bush Farm Blog would not exist. Softies!

No need to explain what the old man is doing. He is in grass heaven and enjoying every blade of it. I've had him five years and I was told he might last 18 months. Nope Edward is fit, healthy and showing no signs of his grand old age of 29 years old. Not bad for a horse that was certified as being no good for anything. He has missed Sasha though - but the cows have made up for that. He's quite happy now he's back in with them.

Ocean's calf is growing well and "she" is in fact a bull. We though originally it was a heifer but that was from a distance. Nope it was a bull. We've ended up with three bull calves - the vet is coming on Monday to turn two of them into steers. River's calf is being sent on to friends to be used as a bull. Lucky little boy he is. They'll have headaches though all three are getting dehorned as well - plus finally so are the rest. The older animals have to be done with the use of anesthetic. Messy dehorning cows - but Stream keeps using her horns to break the fence wire. So that is it. All of them are getting dehorned. Poor cows. Scroll down a bit I've written more at the end of this. Some photos in between of the three calves and the cows there.

And last but not all the least..MAGGIE IS IN A VERY BAD MOOD!!!!! Look out she is hoarding her eggs again and you will be in serious trouble if you annoy the Ruler of the Farm. All things get picked and fumed at - so WATCH OUT!
I'm....going off to hide from Maggie now I can here her grumpy clucking from here.

‘The international cow’ is the future of dairy

30 October 2009

‘The international cow’ is the future of dairy

The only farmer out of two New Zealanders on the International Dairy Federation’s (IDF) Standing Committee on Farm Management and Animal Health, Willy Leferink, is seeing moves to internationalise standards in the dairy industry.

“Having been at the recent IDF summit in Germany, the international cow is becoming reality,” says Willy Leferink, Federated Farmers Dairy vice-chairperson.

“The IDF is producer led, so being one of only a few farmers on my Standing Committee, there’s a strong push to develop common global guidelines for dairy husbandry.

“Given debate on New Zealand’s ETS, even the IDF’s Standing Committee on Environment reflected global confusion about how to account for carbon, which is being pushed hard by the large supermarket chains.

“We saw whole farm assessment versus part assessment and the IDF is keen to delineate between the two. This may open up opportunities to mitigate the bovine footprint through feeding systems and technology.

“A lot of work has and needs to be done on whole lifecycle analysis.

“Due to New Zealand’s leadership, seven organisations, representing 85 percent of the world’s dairy processing capacity in the IDF, signed a document called the Global Declaration on Climate Change.

This document is about collaborative systems and tools to mitigate the climate change affects of dairy. We just need governments to put their respective euros and dollars where their respective mouths are to get in behind the likes of New Zealand’s Global Alliance concept.

“Denmark is seriously looking at introducing a tax on hard fatty acids because they are more energy intensive to produce.

“Also of concern as a farmer was a Swedish report on the Mastitis pathogen, Streptococcus agalactiae, which has re-emerged in robotic milking machines after a 50-year absence.

“Updates were presented on paratuberculosis, veterinary drugs, animal welfare, animal feeds and wildlife reservoirs, as well as ICAR (International Committee for Animal Recording) on reference systems for milk cell counting.

“All Somatic Cell Count machines in member countries will now be calibrated to the same standard. We also accepted a document on "Mastitis Terminology" that will no doubt feature at the fifth IDF International Mastitis Conference, being held in Christchurch next March.

“The animal welfare space is becoming more and not less important. Animal rights are big in Europe, particularly in Britain and the Scandinavian countries. There’s a strong push on the Farm Management Committee to develop minimum guidelines for the feeding of dairy cows.

“One thing where we have to get ahead of the game will be on environmental, social and economic factors in farming. There’s a feeling the IDF may wish to generate a series of documents with the first one proposed being ‘Dairy Hygiene’ - we’ll need to watch that carefully to avoid non-tariff barriers.

“The entire New Zealand delegation in Berlin did our country and dairy industry proud and they need to be acknowledged for their positive attitude and hard work,” Mr Leferink concluded.

A+ for Regulatory Responsibility Taskforce report

29 October 2009

A+ for Regulatory Responsibility Taskforce report

Federated Farmers has enthusiastically welcomed the report of the Regulatory Responsibility Taskforce on the Regulatory Responsibility Bill.

"The current regulatory process is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma - but perhaps the Taskforce’s report provides a key,” says Don Nicolson, President of Federated Farmers, paraphrasing a quotation made famous by Winston Churchill.

“To Federated Farmers, this Report and Bill represents one of the most important things to have come out of this Government. For the first time, it will instil a set of principles that will guide regulatory development.

“Farmers will welcome the set of principles, especially those relating to the impairment or taking of private property.

“The Bill recognises basic rights in property and the rights of landowners. Federated Farmers welcomes the principles on taxation and fees as well

“While high sounding, the Bill provides recognition of basic liberties that every citizen should welcome

“While the courts will be unable to strike down an Act of Parliament if it’s incompatible with the Regulatory Responsibility Bill, they will be given the power to deliver a statement of incompatibility.

“That’s a powerful moral tool that will make Government’s extremely wary of ramrodding badly written legislation through Parliament.

“While the Federation would like to see the Regulatory Responsibility Bill bring local government within its orbit, as well as the Resource Management Act, this should be subject to more work.

“That said, it shouldn’t stand in the way of passing this important Bill but clearly provides the next phase.

“Federated Farmers congratulates the Hon Rodney Hide and the taskforce members for the work they have put in. Now we look to the Government to accord this Bill the highest priority," Mr Nicolson concluded.


30 October 2009


The New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards are now calling for entries in its 2010 competitions – the Sharemilker of the Year, Farm Manager of the Year and Dairy Trainee of the Year.

National Convenor Chris Keeping says organisers hope more than 400 sharemilkers, equity farm managers, contract milkers, farm managers and dairy trainees will enter one of the three competitions.

Ms Keeping says people first enter one of 12 regional competitions being held throughout the country, with the winners from each of the regional competitions all progressing to a national final. In 2010 the national final will be held in Rotorua in May.

“This is the third time we’ve run the three competitions under the same umbrella and the benefits are beginning to flow, as people are able to progress through the awards as they progress through the dairy industry.

“One of our farm manager winners in 2009 had previously been a dairy trainee winner. It’s our hope that people will recognise the benefits and experiences they gain from entering the dairy trainee or farm manager contest to then enter the farm manager or sharemilker competition as they advance their dairy career.”

She says entering the awards is great for a CV and it can also be lucrative. In 2010 entrants will compete for a total prize pool of more than $700,000 across the regional and national competitions.

“The sharemilker contest is the country’s longest-running dairy farming competition and over the years we have found that overwhelmingly people enter it for the experiences gained.

“They learn a lot – from judges, other entrants and industry or sponsor representatives – and gain skills and recognition that they would otherwise not receive,” Ms Keeping says.

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

Entries open on November 1 and will close on December 24. Entry forms can be downloaded at www.dairyindustryawards.co.nz.


This blog needs a broad spectrum drench

I had an email recently that asked me for a description of what my blog was about. Normally one would say "Farming" that's if it was a blog written by someone who doesn't call their farm Mad Bush Farm. For years I've read different things about "Lifestyle Blocks" and all the do's and don'ts. You can read all the books you want on farming, but what it comes down to is learning by experience and talking to those who are farmers. for some strange reason there seems to be a snob value attributed to owing a small farm. The truth is most people are ordinary folk without a great deal of income and they love the life. About the best publication in New Zealand for people on small farms is Rural Living. It's down to earth, practical and it covers an entire range of categories. Best of all we get it free every month in our rural delivery box. Angelique Jurd the editor, is a great writer as well as holding together one great publication. She's out and about along with a great team of rural journalists getting to know people around Northland and the Auckland Region. A couple of my stories have been published in Rural Living as well as a couple of cartoons. Heck it's fun making fun of rural lifestyle. I think the best depictions of all have been from Murray Ball author and creator of Footrot Flats. Murray retired the Dog and Wal a few years ago but everyone still loves the cartoons.

What is my blog about? Everything it seems. I write on all kinds of subjects and issues and occasionally I might actually mention what is going on here at the farm? I haven't been blogging much for a while. Bogged down with other things going on I haven't had the brain to tackle anymore blog posts. It's been lately what the heck do I write about? Writer's block is not a healthy thing to have - artistic blog more so. The problem with me is I'm a very eclectic person by nature. My family had such a broad range of interest in subject matter that everything has my interest. That's a problem at times. Should I focus on farming, or the animals or agricultural issues? Well I thought about this for a while and decided to heck with it. I'll just keep on writing on whatever takes my interest. I'm an editor for goodness sake (although recently I was accused of being a journalist working for a trashy newspaper by an idiotic fan of Craig Busch) so I'll write whatever comes into my mind.

Lately I've been working on a new cartoon series- the inspiration was my friend Sam moving back to Botswana - and not too far away is of course the Okavango Delta. So I started my own Safari tour company - in cartoon land that is. It's kept me occupied and I've been having fun doing it. I love to make fun too of myself complete with the electric fence shocked hairdo the leaking gumboots and the bad attitude gleam makes enough to scare anyone off. Anyway I'm working on the next character for the Safari series I won't be giving anything away of course. And as the title says this blog needs a broad spectrum drench....of more madness that is.

Malaysian FTA ‘bagus’ for the New Zealand economy

27 October 2009

Malaysian FTA ‘bagus’ for the New Zealand economy

Federated Farmers is welcoming the Government’s signing of a free trade agreement (FTA with Malaysia, although the runaway New Zealand dollar is removing some of the gloss.

"Malaysia is our eighth largest trading partner and represents an incredibly sophisticated consumer market of more than 25 million people. Best of all they know New Zealand and hold us in high regard as we’ve bled for Malaysia’s right to exist,” says Don Nicolson, President of Federated Farmers.

“Clearly, agriculture and particularly dairy, was already a big winner even before the FTA was officially signed. Dairy is an increasing part of the Malaysian diet with the benefits for children’s health seeing impressive growth across the board.

“The challenge is to promote New Zealand products in a sophisticated retail market dominated by major domestic and international retailers, such as France’s Carrefour, Japan’s AEON and Britain’s Tesco.

“Look at it like this - the 2008 estimated per capita income for Malaysians was US$15,300 whereas that for New Zealanders was US$27,900. The Malaysian economy is undergoing a remarkable transformation and bilateral trade will only grow as other barriers are reduced.

“This will be a big challenge to the meat exporters especially. Malaysia represents something of a greenfields market for them and they’ll need to follow Fonterra’s brands-led approach.

“Yet the rapid appreciation of the Kiwi dollar against the Ringgit could kneecap price competitiveness for exporters, tourism and the services sector alike. The Kiwis rollercoaster ride is taking some of the gloss off.

“It’s a genuine concern that since March, we’ve seen the Kiwi go from buying RM$1.85 to RM2.52 today. That’s an increase of almost 37 percent in just the last eight months. It highlights how imbalances in New Zealand’s fiscal policy settings impact exporters.

“Overall the importance of this FTA to New Zealand is underlined by the Prime Minister being in Kuala Lumpur with the Hon Tim Groser to sign it. That is a significant statement in the strength of the relationship as this FTA will most certainly be ‘bagus’ for our respective economies," Mr Nicolson concluded.

OCR risks ‘irrelevancy’ as Government spending caned

26 October 2009

OCR risks ‘irrelevancy’ as Government spending caned

Ahead of Thursday’s official cash rate (OCR) decision, Federated Farmers is restating the need to cut the OCR by 50 basis points to prevent a ‘W’ shaped recession. The Federation is also warning the Government that its fiscal policy settings are undermining monetary policy and putting at risk the OCR as a policy tool.

“The Government’s spending and debt growth is delaying a necessary rebalancing of the economy. This makes it extremely hard for the Reserve Bank to do its job of implementing monetary policy,” says Philip York, Federated Farmers economics and commerce spokesperson.

“Of primary concern is the effect of these policies on the dollar. Federated Farmers fair value for the Kiwi dollar is in the US60 to 65 cent range but in trying to insulate the domestic economy, the Government could be restarting a credit fuelled bubble.

“Government borrowing is running at some $250 million every week or more than a billion dollars a month.

“This domestic stimulation along with ‘good news stories’ are stoking the Kiwi dollar ever higher. New Zealand is sucking in Euros, Yen and whatever currency investors choose to park in order to get some of the best yields in the OECD.

“Anyone with exposure to the international economy is being crucified by the high dollar. The need for action is not just about farmers’ interests but serving the interests of all exporters and tourism operators alike.

“We’re the ones who pay New Zealand’s way in the world after all yet all we hear from Government is self-congratulatory statements over how we are now in recovery.

“The issue for exporters is that demand for debt, whether led by the private sector or by Government, is undermining monetary policy and risks making the OCR irrelevant.

“A number of farmers got caught up in this debt exuberance. But a majority are now focussing on retiring debt while increasing productivity. The key word for all exporters is productivity but to date, Government’s fiscal policy is harming, rather than encouraging, exporters.

“If the Government believes its own rhetoric of an export led recovery then some hard decisions are needed immediately. The first order of business is to wind-back these so-called stimulus policies, given the recession has apparently ended.

“Turning off billions in spending and debt may start abating demand for the Kiwi dollar. Tactically, a cut to the OCR on Thursday may open up clear air between the New Zealand and Australian economies. We need to decouple the Kiwi from the Aussie dollar.

“Since 10 September, doing nothing has only seen the Kiwi smash through the US70 cent barrier to threaten US80 cents. The choice is either a short dose of reality now or the abyss when the economy inevitably crashes into a ‘W’ shaped recession,” Mr York concluded.


A week of it featuring cattle lice and ridiculous rules I made up in my head

Sometimes we have to stop and make some hard decisions that aren't nice to make. When it comes to living on a farm - some decisions are even harder than others. For me a very difficult decision had to be made about two of the animals here on the farm. Micah our bull is now a two year old. After running rampage in Terry's paddock for three days and being downright dangerous to approach - we finally have him back and contained. Bulls can never be trusted regardless of how quiet they are. He's quiet for now but in another few days I have no doubt he'll get wind of Terry's Dairy herd again and start roaring again - that's when he is a problem. Only one decision can be made now and that's putting him down. There is no other option but to do that. I read stuff on the internet from animal welfare organisations who say farming is cruel. They like to make out that all farming is wrong and shouldn't be happening. I disagree with some farming practices - but in the main most are ethical and properly managed. Micah is going into the freezer - that's life. We have three bull calves here that shortly will be castrated for obvious reasons. I think those who say castration of calves is cruel should have a rethink. Bulls are dangerous - more so at breeding time. I never enter the paddock without a cattle stick in my hand with Micah to do so would invite serious injury - he isn't predictable. As many of my farming friends know never trust a bull - ever. Time for him to go.
29 years old and slowing no signs of slowing down. Our old man Edward

The second decision was even harder to make. Sasha our 23 year old Thoroughbred mare had been having problems with her joints. Her age was catching up with her. The weather here has been awful to say the least. Unpredictable weather has made it difficult . Rock and a hard place. She was having trouble walking. I had to go and get her out of the bush the other day because she couldn't come up for her feed. It took a while to walk her slowly out. Franz came on Thursday to trim her feet and sadly shook his head. He felt Sasha was nearing her time and so did I. I hate having to make hard decisions. I had Sasha around the house here so she didn't have to walk too far to have her feed and we had plenty of grass for her. But it was all too clear Sasha was fighting a losing battle with her age and her joints were causing her pain. I couldn't stand it any longer. Thanks to a good friend we were able to arrange for Sasha to have a comfortable slow trip in a horse float to a farm where she was humanely euthanised then buried. Inaya was devastated and so was I but it was the right decision. Sasha is resting now and no longer in pain. Edward our other old horse is missing her of course. He is in fantastic health and at nearly 30 is showing no signs of slowing down. One day I might have to make that same decision for him too. Not easy to do.

Cattle Lice!!!!!!!

I hate cattle lice and this year the nasty little beggars are really at their worst. Everyone has been having problems with the pests. The best option is a pour-on lice treatment for cattle and deer. We'll be applying a product called Eprinex which is a rainfast pour-on. If you're on a small block in New Zealand and have never had cattle here's the main clue for spotting if your cattle have lice. Hair falling out is a prime sign - your cattle won't look so pretty with bald patches for a while until the hair grows back. The lice are quite easily spotted being small and brown - similar to the headlice children get. Your local vet should have a 250ml lifestyle pack pour-on for cattle and deer. Eprinex is very effective and also treats several types of worm parasite.


Rules for Kiwi Lifestyle (Life Sentence) Blocks - tongue in cheek version made up in my head of course but they are useful and truthful - disregard those silly comments in brackets it wasn't me it was someone else (Why is my nose growing?)

  • Be nice to your neighbours. If you're nice when you need help they'll be the first to lend a hand (Are those hippies next door...hmmph!)
  • Don't ever think you can learn everything from a book. Get advice from those who know what farming is about and listen to them they know far more than you do. (I read in...)
  • Possums are not cute they are nasty pests - kill them with traps or shoot them (But...!)
  • That little calf your kids are raising for calf club ends up growing big and becoming a cow. Be heartless and eat it or you'll end up with too many pets (guilty as charged)
  • Yes cows smell - so what don't complain (where's my nose peg)
  • Cow poo on the road can be washed off - don't make life hard for the poor dairy farmer who has a road splitting his property in two and has to cross his cows over to get to the shed. (Which is why they wrote letters to Transit NZ who told the councils the farmers had to fork out stash for 'permits')
  • Yes the droning noise is a plane fertilising your farmer neighbour's land - we get buzzed several times a day here- get used to it. (Really how inconsiderate of them!)
  • 5 horses, several cows and many sheep on ten acres = SPCA or MAF visit in winter plus a huge feed bill. Don't over stock your property. (But my kids love all the animals?)
  • Free range hens sound delightful - until you step outside in your good shoes and stand in chicken poo - pen them in then you'll find their eggs as well. (Oh chickie..I have a nice roasting pan for you to sit in..)
  • Silage stinks - get used to that too. Cattle have to eat in winter. (But it's.....smelly!)
  • Get your hay ordered well in advance. Get more than you need you can always use it later if it's kept dry or you'll end up paying through the nose for it when you really need it. ($30 for a bale of crappy hay? You have got to be kidding! Nope you're not kidding)
  • Maintaining a block of land is expensive be prepared to pay out loads of stash - backache is common. (Then there was the weed killer course you had to fork out $300 for because the government said you needed to be an approved handler for sprays)
  • New Zealand winters are wet horrible affairs - you still have to feed out and still get to work on time. (Or end up with some nosy sod sticking their beak out of their car window, then complaining to the SPCA and you will get an unwanted visit even though you are feeding your animals - premise "A lack of Grass" neither has anyone else)
  • Remember all those preset notions you had? The nice post and rail fences? The keeping everything manicured and the idyllic perfect country life? - be prepared for a big shock. Post and rail fences cost the earth, the sheep ate your garden and you found out the supermarket is an hour's drive away. Welcome to the sticks (I'm going to stay with mother!)