Easter is a time of reflection and pondering for many. Whether that's because of your religious beliefs, looking back on the harvest of your farming season or just looking forward to the footy season and the arrival of the British and Irish Lions.
This Easter past, as I was driving south to God's own farming province to tend to my duck pond and surrounding native plantings, I took the time to reflect and ponder. Here are some of my musings:
1/ I was surprised how dry it was in Southland. Not drought-dry obviously but 'gee we could do with some rain' dry. While Cyclones Debbie and Cook have done their darndest to be a real wet blanket for North Island farmers and ended the three year drought in North Canterbury, the south has been left whistling Dixie.
2/ I know I have to build a bridge and get over this, but as I navigated the Easter traffic it was reinforced to me yet again that we really do need to do something about our traffic laws. I saw more traffic cops on the road in a two hour drive than I'd on seen in the past two months. No doubt they were doing their absolute best to keep the Easter road toll down by ticketing every poor schmuck travelling in excess of 104km/h but, seriously, we need to take a look at the real menaces on the road. The pedestrian pedants travelling at 80km/h! These drivers are the biggest pests on our roads.
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I totally respect some folk, particularly our elderly or tourists unsure of our road conditions, prefer to take it easy or are not in a hurry like the rest of us. But here's an idea, if you're not in a hurry or unsure where you're going, look in the rear vision mirror and when you see a dozen cars up your backside, pull over! Please, please, please don't what until you get to a passing lane on a nice flat, straight piece of road and then proceed to speed up so that only three of the aforementioned dozen vehicles can get past. And don't even start me on campervans or I'll say something I'll regret as I'm sure somewhere in the world there is a nice person driving one.
3/ On the said trip south I was buoyed by some of the great lambs I saw frolicking on clover root weevil-recovered pastures. Lamb has been the quiet achiever of the 2016/17 farming season. Post Brexit and the associated depreciation in the Pound Sterling and the Euro, there was talk of lambs being worth a miserable $80. Good lambs are now fetching three figures. Not the $150 sheep farmers need to make a serious buck but an improvement nonetheless. Time will tell if this is merely a supply-driven blip. However, to the great shame of the industry, it remains a travesty that some meat companies still can't fulfill the first duty of a cooperative by paying the shareholders the same for their produce. Co-op my arse!
4/ Those of us in the rural media have done the Sunday programme to death. Folk who know farming, know that was neither a fair nor accurate portrayal of dairy farming. What worries me most about the response was there was little or no uproar from urban New Zealand or the so-called mainstream media. Which makes me assume they viewed the skewed depiction as business as usual on a dairy farm?
Speaking of the Sunday programme, which appears to be on an anti-farming crusade, it was good to see Dr. Mike Joy taken to task over some of his extremist views on the same show a few weeks earlier. Dr. Jacqueline Rowarth, the Environmental Protection Authority's chief scientist and soil scientist Dr. Doug Edmeades joined forces to have a crack at their fellow academic. While you can admire Mike Joy's passion, I can't take seriously any academic who reckons we have to completely rid the Canterbury Plains of dairy cows and remove animals from the food chain. Is this really the stuff we should be feeding the nation's best young agricultural minds at Massey University?
5/ And finally no musing, pondering or reflecting would be complete without comment on Sonny Bill Williams. Don't get me wrong, on the rugby paddock I'm a paid-up member of the SBW fan club. He is a once-in-a-generation athlete who's been able to turn his talented hand to rugby union, league, sevens and boxing. Coming back from injury, he's been slow out of the blocks but I'm sure Steve Hansen will want his physicality against the big Lions' midfield. We love your offloads on the paddock SBW but please can you offload some of the baggage you bring, off the paddock, to what is supposedly a team game?