Posted by: rivettingkatetaylor | February 3, 2010

what to talk about

As lunchtime approaches, I am pondering what to talk to Jamie Mackay about on his radio Farming Show today.

The weather? Flooding in Gisborne after months of drought conditions? My hay paddock already looking like a lush green carpet (so much so I couldn’t raise a hug from my pet cow yesterday because she was far too busy consuming it) or the mushrooms popping up around the place (I have seen my neighbours out with their icecream pottles but unfortunately none have popped up here …. yet).

Usually this blog is looking at very light glimpses of life in rural NZ. Bringing up a family on a farm in provincial New Zealand and remembering my childhood on a farm. But people often ask me what I write about for a living (as opposed to blah blah blah on here). So here’s a glimpse.

The next Federated Farmers magazine, National Farming Review, has two very different pieces with my name on them.

One is promoting Farm Day 2010 – when dozens of farmers across the country (including the ones I interviewed in Invercargill, Woodville and Clevedon) open their gates to the hordes of townies keen for a bit of dirt in their high heels and a whiff of manure. I’m not that cynical – I know there are hundreds of people out there who are in need of breathing some fresh air and seeing that milk really doesn’t come straight from the supermarket.

Gone are the days when people living in cities had grandparents, aunts and uncles or family friends with farms. We had family friends who lived in Musselburgh, in Dunedin, with children relatively the same age as us.

The two youngest girls would come and stay with us on the farm and wax lyrical about the cats, the dogs, the cows, the sheep, riding the horse or crashing into fences on the motorbike. We, in turn, would visit them in town and wax lyrical about riding on a bus, going to a movie, wearing good clothes every day, spending our $5 at DIC department store or buying a 50c mixture at the corner dairy.

That is how it used to be. 

I sincerely hope the future of farming is not where the other story points. Licence to farm.  The right to farm. we already have OSH, ACC and the RMA to change the nature of farming as we knew it (that debate is certainly ongoing).

Anyway, “licence to farm” is what many are calling the Farm Strategies in the Horizons Regional Council’s One Plan.

That issue is too technical to get into debate on my little blog, but the side issue that pokes it’s head up just as much is the council’s perceived “big stick” mentality. Thou shalt do. By law, under the RMA, etc, I guess it is more than entitled to do that. But I do alot of work for the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council, particularly with its pest control and land management teams, and education, involvement, communication and some element of respect is more forthcoming.

Read the story. I believe it’s a fair assessment of how farmers are feeling about the One Plan, but Greg Carlyon from Horizons also gets right of reply.

If you’re in the Hawke’s Bay region, read the issue of The Big Picture newsletter that will be delivered to your mailbox soon. Many of the stories in there are mine too (so of course I think they are a nice council, they give me money).

A pat on the back for a Hill Country Erosion fund that is helping three northern Hawke’s Bay catchments (Whakaki Lake, Nuhaka-Kopuawhara and Ruakituri River). The best thing about writing that story was stopping at Nuhaka (between Wairoa and Gisborne) on a sweltering summer day and climbing (that was the hard part) to the top of a hill to get a photo of the great view over the mouth of the Nuhaka River (Lachlan ran all the way to the top and back again and to the top again before I could get my sneakers on – oh to be young again).

So it has been a busy year already…. from Federated Farmers to regional councils to Ravensdown (I’m doing a piece on EcoN) and MAF (I’m writing a case study about a HB farmer using deferred grazing as a pasture management tool).

Long may it last. I have last year’s building renovations to pay for!


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