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Archive for the ‘Agriculture & Farming’ Category

Moons and our Seasons

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The full moon of September fell a little early, on the 10th. In a mirror image of the Old Farmer’s Almanac, here it would be the Pink Moon, also called the Paschal Full Moon, or my favourite from the North American Indian tribes, the Breaking Ice Moon (Algonquin). The “Pink” has to do with particular flowers that emerge in the Spring.

In America of course it’s the Harvest Moon and it used to be that the first school dances of the year would be the Harvest Moon Dance. There were Harvest Moon festivals, and the first autumnal advertising was likely to invoke the Harvest Moon.

As is usually the case with the Interwebby it’s a matter of falling down rabbit holes triggered by one thing, in this case a wonderful cover version of Neil Young’s old song, Harvest Moon. Enjoy.

BTW, there have been studies of the Maori names for the lunar phases but it seems they were focused on each moon night of the month and less on the seasons, perhaps because our temperate climate has less dramatic differences between the seasons:

For example, on the east coast of the North Island the appearance of the first moon after the
rising of Matariki (Pleiades) above the eastern horizon marked the arrival of the New Year. In
the far north, the South Island and the Chatham Islands it is the appearance of the star Puanga
or Rigel which marks the onset of the new year
Along with the presence or absence of stars
and the flowering times of plants, the phases of the moon were (and still are) used by Maori to
indicate the seasons of the year.

To our knowledge no record exists of a list of 12 or 13 different monthly maramataka
pertaining to one person or location, which suggests that only one was used by a local group
throughout the entire year, with adjustments being made to ensure seasonal synchronization
and adaptation to the various changes in the availability of local resources

Written by Tom Hunter

September 17, 2022 at 6:00 pm

“LEGEN – wait for it – DARY”

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Along with “Suit Up”, this was one of Barney’s favourite phrases in the American sitcom, How I Met Your Mother.

I can see Barney doing the following – or maybe this guy was a fan of the character.

It’s the ice cream cone licking of those last, juicy bits of sauce that’s the killer blow here.

Written by Tom Hunter

August 30, 2022 at 1:08 pm

Do you need an NKVD for this?

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Based on history I would have said yes. Certainly the collectivisation of Russian farms in the USSR and Mao’s Great Leap Forward could not have been achieved without having a State police force pointing their firearms at unarmed civilians.

On the other hand, the last two years of General Tso’s Sickness has persuaded me that there are rather large chunks of our society who will willingly bend to the wishes of the State if they are both terrified enough and sense that opposition to the State’s plans is small and weak, plus another chunk that think they’ll be the ones in charge of all of this.

But what will happen to the land? Mr Kotsko already has that planned out too:

Because that has worked so well in the past. But aside from Communist failures the fact is that this ties in well with environmental groups, from the Very Far Left Sea Shepard, to the hideously wealthy capitalist sociopaths of the World Economic Forum – if the intention is to greatly reduce the size of the planet’s human population, which would solve all manner of problems.

I had no idea who this clown was, but he’s more than just another Toxic Twitter Leftist: he has his own Wikipedia page:

Adam Kotsko (born 1980) is an American theologian, religious scholar, culture critic, and translator, working in the field of political theology.

“Political Theology”? Ewwwwww. Sounds scary, even if it is a good description of what passes for politics nowadays. He’s also written a number of books, including Why We Love Sociopaths (2012): no word on whether he meant it as a warning or an instruction manual, possibly for the WEF. He certainly has not applied its analytics to himself.

Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you – unless indeed you fail to meet the test!?– 2 Corinthians 13:5

Written by Tom Hunter

August 23, 2022 at 5:07 pm

Bureaucracy: this time it’s personal

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I’m grateful that it’s cold and pissing down outside all day today.

Because if it wasn’t I’d leave the house rather than embark on what I have to do now.

Up until less than a decade ago the end-of-season paperwork for a farm involved gathering together invoices, statements and anything else related to the business and sending it off to the accountants. Many were the mordantly funny stories told by rural accountants of the “shoebox delivery”.

That last one still happens but now there’s also these tasks:

  1. Council Survey for Ratings purpose.
    Why? I know their calculation system and the only factor is whether it’s a farm, lifestyle block or urban zoning – which they would already know since it relies on their approval which would be on file.
  2. NZ Statistics
    I always get an email telling me why I’ve been picked. I’m sure the real reason is that I’m one of the schmucks who fills this crap in.
  3. NZ Dairy Base.
    I get a lovely little report each year telling me where I sit in this world compared to others, which tells me nothing about how to do better, which is not surprising because it involves some combination of higher production, higher prices and lower costs, which I already know. I think I also get a monthly magazine, which I never remove from the plastic as I dump it into the bin.
  4. The Overseer Report.
    I already described the joy of being forced to input data into this baby. The fabulous Overseer computer model that supposedly produces an accurate calculation of my nitrogen runoffs. I once asked if they would like to dunk some measuring devices into the various streams above and below the farm to check against the model, but they assured me this had been done on trial farms.
  5. The Environmental Plan.
    This one’s all new for 2022. And they have kindly built it as an online system. There have been several webinars explaining how to work it, including a lot of mouse-driven work to mark out … various things on the land. I missed all but one, which I fell asleep in after 15 minutes.

I need hardly say that me voting for a National/ACT government in 2023 will change none of this. In fact it will likely increase, either with more groups demanding such things or more detail, or both.

My accountants, as well as all the pricks listed above, should be grateful that I’m not a client like Bernard Black.

Written by Tom Hunter

July 25, 2022 at 8:00 am

The Future’s so Bright we have to wear WEF

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By definition conspiracies are efforts to subvert the status quo behind the scenes and which are put together by small bands of people operating in secret. Lenin’s Communist coup in 1917 is a classic example: it was quickly labeled by them as a “Peoples Revolution” because of course the Communists had to convince others that Marx’s theory worked, even though Lenin’s Vanguard Theory was about as far removed from the Toiling Masses rising up as could be imagined.

No, when revolutionaries are talking about in the open air and putting it right in your face it can’t be called a conspiracy any longer, nor can talk about it be called a conspiracy theory.

Take five minutes out of your day to watch the following from the World Economic Forum (WEF) as they make predictions for a future that less than a decade away. It’s important to note that they won’t be living like this.

These are awful human beings and I hope that the next round of politicians will avoid visiting them in future during their annual Bacchanalian debauchery in their Dachas at Davos.

The following article, Davos Death Cults and a Bad Moon Rising, keys off this and while you may sat that it’s stretching things too far, it is merely collecting news stories of actual events from around the world, so it’s not a stretch to extrapolate from the solid base of what these WEF people are saying themselves.

A future (for you) of Energy poverty, Food poverty, Crap education and dependence on the government for almost everything in your life, a place where all we little drones are “nudged” into the approved slots where we live out our lives.

Dutch farmers are fighting for the right to grow food in a Build Back Better world dedicated to mass starvation.  The great and honorable Shinzo Abe of Japan lies slain, while the communists in China and throughout the West celebrate his assassin.  George Soros and Joe Biden have declared war against conservative members of the U.S. Supreme Court for daring to weaken the Leviathan’s unilateral authority to dictate how individual Americans must live.  Justin Trudeau is banning firearms in Canada before his subjects gain the courage to depose his regime.  The U.S. government has ceded control of the Southern border to narco-terrorists and sex-slavers.  And, in a disheartening example of how debauched crime and youth culture have become, seven Philadelphia teens recently recorded themselves beating a seventy-two-year-old man to death with traffic cones.

While Biden kills domestic energy production and exacerbates Americans’ pain at the pump, he’s shipping America’s strategic reserve of petroleum to our geopolitical enemies in China.  At the same time that Germany is gearing up to restrict home heating and ration hot water, one left-wing minister is pushing to confiscate guns owned by members of opposing political parties.  Manufacturing plants and food distribution centers are suspiciously burning down all over the world.  And the island nation of Sri Lanka — whose massive public spending and Green New Deal energy policies have predictably produced untenable debt, fuel, and food shortages, and runaway inflation — is now on the verge of collapse.  Oh, there’s definitely a bad moon rising these days.

Mixed Climate Messages

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In order to calculate the farm’s GHG emissions we use a computer model called Overseer. This is its logo.

Just kidding, just kidding.

But really it is the perfect name for something that will increasingly be in charge of farmers, irrespective of what they think of themselves as property and business owners. Did the model developers really think this one through?

Basically I input into this model data on what fuel and fertilisers I’ve used on different areas of the farm, food inputs, herd size, etc. Months later we get a report telling us about our emissions of nitrogen, methane and CO2.

It’s a mark of environmental story change that when I was a kid pollution meant producing all these man-made chemicals and substances that had never existed in the natural world – and then carelessly releasing them into that natural world – as they still do in places like the godforsaken Russian mining town of Norilsk.

Stopping that sort of shit was something I could get onboard for – and still do.

But nowadays, with a lot of that stuff having been beaten back, pollution means increases in the amount of natural stuff – like nitrogen, methane, CO2, etc – and it’s rather difficult to have industry or agriculture that doesn’t do that or alter nature in some other way. In fact it’s pretty much impossible, as thousands of years of forest clearance for British Neolithic farming showed.

We’re human; changing our environment to enable us to live better is pretty much what we do.

Thus I’m sure you will be impressed to know that I’m in the lowest quintile of environmental degredationists. 😅😅😅😅

However, the latest message about good old Overseer was a bit confusing….

Dear Tom,

Re: 2021/2022 Environmental data (previously called Nutrient Budget data)

We listened to farmers feedback and built an improved system to capture your environmental data. Please find the link to the new portal below. When you go to enter your data, please print off or have the attachment handy to get started in the new system and how to watch the overview video…

Blah, blah, blah. So far, so standard, soooooo boring. But the next bit made my day:


I think you can all guess that it’s NOT electric!.

Could have been worse I suppose. The prize could have been this.

Yeah baby!

Written by Tom Hunter

June 15, 2022 at 6:08 pm

Sustainable Living?

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I came across this rather sweet video a few weeks ago by an English guy who has, over the last five years, built an off-the-grid lifestyle on eighteen acres in the countryside.

The video is him showing viewers all the things he has built, which is a pretty impressive list:

  • A “cob” house.
  • Miniature hydro-electric dam.
  • Solar panels and power shed/workshop for batteries, invertors, etc.
  • Woodwork shop.
  • Metalworking shop (in progress).
  • Greenhouse.
  • Saw milling machine.

He’s also done this for very little money.

I suspect that he and his unseen girlfriend, “Pip”, are vegetarians because while he’s very proud of their vegetable gardens, he only refers to their chickens as a source of eggs, and although their are sheep there’s no mention of them being sources of meat.

But here’s the thing. As impressive as all this is, the fact is that he’s done it using machinery that had to be produced in factories: all of his big 3-phase woodworking machinery; numerous other smaller woodworking and metal working tools; the very useful chain saw; various electronics, including the components of the power system.

Those factories can’t be run off solar panels and small hydro dams. While it would have been possible to do all this by hand without such tools it would have been a hell of lot harder, taken longer, and the results likely more primitive. Aside from the construction itself his ongoing lifestyle will require regular replacements of components or entire machines – like the solar panels and batteries – which he cannot produce.

In short, it’s an industrial civilisation that’s enabling him to live like this. To what extent such a civilisation can be reduced or downgraded while still being able to support hundreds of millions or billions of people to live such a poetic and rustic lifestyle is an unanswered, and perhaps unanswerable, question. Certainly in the Developing world, billions of people are moving in the opposite direction from this guy – with all that implies about their demands for energy and technology.

Written by Tom Hunter

June 9, 2022 at 7:00 am

The Sublime Society of Beef Steaks

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A farmer and historian in Britain, one John Lewis-Stempel, has published an interesting article in Unherd where he argues that the rise of wheat as the most widely grown crop in the world has, over the millennia, enabled tyranny!

Wheat has corrupted humanity

I was immediately caught by the opening paragraph:

“Beef & Liberty”. Such was the slogan of the 18th century London dining club, The Sublime Society of Beef Steaks. The carnivorous Regency gentlemen were sensible in associating the scoffing of sirloin with freedom and the rights of Britons. Food, like the personal, is political.

Being a political tragic it’s ironic that I don’t enjoy the fact that everything is now political, even food, but I can’t deny it when I read of things like actor James Cromwell supergluing his hand to a Starbucks counter so he could lecture customers and staff alike for ages about the iniquity over their surcharge for vegan milk.

Privileged dickhead! I must re-watch LA Confidential so I can see him get his just deserts by being shot in the back.

In Lewis-Stempel’s article he covers the tyranny of wheat, from forcing us into factory-like patterns of tilling, sowing, weeding and harvesting, to being an easy crop for the State to inspect and tax – and confiscate – compared to animals or root vegetables, all the way to the modern tyranny of Monsanto:

…the grains were developed for their ability to cope with a chemical product that Monsanto wanted to flog. So if the farmer buys Roundup Ready seed, then he or she buys the tied-in Roundup herbicid. And Monsanto cashes in twice.

He also goes into some detail about the other chemicals needed to grow wheat and it’s not a pretty picture. The article ends on a note that will be music to the ears of NZ grass farmers:

To save the planet, pastoralism is the intelligent solution. The brain is 60% fat, and omega-rich fat from grass-fed meat is excellent for mental health. The sine qua non of free thinking. Beef and liberty! More meat, less wheat!

Agree or disagree, it’s a fun article so read the whole thing.

Written by Tom Hunter

May 12, 2022 at 9:06 am


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For a guy who is basically in the business of making food I’m embarrassed to say that this news got away from me until now.

The Return of the Third Horseman

As viewed from an agricultural point of view, the world’s largest wheat exporter invaded the world’s fourth-largest wheat exporter. That alone condemns the Middle East to its most volatile and violent period in at least the last century.

One should always be leery of people making apocalyptic predictions; they usually don’t come true.

However in this case there’s a lesson from the recent past:

In 2010, dry weather across Western Siberia prompted concerns about the Russian wheat crop. In preparation for a poor harvest, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered temporary export limitations for wheat, Russia’s primary agricultural product. Within weeks global wheat prices had doubled; Prices tripled in Russia’s primary export market, the Middle East. Those increases contributed to the series of protests, riots, coups, revolutions and wars we now know collectively as the Arab Spring and the Syrian Civil War.

What’s happening now in Russian and Ukraine is a lot worse than that. Farmers are simply not getting Spring wheat planted, whether for reasons of war (Ukraine) or financial problems caused by the war (Russia). However, the article looks at another aspect, fertilisers, three in particular.

Phosphate: China is the largest producer and they’ve banned its export because they need it for a massive increase in their rice crop to compensate for the massive cut in the number of pigs due to the Swine Flu Epidemic a couple of years ago. They culled as many pigs as the rest of the world has in total.

Nitrogen-based fert. Produced using natural gas. Guess who is the largest supplier? Russia. So a threat to supply, which has already boosted the cost, especially in Europe, where it’s increased five-fold.

Potash: Russia and Belarus have 40% of the global supply.

All of these things can be worked around, but that can take years as new supply chains are created; building new pipelines, factories and so forth – all massive expenditure with the knowledge that if/when the Ukraine War ends and if/when sanctions against Russia end, the availability and price of these things might rapidly return to the 2020 status quo.

Written by Tom Hunter

April 5, 2022 at 9:34 am

I’ll take Manic Pixie Dream Girl for 5% inflation, Alex

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The latest statements out of the dairy companies show the biggest monthly leap in payout prices that I can recall, greater even than the big boom of 2013/14.

And farmers vividly recall what happened next; the biggest crunch dairy farmers have ever experienced, which is why I’m looking at their forecasts of similar pricing into 2023 and taking those with a grain of salt.

Everybody likes to see a steady increase in value for what they produce, a steady growth in wage and salaries or other income.

But nobody, at least nobody with a sense of the future, wants to see these sorts of rises because they’re not real in the sense of steady increases in the number of your customers or their increased valuation of your product or service, or perhaps just their steady increase in wealth that makes them less penny-pinching.

No, these sorts of price increases mean that something is very wrong with the system. That money is floating around out there and being thrown at assets and commodities because in our bones we know it can’t last.

Milk is not in that graph but it should be. Farmers had a good sense of what was coming before most economists did, when we saw the price pressures building in 2021. We know from our history that we’ll benefit from inflation before anybody else because commodities go first – but we also know that it will bite us (and everybody else) in the ass later on, as the pressure feeds into the costs of fuel, fertilisers and a hundred other things needed to run a modern farm. Today’s bumper profits and excess cash flow can vanish real fast under those circumstances.

Still, it’s better than being in the situation of a wage and salary earner, especially in the lowest brackets. Those poor bastards are getting screwed right now and it is going to get worse and all the increased minimum wage and WFF kerfuffle is not going to count for much.

That note about the suspension of trading in Nickel forwards is not due to some fundamental problem obtaining Nickel but because some Chinese billionaire and his giant Nickel processing company found himself stuck with an $8 billion loss on short positions he took.

This is going to get worse before it gets better and I hate to tell you this, but in the short-term there’s not much that governments can do about it. They have lit the fuse, as usual, but the it’ll be the marketplace that clears the crap out of the way in its usual, brutal fashion.

Written by Tom Hunter

March 12, 2022 at 12:32 pm