Monday, 1 August 2011

The Polar Blast

# Big Farming Story of the Week: The Polar Blast.

July 1939. The world was on the brink of a second world war, Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh starred in Gone With The Wind, Southland held the Ranfurly Shield and Auckland had its last recorded snowfall.

Snow didn’t quite settle in the city of sails last week but it got close. While Mother Nature’s latest reminder she can’t make up her mind up about global warming was nothing more than nuisance value for most farmers, for some it was the first real experience of snow in their farming careers. Snow in July is to be encouraged, especially if it spares us in September.

# Big Political Story of the Week: The Americans playing Russian Roulette with the World Economy.

Call it brinkmanship, one-upmanship or political chicken. The Democrats and the Republicans are taking the US debt crisis debate right to the wire. Barrack Obama wants to pay for the increased debt ceiling by taxing the rich. The good old boys of the Grand Old Party want spending cuts. The ultimate solution is a bit of both. You’ve got to go back 50 years to the Cuban Missile Crisis for a Mexican stand-off of this proportion. Meanwhile the world waits with baited breath and our dollar breathlessly surges to daily post-float highs.

Austerity is the new buzz word post the Global Financial Crisis and it’s here to stay. Hopefully the high dollar isn’t.

# Big Sporting Story of the Week: The Stags win the Ranfurly Shield (again!)

After waiting a lifetime (50 years in my case) for the big one in 2009, I only had to wait nine months for the gestation of another glorious Southland Ranfurly Shield reign.

Just like the Otago side of the 1990s that featured the likes of Jeff Wilson, Marc Ellis, Josh Kronfeld and Taine Randell, the Southland Stags have a cult following from their fanatical fans. It’s sexy to be a Stags fan and it’s not because they’re the most glamourous side in the ITM Cup. Far from it. The Stags have a down-on-the-farm charm. They’re battlers who quite literally only win games by going into battle. Led by their larger than life (and rather large in real life) captain Jamie Mackintosh, they ooze earthy honestly with their delightful southern burr.

# Brickbat: Nutters taking their guns to town Nutters leaving their guns at home!

The shooting massacre in Norway was yet another tragic reminder that for some deluded nut-cases the only real solution is one of their own bullets. Insane or otherwise, all Anders Breivik’s trial will do is give a crazed mass-murderer a platform for his extremist views. He is a walking advertisement for summary capital punishment.

On a lighter note Peter de Villiers, the Springboks coach, also has one wheel in the gravel. He’s totally bonkers, barking mad in fact, but in a nice harmless sort of way. While it’s disappointing the Springboks have left their guns at home, we should be thankful for small mercies in the form of the diminutive de Villiers. Sir Brian Lochore summed it up best when he said the most worrying thing about the Springboks heading into the World Cup was the prospect they might have dumped their coach!

# Bouquet: The IHC Calf Scheme.

Launched in 1984, the scheme now sees more than 5500 calves donated annually raising in excess of one million dollars for, arguably, the most endearing of all charitable causes. With Sir Colin Meads as patron saint, alongside wonderful sponsorship from PGG Wrightson and Allflex, the IHC Calf Scheme is a well-oiled machine. Initially aimed at dairy farmers, the scheme also encourages sheep and beef farmers to contribute the part of the proceeds from the sale of their livestock.

The IHC is a charity near and dear to my heart. I will be donating the equivalent of a weaned calf. I’d urge all farmers, not already donating and rearing a calf, to do likewise. Most cockies have enjoyed a bountiful season. It’s time to share your good fortune. To contribute phone 0800 746 444.

Jamie Mackay is the host of the Ballance Agri-Nutrients Farming Show which airs on Radio Sport and Newstalk ZB.


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