Choose your allies wisely

Jane Smith honours the Kiwi rural battlers.

In Home Block6 Minutes

Jane Smith honours the Kiwi rural battlers.

A family ethos of ours has always been to choose who you would like to align with in life, using this one litmus test … if our country went to war tomorrow, would you want them in your battalion?

I have met some amazing people in my time that I would be honoured to stand alongside – and particularly so in the past six months. Thank you to those that are battling against irrational methane calculations, irreversible land zoning changes, unworkable water and land use regulations and hypocritical large scale carbon plotting – not because they are paid to do this (they aren’t), but because it is the right thing to do.

It is this ‘courage under fire’ tenacity that New Zealanders were once known for – we were never a nation of fence-sitters, apologists, appeasists or agreers. We became known as innovators, risk takers and opinionators. However, during the last year we have crept into a twilight zone of celebrating only the extreme end of society, and conveniently relegating into perpetuity previously ‘mainstream’ views as some sort of perverse and irrelevant sector of society.

Give it 20 years and we will be looking for middle aged right wing white male capitalists to sit on boards to fulfil a quota as a rare sector of society.

Recycling internal taxation, locking up land and water, coupled with printing money will not enable us to pay our nurses more, show a proof of life on our mental health system or sort out an education system that rewards good teachers.

So thank you to those that have been willing to stand up for what is right, at great personal expense of time and opportunity cost. I was honoured to facilitate a forum for a number of these entities and individuals in late June. It was a pretty inspiring moment to muster up those people who will gain no ego or knighthood on their journey to fight for what is right for rural NZ.

It’s been a bloody challenging 12 months behind the farm gate with mother nature dishing us up two droughts and two weatherbombs (mild in comparison to the poor buggers in Canterbury) in the space of a year – served with a very cold side dish of substantial re-zoning in the Waitaki District by two wayward landscape architects using binoculars, a child’s red crayon and a few aerial maps. We were very fortunate that we were pre-warned by Groundswell and a clever guy called Jamie McFadden that this tsunami of bureaucratic bollocks was heading our way after previous occurrences in North Canterbury and the West Coast.

On the brightside, stock performance has been outstanding this year. Our ewes were not surprised to see another non-existent autumn. We are bloody thankful that our genetics make us and our Perendale and Romdale ram clients proud at scanning time – despite the annual lack of any tupping feed throughout the South Island and beyond. Our Fossil Creek Angus bull sale was another great event – celebrating 21 years of Fossil Creek onfarm sales. It has been heartening to see the depth of knowledge that beef farmers around the country now have on estimated breeding values – focusing on traits both on paper and in the paddock, not just going to bull sales that offer the best BBQ and beer afterwards!

We are stoked to have three graduates from the Waitaki Boys’ High School Fraser Farm agriculture programme at Newhaven – Jack Price and Ben Paton are full time with us, with Jared Mee on high school work experience (photo p91). Thank you to those leading such brilliant local initiatives up and down the country in farm cadetships programmes, despite the Government’s best attempts to destroy the fabric of apprenticeships.

Speaking of socialist control, the three Smith offspring have learnt over the past decade that I run a dictatorship, not a democracy. While I demand total compliance when it comes to household tasks, it was still a wake up call when youngest child George re-quoted me the other day when he said “oh Mum, this is supposed to be North Otago, not North Korea”. Blair’s reply to him was “George, you are wrong, North Korea releases its weakest male captives after 10 years, I’m still here after 15”.