By: Chris Biddles, Te Kopuru, Northland.

It is the last Sunday in November and I have just finished watching another outstanding game of rugby. All Blacks vs Wales. Like last week against Scotland, what a game. Fantastic to see the Northern Hemisphere teams actually taking it to the All Blacks and playing rugby.

This morning’s defence from the All Blacks was superb. The only disappointing thing for me was that the Welsh crowd only sang their national anthem. Normally the Cardiff crowd is in song regularly during a match.

The first time I heard this was 50 years ago. As a third former at boarding school I sneaked out of the dormitory to my fagmaster’s (prefect) study to listen to Wales play the All Blacks.

It was an amazing experience, November 1967, 3.00 in the morning listening to this game on the radio commentated by Bill McLaren. Sir Brian Lohore was the New Zealand captain and the Welsh crowd was in full voice with those wonderful hymns. NZ won 13-6 and as a young boy I found it a memorable experience.

This morning’s game has brought the NZ season to a close and we have certainly seen some amazing rugby. Apart from the super series, that for me, starts too early and is far to disjointed with

the draw biased against NZ teams, we have seen some tremendous rugby.

I loved the Lions series which started with a sell-out crowd in Whangarei and ended with that “interesting” draw at Eden Park.

Apart from the All Blacks we also saw great rugby in the provincial season with our own Northland team playing some pretty exciting rugby and doing it on a shoestring budget compared with many of the teams in the same division.

Onfarm the season is panning out much as I thought (or feared) it would.

By the end of September we had passed our 35-year annual total and it was on the 26th that we had our last significant rain, 46mm. Since then we have had 80mm total but mostly in fours and fives so the sand country has burnt off. We still have good cover thanks to the wet winter that the coast loves.

Our sires are all digging holes to China having been withdrawn from the cows after 34 days of mating and are all in close proximity to each other before being returned to the bull paddock for hopefully not too much fighting when first in contact. Mating was frenetic in the first cycle with the cows in good condition and cycling well before the bulls were joined with them.

Our bull sale was extremely satisfying.

We offered 96 yearling Angus bulls (all our best bulls are sold as yearlings) for a total clearance of all 96 at an average of $3700, considerable up on last year. We had no significantly high prices, three in the $5000 mark but it was evident most clients were prepared to pay between $3000 and $4000 for bulls. Many of our dairy clients were paying this money.

With a four-day calf market often at $250 they recognised the worth of spending on the right bulls.

Readers who have had the misfortune of following my writings over the years (it was November 2006 when I wrote my first for Country-Wide) will be well aware of my love of trout fishing in our 97-year-old clinker boat at Lake Rotoiti.

The shack we share was built by my great grandfather AH Wallis in 1922 and still stands.

For the last 20 years I have fished opening and closing seasons at Rotoiti with two cousins, John Biddles and Peter Arthur. Only Peter and I were there this October as we buried John in September.

John was our only Biddles relation outside my siblings, a lovely gentle man who never said an ill word about anyone.

We missed him at the shack but regularly drank to his memory. We also caught a good lot of trout.