A fair bit has happened since I wrote my last article. I’ve been back to the UK for my father’s funeral, then on my return we had younger son Nick’s wedding. Two family events that most of us will experience at some stage.


Once again I was disappointed at the appearance of the British countryside. Untidy headlands, uncut hedges and verges and what appeared to be wall-to-wall oilseed rape, a total contrast to New Zealand’s current farming practices.

Diversity is the name of the game here, to the point where we are about to witness the world’s first vanilla harvest grown outside a tropical climate. The crop is typically grown in countries that fall into a narrow 20 degree band either side of the equator.

The plant’s flowers have to be hand pollinated and it is reputed to be the most labour-intensive agricultural product in the world. I don’t think we’ll bother growing any as there’s enough going on here as it is.

It’s raining as I write, with a severe weather warning in place for the upper South Island. Farmers are being urged to move stock to higher ground, as serious flooding is predicted. Just as well it’s raining as our main irrigation pump, suspended 100m below ground, has died on us. Fortunately I ordered a replacement some years ago in readiness for this event and thank goodness I did.

The pump will be lifted out by crane and replaced as soon as the engineers can get to us, hopefully within the next few days. I suppose the pump hasn’t done too badly – it has 20,000 hours on the clock and has pumped almost 3 million m3 of water.

Compliments of the season from New Zealand.

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