Halswell Domain

Halswell Domain
View from the Model Engineers' site in the Halswell Domain

Tuesday, July 28, 2015


My usual winter companions of ducks and herons are absent this year. It has been too dry for the usual ponds of standing water to form, so the ducks do not gather to ferret out grain spilled by the horses, and the herons do not fly slowly overhead. The beauty of a grey heron flying through a grey sky, croaking mournfully as the sun retreats, is something that I miss. But it is a blessing not to wade through the mud and water that soaks feet and kills grass.
Sunset over standing water, 2013.

Hay prices have been exceptionally high this year. Last season was a bad one for haymaking, with paddocks producing half of the usual number of bales. This has coupled with the drought in the North Island to create a real shortage of supply. I was very fortunate to get some cheap, good quality hay delivered in March, but those who are unable to store large amounts of hay have been left to buy it at ever increasing cost. I am concerned that, should the region experience another bad season, buying hay will be a luxury for many. 

While we have missed out on our usual rainfall, we have not been short on frosts this year. On the worst days the metal gates at work stick to my hands, and the ropes are stiff with ice.

My horse is about to come back into work in preparation for the competition season. Once again we will brave the multitude of dog owners who do not appear to know how to read Halswell Quarry signage requiring leashed dogs in the horse area. There is a horse park being developed in West Melton, which will hopefully remove the need for me to travel to Burwood in search of decent horse trails. One of my favourite paper roads is no longer easy to access following interference with stock on the adjoining farms, and this is a great pity.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

What is the TPPA and why might we care?

People the world over are concerned about trade agreements like the TPPA or the TIPP (the European/ American version of the same thing).   There are movements in all of the countries who are lining up to sign up to the TPPA or similar agreements about the costs of these free trade agreements.  "Free" here cannot under any circumstances be taken to mean trade at no cost!  

In fact the costs are very high:  higher costs of medicines, lower wages, and worse environmental outcomes and a loss of sovereignty (our capacity to make our own rules in our own country and live as we choose in a way that reflects our values).

Those against the TPPA are NOT against trade.  The are worried about the hidden and undiscussed costs of secret trade agreements that commit us to things that may not work for us.  They are concerned at the loss of democratic process.
Here are some of their concerns:
1) Why are we not able to debate this openly with all the information on the table, as you would expect if we live in a functioning democracy?
2) Will the benefits outweigh the costs to average New Zealanders?
3) Why is the TPPA being negotiated in secret and what can we NOT see as a result of that?
4) What are the implications of large international corporations being able to sue our government for loss of earnings if they change laws (and this might include raising the minimum wage, or legislating to ensure businesses don't pollute or damage our capacity to be clean and green or 100% pure) in courts that are not NZ courts?
5) Who exactly will benefit from this and what is the evidence based on the results of previous free trade agreements?

Check out this comic strip from the Pencilsword to see an easy-to-read outline of the issues, or this Press article from some concerned doctors.  If you prefer video then this two minute video gives you an outline. 

This is likely to affect us in far reaching ways for many years to come.  It is worth 10 minutes of your time to find out a little bit more. Check out this website for information about what you can do if you have concerns

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Cycling in Halswell and beyond

A post from a new writer: The Happy Bicyclist.
Most Saturday afternoons, J and I go for a bike ride together that usually ends up at some cafe in the country. Today, though, she was rostered on for work. 

Bicycling on a calm, sunny afternoon in winter can be quite magical. Heading out just after lunch, I stopped at Healthy Harvest in Prebbleton for some mandarins and cheaper-than-usual capsicums. And just remembered the honey that had been forgotten on our previous supermarket visit. Later, on the Lincoln side of Rolleston I added some garlic from a roadside stall. 

Still feeling pleased about the garlic, I swung on and off the completed sections of the Lincoln-Rolleston off-road cyclepath presently under construction. Once finished in a month or so, this will be a real boon for all sorts of folk, people walking as well as people on their bikes.
A piece of the new Lincoln-Rolleston cycleway in the making

Today, I stopped in two cafes - coffee in Rolleston, and herbal tea in Lincoln. We hadn't been to the one in Rolleston, and J wanted me to check it out. It's in the iZone, and you can find it by turning off Jones Road at the yard filled with derelict Landrovers. 

Being on my own, I had a book to read: Robert & Edward Skidelsky's "How much is enough?...the case for the Good Life". Sounds good to me.