Saturday, December 31, 2011

Australian Year of the Farmer

2012 Marks the Beginning to Australian Year of the farmer, so what not get on board and show your support either as a Rural producers or as someone who doesn't necesarily know that much about how their food and fibre are produced.

Check out there website here: http://www.yearofthefarmer.com.au/

Just so nobody misses the big moment, here is a subtle remeinder:


Friday, December 30, 2011

Christmas Lights

As I mentioned in an earlier post every Christmas finds itself enabling me to do more and more things to light up the night (and do untold damage to my parents power bill).
This year we upped the ante with our Christmas lights. So we decided to do words with rope lights. So after a couple of hours, three bags of zip ties and a large amount of fencing wire (much to my fathers delight) this is what we came up with:

Peace: 20m long











Joy: 10m long

To go with our words display this year we also had our traditional house display and also one of our pencil pines in the front paddock.





 

Thursday, December 29, 2011

It's Christmas Time!

Okay so I am slightly late in posting this, but hey better late than never.
Christmas the time when family gather, food is abundant (unfortunately the relationship between food consumption and waist line size is proportional) and I find new and more imaginative ways of doing creative things to may parents power bill (more on this later)!

For my overseas colleagues who read this blog I thought I'd let you in on a bit of an insight into an Aussie Christmas, as I have been dutifully told that we do things "weirdly" (in a nice sense) - Quote from a Texan friend.....

We have our similarities in that we still exchange gifts and spend time with our family but we do other unique things:
 
1. Christmas in Australia is usually a warm affair so we eat and drink cold things to substitute.
  • Popular choices are prawns and beer (or the occasional cocktail) - No Christmas is complete in Oz without copious amounts of prawns (or shrimp as they are sometimes called, but shrimp in Oz are something different)
  • Other choices include cold leg hams, chicken and turkey. We are very lucky in our areas to have several butchers who do their own smoking and source only local hams to provide us with an excellent selection.
2.  Deserts are often varied considerably.
  • We have the traditional selection of Christmas Puddings & Christmas Cakes - I have friends who often make there's 12 months in advance and leave them to mature.
  • We also eat another Aussie delicacy called Pavlova (this is a very contentious issue with our nabours accross the Tasman who claim that they came up with it first) or Pav is a baked meringue topped with freshly whipped cream, fruit and chocolate. 
3. Sporting matches are abundant
  • An Aussie Christmas is not complete without either The Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race or the Boxing Day Test
  • Most Aussies will watch either the Boxing Day Test (Cricket) or the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race, or both on Boxing Day
    • I personally go for the Sydney to Hobart as I can track it online.
4. Trips to the beach are a must.
  • Or if you are like me and live four hours from the coast, any excuse to go for a swim in the creek is fine.
    • Relevant excuses include having to fix the flood fence.




5. If you live on a farm, there's always something to do.
  • Cows and horses have no sense of timing, so there is always something be mended, a flood crossing to fix or a cow (or 20) to preg test.











Image Sources:  
http://www.spill.co.za/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/Camils-prawns2.jpg
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/78/MCG99.jpg

Thursday, December 8, 2011

My Views on Courier Mail Live Export Column

I had the (dis)pleasure of reading through an editorial from the states biggest newspaper this morning (The Courier Mail). Now don't get me wrong usually I like reading the Courier as there is often some very quality journalism that occurs....... Today: Not so.

After reading through columnist Paul Williams views on live export I was left considering where he got his facts from?
Comments such as this really got me a bit annoyed:

"Indeed, Europe is an interesting case. From exporting millions of live head a decade ago, the continental trade has slowed to a trickle, and will soon phase out altogether - all on the strength of changing public opinion"
 I query Mr Williams, on this statement. Firstly yes Public Opinion does have a terrific impact (as we have learned this year) but it would not be the only underpinning factor. Considering where Europe is located geographically in the world in comparison to the markets it supplies, when you compare that to Australia and our geographic locale you will discover the distance are a lot shorter for Australian exporters.
"Given the grief this trade has caused both sides of politics - remember the 2003 debacle under John Howard when 57,000 live sheep were stranded in the Middle East on the Cormo Express? - one would think that, even for base political purposes, the major parties would seize every opportunity to extricate themselves from a practice that causes acute international embarrassment."
Mr Williams then goes onto mention The Cormo Express debacle and the impact that it had on Australian politics and the impact that it hard in tarnishing Australia's reputation in the eyes of the world. Whilst this situation was regrettable and upsetting and highly disappointing to see. I would also mention that the Governments snap decision to ban live exports this year left livestock producers in somewhat of a similar situation. Producers running out of feed and unable to move livestock to other markets, were moving to considering shooting them to prevent suffering. If the Government were concerned about welfare in Indonesia, they should have been equally concerned about the ramifications that would have occurred as a result of this snap decision. Did they realise what this would do when they were making an election campaign out of it?
"Opponents cited the usual arguments of the loss of a $1 billion industry and local jobs as their defence to keep a cruel status quo.
But neither has to be. First, when Australia exports live animals, we also surrender Australian slaughterhouse jobs (not to mention valuable DNA hard-won after years of controlled breeding).
Animals humanely stunned and slaughtered in Australia can be a jobs boon for the Northern Territory."
This leads into Mr Williams closing remarks where he maintains that it would be fine to see the cessation of an industry that contributes large amounts to the economy, though in his defence he has stated that there would be more jobs retained and profits by moving the processing operations on-shore. Had Mr Williams listened fully to the opposing parties rebuttal (from the ALP conference telecast which he has based this article on), he would have found that the feasibility for setting up a chilled meat processing division in Northern Australia is not viable due to the wet season that occurs every year. There is a reason why properties shut down or move to skeleton crews during this time as the rain inundation that occurs makes most means of travel (bar air services) unpassable.
The other point Mr Williams makes in this article is that we are destroying sought after DNA bloodlines that have been hard fought for. The cattle Live Export trade in itself would not be sending genetically productive animals to sale and then onto meat markets. The animals that are commonly sourced for these markets are steers (castrated males = no genetic input to the herd) and animals that are deemed non-productive (eg: Spayed Heifers/Non-Pregnant Cows/Infertile Animals). Animals that are being exported overseas such as Dairy Cattle are not being sent for the meat industry they are sent for the purposes of genetic improvement in other herds overseas.

I understand everyone's right an opinion, but what I don't agree with is writing an opinion piece in a major Australian news paper without researching the points being made in it.

You Can read the full article by Paul Williams HERE

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Some Humour For The Day.....

A friend of mine posted this on Facebook and I thought it was hillarious so I thought I would share-
First there were City Rockers, now step aside and meet: Council Workers:
Enjoy.......

Monday, December 5, 2011

How Transparent is Transparent?

*Now please don't get me wrong I don't advocate animal cruelty or the actions of a minority.

This last week has seen a spate of recordings being made public from the wrong doings of some individuals. These instances have been appropriately investigated and those responsible punished accordingly. The statement that has come out that really perplexes me came last week from Animal Liberation Group: Animals Australia, which called for closed circuit CCTV cameras to be installed in all Sale Yard and Meat Processing Facilities in Australia.
This point I find curious, if these installations were to install CCTV cameras then who would be the independent advisor that would analyse the content of these films and report any actions that warrant reporting? This person would have to be objective and non-biased. So you would assume that the operators of these facilities would not be able to, and an organisation like animals Australia would not be appropriate either (taking into consideration this group has its own agenda's and actively promotes veganism amongst its members). This task would have to fall to a department within the Government and the likelihood of this happening is low, owing to the amount of restructuring occurring.
The other point I find increasingly interesting is the point brought up during the Country Hour segment (ABC Qld)  most livestock saleyard facilities operate around once a week (some more, but not a large number), these facilities also occupy a large area (many hectares in some cases) to install CCTV cameras and monitor them across large areas and instances where they are used one is just not viable.
Other processing facilities work as a private entity and therefore have procedures in place to monitor the movements of employees and visitors through Sign In & Out, visitor identification and secure access areas.

More and more recently these actions are being reported by the general public through the use of mobile phone technology. 
"public are using phones and cameras to film the treatment of animals at cattle sales" Source: ABC Country Hour
Phones these days are equipped with a multitude of options allowing them to capture video and images and allows this footage to be sent to other third party users or uploaded to other servers rapidly. Clearly it is hard to ban these devices from facilities (though some environments prohibit their usage) and it is not illegal to film in a public area (again private environments are subject to differing rules). Restricting the usage of cameras and other recording devices whilst difficult to do would also be viewed as if producers had something to hide and this does not bode well with the presentation of our image within the market as this makes us look secretive and have something to hide.
Again its only a small minority that are giving cause for defamatory action against the industry, so its important to ensure that the standards of welfare are maintained across the board. It only takes one person doing the wrong things and for a member of the public to record these actions, leading to the industry being damaged again. This is all too easy in this day and age where you have people who may not be animal rights activists but are just looking for their five minutes of fame on TV.

My question to you is: 
  • Just how transparent is transparent? 
  • Are we being transparent enough?
  • What are ways we can improve or changes we need to make?
Now understandingly transparency is hard to do particularly in industries where biosecurity standards have to be maintained.  I'd like to know, please comment below and tell me what you think.

Image Sources-
Smart Phones: http://public.cenriqueortiz.com/images/feature-smart-phone.png
Security Cameras: http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_qLAIskTQXUc/TDh2TkbhwOI/AAAAAAAAApo/f6uSdtLYjGY/s1600/surveillance-cameras.jpg
ABC Screen Capture: http://www.abc.net.au/rural/news/content/201112/s3383429.htm
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