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Rural People & Issues

Rural People & Issues

This section of the website holds articles on everything you need to know about non-farming issues when living in the country. Choose from the menu on the left to browse our articles.

Tamarillos are subtropicals, tolerating only light frosts, and are also sensitive to high heat environments and drought conditions.  They will not tolerate waterlogging or having wet feet either, and being large-leaved, smallish trees or shrubs with soft, semi-woody and fairly brittle stems, need protection from wind as well. 

Did you know you can get dwarf almond trees? Did you know they're quite easy to grow? Did you know they're delicious?

Easy to grow and delicous to eat, but did you know rhubarb can also be used as a natural cleaner, soap ingredient and for pest control?

In terms of fruit and vegetable production, the late winter and early spring months can be deceptively sparse but loquats can fill the gap.

Did you know that blackcurrants have some lesser-known relatives which are much milder on the palate and can even be eaten as a fresh dessert fruit? Enter the red and white currants…

I’ll be spending most of my weekend in the kitchen, engulfed in a cloud of steam, with a sticky bench and even stickier complexion. Is it worth it? Absolutely.

 February is indeed the month of ‘peak plum’ and I’ve just spent the last week bottling, jamming and dehydrating the last of the rooftop haul.

The dark red, velvet-skinned, late season peach beloved of many a Kiwi has recently undergone a name update, bringing it firmly in to the 21st century. Sanguine peach, blood peach, Pêche de Vigne (peach of the grapevine; vineyard peach) or simply, as I heard recently – purple peach – call it what you may, this fruit holds a special place in the hearts of countless New Zealanders.

If this is your dream (and you are still at the dreaming-only stage), you’ll need to think about what you really want from this future life

For cold-hardiness and reliable production of relatively sweet, juicy fruit, you can’t go past a Meyer, and they are a great starting point.  But what of the other, lesser-known, but no less interesting members of the lemon clan?             

Maturing in late autumn to early winter, and with good storage potential, it is a handy substitute for cucumbers and zucchini in the months when these vegetables are absent.

As a home garden specimen tree, the persimmon offers not only a plentiful source of fruit heading into the winter months but also a brilliant display of colour as its foliage turns in the autumn. 

Nothing screams autumn like the musky-sweet scent of homegrown grapes, hiding in amongst their leafy surrounds and just waiting for the keen eyes of a backyard treasure-hunter. 

Trug-maker Bill Blair talks to Diana Noonan about his craft.

Make-it-Work – how you can turn your lifestyle block into a business. Jane Young lives with her husband, Jim, on a 4 hectare lifestyle block in South Otago.

If ever you are tempted to entertain the old adage: ‘Men can’t do two things at once’, Kevin Boam will change your mind forever.

I live in a very watery part of the world with an ocean and river estuary at my doorstep

If you’re planning a trip into Central Otago, give serious thought to arriving in the small town of Roxburgh on a Thursday.

 ‘Get Pickled’ - Sharon McNabb talks to Diana Noonan about her home-based preserving business

He says she’s a wonderful cook. She says he’s a wonderful story teller.

Katrina Hampton’s latest patchwork quilt, a warm mix of golds, reds and greens, adorns her living room sofa.

Make-it-Work – how you can turn your lifestyle block into a business. Boarding kennels may not be the first thing that comes to mind as you consider a lifestyle block occupation.

Note: like all village recipes, this simple dish relies on the freshest ingredients to give it its characteristic flavours.

Our fridge was never without a large jar of this family friendly mayonnaise when our son was living at home.

This pie just has to be the Albanian equivalent of bubble and squeak because it uses up all the leftovers in the fridge and turns them into a dish fit for a king.

A delicious and warming soup!

Rah! Rah! Rah! I’m sick of the word ‘failure’. 

I have won an award! Amazing.

Last week I had a little reminder of what was to come.

The Bafor and the Bahafta, is what my Dad used to say as he surveyed his day’s battle with the garden.

Peppermint! #@**@# !!!

Honey bees are really cool. No really, they're amazing. The more you know about them the better they get.

Gozleme, the Turkish version of pizza. I think of it at this time each year because our winter vegetables lend themselves so well as fillings for this simple-to-make meal.

“I don’t want to be sustainable. It’s not who I am. It’s not what this little farm is about.”

Strategizing is a skill you use when all else fails or if the problem looks to be too big.

When I came here, the farm was a mess. I knew what I was taking on – including the state of the soil.

“How extraordinary,” I thought as I watched the wind gusts swing the backing gate across the dairy shed yard.

Men love to keep tough things a mystery … and the way we ladies have been ‘conditioned’ to being semi-hopeless, hopeless, or drastically hopeless is a matter for the situation or the man’s ego.

Well, pregnancy testing is over. Thank goodness. Anxiety dissipates as the verdict “Pregnant” … “Pregnant” … “Pregnant” exits the vet’s mouth and I add another tick alongside another cow’s name.

Recently I made another one of those proper-dairy-farmer decisions and I changed my whole farming system so that I could supply a specialised GRASS FED milk.

Now, the most dreadful part of getting to know my girls again was the reality that I was a commercial dairy farmer and I had to make THOSE commercial dairy farmer decisions.

Last season was wonderful in terms of reconnecting the old friendships I had with the girls.

One of the best things about the move to the dairy farm was getting to know my lovely cows again.

As I metamorphosed into a local, the weather became a key factor in my daily life. 

Becoming a South Islander had a few problems … or should I put that as ‘becoming a North Cantabr

But then, there was another one of ‘those phone calls’.

In the meantime, while this was all going on, I was trotting back up to the North Island on a reasonably regular basis to care for my little farmlet up there.

There are a number of things you can do to reduce the risk of introducing animal diseases onto your property.

The girls thought they had died and gone to heaven, and making the decision to go “Once a Day” was part of it.

The rest of the season melded into a blur and, looking back, I realise how much the wonderful people around me became a gift that saved the farm from the disasters that might have happened.

And so my first season began. With high hopes and heaps of enthusiasm, I launched headlong into what turned into a series of nightmares.

My head was exploding. People who know about stuff seem to be so willing to part with and share their knowledge.

The fourth 'Letter from Middelmost Dairy Farm'. I had to make the North to South move as simple and as smooth as possible otherwise I knew I was going to crumple before the trek had even begun.

Letters from Middelmost Dairy Farm.  To have good people around you is essential and, in this matter, I was blessed.

And so the scramble began.  First things first … I needed to sort the cows out as they had been dried off and were nearly ready to move to their next lease location.

I always wanted to be a dairy farmer but who has a spare few million lying about?

Rod Slater is correct in some of his responses to my article on home-kill vs meat works meat,

I refer to Dr Marjorie Orr's article posted on your site recently; a number of statements are made that in my view are not correct.

Anyone living in a remote area without an existing connection to the national grid faces potentially expensive solutions to their power requirements.

Whether we like it or not, 1080 poison is widely used to kill introduced mammalian species that may threaten native wildlife and harbour TB.

You live on a windy ridge. Sunshine is unreliable (imagine the west coast of the South Island), and you're a long way from the nearest power pole.

Those of you who have eaten home-killed meat will have noticed that it is more tender and tastier than meat from animals killed in the freezing works.

For most of us approaching the idea of solar power as novices, there are some daunting matters to get our heads around. 

Solar energy means different things to different people: is it solar water heating, or is it the use of photovoltaic panels to generate electricity?

A secure and safe food source is vital for me.

Image is all important. It's an item that doesn't cost much.

A supply of timber on your farm can be invaluable, both as a source of firewood, and as a future source of income if you grow trees for fine timbers.

A friend called in with the most enormous pumpkin I had ever seen.

Hay in the shed is like money in the bank and my little hay shed was full.

I did worry the other day when we had the first real cold snap since summer finished.

I saw an advert in a weekly rural paper which reminded me of a discovery I made a while back.

It is so tough when you struggle each day to keep your self-esteem intact because one eye is continually on the bank balance and the other is always on the ever diminishing budget forecast.

I love shopping and, for those fans of "Letters from Middelmost"

Save the pennies and the pounds will take care of themselves.

I'm a bit of a label reader. Firstly it saves me money because, if there is a word I can't read or can't pronounce on the label, then the item gets put back onto the shelf.

I get quite cross when I am at the checkout and I find my hard-worked-for goods are treated with disrespect.

Last winter I had stopped at a Service Station to fill up.

Establishing an orchard on your lifestyle block can involve a good deal of work, and sometimes money, so it’s worth doing some careful planning before taking spade to soil.

When I garden, I don't waste my time.

One of the key things at this time of the year is to not waste all of the hard work you have put into your vegetable garden.

mozzarellaStrictly speaking, it's a cheater's cheese, as there's not even any culture added. But it's a big hit for when you're short of time or wanting to impress your friends by making your own cheese for the homemade pizza or summer salad of fresh mozzarella, fresh-from-the-garden tomatoes and basil leaves, drizzled with some extra virgin olive oil and sprinkled with flaky sea salt and a dash of freshly ground pepper.

Time ... how do you make time? Time is my New Year's Resolution. "Take time out to smell the roses" ... easier said than done. But done it's going to be and I started by recognising what I already do. 

Talking about my mother last article reminded me of something she always did at this time of the year.

I was in at the Doctors flicking through the magazines as you do and I found myself reading an advertorial for a life-saving, youth-returning, new-to-the-market foundation type makeup.

With Xmas just around the corner, chocolate (and many things related to chocolate) seem to be constantly in my face.

Desperation does not have pride and, when you are desperately trying to achieve something financially

It is strange how an association of ideas can completely colour your perception.

We have been told many times that cosmetics are a rip-off

Resourcefulness. A transferable skill that poverty stricken people hone to a high level.

For me ... not a problem. I have been a 'Commercially Free Xmas Zone' for years.

cheeseIn many places of the world, cheese curds of many flavours can be found in the supermarket, and are a nice change to the bland block of cheese. Cheese curds retain a squeak that aged cheeses lose, because for the first few hours and even days, the binding proteins in the curds are still very elastic and squeak when you bite them, releasing some of the moisture that remains.  To make them may sound complicated, but once you get going, you may find that it's a nice change of pace to create in your home kitchen.

I called in to see a friend and found her on her hands and knees planting sunflower seeds - she had an ice-cream container of them.

Don't you hate it when you think you'd made enough jam/pickle/chutney/relish to last to the next season … and you hadn't. My fault.

When you live with a septic tank, and are concerned for the environment, the use of modern cleaning compounds may be something that worries you.

Michael lives on a one-acre block and has a neighbour who processes firewood for charity.

cheddarIn the latest in our articles on cheese making, Andrea Gauland takes us through a step by step guide on how to make delicious farmhouse cheddar.

Common household baking soda has been used in many ways for a very long time

It was an food writer, Hannah Glasse, who began a recipe with the words "First, catch your hare."

Some people get confused about the SPCA - there's the RNZSPCA and your local SPCA - what's the difference?

Building on a sloping building site can be fraught with challenges.

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