Remembering old friends
This month we look at the kunekune pig and it brought back lots of memories, mostly of my one and only pig, Wilbur.
I had to search back through my photo archive to find pictures of Wilbur, because although it feels like not that long ago, it’s almost five years since he was put down (see page 17 for Wilbur’s sorry story). And it was while hunting for images that I ended up deep in memories of my block, the animals which have lived, loved and died here, and how much it has changed.
There was a picture of my Dad and my Uncle Graham sitting in fold-up chairs about where my couch is now, sipping on a cup of hot coffee amidst the shell of the house. I think it was the day we put up the ceiling, sheet after sheet of plywood with the look of sarking, a significantly cheaper, much easier to install option than actual sarking. I was hoping it would look good, and if I look up right now, it does.
The garden was full of flowers. If I could offer you one tip, it would be to accept the offer from your parents of a loan and get a landscape plan done. These days the garden is a deconstruction in progress, mostly by me – still not following a plan – and ably assisted by Biscuit who must dig a new hole for each bone she receives.
The views are very different. Back then, I looked straight out and into the neighbour’s paddock. In winter, I could see even further, straight into their lounge through the naked branches of a big willow. Today, there is row after row of huge totara, lemonwood, kahikatea, manuka and flax which form an honour guard up the driveway and across the south-west boundary, protecting me from the wind and their privacy.
He may be long gone, but Wilbur lives on too. Most of him (again, see page 17) is buried in the big paddock, quite close to the special run Dad built to hold him for his surgery. One of his tusks sits on a fence post (page 17, it’s a doozy) and every now and then, I marvel that I had the honour of caring for a terrific, radiant, humble pig.
EDITOR’S NOTE: thank you for the information Betsy, and you’re quite right, a pin oak would be a bad choice as a shelter tree – our apologies for the error.
WILD FOOD FAN
I have just read your write up on wild food (February 2016). There sure is something in what the Aussies call ‘bush tucker’. I celebrated my 92nd birthday late last year and we ate a lot of wild food when we were kids. Times were hard and there was very little money but we ate well.
We were on a farm so had plenty of milk, butter and cream, eggs and homegrown meat. The main garden was ploughed, not dug by spade, so there was
WHY FIGHT WEEDS?
I found the Pasture Weed Watch column in your January 2016 issue extremely thoughtprovoking. The PGG Wrightson scientist Milton Munro believes it’s a ‘disaster’ that his ‘hopes and dreams of a perfect lawn’ have been impeded by the growth of the herb self-heal ( Prunella vulgaris). Although self-heal/heal-all is used medicinally by many cultures around the world, Munro says that ‘scientific work has yet to determine exactly what health properties it has’ and therefore advises ‘a little caution’.
No such caution is recommended when he calls for repeated spraying with ‘2,4D spiked with a little Dicamba’. No mention is made of any scientific studies detailing the effects of these chemicals on plant, animal, soil and human health. What kind of deathstyle is being fostered by the casual spreading of harmful chemicals in pursuit of the mirage of perfection? Have we made no progress ecologically since gardening books recommended the application of salts of mercury to kill earthworms whose casts marred the ‘perfect lawn’.
I urge your magazine to run a parallel column by a suitably-qualified scientist (eg, Dr Muriel Watts) to inform your readers of the effects of the chemicals being recommended by PGG Wrightson.