Re­mem­ber­ing old friends

NZ Lifestyle Block - - From The Editor -

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.


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


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.

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