Indispensable men

French troops in a roadside bivouac in northern France. — Otago Witness, 9.5.1917.
French troops in a roadside bivouac in northern France. — Otago Witness, 9.5.1917.
The importance of the shepherd to the nation was (says the Oamaru Mail) clearly shown to all who chose to think upon the matter by the attendance of shepherds at Haka trials on Friday.

From careful inquiry it was found that the 30 competitors with, of course, one or two unavoidable exceptions, represented every shepherd within 20 miles and beyond. The 30 men represented very nearly the same number of runs. If they are to be treated as fighting units by the Efficiency Board without reference to their equivalent importance in the wool and mutton that cannot be produced without them, the district will be hard hit indeed. To realise this it is only necessary to sit in a motor car for two hours and watch the rugged and mountainous nature of the country up the Waitaki Valley. There are many runs now working with a general factotum where previously four or five men were employed regularly. The one man who cannot be spared is the shepherd, because he cannot be replaced at a moment’s notice, nor will his dogs, save for rare individuals, work for anyone else satisfactorily for months. Ability to train and work dogs is a qualification possessed by surprisingly few men. It should be interesting to ascertain the exact number of bales of wool or carcases of mutton dependent for production upon the efforts of those 30 men. Their employers, especially those upon the higher country, must face serious loss if deprived of the services of all single shepherds within the next six months. Much of it is country not negotiable by a man over military age. To realise the extent of the district affected one must journey from Kurow to Longslip or even further, because these lean brown men of the hills are responsible for a vast amount of spur and gully apiece.

Potatoes in the Town Belt

With the view to assisting as far as practicable in the work of augmenting the food supply, arrangements have been made by the Reserves Committee of the City Council to plant with potatoes all vacant plots in the nursery, and also an adjacent area of the Town Belt, which will be cleared of broom and stumps for the purpose. As the supply of prepared seed is most important, the production of proper seed will be the chief aim, and the crop will therefore be dug at the proper time, greened and exposed during the winter and sprouted in the spring. The question of letting portions of the Town Belt for potato growing is receiving consideration, and will be the subject of a further report to another meeting of the council.

Capable women

Considerable curiosity was aroused amongst those who happened to be in the vicinity of the wharf at Wanganui on Monday morning, at the spectacle of two young women who were in charge of a well-known carrier’s cart, filling the vehicle with bags of flour at the goods shed and taking it to a local business place, where they assisted in unloading operations. It is understood that the work was undertaken more in a spirit of fun than anything else, but the way they handled the flour and the horse and cart was further proof of what young women can do in case of emergency. — ODT, 14.5.1917.


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