Pearl Harbor memorial: The USS Missouri.

Home block: Murphy’s impeccable timing

With the arrival of winter, a holiday in the warmth of Hawaii beckons for Blair Drysdale and his family from their farm at Balfour, Northern Southland.

Winter certainly hit with a vengeance this year. A week of frosts is unusual for us in early June, a reminder that Mother Nature is boss. It’s when the use of silly string is prolific and merely seen as an object by animals, that for the first few days must be entangled in kale and swedes, solely to frustrate the farmer.

Blair Drysdale.

Now that all classes of stock have learnt the perils of temporary fences and have some new-found manners (or so I thought), all is going well and for all but the R2 beefies, there’s plenty of feed for winter. The flow-on effects of Mycoplasma bovis meant having to carry 45 extra head of R2s into winter on the fodder beet because of space being extremely tight at processing plants.

I don’t want to go on too much about M bovis, but I think MPI director Geoff Gwyn’s statement saying farmers are failing to report cases is well out of line and has been met with the ire of farmers. I know several farmers who made that phone call, as I myself had to make and I don’t think it’s helpful of him playing the blame game and nor is politicians using it as a political football.

The roads heading to Queenstown in the morning were dodgy, but the airport was open (just) and flights on time.

However, winter isn’t all doom and gloom. Most years we leave the farm at this time in the capable hands of my father, while we enjoy warmer climates somewhere. This year was no exception with a trip to Hawaii with friends booked back in early summer, leaving June 6.

But along came Murphy, in the form of very heavily falling snow in an attempt to derail our plans at 7pm the night before departure. Not a great development when you’re flying out of Queenstown. The roads heading to Queenstown in the morning were dodgy, but the airport was open (just) and flights on time.

A few things strike you on arrival to Hawaii. The heat on exiting the plane, the patriotism and anyone of authority having openly holstered firearms. While the customs officers and police are somewhat hostile, the Hawaiian people are open and welcoming. It’s a culturally diverse state, beautiful beaches, mountains, volcanoes, so much to see and do, and of course it’s hugely historical significance in the unfolding of and bringing the United States into World War II.

Day 1 in Hawaii and a text from Mum, Murphy wasn’t done yet. Two out of three mobs of cattle had broken out and all hell had broken loose. A quick phone call from Mum to a mate of mine to give Dad a hand in restoring justice and all was good. In the words of Wal Footrot, “Those bloody Murphy’s!”

Visiting Pearl Harbour is an absolute must. A very moving place and one of the best things I’ve ever done. Everything of that fateful day respectfully preserved and displayed for future generations to honour the fallen. Even being there one can’t comprehend the terror that unfolded at 7:55am on December 7, 1941, a two-hour assault on the heart of US Pacific naval fleet.

Looking over the almost completely submerged wreck of the USS Arizona, with more than 1100 men entombed within its hull, the memorial spanning over her 97ft beam, is very compelling. The hairs on your neck stand to attention involuntarily.

The brutal attack on the Americans of course paled in comparison to the US retaliation, the nuclear bombings on Hiroshima and Nagasaki spelling the end of WWII. Standing on the forward deck of the USS Missouri, beside the spot where the instrument of formal surrender of Japan to the allied powers was signed thus bringing an end to the war, is surreal.

Holidays are a must, life is for living and one never knows how much time is left. I say this on a very serious note because as I write this I reflect fittingly and respectfully on the loss of a handsome, loyal and brave young man, who was prepared to, and served for our country in the New Zealand Army. The son of a good mate of mine, loved and missed by all his proud family and friends who passed away tragically a year ago on Mt Taranaki, aged 22. Private Morgan Ross Fraser, Rest in Peace.