Friday, July 1, 2022

A toast to sweet, safe water

I went to an Opotiki monthly cattle sale one Tuesday with the intention of buying 10 weaner heifers but couldn’t find any, so asked the stock agent/auctioneer. “I’ve got better than that, Elaine,” he said. “Come over here and look at these AI rising two-year heifers. They will be up for auction shortly and if you buy them I will guarantee a 50% profit, as I have an overseas market for them in March.’’ Three hours later I unloaded 12 of the best-looking Friesian heifers I’ve ever seen to be run with my Jersey bulls.Late D ecember the bulls came out and 10 weeks later the cows were pregnancy tested and all were found to be in-calf. The buyer visited, photographed and ear-tagged the heifers, instructing me to keep them handy because they were off shortly to spend some time on hard feed ready for their journey to Mongolia.

Every alternate day I would check on the heifers while spraying weeds, which was really hot work in late March. One 30deg C day I had run out of drinking water from home but still had weed spray left, so I went over to the creek and drank thirstily from the clear running water. It was so refreshing and having no chlorine in it made it taste better.


John Meyrick – water to the people.

Three days later I was doubled up with stomach cramps and writhing in pain.  My good friend June took me to the doctor, who had to inject me with painkillers because the pain was so acute. I came home and slept for an hour, then woke and got June to take me to hospital, where I was put on a drip and kept in isolation.  

On the third day, a Sunday, June rang to say the stock agent needed the heifers before lunch and she would come and fetch me. I talked the duty nurse into removing the drip but leaving in the lure and we went the 30km home to find someone had left a gate open and two heifers had escaped.  

I told the stock agent to take the 10 present and hoped I got a good price, because the way I felt I thought I would be needing the money for my funeral.  

I cadged a ride back to the hospital with one of the stock agents and got the drip reconnected. I don’t think anyone missed me in those two hours.  

The next day I was top and tailed, with tests revealing acute giardia poisoning. It is New Zealand’s third-most commonly notified communicable disease, causing violent diarrhoea and cramps, usually caused by drinking from an unsafe water supply, in this case the stream. I returned home after five days in hospital and still in pain.


I am on a town supply water system but was considering getting a water filter when I remembered our former herd-tester had started Water Services not far from me. John Mayrick and his partner Ruth Gerzon were offering free filtered water at a roadside. The spring water is filtered eight times and is then passed through a glass tube, where it is exposed to ultraviolet light, which removes organisms such as giardia and results in a very pleasant tasting natural water.

John explained to me that he and Ruth decided to share their beautiful filtered spring water with anyone passing their Wainui Rd house,on the way to Ohope Beach, free of charge in appreciation for the support he had received over the years.

This had become so popular that road contractors offered to dump extra spoil from slips to form a parking area and Ruth and John have been rewarded many times with flowers, apples, honey, wine and even a leg of venison.

It must make fantastic home brew, because they have yet to be left a sample bottle. It gets consumed before it makes it over the hill.

So far this generous couple has given away more than half a million litres of water. As Ruth explained, if bought in plastic bottles it would have created 20 tonnes of plastic waste.

So every time I go past I fill all the containers I can find and drink, drink, drink.

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