When is a fence not a fence?

I have been reading The Life and Times of Sir James Wilson of Bulls, by L. J. Wild recently. James Wilson, an immigrant from Scotland, was a pioneering sheep farmer in the Rangitikei in the late 1800s.

Reading his diary entries from the days when he was in the early stages of developing of Ngaio Farm, just east of Bulls, it is clear that fencing was a major consideration when establishing a farm – and the types of fences common at that time would not necessarily be familiar to us today. Continue reading

A burning question: what is pastoralism?

I have learned a few things while reading “Seeds of Empire”, by Tom Brooking and Eric Pawson, including the definitions of some terms that crop up a bit in environmental history literature (see also: How did the Korean War change the NZ┬álandscape?). One example of this is in Robert Peden’s essay “Pastoralism and the transformation of open grasslands” (Chapter 5).

Using Mount Peel Station* in central Canterbury as a case study, Peden explains how pastoralism transformed much of the eastern hillcountry (or rangelands, as he refers to them) of the South Island, and seeks also to debunk a few myths about the impacts of pastoralism while he is at it (specifically, about the role of pastoralism in rabbit infestations and burning as a management tool). Continue reading