Voice from the Board: August 2021

Once upon a time, winter was a time to catch your breath and reflect on the season past, put plans in place for the next and attend to the lingering R&M to-do list. I use the word ‘was’ as you have to be on the ball to make use of that small window of time. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to have milk in the vat in May and back again in late July, especially when being able to harvest a $7+ pay out. On our farm that meant cows calving and being put up one bail, milked and exited via the other side, while we waited for the concrete to harden on the new exit race. Not ideal, but it worked for those few early girls.

But that’s just one aspect of all that gets done in the ‘quiet’ time. Staff changes mean contracts, position descriptions, legal requirements, induction and Health and Safety (it’s also a great time to give those processes a WOF). If you moved for the new season there’s the settling of children into new schools, the endless boxes, finding a power and internet provider, doctor, dentist and more. If you’re the provider of the house, there’s R&M on the house for new members of the team. And then there’s the meet and greet, finding new connections and support systems, or helping your newbies find that support themselves. Of course, I hoist the flag high for one of the best tribes – DWN. If you haven’t made that connection already then I encourage you to do so, you’ll find it warm and full of empathy and opportunity.

Throw in the multitude of industry events – Fieldays, Dairy Co year end functions, NZDIA and Ahuwhenua Trophy awards evenings, Primary Industries New Zealand Summit, SIDE 2021 and more. And what about a holiday? Campervanning and e-biking is quite the in-thing, I hear. I’m sure many of you headed here to Rotorua for some of the school holidays, there were many ‘No Vacancy’ signs viewable down Fenton Street

Then there’s the end of the financial year and accountants requesting the usual round of documents, including the gathering of stock numbers. New season requirements mean ear tags to detergent, grass seed to feed, and everything from bank reviews to FEPs. We completed our Farm Environment Plan – I would be lying if I didn’t own up to feeling a little nervous about the process and the uncertainties. But all that worry couldn’t have been further from the truth of the process. A big shout out to Fonterra, Angharad was a welcome addition to the table and a pleasure to share our story with. The result was an overwhelming sense of pride in what we have achieved, coupled with a clear understanding of the things we could work away on quietly to do better. Ownership and control are so empowering!

The moral of the story is that calving is a welcome reprieve, our own personal version of lockdown. It’s a great time to catch your breath and reflect. Even with the pace of the days and the challenges ahead it’s still a fine way to earn a living; to watch sunrises, sunsets, the arrival of a new generation of the herd and the first drop of milk in the vat; to feel the sun on our faces; and to celebrate the long-awaited day when we can sit down and hear the grass growing.

And we all lived happily ever after.

Karen Forlong
Chair, Dairy Women’s Network

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