Farmers need to recharge their batteries too: Louise Giltrap

At some point, you need to step back and take time away from the business and relax, says Louise Giltrap, here with ...
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At some point, you need to step back and take time away from the business and relax, says Louise Giltrap, here with Geoff Giltrap.

OPINION: Well it's all cardboard boxes, trailers and cleaning products for many of you.  

Then there's the budgets, employment contracts and new staff.

It's an exciting time of the year, but it doesn't come without it's challenges.  I have missed the June 1 moving caper for the last four seasons, the excitement of loading cows out for three days and moving all our worldly possessions to the next adventure.   

When we sharemilked it was my mission to make moving the best experience it could be. That was achieved with comprehensive lists, a sense of humour and the help of our sons-in-law, daughters and anyone else that was brave enough to join our travelling circus.

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To be honest, I miss how our world used to be.  Looking back we used to have a lot of fun and shared some hilarious experiences with people we hardly see anymore.

It is what it is though, and we have some great memories and stories for the grand-kids in future about what life was like before they were old enough to remember it.

For Geoff and I as farm owners now with only 220 cows, we have no staff but we still have the excitement of meeting with the bank manager at this time every year to make sure we are in the right coloured ink heading into the new season.

Wednesday was that day for us, in Whangarei we met with our bank manager who came up from his ivory tower in Auckland.  

Yep, you have heard me mention this bloke periodically over the last 17 months, but I have never given him a name, and I'm still not going to because he isn't comfortable with that. I have developed enough respect for him to have asked first and respect his response.

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Going from wanting to bite him in the accountants office to having a laugh with him at our meetings and during our phone calls is what has developed that respect. 

Regardless of the challenges we have gone through, he is still someone's son, grandson and possibly husband and father.

He is a human being with a life outside of the ivory tower he waves his stick at us from.

All of the things we have discussed and worked through very calmly on his part but not without incident on mine, is what has formed a level of mutual respect and honesty to push forward with making our business work.

At our meeting in the ASB Rural office in Whangarei, what made me realise that he also has our best interests at heart was his reaction to something I said with my tongue in my cheek.

We had gone through the forecast budget and he had the surplus figure handwritten at the bottom of the page. I lent forward and said, "That figure will be less XXX amount of dollars because we are going to Rarotonga in November for a week!" 

While I drew breath in preparation to counteract any resistance from him, he very calmly replied with: "That's absolutely fine!"

For a minute I considered checking his forehead for any sign of fever, but there was no need because his response was genuine. 

His message was clear and he offered me the privilege to relay that message to you all: his reason for that comes from seeing the results from people not getting or taking a break away from the farm.

At some point, you need to step back and take time away from the business to recharge, regroup and most importantly relax!  

Plain and simple!

Our bank man sees the results from people not doing this, which in turn led to our discussion about why we as farmers don't take the initiative to just book the damn holiday when we need to.

Do we feel guilty taking time away when things are so tough?  Hell yes.

Money is tight, payout is variable and then there is the hideous inflammatory claims that we dairy farmers are the biggest threat to everything fabulous in clean green New Zealand. 

Geoff and I barely leave the farm together - if he has the opportunity to take a few days away to see his children in the Waikato, then that's a chance for me to step up and take care of things running the farm.

When I'm away, Geoff runs the farm while also stepping up in his role as stepfather to my teenage daughter Siobhan.  

It works well for all three of us ... but we are looking forward to spending time away together in November, with the big thumbs up from our very cool bank manager! 

He's not only part of our business, he has become a part of how we make it all work!  

 - Stuff

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