You never know what you're gonna get

Kirsten Bryant

Kirsten Bryant

In the immortal words of Forrest Gump, "Life is a box of chocolates – you never know what you're gonna get".

This pearl of wisdom certainly applies to farming.

Despite having farmed for 20-odd years, I never seem to stop learning – partly because life never stops teaching me.

We don't necessarily learn by doing everything right. Sometimes the most valuable and memorable lessons are the ones we end up learning the hard way.

After all, mistakes are just unexpected learning experiences.

Like being at the very back of the farm and running out of petrol or your horse deciding it's time to head home two hours before you do.

Or mustering wild goats for seven hours, only to lose the entire mob through a hole in the fence 200 metres from the yards.

Or,  after a three-hour muster, reflecting on leaving the scrim on the trailer in the docking pen – as 1000 lambs break past you and disappear up the gully.

I could continue - but you get the idea.

Earlier this month, I was one of many farmers who attended the Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ)  AgInnovation conference in Palmerston North. It was a chance to learn more about the opportunities and issues ahead for our farm business and the wider sector.

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The farmers I spoke to commented on how much they value being able to learn from other farmers, share their experiences and take away new ideas – ideas which they may be able to apply in their own business.

Of course, learning doesn't need to be an annual opportunity. The B+LNZ farm safety workshops, environment planning days and field days are local, short expeditions off farm. Each one is a chance to enjoy farmer interaction and learn something new. I invariably drive home with an idea or two percolating away – some will come to fruition while others won't.

And that's ok. Assessing what is relevant to your operation is as important as learning itself. We are each different and our businesses are different again.

It is just as well that life throws us the variety of a chocolate box, rather than the predictability of a packet of malt biscuits. How dull would that be?

More information on the events mentioned in this column can be found at

Kirsten Bryant is B+LNZ's Western North Island director  and can be contacted by emailing


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