Farmers work through Christmas festivities

16:00, Dec 23 2012
FAILY AFFAIR: From left, Max, 4, Harvey, 8, and Josie, 2, help dad Scott Mitchell with the milking.
FAMILY AFFAIR: From left, Max, 4, Harvey, 8, and Josie, 2, help dad Scott Mitchell with the milking.

There will be no Christmas Day sleep-in for Scott Mitchell tomorrow but the Koromatua dairy farmer might find a few little helpers offering to lend a hand.

Like thousands of Waikato farmers across the region, Mr Mitchell will be up early to milk his 410-cow dairy herd.

Christmas Day closing times don't apply to life on the farm but the Mitchell family won't miss out on the festivities and have planned a family dinner in the evening.

"I'll get up at about 5.15am but should be home from milking by 7.45am. Our rule is the kids can't open their prezzies before dad gets home," Mr Mitchell said.

"We had the same rule when I was a kid. We had to wait until Dad got back from milking. I used to go and help dad clean up so he could get home quicker."

He said his oldest child, Harvey, had already learnt how to pull the milking cups off the cows as well as spray their udders with teat spray.


"Generally we try to make sure all other jobs are out of the way on Christmas Day. But even on our days off we still work about five or six hours on the farm."

Although life on the land is busy, Mr Mitchell said the lifestyle allowed him to spend a lot of time with his family.

The family have planned a trip away sometime during the school holidays.

"I have a fulltime worker and he and my dad, Ivan, will run the farm while I'm away. When I was a kid, Dad used to book a relief milker for two weeks so we could get away and I think that social time is important."

Wife Nikola Mitchell said her mother, Val Dawson, was also working Christmas Day as a receptionist at Waikato Hospital's emergency department.

"We'll have a light lunch tomorrow and then come together for a big family dinner at night. It can be hard when people have to work on Christmas but we'll still get together as a family."

The Mitchells also plan to leave out a few treats for the tanker driver who comes to collect their milk.

Federated Farmers strategic communications general manager David Broome said Christmas was traditionally a busy time on farms.

Waikato Times