Seizing the reins

22:00, Jun 15 2012


The farm is a hive of activity.

There are many jobs to be done before calving, which could start any day now – but officially on June 19.

Calf and equipment sheds need to be cleaned out and set up, machine and refrigeration checks to be organised, fencing repairs need sorting and paddocks measured and allocated for the various mobs of cows which will soon be separated – young stock, dry cows, springer’s, colostrum and milkers.

The only grass on the farm is kneehigh kikuyu on steep sidelings, no use for anything but dry cows, so I’ve been spraying liquid nitrogen, seaweed and a natural growth promotant on the flats in an attempt to hasten the growth. So far, the weather is on the farmers’ side. It’s still quite warm up here, but cooling day by day.

I bought 100 bales of silage locally, which hurt because I nearly had to walk away from 120 bales I had made at the last place. I managed to sell it at cost to some sharemilkers in my discussion group, making a loss of $2000 – nothing compared to the $14,000 it was going to cost of I’d left it there or $7000 it would cost to take it with me. Best I just forget about that one.


Farming is an expensive business, but there are things I need to sort out – otherwise life will be difficult. The tracks, equipment area and tanker turnaround desperately need metal, so I got a truck and trailer load of GAP65 delivered. That means general all purpose in quarry-speak – another new language to learn. As a sharemilker, metal on tracks was never my expense, and if the tracks were muddy you normally put up with it. Now the metal’s on me. To not have to go cap in hand begging for a few stones to make life easier – for the stock truck, for the tanker driver and for me, is awesome.

Best of all I am able to implement my condensed distillers syrup feeding system that I have proposed to the past two farmers I have worked for, much to their disgust. When you are 50-50 sharemilking you have to get the farm owner to buy into new ideas – mainly because they are paying for it.

At my last job I had been excited because the owners seemed agreeable to the idea of installing a simple in-shed feeding system, even going as far as taking measurements for the installation. But ‘‘nek minnit’’ I was sacked and so I suspect they may have remained somewhat unconvinced.

But now it’s all on me. First a 13,000 litre tank arrived, then a big pump. Then a handy man named Graeme turned up, building tank stands, splitting pipes and screwing in Hansen fittings. The electrician’s been to install automatic timers and switches, and in a few days I will be able to deliver sustainably produced, inexpensive, highmetabolisable energy feed to my cows at the touch of a button as they are being milked. The beauty of this is total ease of management and no wastage. Once set up there is virtually no work on my part and consented effluent disposal is already in place because it all takes place in the milking shed. There is no expensive feed pad to build and maintain and no damage to paddocks.

For the first time in a decade I feel in control of my own destiny – priceless.

Waikato Times