Louise Giltrap: No time for the rainy day blues

Louise Giltrap finds there's plenty to do on rainy days.

After five seasons, Louise and Geoff Giltrap have worked out how to survive the Northland rain.

After five seasons, Louise and Geoff Giltrap have worked out how to survive the Northland rain.


OPINION: We get a lot of rain in Northland at this time of the year and a large percentage of it comes horizontally.  

The first season we moved up here I remember getting to the middle of August and crying into my soup at lunch time about possibly needing an ark because it was never going to stop raining.

It was all very pathetic and dramatic, but in my defence the new farm, lots of debt and having moved hours away from my grand-babies compounded the tears.

However, now in season five of our life in Northland Geoff and I feel pretty sorted in how we survive calving and the rain so hopefully our approach may help others to take a breath while they take care of themselves.


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As I write this, it is literally howling and pouring with rain... yes, mostly horizontal, and our morning started with me sleeping in. 

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"Mount Wash-more" has developed on one of the armchairs in the lounge, but as my Mum would say, "Its all clean and well paid for so don't worry about it".  So I don't.

That's pretty much how we deal with things when we feel like we are losing our grip, we step back - plain and simple!  

Sometimes by 11.30 on really wet miserable mornings we can be found soaking in the spa pool on our deck.

All the cows are milked, calves fed and the dry mob moved and happy. Siobhan's been taken to school, the dinner is in the crock pot and the washing is up to date... clean and dry, just not folded.

One really miserable day last week after both of us had headaches and felt incredibly tired after a spa we slept for just over 90 minutes.

So on those days I don't waste time making the bed either, one less thing to worry about.

The biggest question I can hear being asked is "Would you do this if you had an on-farm team?"  And the answer is YES, we did actually do this, except we didn't have a spa pool back then.

I could never understand why we all had to be traipsing around in mud up to our ankles in the wind and rain while weighted down by dirty smelly wet weather gear.

Once all the essential jobs are done and it's pouring with rain, how many of you just send the team home and head indoors for a few hours to catch up on yourselves?

On rainy days I like to bake or make a meal to deliver to the young couple over the road who are on the big farm we used to have the contract on.

It's not a big deal. Sometimes Ella doesn't even know I'm coming, I just pull in the driveway, drop the stuff on her bench have a quick catch-up to make sure they are all okay or need anything and I'm gone again. 

Sometimes while I'm filling buckets of milk in the afternoons I will flick the other neighbours who are not dairy farmers a text to see if they want to come up for a coffee or a wine later on that evening.

We are all tired so it's never a late night but it's nice to have a yak about something different and it's a good way to keep checking in with the people on our road.

With the aid of technology, having a bit of a giggle with a friend or organising a dinner catch-up is as easy as sending or receiving a random text or message on Facebook.

So, while the weather is what it is and we can't do anything about, just make the most of what it lends itself to.

Go inside, light the fire and maybe catch up on some sleep or have a coffee with a neighbour.

Send your on-farm team home or invite them all in for hot soup, scones and a yak. It's a great time to sit around and discuss farm stuff but more comfortable than standing around at the cowshed wet and cold.

Thanks to the rain we managed to get our GST receipts posted off to our accountant nearly on time instead of being late and had a catch-up phone call with the bank manager.

We have also been studying all the different options for a covered stand-off feed area, so it's been good to be able to spend some time doing that. 

Summer will come soon enough, so instead of moaning about the storm, think about dancing in the rain - metaphorically of course, there's no need to catch the flu, but you know what I mean.

Sometimes your time is better spent not battling against something you cannot control.

Louise Giltrap  is a Northland dairy farmer. She loves to hear from readers at ljgiltrap@xtra.co.nz.  

 - Stuff


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