There’s more to life than the back end of a cow – Lisa Groen

Last season with the three of us.

It’s a great relief to finally have made the decision and be able to talk about it now. YES, my parents and I are putting on a 50/50 sharemilker for next season 2023-2024.

Has it been a hard decision to make…… NO. To be honest, there’s a combination of reasons but we feel this is the best decision for all of us.

The second half of last season was probably the toughest of my farming career. My parents had left for Holland on the 31st March to catch up with family and friends, after 3 years of not seeing them thanks to covid. I told them that I would figure everything out (which I did, but looking back it wasn’t easy). The stress of the drought, the extra hours of feeding out and finishing off the season. Thankfully, I had SMASH members Bart Van de Ven and Holly Martin taking turns helping me milk TAD till the end of the season. I thought I had enough silage to last till May but ended up using our 100 odd hay bales and mixing it in with the stack silage to make it last as long as possible. Getting rid of cull cows was also an issue. I couldn’t send the last 31 cows to the works so they ended up going to the Morrinsville sale yards as boners on the 20th May, the same day I fully dried off. I was able to get another truck and trailer unit load of square hay bales to feed out from dry off till mid-June. It was definitely a juggling act to feed the cows over the dry period.

Once the hay finished, I had to put the cows and heifers through the shed everyday and feed them 5 kg meal just to get through. It got to the point where I had to even sell 13 of our September calvers just to take the pressure off. Thankfully, once we started calving and more rain fell, we had enough grass. To make things simple for our last season we are milking 30 less cows, we are only milking 210 cows.

We had to make a makeshift extra bobby pen as sending bobby calves away was a hassle.

People have suggested…. “Oh, why don’t you make the system simpler and easier? Like going OAD at Christmas?” With us being system 5 and enjoying fully feeding our cows, going OAD isn’t an option. It doesn’t matter if you milk OAD, TAD, or 5 times a day, you still have to be there every day and plan where you’re going to put the cows every day. I honestly don’t mind milking, it’s just the other stuff that has to be done in between milkings. The organising / planning and paperwork… my brain just doesn’t STOP! I guess I’m over the responsibilities of farming. It’s either one or the other. I just milk or I just be the office person organising fert, vets, contractors, meal, farm supplies, dairy diary, other paperwork, some tractor work and not milk.

Is farming still a lifestyle? For me, I don’t want to be married to the farm. I can totally understand how farmers get stressed, and for long periods of time, because farming doesn’t stop unless you do. The public perception, the government and climate change (whether you believe in it or not) – the challenges of the weather are getting harder and harder. The things you can’t control like the payout and cost of farming too.

I took a lot of inspiration from Australian tennis player Ash Barty who at the age of 26 retired from the game, after winning 3 grand slams and becoming number 1 in the world. It made me realise that I have achieved all the things I wanted to do in my farming career. Once you have ticked those goals off, what’s next? Next May I turn 35 which means I will have farmed full-time for 15 years. I have gotten to that point in my life where I ask myself what’s next for ME! My parents are both in their early 60s and have been farming for 35+ years. They look forward to having a well-deserved break themselves.

I’d like to still be involved with farming PART TIME. Whether it be relief milkings, tractor work (I don’t know anything about groundwork but even something simple like mowing or on the rake). Fruit picking across the country, even down in the South Island for a few weeks, see different parts of the country. I’d like to spend more time with my partner Kayla, as well as my jet ski with friends during the summer. Putting myself FIRST instead of the farm for once.

Our ad for the 50/50 job is active online on the Farmsource jobs website. We are slowly going through applicants and showing people the farm etc. It’s an exciting time and an opportunity for someone else.

Leave a reply