Kirsty and Nic Verhoek give credit where it’s due to the people of their local network.

A lesson in puncture repairs.

One thing we love about dairy farming is the amazing rural community that backs it. You would be hard-pressed to find any other sector that has such a cohesive and strong network of support behind it.

Here in the Waikato, it has been a hard slog – five months of drought, autumn skipped, and straight into winter and floods. Things haven’t really improved since our last article. Pasture is something we are still squinting to find. Rather than dust it’s now mud, inflation is worsening, interest rates keep rising, and expenses are still out of control. Milk production is also down despite our best efforts.

But the light behind this has been our rural community. And getting support during these hard times is important. Our rural community has been amazing, and we want to acknowledge them.

We have been grateful to the gestures of our rural providers who have turned up with food in hand and forced us to have a breather over a coffee.

We are grateful to the relationships that go beyond the farm gate.

To those in our rural network who take the view that a problem shared is a problem halved.

To our rural suppliers – namely PGG Wrightson in our case – who bend over backwards to get us the right product when we need it and take the time to understand our farming business.

To LIC, who gave us the chance to have a day and night away from the farm and get an understanding of how they are moving our agriculture industry forward.

To our rural consultants – namely DairyNZ and BakerAg – who are on hand to provide resources when we need them and an impartial view of how the business is running.

To our business partner and farm owner, who gets that things are hard going for us as sharemilkers at the moment and is willing to be flexible on our contractual agreements. The big one was allowing us to bring our yearlings home to graze due to a feed shortage at the block they were at.

To our farming peers – that unspoken agreement that we are all in this together and they are going through it also. Watching out for each other is something you would struggle to find in any other sector. While we have our individual goals, we have the same collective goal to see each other succeed.

So, while things are likely to get worse before they get better, reach out to your rural network. They are on hand to support you. You are not alone.

Keep your finger on the pulse with your financial budgets. While it is easier to put your head in the sand, in the long run keeping abreast of your financials will give you the time to make good decisions.

We are constantly reviewing our budgets and identifying where the fat is that will ultimately be trimmed out if we must. We feel at times we are taking one step forward and two steps back; the most recent has been breaking a two-year hiatus and contracting palm kernel while we wait for the pasture to come back on board. That’s farming – unpredictable as ever. But we have a great community backing us and we are proud to be part of it.