Dairy Industry Awards finalist Alex Lond introduces herself as a columnist from Reporoa where she manages an 800-cow farm.

When I was asked if I would write a column, my immediate thought was how relieved my boyfriend and friends would be that I finally had somewhere else to channel my incessant desire to talk about cows.

I can also imagine my parents will be ecstatic when I tell them I have finally found a use for my English literature degree, and it might even make them stop asking if I’m “still doing the cow thing?” over here (insert deep, elongated sigh).

Not being from a farming background means I still have an awful lot to learn and to talk about, in fact I can’t remember the last conversation I had that didn’t inadvertently end up at the farm.

That said, I have met people who have been farming their whole lives and could still talk the ear off an elephant when it comes to cows, so maybe it’s just something that stays with you in this industry.

Now in my second season managing an 800-cow crossbred herd in Reporoa, Bay of Plenty, I feel as though I have come a long way from the 250-cow Guernsey/ Holstein herd in Kent, England, where I started relief milking back at the beginning of 2016.

Realising early on that I had found my passion and wanting more responsibility as well as to learn about pasture-based systems, I made the move to New Zealand at the end of 2016.

Fast forward to today and managing a dairy farm presents a whole new host of challenges that I never would have dreamed of; I was under the naïve impression that keeping your cows well fed and healthy, as well as looking after the environment around them would be enough to please even the harshest of judges. But now I see how much more there is to this lifestyle: maintaining public perception, making sure your staff are satisfied and not overworked, looking after yourself, making enough time for the people around you and most importantly, following the rules and regulations of preserving the environment to the highest standard.

Of course, these are the things we all strive to do, but it must be said that the task is daunting.

However, this is trumped by the fact that the NZ dairy industry provides the most wonderful forms of sharing advice and an incomparable ability to compare notes with other farmers. I attend as many discussion groups and dairy events as possible in my local area, all of which I find immensely helpful.

Last year, I felt privileged to make it to the finals after competing in the Dairy Industry Awards Manager’s category, a competition I recommend to anyone looking to progress in the industry while meeting the most supportive, likeminded people.

I refer back to all these situations when doubt starts to creep in as to whether I am making the right decisions. Last month I was constantly in a panic that my cows were leaving far too much behind, with our post-grazing residuals sitting at an all-time high as the spring growth flew into action.

Now sitting on a 20-day round as the grass around me either dries up or goes to seed, I am anxious that our perfect 1500kg drymatter residuals are hurting our production and look forward to hearing how others are coping at next week’s discussion group. Pray tell me, are there any farmers out there who fall asleep at night completely satisfied with the day gone by?