Booking a week at the beach

Farmers have myriad ways of successfully dealing with Northland’s challenging landscape, but now’s the time to take a break, writes Andrew Booth.

RECENTLY, I HAD THE PRIVILEGE of judging two entrants for the Northland region Ballance Farm Environment awards.

I really got a lot out of the experience and thoroughly enjoyed visiting other farms although it did highlight a couple of things I hadn’t expected.

First, I was reminded just how diverse and challenging Northland’s landscape is to farm. You would struggle to find many farms across the region running the exact same system – no two properties are the same, even within the same area and community.

Many of these farmers are masters at getting the best out of their farms, but also at dealing with the challenges this region throws at them.

From the extremes in the weather; wet, dry, hot, cold and windy or all of these in one day, to the variation in soil types, from highly productive volcanic soils to highly erodible soils and hillsides that require very careful management to ensure they don’t end up in our hugely important and finely balanced harbour ecosystems.

So much more awareness is growing around the value of protecting the waterways throughout the region, and it was amazing to see the work that is being done on these properties.

These farmers are ahead of the game and dedicated to creating ongoing, positive change.

The second thing that was unexpectedly highlighted for me, was the importance of connection.

I know in the dairy industry we are pretty good at sharing our ideas and knowledge, but it is becoming increasingly important to explore new ideas and different ways of farming.

Everyone has room for improvement somewhere and there is a lot to be learnt from our fellow farmers.

Despite the variation in Northland’s landscape we’ve all got the same challenges to deal with and all have slightly different takes on how to manage them.

Connection is also important, not just from a learning point of view but your own personal wellbeing as well. It’s important to get off farm and chew the fat over a barbie or a beer, have a run around at the sports club with your neighbours, attend discussion groups, or even have a summertime picnic at the local swimming hole with your kids.

At the end of the day we’ve all got to look out for one another and there’s no better way to do that than making some time to connect with others.

With the summer season now upon us, it’s time to make the most of it, it’s time to make the most of the sun, to get out and connect with your neighbours, to visit family and friends, take a break, unwind. All the big big stuff for the season is out of the way now, calvings well finished, matings done, the crops are all in.

Take some time for yourself, I know I certainly will be, I’ve got a long overdue week at the beach booked.