After a dozen moves as sharemilkers, it’s time for the family to put down roots in South Taranaki, Trish Rankin writes.

It was a big winter period for our family as we moved to a farm we have bought in an equity partnership with a couple of friends/investors. I surprised myself with how emotional I was when I told the kids late April that we had gone unconditional.

See, it has been a journey from Canterbury, Wairarapa, Hawke’s Bay, Northland to Taranaki. We have been burnt financially by not doing a good job in our diligence looking at a farm job, have had challenging farm owners or staff to manage and had some farming hard times with droughts and floods too.

But the day in April, when at 4.30pm our awesome lawyer Jax Owen phoned us to say we were sorted and we were going unconditional, I just burst into tears! We had done it. We have found a farm 9km from the kids’ high school, just out of Opunake where we spend a lot of our time, that has scope for improvement but also great infrastructure.

To get here was a battle of having a great team around us, strong resilience and goal setting. We had to exercise our right to not have to live on our sharemilking job so that we could take up this opportunity which also came with its challenges when one local farm consultant didn’t think we should be allowed to move off!

He was wrong. He was out of line actually. But, we knew if we couldn’t get into something permanent soon we weren’t going to survive another sharemilking shift in two years. We have moved 12 times in 22 years of farming and with four happy kids, loving their life here in South Taranaki, continuing the sharemilking life of moving to progress was not something we wanted to continue to do.

We still have our sharemilking job and another lease farm here for the next season, alongside our new farm so it will be a bit hectic, but we have awesome staff on the team and know we can work together to do it for just one more year. We all know each other’s goals and that this year is a year to lift each other up and help the whole team get to their 2023 goals!

The start of the new season has been wet and wild. Lots of northerly weather patterns have brought a lot of rain and wind. Mild temperatures though and so grass continues to grow if it gets some sun and the water drains away.

Over June and July I also enjoyed getting out and about running workshops. Taranaki Catchment Communities along with Landpro hosted a Farm Pulse workshop onfarm at Warea, just under the mountain. It was a great day and learning how to identify soil qualities, healthy waterways, rules for onfarm offal holes etc was all so relevant at the moment for farmers here.

It was a pleasure to have some of our local Opunake High School year 12s come onfarm and plant our 1200 riparian plants – not many left to do on our farm and it was a bit of a novelty for us knowing that it was our block of land. The kids did an amazing job. With stony soils it wasn’t an easy task.

This will find most people well into calving now. Be safe, have downtime and keep connected with others.