Frances Coles looks back on a good summer and feels positive about the future and the season ahead.

Is it just me, or does the autumn period onfarm seem to just keep getting busier?

Here in Canterbury there seems to be a crossover of late summer activities (irrigation and harvesting of crops) with early autumn prep for the winter and season ahead (feeding out to build pasture cover, final herd test for the season to sort out early culls etc).

We’ve been pretty blessed with outstanding weather for much of this season, so have been able to capitalise on the payout that seems to keep going from strength to strength.

Looking back a year, I think we were all pretty nervous as an industry about what exactly the Covid rollercoaster was going to mean for demand for our products worldwide, but we seem to have weathered the storm and continue to have great tailwinds to send us into the next season feeling much more optimistic. However, the recent lapse back into higher alert levels reminds us that the world is still walking on eggshells to a certain extent, and we all need to do our bit and scan, scan, scan!

I find the autumn can also be a good opportunity to start to look back on the season to date and reflect on our successes. The manic months of calving and mating are well behind us, holidays have been enjoyed and the children are back at school, signalling a return to a more structured routine. It’s the perfect time to take stock of where you are, both personally and within your business, sharpen the focus on the goals, and work out exactly what steps need to be taken to set yourself up for an even better season next year.

Personally, I’ve taken the plunge into a health and fitness overhaul through a five-week bootcamp-style challenge through my local gym. Three weeks in and I’m already feeling the benefits of increased strength, fitness and mental clarity. (I am missing chocolate terribly though, ha ha).

From a business point of view, there’s a slew of FEP audits and annual Lead With Pride assessments starting to fill up the calendar for the next couple of months, so the team are all working together to go over every aspect of the business with a fine-tooth comb and make sure everything is up to scratch.

Many other young farmers around the country will have been doing something very similar in recent weeks, as they prepared for Dairy Industry Awards judging (which Aaron had the pleasure of being involved with again in our region this year). As someone who has been involved with the awards programme in one capacity or another for almost two decades now, I’d really encourage all farmers to get involved with them however they can – either as an entrant, judge, sponsor or supporter. They provide an awesome opportunity for entrants to learn, network and grow, for more experienced farmers to be inspired by new ideas and innovations, businesses to back the people who have supported them through good times and bad, and the industry as a whole to celebrate hard work and excellence.

My challenge to all of you this month is to stop, take stock of where you are, celebrate where you have come from, and ask yourself where you can lift the bar even higher next season. As Henry Ford said, “If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself”.