Farming, family life a fine balance
With a young family, achieving a work/life balance is a high priority for Waikato dairy farmers Hamish and Sheree Germann.
Life is at its busiest during the spring months, with Hamish and Sheree a morning tag team looking after children, Libby 6, Mila 3 and Ben 1, while attending to the needs of hungry calves from 500 Kiwi cross cows.
Hamish’s morning starts at 4.45am with Red Bands on and heading down the paddock in the dark, wet and cold to get the cows, before meeting up with his two assistants in the shed.
Milking over and general sorting out done, Hamish is home by 8.00am, ready for breakie and taking over child watch from Sheree, who heads out the door, into the Ute to get the milk from the shed and feed the young calves.
Libby, Mila and Ben are ushered into the family car by Hamish where Libby is delivered to the little rural school of Ohaupo Primary, near Te Awamutu.
Back home again, Sheree tags Hamish who heads back to the farm for the rest of the day apart from a brief return at lunchtime.
Sheree carries on with her day, which includes preparing meals, paying the farm bills and drawing up the rosters. On Thursday’s and Fridays Sheree works at Pokuru Primary School, where she has taught since completing University.
Hamish says that on a good day he might get home for dinner around 6.00pm but if things have not gone well it could be more like 7.00pm and by that time dinner’s done, bath water drained and stories told.
A busy couple that work very well together – Hamish says the family is also very fortunate in that both sets of parents are nearby to help and both he and Sheree feel grateful for their support which has made life easier.
Hamish and Sheree are lower order sharemilking on a 140ha property that they also have 50% equity partnership in, with Hamish’s parents Mike and Sue Germann, the other equity partners.
Hamish’s parents also own the home farm just across the road and Hamish says his dad is very good at helping Sheree feed the calves, along with helping out on the farm if needed.
Sherees’ parents live in Cambridge and they are happy to lend a hand with child minding when needed.
Hamish says that for six months of the year he can find the time to do things with the family such as attending school activities.
“I’m pretty much full time on the farm from the start of July to the end of mating which is November but after that I oversee the operation with my two staff in the shed full time. If I have time off we try to get away – it’s a good opportunity to spend time with the kids.”
While Hamish and Sheree could get away with just one full timer on the farm and a casual worker over calving, they made the decision to pay another permanent full time worker, to provide that extra quality time with the kids.
“Farming is hard,” says Hamish. “But it’s important to find that family time when you can. That’s the main reason we have two staff.”