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Life’s never dull on rambling station

Life’s never dull on rambling station

There are fences to build, troughs to be installed, yards to create and at the end of the day, there still has to be a profit made.

Where do you start? Ohorea Station manager, Rex Martin, says it’s not possible to get it all done in a short period of time and it can be overwhelming but part of the reason he loves his job is being able to take a step back and admire his team’s progress and see it all coming together.

Ohorea Station is a breeding property holding 900 angus cows and 17,000 ewes. Part of the wider Awhi group, it covers 4200ha of rolling to steep hill country and is dissected by the Mangawhero River.

Only one third of the property is developed farmland the rest is consumed by steep, unforgiving scrubland – ideal deer country with its pros and cons. Rex has been part of Awhi for 15 years and has managed Ohorea for the past seven.

“I grew up in the area,” he says, “but I never thought I would end up working here.

When I got the opportunity to come back to Raetihi, to raise my kids, I didn’t hesitate and I haven’t regretted it at all.” Originally, Ohorea Station was five separate farms before it was fully amalgamated into one 15 years ago.

A huge focus on the property has been bringing it all up to spec. “Only one of the five properties was looked after by the lessee like they owned it.

The rest were neglected to the point that fences were falling over, when Awhi started farming them again,” says Rex.

The infrastructure, while suitable for the smallerscale farms that once existed, didn’t quite cater for the station Ohorea had become. “We put a few new bays on our woolshed because we could only cover 1400 ewes but we are able to shear 2000 in a day.”

The team are slowly trying to get everything upgraded, including a new set of cattle yards at the top end of the property in addition to their existing yards which are more centralised.

“One of our biggest challenges is the distance we have to move our stock to use the facilities,” a good 15 km from one end of the farm to the other.

“We usually have to move them over a few days to make sure they maintain their condition and they’re not too stressed.”

The new yards will be close to the main road that runs through the guts of the property, for ease of loading, and will feature double deck loading facilities. While upgrading infrastructure to suit the large number of stock is a priority, fencing waterways, while subsidies are still available, has taken precedence.

So far 5km, either side of the Mangawhero River, has been fenced and Rex hopes to have it all completed in three years.

The downside to fencing off the waterways is that it has shut off a lot of the animal’s water supply and therefore adds further costs to install more troughs. “We just have to button off spending money on subdivision in the meantime,” Rex says.

The council is subsidising 50 percent of the cost of installing alternative water supplies and while that is still available Rex says he and his team of seven are putting their heads down and getting as much done as possible.

Just as quickly as new fences are being erected, rogue fallow deer can just as quickly dig holes and break wires allowing stock to escape, including boundary fences – one of the cons of the prime deer country at the back of the property.

Most weekends the blocks are booked out for hunting parties and a lot of Awhi’s shareholders enjoy utilising the opportunity to fill their freezers.

H&S is paramount at Awhi, so Rex oversees all access to the land and monitors activity closely so the hunters don’t venture where staff are undertaking work. The system is fair and benefits all involved.

Another aspect that keeps Ohorea Station interesting is their on-farm kiwi sanctuary. A lot of money has been spent on pest control namely stoats, cats and hedgehogs.

The land had been retired for many years but after monitors picked up sizable kiwi activity four years ago, it has been a major focus to protect them and hopefully boost numbers. Around 300 traps and bait stations are set once a month and Rex makes sure all the tracks are kept open and goat numbers are controlled.

“It’s looking really good, we personally saw a young kiwi recently so they’re obviously breeding and that’s a really good sign.”

Rex is inspired by the huge potential of Ohorea Station. The target’s set, though sometimes seemingly unattainable, are a welcomed challenge to Rex, his staff and his family. There’s never a dull moment on Ohorea Station and Rex says because of that, job satisfaction is at an all time high.

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