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Snow, water on-going challanges at southern farm

Snow, water on-going challanges at southern farm

The block of land between Waitahuna and the Clutha River is riven by twisting streams and gullies. In the middle of this is Farview Farm, a 630 hectare property of rolling to steep country, 350 metres above sea level.

The original farm had 362 hectares. Three years ago, the purchase of neighbouring Kyalla Downs provided extra opportunity, and can in future be considered in succession planning.

Hamish Erwood and his partner, Janet Templeton, came here 22 years ago to run a sheep and beef business, arriving just in time for a big snowfall. “We’ve already (early June) had three snowfalls this winter ,” Hamish says.

“After that big one we planted a lot of trees to block the wind. We’ve got a central lane and planted trees and flaxes along it to keep it clear.” Snow is just one thing to cope with.

In the beginning, lack of water was a problem, and still is, despite their putting in four storage tanks.

Water comes from the Waitahuna River under the Balmoral scheme, but can be restricted in summer, when drought is a regular threat, so more storage tanks are planned. Farview has three prongs to its business – sheep, sheep studs and beef.

The commercial flock has 4300 ewes, 1050 hoggets, and 250 ram hoggets wintered. The studs are Romney, Texel/Suffolk, and a recently bought Texel/Romney stud.

Ram sales are to existing clients augmented by an open day in November. The weather determines much of the programme. Last season’s drought saw lambs off to the works earlier than usual.

“We killed the lambs at a lighter weight, but the way the prices were we came out well financially. Then the rains came and rapid growth meant away we went again,” For the last ten years lambing to the ram has been 155%.

Having the studs allows them to breed for their own purposes as well as for other farmers.

“We try to get an earlier kill rate, but don’t kill as many off Mum as I’d like. I try to downsize the sheep yet keep the same production. I want them to look good – blocky and solid – that pump out production.”

As part of the pasture renewal programme, swedes, chou and fodder beet are grown to feed the young stock, followed by grass.

Until fencing plans for Kyalla are finalised, new pasture there is short rotation grass. The cattle are Shorthorn Angus, with the cows going to Charolais bulls. There are 85 cows, 22 heifer calves, 25 bull calves and 3 bulls.

“I’ve got them for summer topping. During the winter they’re a bit of a nuisance. I have a paddock of chou and they get chou, then they go into a hectare feeding block with a self-feeding silage pit. Once they calve I put a couple of cows and calves in every paddock with the sheep. Then they get mobbed up for the bull. I’m keeping it low key, the same as with the sheep.”

Snow, water on-going challanges at southern farm

Beef (Shorthorn Angus) sheep and sheep studs (Romney, Texel/Suffolk and Texel/ Romney) form the three prongs to Farview’s business operation.

Hamish and Janet run the farm, with help from their twin daughters at times, and in the past, their extended family.

“The girls are keen on carrying the farm on. One is on a farm near Mossburn, and the other plays netball for Southern Steel.

“They come home from time to time to make sure I’m doing everything right.”

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