Graham Smith

Graham Smith and Tess crop

Welcome to my blog where I will share with you the happenings on my little slice of paradise.

My first wife (Deb) and I bought the farm in 1988 with three children in tow, after 50/50 sharemilking for 7 years. It was a deliberate choice after experiencing the trials and tribulations of employing staff and milking 420 cows. We swore never again, and bought the farm for the princely sum of $200,000, which upset the Rural Bank who swore we would go broke. The dairy company guaranteed the loan and we were reluctantly given the loan. Even back then milking 100 cows was classed as an uneconomic unit but we went in with low debt and a will to work. We ran a Guernsey stud in those days, which was quite successful, and had time to do all the school camps and sports with our kids Chris, Stacey and Lance, who are all in their thirties now.

The farm is 37.4 ha (28 ha effective). In those days, we milked 100 cows because that was what the bank wanted, but it was always a struggle to fully feed them, even with a 5 ha lease down the road. The steeper hill paddocks were covered in broom, gorse and blackberry, so I securely fenced around them and introduced 100 Angora cross goats who promptly turned weeds into fertiliser. Then we had grazing for heifers and dry cows as the grass reappeared. After three years it became apparent that some of this land was unstable and given to slipping. So the goats, that had been purchased for 50 cents each, went to the works, which paid us $7.50 each, a very profitable venture. We also shore them annually and there was a bit of money in their fleeces.

All that land was then planted in trees – pines and lusitanica (a straight-trunked version of macrocarpa). This was a big step as I had no previous experience with trees, (similarly with the goats for that matter!), but that didn’t stop us.

In 2000 the marriage failed and I determined that for me leaving was not an option. So I went to the bank for some money to pay Deb out and……… deja vue!

No, they didn’t want to give me money as the farm was an uneconomic unit! Fortunately, Fraser Farm Finance found me private finance (hefty interest!) but I was still on the land.

This led to my current situation where the lack of money and now a big debt made me think outside the square and diversify the farm.

This is how I came to the attention of SMASH, having a field day here, and now the blog.

Obviously there is more to tell, of how I met Tess, and what we are doing these days.

But that will come up in the next set of utterances from me.

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