A little help at harvest

Charlotte Rietveld has lost control of the olds and has had to recruit the young ones in the stock yards.

In Home Block5 Minutes

IT HAS BEEN SELLING season in the Rakaia Gorge. Lambs and calves are loaded daily, off to Canterbury Plains’ irrigated greener pastures for final finishing. It’s a time of pleasure and pride – seeing animals sent off in the best condition the season allows while reaping the financial reward.

As is typical of harvest time, hard work precedes the outcome. As we all know, mustering, drafting, weighing, crutching, feeding and trucking takes considerable time, effort and resources. We’re no strangers to the time and effort, but resources have become something of a challenge. Just where have all the people gone?

There’s many a stock agent, truck driver and shearer working long hours to get through the workload. Many blame Covid, some the tech industry, others immigration policy. But me? I put the blame squarely at superannuitants. By crikey it’s hard to find a Gold Carder with a decent work ethic these days. They’ve really taken the ol’ flexible hours and ‘work’ from home bizzo by the horns haven’t they?

Forget the problems with youth of today constantly checking their Insta feed, it’s the oldies’ prolonged addiction to Wordle we ought to be worried about. The vaping 19-year-olds fuelling their day drinking V are small fry, it’s the dementia-dodgers that are the ones to watch. Busy tallying their micro-nutrients, counting their steps and keeping a close eye on the NZX app, I’m convinced they’re the ones the Productivity Commission ought to be rounding up.

Here at Middle Rock, my superannuitant parents appear to be ethically opting for a similarly low-emission workload. The Boss has gone from a 70-hour week to working every second week. For 73 years the foreign concept of work-life-balance has been kept at bay, with the construct of flexible hours a mere metaphor for working dawn ’til dusk daily. And now, timing it perfectly for every other Insta-updating TikToking V-slugging option to have vanished, he’s discovered the merits of semi-retirement.

The Chief Inspector isn’t much better – she feigns reluctance for yet another ‘mini-break’, suggests a ‘staycation’ purely as it’s a newly acquired term, only to be last seen merrily e-bike riding off into the sunset with her knight in gold-carded armour.

Desperate times have called for desperate measures: the selling season must proceed and, with it coinciding with school holidays, I’ve called in the Blowfly gang.

The Blowflies, otherwise known as our own and other small children, are renowned for their incompatibility with sheep, consistently appearing from nowhere to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, with endlessly irritating noise in tow. But brandishing neither smartphone nor gold card, not even an IRD number in fact, they’re rapidly becoming the go-to workforce of choice.

Zero-hours contracts are a cinch with none yet able to read the time. Nonetheless, all seem to have an innate grasp of workers’ rights. After a tough round of negotiations, remuneration now comes in the form of Nutella sandwiches though their performance seems to have a correlation to being paid nuts.

Other KPIs show additional cause for concern. Workplace bullying appears to be on the rise, with various shearers harshly rebranded as ‘Singly Pingly Man’, ‘Mr Undies’ and ‘Stinky’. Graffiti has also been an ongoing issue, with several truckies commenting they’d never seen so many unicorns drawn on ASD forms. As a side note, this does raise the issue of just how many unicorns are indeed drawn on the average ASD form, but I diverge.

Having solved my resourcing issue, I’m sincerely hoping this month’s Budget stalls the education overhaul and announces policies to give poor ol’ wayward youth a break. Let’s leave them to live their ‘best life’ and instead redirect truancy officers in pursuit of the nation’s grey nomads. What’s the bet they’re all loitering round the back of the EV charging stations swapping Code Cracker clues.