Taihape farmers Andrew and Pam Peters, who own Balquhidder, have never had a year quite like 2020.

Andrew described it as absolutely terrible. The Peters’ who along with their 800 deer, also run 1400 ewes and 300 hoggets, started the year on a low, with extra low wool prices. The continuing drought over the summer meant there was a shortage of feed and they ran out of good stock water, and because the whole North Island was in drought the store lamb market was sluggish.

Usually the Peters get a good cash injection to the business selling their weaner stags at the Taihape Weaner Sale in April. However, Covid-19 meant the fair was cancelled. By this stage the Peters had already used all their supplementary feed and it became very difficult to get any cull stock killed, so they carried a lot of extra stock.

It was a double whammy, the drought and not being able to get rid of any stock, meanwhile the farmgate price had dropped considerably. Andrew said rubbing salt into the wound, was having to pay provisional tax and the continual barrage of ill-conceived regulation.

There were some highs, production was good with 94.5% fawning and weaner sale weights heavier than previous years. Prior to lockdown the Peters replaced their original homemade deer crush with a Heenan hydraulic deer crush. Andrew said he should have done it years ago. They also installed a gravity water system out of necessity because they had to get water to the stock.

The biggest highlight for Andrew and Pam was the mid-November loop motorbike tour of the South Island with a group of friends – the first extended break for quite a while.

As for 2021, the Peters are planning nothing too dramatic, keeping things much the same, if anything lighten their stocking rate and watch the regulations, Andrew said.