Suzie Corboy reflects on a busy year and the need for time off farm.

HAVE A CONFESSION TO MAKE. Paul and I have just come back from Te Anau, our first night away together this year. We have both had nights away by ourselves, but not as a couple. This is not a fact I am proud of. We need to spend more time off farm together.

Maybe this should be my New Year resolution for 2023. We have made a start to this already as I have asked my brother to farm-sit for a week sometime this summer, but we need to finalise this.

This year we had a busy summer, life interrupted by Covid, a stressful dry autumn and two Covid infections for me and one for Paul. None too serious thankfully.

July was very wet, enough to make me question whether I could do another winter on the farm, with our wintering policy. Then it was settled weather for lambing. Heifer calving was challenging, with calves larger than normal so lots of assisted calvings, with not many live calves pulled out.

Some heifers calved overnight, had difficulty,

and were standing over a dead calf in the morning, and as a result lots more wet dry heifers than we have had in past seasons. Not very good for morale, when every day seems to start with a dead calf.

November was not memorable, in fact I am not sure what we did, as we seem to be way behind with farm work. Maybe that was something to do with lots of days off farm for various other commitments and being rather nonchalant about getting things done. Suddenly it is December and that dreaded deadline of Christmas is looming, and we still have some hogget lambs to tail and lots of cultivation for regrassing and winter cropping to be done.

We have not worked out a final lambing percentage for the ewes as there are still a few lambs with tails on that haven’t been counted yet,

but it will be closer to 140% than 150% which is disappointing. Hopefully when we finish tailing hogget lambs we will be much happier with their results.

Heifer calving was about 85%, and that is in-calf heifers wintered not heifers mated, so not a figure to be gloating about at meetings.

We have sadly lost a few much-loved animals this year. Our dog numbers were reduced by three in a matter of a few weeks. Two old dogs had to be euthanised after suffering medical events, so not unexpected but still sad. The other was a Huntaway in her prime, who had a fatal accident and I am really missing her as I didn’t have a replacement.

My greatly loved cat who has been with me since I came to Owaka by myself 10 years ago, went out one day as usual and never came home. He was a very loving cat who hardly ever spent a night away from home so it is the not knowing what happened that upset me as much as anything.

Not a replacement, but rather a challenge, I domesticated a wild kitten I found half dead in our workshop. This was the first time I have done this, and after a few weeks when I was threatening to rehome him due to his scouring and habit of running up my back or leg, Squeak has turned into a very affectionate little kitten. He gets on with our older cat very well, and they wash each other daily.

Unfortunately, I let him off with a few bad habits, like sitting on the kitchen table, and they take a bit of breaking now.

So that is my 2022 in a few paragraphs. Next year will bring more joys and more challenges, but that is the fun of farming. No year is the same.

Hopefully there is more good than bad for all of us, and I look forward to giving you more updates on life in Owaka next year. Hope you have a great festive season.