Things that go bump in the night

Mark Chamberlain and his family got a call from some night visitors who relieved his family of thousands of dollars worth of stuff. He’s not amused.

In Home Block5 Minutes

Mark Chamberlain and his family got a call from some night visitors who relieved his family of thousands of dollars worth of stuff. He’s not amused.

THE LAST THING I EXPECTED AT 5 o’clock on a Sunday, mid spring, just as I was about to start adding to this mis-mothered nation’s GDP, was to find my cowshed office and workshop “deconstructed”.

Well, that’s what a metrosexual hipster might call it. Normal folk might say we’d been ransacked.

The fuel tanks certainly didn’t miss out on the fun of being pillaged, with the diesel tank suffering the indignation of its spout lying exposed and flaccid on the ground, for everyone to see. Spent. Every drop taken.

It sucks, really sucks. The only bonus being that my messy workshop was left perhaps tidier – because it was far emptier.

You name it, it was gone. Luckily only one motorbike was taken, but the rest were lined up on the tanker track awaiting their boarding call and mystery destination. A near-full freezer was also relieved of its contents and, in what could be best described as a burglar’s middle finger to us, all that was left were a couple of packets of casserole steak. They obviously hadn’t managed to steal a slow cooker. Special thanks go to the community for the casserole recipes that came flooding in.

Tens of thousands of dollars worth of property taken, some valuable, some not, but ultimately all replaceable.

Strangely, or perhaps suspiciously, our once “valued” staff member also vanished into the night like a robber’s dog, not to work another hour in our employment. Make of that what you will.

So, there you are. Everything gone at what was peak calving. I expected, and got, a tough two weeks, mostly on my own before replacement staff could be found. Mrs Chamberlain helped as valiantly as she could, milking mornings before getting scrubbed up for a day’s teaching and rushing back after school, when she could, to milk and to cheer me with her sunny smile.

Funnily enough, at his interview, our new recruit made the comment that he would treat our gear as if it were his own. Hmm . . . so did the last guy.

As farmers we are used to getting fleeced. Usually, it comes in the form of a faceless bureaucrat from local or national government, not a group of ball-bags that go bump in the night. Perhaps this is an indirect result of crazy monetary policy and lack of vision from the Wellington Kremlin. If so, it will only get worse as inflation, interest rates and the cost of living really start to bite.

Farmers largely operate on trust and unspoken rules, and we have huge financial investment in stock and plant. As the impending financial storm brews on the horizon, unfortunately we could increasingly become soft targets for emboldened scoundrels who have no boundaries or regard for our boundary fences.

We have obviously taken steps to protect not only our yard but also our home where our family should feel safe. I recall as a child Mum and Dad taking us on holiday and leaving the farm and house unlocked for about 10 days, an era that is long gone – one in which standards were more than just a fencing product.

Putting all jokes aside, what we didn’t expect was the outpouring of support from the community. Offers of help from friends, neighbours, and reps – turning up to help as only country folk can. A big thanks to all: whether it was driving the tractor, sorting cows and calves, or turning up to help milk (for which Mrs Chamberlain was especially grateful). Even the phone calls to see how we were going may not have seemed like much, but were an immeasurable support at the time.

I am sure you understand what I mean when I say that I hope I don’t have to return the favour. Thank you, thank you.

PS. Long live the King