Time to buy a Lotto ticket

Chris Biddles finds his usual optimism seriously challenged as 2022 unfolds.

In Home Block5 Minutes
At least Chris Biddles got a rebuilt track out of the logging.

Chris Biddles finds his usual optimism seriously challenged as 2022 unfolds.

THIS WAS TO BE THE YEAR I GOT my life back on track, albeit with a different way of living it. I am managing my prosthetic leg extremely well with just some skin problems holding me back a little. A great year was ahead of us as we celebrate our 40th year of farming in our own right and my 51st year farming.

Unfortunately, it has not turned out that way.

For the past six years a little under half our farm has not been farmed by us. It has been leased out. Unfortunately, a marriage breakdown early this year has meant the end of that lease and we have the property back under our control. It was not something we really wanted. It is not a good time to be stocking a farm and borrowing yet more money.

The next shitty thing for us was having our 12-week-old grandson helicoptered to Starship hospital, Auckland, in March. He had a month in hospital with two surgeries. He is home now, a happy we boy. We are hoping there is no long-term damage.

In March we agreed to log 20ha of 30-year pines that were to be harvested last October but with the price collapse we delayed.

There was a good lift in prices in February/March hence the decision to go ahead. In April the price again collapsed but with a $40K roading bill for work already done we had no choice but to log. It is interesting that when we logged the same blocks 31 years ago not one shovel full of metal was used. This time around there is $15K of metal on the same tracks.

The return to us is not looking that good with shipping costs blamed for the majority of the collapse. The one upside to the roading is that nearly all will have long-term benefits for us.

So, not really a great start to our year.

I have mentioned in an article previously that we have had a project underway on the farm that would transform our summers. It is now time that I write about what can really only be described as a $300,000 nightmare.

Two years ago, we investigated an irrigation system for 27ha of our peat flats. In October 2020 we agreed to go ahead with the project and accepted a proposal from an experienced person in irrigation. The system has 80 permanent sprinklers with a massive diesel pump delivering the water via 200ml and 150ml pvc with 80ml alkathene feeding each sprinkler. Once up and running it will be automatic.

In January 2021 the contractor began to tell me he would be starting the next week. After about five such emails he finally started the project in April of 2021. He told Bevan he would put enough people on the job to knock it out in six or eight weeks. He started with five people on site which quickly dropped to two and sometimes three.

His people would turn up for four days then disappear for a couple of weeks. For the first time in my life, I began to withhold payments just to get him back onsite. This worked for a while but not for long. So, 18 months after agreeing to go ahead and 12 months after the start of this project we have been through two summers and not a drop of water has gone on the ground.

Two weeks ago, he finally delivered the pump then went away to make final alterations to the intake system with the promise of returning the following week to commission the system. We have not seen him.

Yep, my year of 2022 being my “get my life back” has somewhat turned into a year of crap.

My normal optimism has been seriously challenged but I am sure things can only get better.