After a day out navigating the waters of the Whanganui River, Robert Carter tells how he learned to make the most of life.

Does everyone feel the same way as I do at the moment?

For the first time in my life I find myself avoiding reading some articles in farming papers and magazines.

I think I’ve gone on to a mode not unlike those “limp home at 80kph” default settings on engine management control units.

My mode is all about avoiding reading and hence thinking about all the misinformation that seems to accompany farming life these days.

Years ago I learned about depression, I learned to live with the black dog, so to speak and when I look back the only reason I survived was that I knew I was loved by a wonderful wife and I had two small children to think about as well.

With some good help I developed some strategies to deal with it.

I could not do the ultimate thing and just disappear as I had enough forethought to see that such an act would be both selfish and create more problems than it would ever solve.

The other jarring thing I went through at the time was the suicide of one of my best mates and we had to just gather all our strength and get into supporting his widow and their teenage kids.

It was bloody hard to say the least.

Which brings me back to the present.

Things could be worse.

I think that we are going through a phase in farming where one could be forgiven for thinking that the whole country is against us.

This is despite some clear signals that, in many ways we are actually in quite a good space.

So to my strategy for the present.

It’s okay to go into a mode where you identify the most important things in life and your business and just concentrate on them.

One of my mentors in the past was a great bloke called Rob Buckley.

Rob said that when things are tough or difficult, just slow everything right down and think things through well.

Take your time.

It’s fine to exclude the noise from your existence and simply ignore the things that piss you off.

Use the delete button more.

Don’t read the articles that paint a gloomy picture.

Read the uplifting stuff and discard the rest.

Talk it through with your closest.

Recently, I was at work in my jet boat down the Whanganui river, I had a boat load of corporate Wellington types on a bonding exercise.

Now being outdoors is a good antidepressant.

Taking a jet boat load of “increased sales leveraging off recent acquisitions underpinning a brighter forward look to the estimated earnings before interest, tax and other amortisations are deducted” types, for a hikoi on our river, just adds to the effect.

So picture this;

I’m in my “ignore all the Wellington bullshit about the state of the environment, be blissful and serene Rob” mode and one of the guests makes the statement that “all the streams around here must be polluted as there are farms alongside.”

They were left in no doubt about the state of the environment in our area (it’s actually pretty good) and I took great pleasure in showing them the huge banded mudstone bluffs in certain locations.

Each band represents a huge erosive event by an ancient river aeons ago, taking silt and nutrients out to sea, forming a peneplain.

Subsequent tectonic plate shifts have caused uplifts to occur to the extent where some of the former sea plains now reside at up to 2000 feet about sea level.

This is erosion at work. It is a natural process. We can only attempt to slow it.

Degraded rivers! Really?

So we had a great day, we had stunning scenery, history, spiritual values, insights into the flora and fauna on the river and some massive spins leading to pure adrenalin shots.

They went home wet, oozing with endorphins and maybe a little better informed.

We are taking bookings for my therapy classes.