Weather, cats and the future

As Paul and Suzie Corboy hit ages ending with a zero, they’re thinking about what to do next in life’s big adventure.

In Home Block5 Minutes

IT IS THE FIRST WEEK OF May and the past few weeks have been mild, and we have grown a lot of grass, but today it’s very cold. This season was a repeat of the last two: a dry summer and grass growth well below average. We no longer know what an average year is.

All our great plans for weights we would sell lambs at and have 80% of the heifers at killable weights by May 1 were no longer achievable, so we just had to make it up week by week, trying to make the right decisions early enough so that only this season’s income is affected. We farm for damp summers and are quite highly stocked, so our farming system needs major adjustments when it is dry.

It has been one of those seasons that in hindsight management mistakes have been made; some crops not sown early enough, ewes not condition scored as early as they could have been and EID tags not ordered on time, so lambs couldn’t be sold into a premium market when they were ready. But we have been farming long enough to know we don’t get it all right all of the time, and every year there is room for improvement.

After writing in January about my affectionate wild kitten that I tamed last winter, I now have to inform you he had a very untimely death. I was devastated.

We own more than 1000 acres behind our house, but he chose to walk 200 metres in the other direction and get killed on the road. I missed him so much that I went to the vets within a few days and adopted another kitten. Angus is a black tabby, and we are back to kitten training again. We have scratched hands and legs from sharp little claws that chase fingers and jump up on you when you least expect it.

Both Paul and I have reached ages ending in zero this year and have achieved a number of our farming goals, so where to from here? We had more than one farming couple visit this summer who have retired from farming and one of the many discussions we had was about what we will do in the future. We have no children so there will be no family succession. Neither of us wants to lease the farm because our capital for the next stage of life is in the farm, so it will be sold one day. But where will we live, what will we do every day to fill our time?

We have been talking about these things for a few years now, and have even looked at some houses, but it is a big step to take. I would like to keep some of my pet animals and Paul says he would like to do more horse riding, so we want a few acres, but not too much or it will turn into a life-sentence block, not lifestyle, and we will still be tied to the land.

We don’t feel ready to live close to neighbours and have to shut curtains for privacy, and we don’t want to be woken by that annoying neighbour who wants to mow the lawn early on a Sunday morning. It would be good to live close to town so we can take home takeaways and not have to reheat them because we’re so far from the shop.

We both want to do some overseas travel before our bodies are too worn out to be able to do those walks in the Alps, we want to sleep in tents in Tanzania while looking for Africa’s Big 5 and have any other adventures that might come along.

Unless we have some major unfortunate event, we will be farming for a while yet and have time to make plans so that we optimise our exit from farming. Winter is fast approaching, and as usual there will be plenty to do on the farm while we plan for the future. It is never too early to think about future plans.