Working the good life

Micha Johansen is floating between the Eketahuna farm and an orchard at Waipukurau.

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Micha Johansen is floating between the Eketahuna farm and an orchard at Waipukurau.

The weather of late has seemed very odd – fine for most of the day, then it buckets down at random moments, usually when one is furthest from home and without a raincoat, because “it’s not looking like rain”.

The good thing is that because of this, there seems to be good grass cover, which then helps in the sale of our beef calves at the 100kg weaner sales.

We reared 125 calves this year and it was probably our best year ever in terms of animal health, likely due to relatively warm winter-spring temperatures. Usually by the end of calving, I have had to nurse a few calves through a bit of scouring, but this year there was only one, which was a welcome miracle and made for a relatively low-stress calving season.

The calves also came thick and fast, and we had about 90% of calving done in about seven weeks. While this was great, it also led to a bit of a panic on my part as to where they would all fit.

Thankfully the weather played ball and we were able to get bigger calves out permanently earlier than usual, freeing up space in the good sheds.

While the vast majority of our calves are Angus crosses, we bought in 15 replacement cows that provided us with a few Friesians, Hereford crosses, and then right at the end, the surprise of a Speckle Park, and he is the cutest dang calf that ever was.

He has a bit of an undershot jaw and is a relatively slow feeder, so he gets a bit of extra care and attention, and once weaned he will go with a few of the tail-end Charlies to my parents’ block in Waipukurau.

We have had two weaner sales this season that have yielded us pretty good results for the 47 calves sold so far. We recently weighed up another 50 with an average of about 15kg. The stock agent will pop in before the sale and pull out the “overly Jersey”, and the “too much white” calves, which hopefully leaves a good 30–35 to go, which obviously then takes a chunk of pressure off the pasture.

I did finally make it to one of the sales this year and I really regret having not done it sooner, as it was good to see how our calves compared to others. Happily I think they more than matched up pretty darn well.

Now the busy farm season is over and there are no longer Covid restrictions, I have been getting out and about and back into life.

I am working four days a week on an apple orchard and have discovered that it’s actually an okay job. I don’t know why more Kiwis don’t give orchard work a fair go. Maybe we have a bit of a superiority complex, where many feel that they are “above” such jobs. But we’re not.

It’s good work, gets you outside and can lead to other roles in the industry, but I guess it’s all “too hard”. Today it seems we live in a society where fewer and fewer people are prepared to put the effort in and work towards a long-term goal, where people feel they are owed a life rather than having to earn one.

Concerts, motorsport, and my harness horses have also been occupying my time and energy and I am having a thoroughly fun time. I even managed to go to a Devilskin concert at Black Barn on my own and had a great time. And no matter what we “older folk” may say about “younger folk”, they sure seem to be nice kids.

At Devilskin, three different youngsters checked in with me and asked if I was having a good time and enjoying the bands. It was nice of them, even if they unintentionally made me feel my age rather than the fantasy 25-year-old I had been pretending I was.