Business Rural North Winter 2021

| 9 RURAL PEOPLE » GJ Revell Trust: Paul & Susannah Revell Farm steeped in its pioneering past Richard Loader I n 2003, after completing a degree in Agricultural Science following by 18 months OE, Paul Revell returned to the Rangitikei farm that has been in his family for 118 years. Steeped in the pioneering past that forms the glue of farming families, the land and the spirit of past generations was a compelling draw for Paul who says the farm is far more than just the busi- ness of growing sheep and cattle. “If you were purely a business or just had a house in town you might sell up tomorrow if that was the right business decision to make. But because it’s a family farm you persevere and try to make things work. You’re always aware of the family’s involvement on the land and some of their experiences.” County records show that in 1903 great-grandfa- ther Thomas Charles Revell bought three 200-acre blocks of land in Papanui Junction, 40 minutes west of Taihape and very near the Turakina River. At the same time friends of Thomas bought another three 200-acre blocks and Thomas farmed the 1200 acres together for a handful of years before buying the land owned by his friends. In the 1930s another 200 acre block was added forming the seven 200 acre blocks now collectively known as Okaka. In those early pioneering days at the turn of the 20th century the land was carpeted with native bush including mighty totara, which apart from some small pockets, was cleared by the first two generations. “A lot of the wood was burned but a lot was used for building houses, sheds and fences,” says Paul. “A lot of totara was used for fences but there would have been a lot of wastage. In this day and age we cry at how the native timber was wasted but they had a different goal in those days, which would have been clearing the land to breed ewes and fatten steers.” After Thomas, the next generation to farm the land was Paul’s grandfather Arthur and great-uncle John. “I think they would have farmed in a similar way to the previous generation with huge paddocks. A lot of work in those days would have been getting those paddocks into pasture.” In 1953, the magic of electricity arrived to the district early when great-uncle John was elected to the Whanganui Power Board. At about the same time the first top dressers fertilised the land from above. When Paul’s father Graham and Uncle Mur- ray took over the reins in the early ‘70s they set about subdividing the massive paddocks and work- ing out which areas could be cropped for rotational grazing resulting in a significant reduction in weeds. Murray eventually moved on to his own piece of farmland and Graham and his wife Wendy contin- ued to farm Okaka on their own. Now Paul and his wife Susannah operate the farm and are currently going through a process of succession, which will see them buy the farm. Paul says he and his father talk about farming styles and methods and while much remains the same, Paul has made changes that reflect changes to the climate and markets. The farm is normally home to about 2500 ewes including two tooths but lamb numbers are down a little due to last year’s drought. “Our lambing rate is about 135%. Of that we’ll select about 700 ewe lambs for replacements and of the remaining 3100 or so half will be sold store and half sold to slaughter. ”There are also 170 cows as well as replace- ments. Half the cows are Angus stud cows and that is where Paul’s passion lies. Okaka Stud was formed about five years ago and the first on-farm bull sale was held on June 11 this year. While aware of the importance of genetics and markets, Paul says his number one goal is to produce moderate stocky, meaty animals that are robust to the environment. “We have a lot of steep hill country here and we have to keep the animal that has the most potential to climb those hills, graze those pastures and the rough feed on the hills.” “But because it’s a family farm you persevere and try to make things work. You’re always aware of the family’s involvement on the land and some of their experiences.” Taihape Honda Proud Supplier of the Revell family since 2006. We would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the Revell family on their Centenary 06 388 1211 89 Hautapu Street, Taihape w w w . o t o r o h o n d a . c o . n z PAUL & SUSANNAH REVELL 361 Okaka Road, RD1 Taihape 4791 E: Ph: 06 388 7519 Okaka Angus Bred on Taihape steep hill country Includes pure New Zealand genetics Open day Tuesday 25 May, 1-3 PM 2-YR BULL SALE 11 JUNE 2021, 12.30PM On-farm and online Helmsman auction OKAKA ANGUS Dig it, Shift it, Grab it, Bore it Leave it to us Ph: 027 277 8530 Ken Deighton Contracting Tracks | Dams | Building Sites | Driveways | Water Cartage | Hole Drilling Truck-Transporter Hire | Nova Flow | Tree Work | Demolition MEMBER Stephen Harris Livestock Ltd is pleased to be associated with the Revell Family Trust Angus Breeding Programme. is pleased to b . Local Agent: Blair Robinson 0274 855 356 Paul and Susannah Revell with family Thomas 14, William 12 and Sally 10. Okaka Stud Angus bulls grazing the steep hill country.