Business Rural Spring 2021

38 | Teaching the next generation is vital Maisie, Michelle, Tilly, Fynn and Glen Mitchell with their dogs Meg, Poppy and Coco (top). Maisie and TIlly with Meg and Maisie’s pup. Glen and his son Fynn with a mob of MA ewes (below). Karen Phelps A s any farmer knows it’s a hard road to get started in the industry. So the younger you get your foot in the door the better. That’s certainly the case for Glen and Michelle Mitchell’s children who are already running their own small scale farming operation from part of the Mitchell family farm. For the past five years Fynn, 16, and Maisie, 13, have leased 6ha where every August they purchase 60 in-lamb ewes to raise and sell the progeny. Initially Glen and Michelle loaned them the money to get started. But it was no free ride – the kids had to pay it back with interest. They are responsible for everything under the watchful eye of their parents – leasing the land, buying ewes on the open market, dealing with stock agents, drenching, dagging, budgeting and sales. Tilly, 12, has also got in on the action and now runs her own business of 20 ewes from another 2.5ha paddock on the farm. “They’ve always been capable farmers and wanted to give it a go,” says Glen with pride. “It gives them an incentive to learn when they can see the return for all their hard work. We sit down with them and look at the actual figures at the end of each season. They’ve done well and the older kids don’t have to borrow money off us any more – they’ve got enough to fund the purchase of the ewes themselves. After the first year they wanted to lease more land off us but we had to say no be- cause that would have impacted on our business,” he says with a laugh. Glen and Michelle own a 500ha farm at Lumsden where they run 5000 stock units including 3000 breeding ewes and 60 breeding cows. Glen grew up on a farm next door, which is now part of their property, and traded his way up by buying and sell- ing several smaller farms in central Southland after he started farming in the early 2000s. They have been on their present farm for 15 years and their operation includes Glenrae Stud, which Glen’s parents started in the early 80s and comprises 550 coopdale and coopworth recorded ewes. The stud flock is run with the commercial sheep to ensure they perform well under com- mercial conditions. Traits targeted are fertility, constitution, yield and growth rates. They aim for an easy-care sheep that is able to survive with minimal shepherding. They sell around 150 rams by private treaty each year and Glen says Glenrae rams end up all over New Zealand demonstrating their ability to perform well under a variety of conditions and in a range of farming operations. MEAT & WOOL » Glen & Michelle Mitchell “Our farm can dry out very quickly so we have to be on the ball regarding feed management and stocking rate,” says Glen. “This is where having strong, bold sheep that maintain their condition is key so that they can perform year after year.” He favours high performing Italian rye grasses on their finishing country to maximise performance from the better soils. Around 30ha of kale and swede is grown to get the stock through the winter months. Glen is the main worker on the farm with help from his children. Michelle works part time as a teacher and helps out as needed. The main road splits the farm so the couple are in the process of putting in an underpass to mitigate environmental issues and make running the farm even easier. “It gives them an incentive to learn when they can see the return for all their hard work.” JOHNS CONTRACTING Hay, Baleage & Agricultural Work MURRAY ph 027 433 8647 NICK ph 027 497 3864 Weed, Crop, Pasture & Liquid Fertiliser Spraying Twin Conveyer Sheep Shower Available Ewan Allan Honda Gore Pleased to support GlenMitchell 25 Ordsal Street, Gore 03 208 0174 All your shearing, crutching and tailing requirements. Southland & South Otago Winton | 027 345 0963 | 03 236 1401 |