Business Rural Spring 2021

60 | After 34 years of farming, Rex keen to Richard Loader MEAT & WOOL » Rex & Heather Botting E ver since not being very high Rex Botting knew that farming was what he wanted to do in life, but after thirty four years farming in Waituna Rex and his wife Heather are about to embark on the next stage of their lives. About four years ago Rex and Heather sat down with the accountant and started heading down the path of succession planning. The couple have three children; Hamish 32, Ryan 29 and Courtney 20. Only Hamish had shown interest in farming and, prior to Covid last year, had spent the last ten years shearing around the globe. Now aged 58, Rex’s original plan was for he and Heather to step back from the farm at the magical age of 60. But when Covid came along and Hamish could no longer shear overseas the process was brought forward. Hamish and his partner Katie Landers have now leased the farm, buying the stock and plant as the first stage of the succession process. Stock includes 2000 Romney breeding ewes, 500 hoggets with all progeny finished. There’s also 110 two year old cattle and 130 rising one year old trading cattle. At some point down the track Rex and Heather will look at how Hamish and Katie can buy the farm, but with two other children to consider careful thought has to be given as to how that can be done fairly. Right now, Rex says he has gone from being the boss to the boy, doing all the jobs Hamish and Katie want him to do. “It’s a complete role reversal really, but I’m quite happy at the moment. Heather and I are now here just to help if Hamish and Katie need a job done or some advice. “Even though Hamish has leased the farm he will still be shearing. That’s where I will come in to shift stock, so he can go shearing to get extra money. And Katie has an AI run as well.” Reflecting on the initial succession-planning meeting Rex says he noted down his farming values of Pride, Passion and Enjoyment. Those values as remain true today as they were then and sum up why he has farmed all his life. “It’s a pride in having good healthy stock and that flows on to having a good profitable farm. Farming is also a great way to bring up kids. In times like Covid, at least you can get outside. I would hate to be in apartment at level four for three to four weeks.” Rex also says the type of farming has changed dramatically over the last 34 years. When the cou- ple first started there were eleven sheep farmers on their road and now he and Heather are the last one’s standing, the rest have all been converted to dairy. Classed as Southern Southland, the farm is at the top end of the Waituna district. The Waituna creek runs right up through the farm, about 1.5 kilome- tres, and leads to Lake Waituna. “The creek is the main feature of the farm,” suggests Rex. “All the trout from Lake Waituna come up the creek to spawn, and there are not a lot of creeks in New Zealand that still have spawning trout like we have. It’s nothing to see 300 – 400 fish in May/June spawning.” But there a lot of issues with the creek and the lake, and it is a major source of frustration for Rex, particularly when trying to work with organisations like Environment Southland. “We’re getting lots of bank erosion off the creek which then flows down into the lake. Every time there’s a flash flood it causes more erosion. About this time last year we lost 100 metres off the bank and that works out to be 1000 cubic metres that disappeared down into the lake and becomes sedi- ment. “We’ve tried to talk to Environment Southland but they don’t seem to listen. Most of the creek has riparian planting on one side but it’s not solving the total problem of bank erosion. It’s fenced off on both sides for some of it and some only on one side. Because of the bad erosion I don’t see any point in fencing the other side when it caves in all the time. “Whatever we do here on the farm has to go through Environment Southland because they basically run the creek, because it’s a catchment creek. They have all been out here and taken a lot of photos — but nothing has come of it.” Looking to an immediate future of semi retire- ment, Rex sees whitebating and a newly acquired love of caravanning around New Zealand with Heather as the next stage of life. “The creek is the main feature of the farm. All the trout from Lake Waituna come up the creek to spawn, and there are not a lot of creeks in New Zealand that still have spawning trout like we have. It’s nothing to see 300 – 400 fish in May/June spawning.” BRAD MULDER | 027 738 6436 | Proudly supporting Rex & Heather Botting Brendon Perriam 021 330 221 03 206 6332 Edendale, SeawardDowns RD3Wyndham ∙ 17 years experience ∙ Competitive Rates Proudly supporting Rex & Heather Botting