NZ Dairy Autumn 2022

| 25 nzdairy DAIRY PEOPLE » John Assen John Assen with the future herd (top). Mary the helper (above). ‘You can get caught up in the dark’ Richard Loader Morrinsville farmer John Assen grew up one of 16 children on his parents’ small dairy farm, but it took a major event to ignite an enduring passion for farming and a life on the land. A waterskiing related accident resulted in John breaking his neck and a year off high school, four months of which were spent rehabilitating in a spinal unit with another eight months at home, gradually spending more time out on the farm. During his slow recovery, John realised just how good farming and the ability to work outdoors was. Upon leaving school John gained a scholarship to study agriculture at Lincoln University, earning a degree in Ag. Commerce. A year in Chile working in a farm school was followed with the usual dairy-farming ladder to farm ownership, including 11 years sharemilking. With some help from his parents, John and his wife Sarah bought their little slice of heaven on the Hamilton side of Morrinsville a couple of years ago. “For the last ten years or so Mum and dad had a dry stock block but it was getting a bit too much for them,” says John. “Dad’s 80 and mum’s 77, but they are not the kind of people to retire to town. So the set up here with mum and dad living on farm is the perfect one really. Now we’re the hub and when family are on holiday they come and see mum, dad and us. So we get the best of both worlds.” The 38-hectare effective property includes an adjoining five-hectare lease block, which forms part of the dairy platform. “I love growing grass, harvesting as much as possibe. I love working with animals and cows are such nice animals to work with – they’re not complicated. Being outside and keeping active is a big one for me. It’s also the variation. Sure you have to milk cows every day but in between times there are so many different things you can be doing. But probably the number one thing would be family. Being able to have time with the kids and wider family. Just to arrange a day around things to get to the community, school activity or church.” John says one of the great things about farming is that New Zealand farmers are very willing to share their advice and knowledge, their time and expertise, and neighbours are always willing to help each other. “Everybody throughout their life has to struggle through something, and we all know someone who has been through some pain, whether it’s loss, hardship, the weather and no feed for the stock. Being able to talk to another farmer is hugely important, because you can get caught up in the dark and there’s no light in sight. “It is not until you talk to other people that you realise you’re not the only one who is having a struggle or has had a struggle, and that there’s a future and hope. “Times don’t stay dark forever. Others help you to see the bigger picture and not sweat the small stuff. It might even be discussion groups and something as general as how you can fill a feed deficit. The important thing is to talk.” John and Sarah have five children aged between 11 and 8 months, with three of the children now at school. “All the kids take turns on the farm in the weekends or after school,” says John. “Sometimes they grumble about it but they’re always happy once they are on the farm.” “It is not until you talk to other people that you realise you’re not the only one who is having a struggle or has had a struggle, and that there’s a future and hope.” For all your excavation requirements - Digger, Truck & Bulldozer for hire 027 2708 715 or 07 889 3508 35B Dobb Rd, RD2, Morrinsville • Residential • Commercial • Rural • 24hr - 7 Day Service “Totally Dependable” Proud to be preferred electricians for John Assen 0800 742 2846 | p. 07 889 3344 | m. 0274 927 133 Proud to be preferred electricians for Abron Group Experienced and reliable water pumps and water filtration experts for Hamilton and the Waikato region • A range of water filtration systems available • Water filtration to remove iron &manganese • Supply, installation, and servicing • For Hamilton and the Waikato region • Free quotes available! P 07 824 1726 W Daren 0274 346 571 E PROUDTOWORKWITHJOHNASSEN