NZ Dairy Spring 2021

24 | nz dairy A simple, back to basics approach Russell Fredric “When I left the power company in 1997 we just decided that’s what we were going to do [dairy farming] and I guess the goal was to do it as good as we could and just make a living from there.” DAIRY PEOPLE » Bryce & Lorraine Thomson B ryce and Lorraine Thomson’s conservative ap- proach to dairy farming on the South Island’s West Coast has served them and their family well over the past three decades. The couple live on a seven hectare block in Hokitika and have retired from farming, but still own two dairy farms and two support blocks in Harihari, a 45 minute drive south. Their No 1 farm on Petersen Rd, Harihari, is 50/50 sharemilked by one of their four daughters, Kristin and her husband Rob, milking 340 cows on 215 hectares. The original property of 70 hectares was leased from Lorraine’s parents in 1996 and then purchased from them, along with a second neighbouring block in 1999 and third block in 2002, bringing it to a total of 215 hectares. This farm is supported by a nearby 58 hectare block on Wanganui Flat Road, which was Bryce and Lorraine’s first farm purchase in 1980, along with a house on a separate title and was originally a sheep and beef hobby farm. The house was sold in 1999 and the 58 hectares of land was sold to Kristin and Rob in 2019. Bryce and Lorraine’s youngest daughter, Jenna, contract milks with her partner Adam Shaw on the No 2, 230 cow farm comprising 142ha, also on Petersen Rd, bought as one block by Bryce and Lorraine in 2007. This farm has a 13ha support block for calf grazing, plus a 40ha block for young stock, that also has a house on it, formerly occupied by Lorraine’s parents. Bryce and Lorraine and other members of the family often use the house for regular visits and short term stays in Hari Hari. Jenna also bought a 9ha support block, from her parents in 2020. “We went dairying in 1996, but we only leased the (No. 1) farm that we now own off Lorraine’s par- ents for about four of five years before we bought it,” Bryce says. Buying a farm in those days, especially the sec- ond farm, was relatively easy compared to today, he says. Jenna Thomson and her partner Adam Shaw on Totaralea Farm. The younger stock have plenty of feed on Farm 2 (below). “We bought our second farm a lot easier, because I suppose we had a running record with the bank and it was really just a case of ringing the bank and saying ‘we are thinking of buying this farm’ and over the phone they pretty much said ‘go for it.’” While the ownership situation and various purchases and sales takes some following, Bryce’s approach to farming has always been based on simple and low-tech. “When I left the power company in 1997 we just decided that’s what we were going to do (dairy farming) and I guess the goal was to do it as good as we could and just make a living from there. “As things went on my (two) girls were interested in farming and when Kristin first started working for us we just thought we would try and get set up into a family business and that’s where we’ve ended up.” Over the years the focus has been on running low cost operations. “We didn’t push the boundaries, we tried not to overstock, but with our weather sometimes you can get a bit caught out.” These days, Bryce and Lorraine are not involved in the day-to-day running of the farms but help out where needed. Their keep-it-simple strategy has served them well through various economic cycles, providing for themselves and two of their children while creating financial security and a lot of satisfaction. West Coast Vets H E R E for GOOD PROUDTO SUPPORT BRYCE THOMSON Locally owned, for all your animal health needs. Around the region, around the clock, Here for Good. GREYMOUTH 03 768 0370 HOKITIKA 03 755 8361 IKAMATUA 03 906 0418 Jeff Evans Ltd are proud to be associated with Bryce Thomson ADDESS: 62 Tancred Street, Hokitika FREEPHONE: 0800 533 338 EMAIL: - We have the Coast covered from Karamea to Haast for EVERYTHING from Plumbing, Drainlaying, Gasfitting, Solar, Home Heating, Spa Pools, bathroom items, Rural Services, Dairy repairs + SO MUCH MORE!