Monday article for Southland Times 16 February 1998.
from Christine McKenzie
Fortrose 5RD Invercargill
AN OPEN LETTER TO A YOUNG FARMING FAMILY IN SCOTLAND
Dear farming folks
So you have had it up to here with farming in Scotland with all the red tape and bureaucracy. How about moving out to Southland, New Zealand?
There are quite a few farms for sale near us. The land is fertile and healthy, the air is sparkling clear, the neighbours are friendly and most of all you can farm to your heart’s content, instead of getting up in the morning to ‘milk the subsidies’.
Over here you’d soon forget the frustration of filling in all those forms for every acre, every crop and every head of livestock - and there’s no satellite overhead measuring how many acres or animals you’re claiming for, because you’re not claiming for anything.
You’d be made very welcome in New Zealand. The people here mostly have Scottish background so you would feel at home straight away. For sheep farming you need about 2500 ewes nowadays to make a living. It sounds a lot compared to the 800 you are farming but the systems here along with the climate allow you to do it quite well and still have time for the bagpipes. The local pipe band, by the way, is top of Grade Two at present so is worthy of your talent. They have just been touring in Japan, and in August will be in Edinburgh at the Tattoo.
The other thing about sheep farming is that there is definitely progress to be made. It’s not a standstill business. I know that you have farming in your blood and here you’d be living among the top sheep farmers anywhere. Think of the challenge. Of course you’d be like the rest of us, driven by debt. That’s where you have to look at the downside - you might have to sacrifice a bit of that discretionary income the government gives you in Scotland - there are no set-aside payments here!
But that’s what I was saying - this is a place you can make your decisions according to your own piece of dirt and its microclimate and your own inclinations. You’ll be buying your own freehold and it’ll probably take your whole lifetime, but here it’s not called Freehold for nothing.
I daresay you will worry about the thought of leaving your ageing parents , and all the children’s cousins, but look I flew back to UK this year and it only cost $2000 return, that’s 800 pounds sterling. Invercargill to Inverness is only 36 hours or (think of it) you can go by Bali and take a week.
And once you get established here you’ll have a stream of visitors and plenty of space for them all.
You don’t have to worry about the children settling in. This has got to be the best place in the world to give children the freedom they really need. I noticed on my visit to England this year how my brother kept his eye on his children as they played in their garden. Even a locked gate didn’t keep them safe from strange people. Well here they will be able to call the place their own, they can ride horses and bikes till they drop, they can help you two, they can play sport on Saturdays and grow up independent, free, fit and responsible.
So are you tempted? I don’t mean to make it sound like Heaven because it’s not, it’s just a wonderful part of Earth with its own little niggles but overall a great quality of life. Let us know what you think of the idea. Bye for now....