North Waikato sheep and beef farmer John Jackson has had an interesting and eclectic journey on the way to his eventual farming career and farm ownership.
“We don’t consider ourselves to be top farmers, but we always try to do the best we can,” says Vince.
“I’m a bit sick of all the negative press that farming gets. The vast majority of us are doing a good job considering the financial and environmental limitations we face.”
Vince and Bella farm 1020ha Bushy Park, an 8000 stock-unit sheep and beef property at Waimumu, west of Gore.
“It’s a beautiful farm and our family takes immense pride in the place,” Vince says.
The Aynsleys entered the Southland Ballance Farm Environment Awards for the first time in 2016 and won two category awards, including the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Livestock Award. Judges described Bushy Park as “efficient, profitable and very well-managed – a top performing operation”.
Vince says the award was a good endorsement of what they had been trying to achieve on the farm.
“I suppose we were reasonably happy we were on the right track in the first place, but it was great to get that vote of confidence from the judges.”
But even if they hadn’t won a prize, Vince reckons entering the awards would still be well worthwhile.
“Opening up the farm to five expert judges from all walks of life gave us a very valuable outside view of the operation,” he says.
“Like most farmers, I tend to plod away largely on my own and that can make you very inward thinking. But having those judges take a good hard look at your business for free is hugely beneficial.”
Vince says he and Bella learnt a lot from the experience.
“It certainly made me aware of the need to document more about the farm’s management, rather than just carrying things around in my head all the time. If something happened to me, I’d want Bella or whoever took over to have the ‘big picture’ information that will help them manage the place efficiently.”
Vince says he would definitely recommend the awards to other farmers.
“I think the awards are a great way to showcase the positive things that are happening out there. They are also excellent for helping farmers learn more about how to improve their individual operations.”
Entries for the Southland Ballance Farm Environment Awards close on October 31, 2016. Entry forms are available online at www.nzfeatrust.org.nz