When Glen and Trish Rankin entered the Dairy Industry Awards one of the things they looked forward to was the feedback from judges.
However, when it came, it was unexpected and set them aback, especially when they were told farm ownership might not be achievable.
“Feedback from the second time we entered was that we were pulling in different directions and that they couldn’t ever see us owning a farm. It felt blunt at the time but was spot on,” Trish says.
“They suggested we pool our skills and focus on driving our farm business. We’d just had baby number four, we were frantically busy but still not getting ahead. We decided to search for a 50-50 job.”
That tactic paid off when they won the 2016 Northland Share Farmer of the Year title.
Having entered three previous times they weren’t sure about entering again but decided it would help them build on what they had achieved.
“As soon as you mention the Dairy Awards everyone wants to help you. The first time we entered we were surprised that they often seemed more excited than us. We didn’t really know what we were getting into,” Glen says.
“By opening our door to seek advice we allowed all of these enthusiastic people to come in. We didn’t win it in the three years leading up to 2016 but it put us in the best possible position to win later on.”
Since then they have knuckled down, organised themselves and their business and are on their way to achieving their dream.
Their four boys, Charlie, 13, Harry, 12, Tom, 8, and Patrick, 5, are even helping in their own way.
“We want our kids to know that you can set a goal and reach it. They know we want to own a farm. They understand it is about watching what we spend. This year the tent went up on the lawn and most days were spent at the local beach.”
The 13ha turnip crop has cost 7.5 cents a kilogram of dry matter and helped the Rankins, from left, Harry, Tom, Charlie, Patrick, Glen and Trish increase production after Christmas.
Trish has been inspired to take on challenges such as the Kellogg Rural Leadership Programme, focusing on waste minimisation on farms. She is interested in researching circular economies and applying them to agriculture and dairy farming and ways to solve the problem of dairy farm non-biological waste.
Trish was on the technical user committee doing the NAIT review and is one of the 19 people in the region who have completed the Dairy Environment Leaders programme.
The Rankins do not believe in the one-size-fits-all solution for farming dairy cows and say each farmer has a different approach that fits their own particular farming operation and environmental conditions.
Using this philosophy and techniques gleaned from their previous farming jobs they are continuing to work towards their ultimate goal – hopefully in Taranaki.
“This is the best, most well-rounded region we’ve been in. The kid’s school and sports activities are close by and the school bus stops at the gate. In Northland; the kid’s rugby was often a two-hour drive away over rough roads.
“Everything we ever wanted in a farm has come together here,” Glen says.
“Our focus is to try and get rid of our debt as quickly as possible so if an opportunity arises we can grab it. Once we’ve achieved farm ownership we’ll look for another challenge. Farm ownership isn’t the end. It’s just part of the journey.”