Bruce Eade is thankful his heifers weren’t in their wintering shed at the weekend when it collapsed under the weight of heavy, wet snow.
An exceptional autumn meant he had plenty of surplus grass to feed his 150 heifers, and had been planning to put them in the 60m-long shed in a couple of weeks.
It is now a write-off after the Tapanui dairy farm, in West Otago, was blanketed by up to 20cm of snow that fell throughout the south of the South Island on Saturday night and Sunday.
The cold front appears to have been confined to the south and southeast corner of the lower South Island, impacting Southland, West and South Otago and Dunedin, with only small amounts falling on the highest parts of Central Otago.
It stopped snowing on Sunday but the snow was replaced by heavy rain, which caused some surface flooding.
Farmers at Mahinerangi, inland west of Dunedin, estimate about 40cm of snow settled on Sunday night. Parts of South Otago, although a sheet of white, reported slightly less.
Eade said he expects a couple of snowfalls each winter, but this was the heaviest in 10 years.
“Winter in winter-time is fine,” he said.
Along with households and businesses in parts of Eastern Southland and West Otago, Eade lost electricity services on Saturday night and had to rely on a generator to complete his winter milking of up to 300 cows.
Most services were restored, but he said some neighbours were still doing without on Monday morning.
Much of the snow was washed away by 25 to 50mm of rain on Sunday night and Monday, causing some surface flooding.
“Today is a picking-up-the-pieces day,” he said.
“We’ve had a bit of snow and it’s wet, but at least we haven’t had a cyclone like they’ve had up north.”