Kirstin and Simon Engelbrecht, with children Anna and Charles, when they were national winners field day for the New Zealand Ewe Hogget Competition.

Home block: Don’t lie awake worrying

Kirstin Engelbrecht

Palmerston, Otago

It has been a dry start to the year here in East Otago.  We are not on our own with many areas the same making for decisions to be made.

Kirstin Engelbrecht

Simon and I are in our 12th year here at Stoneburn and continue to enjoy it. After a good scanning the rest of the winter seemed pretty good, we struggled to get winter feed crops eaten and had a good early spring growth period. The first calvers had the vet visit a couple of times which we expected and lambing weather was kind.

Earlier in the year Simon agreed to provide breeding ewes for a Southdown ram progeny trial. Ram breeders arrived and we put the 20 ram lambs from throughout the country to work over our four-year-old line of ewes. We also AI some ewes to help benchmark the results.

Lambing went well and they are now weaned and have travelled to Chris Medlicott at Waimate to be grown on until their slaughter in February. They will all be scanned and other data gathered on top of the information gathered from here and Chris’s. It will be interesting to see the finalised results.

We weaned before Christmas and sold fats, stores and works ewes with only about 1000 works lambs remaining. With hindsight it has been a reasonable decision as we are still looking for a good rain.

When your children are small everyone goes on to you about “making the most of it” but you’re just so tired sometimes that you find yourself answering these well-meaning people in your head with something along the lines of “I can’t wait!” 

Over the years Simon has decided that you need to make a decision and get on with it rather than lie awake worrying either way. If we do get large amounts of rain then there are always options for utilising any growth.

Shearing has been going on the last few days. We started with the ewe lambs and money for this wool looks the most promising at present. The main line of ewes will no doubt be pleased to have the weight off on these hot days.

Our drench resistance test results were consistent with four years ago so we won’t need to do one for a while. We tape-drenched the lambs on their mothers and again at weaning as we believe it is most beneficial.

The ‘Understanding Your Farming Business’ course run through the Agri-Women’s Development Trust was inspiring. It covered stock reconciliation, budgets for feed and finance, KPIs and benchmarking and more. The facilitators were memorable and outstanding individuals.

I gained a lot and highly recommend it to anyone who has a chance to attend. It is free as the trust has gained sponsorship through the Red Meat Profit Partnership and you will have fun too. We had a baby come to ours and our age group ranged from young starting-out-farming to nearly retiring. All sized farms and types too.

Preparing for our youngest to start boarding school, which I am sure he will love, has been on my mind as well.  It means our typical day will start to look a bit different this year. I’ll miss him but it’s not all about me. Two of our children are going into year 11 and 13 in Dunedin this year and our eldest is in his last year at Lincoln University finishing a BCom. So you would think I would be skipping with joy entering this phase of our lives, telling everyone that my trophy wife days have finally begun, and I am but I can’t believe how fast it has come.

When your children are small everyone goes on to you about “making the most of it” but you’re just so tired sometimes that you find yourself answering these well-meaning people in your head with something along the lines of “I can’t wait!” Of course, though, these wise older people were right and I say it to young families now like a painful aunt. I feel I made the most of it when they were little, going to school events, making blanket forts in the lounge and barely doing any housework, yet I love where we are as a family now too.

I hope people managed to get a break away or are going shortly. Even though children don’t make the greatest holiday companions at times they gain memories they’ll have for a lifetime and whether you take them or not it shows them that it’s important to take time out from work for your mental and physical health.

It doesn’t have to be far or expensive either. As it’s a busy time and hard to get people to cover we have been going to the Dunback Domain by the Shag River for a few years now and have a lot of fun. It’s easy for the parents too because we can whip home to run dogs, shift stock, shower (and power nap) which results in the children feeling like they’ve had an adventure and there are no traffic problems or ques around Dunback either. It’s not where you are, it’s who you’re with and that is certainly true of our happy crew.

Quick facts:

Kirstin and Simon Engelbrecht farm sheep and beef in the Palmerston district, Otago. They have four children: Oscar 20, Sam 17, Anna 15, and Charles 13.

Farm area: 824ha (611ha Stoneburn, 185 Goodwood, 28ha lease block).

Running 7500 stock units.

Annual rainfall: 736mm

Elevation: 450 metres above sea level.

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