For eight years Barbs Evans, along with husband Greg, farmed in the Waitotara Valley, Southern Taranaki, before recently moving to the Wairarapa. Originating from the South Island, Barb grew up in Timaru working for BNZ for ten years prior to moving to the North Island.
Ten years ago Greg’s family commenced their farm succession planning, providing the couple the opportunity to move to the North Island and purchase their first farm. The option of purchasing in the North Island at the time was attractive, due to the dairy boom peak in Southland. The first move was the purchase of Ten Ridges an 850ha steep hill country property. They also leased a neighbouring property which provided 826ha of easier finishing hill country to their farming business, running a 14,000su sheep & beef operation.
This was a big move for Barb leaving her bank manager’s role at BNZ but she found that many of her skills from financial planning and accounting to human resources could be transferred to their own business. Barb then went onto complete a level 4 farm management certificate and a diploma in Agri-business Management. “It was very important to me to have my own stock management and farming business knowledge to be able to have an opinion in our farming business.” But where Barb found she thrived the most was working outside and the physical side of farming. “I built up a team of dogs and horses and learnt how to muster stock on some of the more challenging country. I became involved in competing in horse sports and dog trails and even had a go at show shearing.”
Living an hour and a half from town and living there was a challenge of its own. There was the common occurrence of slips and road closures which would last for days, long periods without power or phone, no cell coverage and limited internet. However Barb was in her element. “Ever since a young girl I always wanted to live up a long dead end windy road - I definitely got this living up the Waitotara Valley! What you also get living this far out is a close caring social community which we loved.”
In 2013 their lease came to an end but another opportunity followed and Barb and Greg contract managed another neighbouring property. When this sold two years later they consolidated back to their original hill country breeding unit of 850ha. Over this time the Waitotara Valley saw a few challenges. Two years of drought, a flood and Greg out of action for nine months with a major back injury.
After the last major weather event the 2015 Wanganui flood Barb and Greg were cut off for three weeks; they lost a lot of stock, new fence lines and production took a downward turn. They decided to sell Ten Ridges and purchased a 316ha medium hill country property in Mauriceville Wairarapa. For the couple this was a strategic decision to capitalise on the Manuka Honey boom in the Waitotara Valley and purchase a smaller more productive block. This also meant they were able to increase the equity held in the business for future opportunities. Their farm sold in 21 days! And they moved within 6 weeks!!!
Transferring their livestock to their new Mauriceville property, Barb and Greg laid down solid plans, currently running a mix of finishing and forward store livestock, with a focus to increase the amount of kilograms of meat sold per hectare by capital fertiliser, cropping and improving pastures, good stock management and teamwork. Their aim is to have a passionate team around them, that inclusively they can create opportunities with each other’s strengths, living a healthy productive life full of fun with family, friends and farming.