Tom Adkins, a member of Upper Waitaki Young Farmers, recently embarked on his overseas experience in the UK as part of the Scottish NZYF Exchange. This exchange is the first one to take place since the Covid pandemic.
Tom shares his second update:
My next stop in Scotland was a three-hour drive North to Aberdeenshire to stay with the Mair Family on their organic sheep and beef farm. The Mairs farm is 385ha with 40 Ha in carrots, 110 calving cows, 40 heifers, 800 breeding ewes and finishing all lambs.
My first day was the North Regions Young Farmers rally which was similar to the field day at West Fife, with sports such as tug of war, running races, and an obstacle course as well as football and netball, there was also the 'industrial' aspect of the competition, which included making rope, potato harvesting boxes, mocktails, farm signs, painted coasters, cushion covers, pork pies, chocolate eclairs and more. A mince and cheese pie competition wouldn't go a miss in NZYF Tournament!
The Rally was a fantastic day out, meeting heaps of great people, the marquee was cleared out from the day events and a bar and DJ set up for a Young Farmers dance. There was plenty to celebrate as my exchange host Sally Miars, chair of the region, had a smooth running day and her partner, Murray, won the football trophy for the first time in the last 10 years despite having been in the final for six years!
Sunday morning we were refreshed with surfing lessons in the North Sea on a tropical 12°C. Day one the sea was pretty rough which made for very challenging learning and the water was quite busy with other surfers. On day 2, someone had turned a switch on the waves and it was as calm as a mill pond which again was challenging as we'd started to get the hang of things by then but was great to nail the technique. Day 3 was a bit better with some decent waves coming off a sand bar and an absolutely gorgeous day to be out, whilst very fresh the water was beautifully clear and very relaxing to be bobbing about and catching waves. The seven of us were all well in the swing of things after the three sessions.
Amongst the play we managed to a fair bit of work done, crutching all of the ewes that were yet to be shorn, as shearing was another few weeks away and fly strike had started creeping about.
With the Highland show soon approaching, all hands were on deck with preparations. The family has been in the stock showing business for quite some time, previously showing champion Suffolk and texel tups (rams) to now pedigree heard of Stabilizer and Shorthorn beef cattle. The Stabilizer being a relatively new breed does not have a showing breed society so it's all down to the Shorthorns. Two bulls are being entered in the yearling class, 'Strong-bow' and 'Stormzy' they are also half brothers which makes them eligible for a second class.
A cow and her calf are being taken to the show. Only the cow was halter trained so we had a fair bit of work to do, I was surprised how quickly the cattle progressed along it was a pleasure to be involved with these beaut beasts. Bulls are definitely a favourite of mine to work, with having worked on a stud in NZ. However, leading one on a halter was new territory for me and pretty cool!
I also spent a day with one of the Young Farmers in the district, shearing some Cheviot, Wensleydale and Oxford ewes. (Cheviots were definitely the favourite) before joining the Undy Young Farmers and going to a meeting where we were given a tour of a fishing trawler ship. It was an impressive ship with amazing technology and extremely tidy and well-kept.
The next day I got a tour of an egg and hen farm, due to bird flu having come through the wider area we didn't get a look into the Hens but had a great look at the pack house, the technology for grading was fascinating with a huge output of 400,000 eggs each day.
That afternoon I had an entertaining day of sightseeing around Balmoral Castle with Sally's sister Judy. After some vehicle troubles on backcountry lanes we arrived at the Cairns walk which was a loop in the hills around Balmoral Castle, stopping at a series of monuments erected under the eye of Queen Victoria in the late 1800s.
With the trails varying in how clearly they were marked we managed to get around six out of the nine Cairns and found ourselves walking across the cattle stop at the back of the Balmoral castle grounds. The gardens were great to walk around and we joined a flow of others into the Ballroom with displays of impressive stag heads, swords and attire worn by the royal family. There were many photos of H.M. Queen Elizabeth and H.R.H Prince Phillip on display throughout the times enjoying country life and family holidays there.
We finished off the day with a much-needed swim in the Dee River!
The working week finished off with some foot trimming of the tups, moving around a few mobs of cows and calves and more halter training of the cow and calf also the 3yr old bull 'Raurigh'.
The morning before heading to my next stay, we had a go-cart race with the north YF region which was a great hoot to round off the week.
It was been a great week and flew by very quickly! A big thanks to the Mair Family for the great memories.
Read Tom's next update here
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