My head was exploding. People who know about stuff seem to be so willing to part with and share their knowledge. I was bombarded. In a week I had learnt the Dairy Industry inside and out but, unfortunately, the information that needed to go into my head wouldn’t fit … my brain was overflowing. And the trouble was that half of the stuff was, to me, completely gobble-de-gook. I knew it was important and vital and necessary to success etc. but it was just too much all at once. However, it was imperative that I kept a lid on everything because I couldn’t afford to let the information and advice spill out and become lost. I scribbled notes, drew pictures, made memos, and sent myself texts. I built a dossier of stuff I had no idea about … and I became glaringly aware that I had no reply when asked if there was anything else I needed to know. I had no idea what I needed to know.

As well as this, being the new bloke on the block, everyone came in to say hullo. The fertilizer agent, the tractor agent, the insurance agent, the Work Safe agent, and every farm supply agent from every rural supply company from a radius that must have covered most of the country. Salespeople galore arrived … do I need: fodder or hay, trees cut down, tracks metalled, fencing done, drains dug out, hedges trimmed, gorse sprayed? Then there was the dairy sector … have I: serviced the pumps, tested the thermostat, checked the supply lines, done the pressure readings, ordered my ear tags, chosen my bull semen, or thought about herd testing? What!! I felt pounced on. The “great dairying lifestyle” was being driven further away with each company labeled vehicle that entered the property. Being patient and polite became difficult and a couple of times I seriously had to remind myself that overcoming difficulties was something I was good at.

But everyone had a part to play in the big picture that was beginning to develop. It was a giant-sized jigsaw that I was slowly getting my head around. The people who came to shake my hand were a foundation on which I was able to build a team of efficient and effective contacts for all of the things that went wrong in my first season. Looking back, that frantic three weeks were vital. It was a kill or cure. It didn’t cure me (there was still a long, long way to go) but it didn’t kill me either. My head survived and I was sure the rest of me would too.