“Hey!” said Friend’s voice on the end of the phone.
“Althea! You have to come and have a look at this little farm that’s up for sale. It’s perfect for you and your girls. Can you come this weekend?”
As you can tell, Friend was not one for mucking about.
And so a new MIDDEMOST began. A MIDDELMOST I never imagined would ever come true. A MIDDELMOST that required the stars and the moon and a strange set of circumstances to line up, and a MIDDELMOST that needed a huge leap of faith mixed with a huge bit of madness for it to even be contemplated as something that could happen.
But it did – and this is the journey.
I always wanted to be a dairy farmer but who has a spare few million lying about? It was a distant dream. However, from my two acres of Middelmost in the North Island’s Rangitikei District, and with various pockets of leased and rented land to help, I had established a nice little pedigree Jersey herd which I leased out. I had my house cow (or house cows depending on the season), I made my own dairy products, I bought and sold stock, I raised the youngsters, I showed my bulls, I went to the Jersey Club meetings, my herd was registered with LIC, I had the big 4WD farm wagon … but it was all a bit of a pretence … I wasn’t really a dairy farmer. My little Middelmost was not really a dairy farm. So, as Friend waited on the end of the phone, I thought why not and, with a cheap grab-a-seat later, I was in the South Island being whisked away by said Friend for a whirlwind tour.
What happened next was weird, fast and unbelievably possible. There was a combination of desperate sellers who were over due to move their Holstein herd to a ‘next-step’ share milking position, the little dairy farm they were trying to sell was an absolute mess and wasn’t shifting, Friend was needing a temporary property, Gypsy day had just been so it was great timing for a new milking season, the milking contract at the property was transferable, the seller’s banking manager was willing to talk and Friend was standing at the airport in his Red Band Gumboots saying, “Well … what do you think?”
I thought. The house was a dump, the sheds and the barn were filled to overflowing with household rubbish and farm junk, the fencing consisted of a few electric wires which didn’t appear to work very well, the land had been overstocked with heavy animals and a quick dig with a spade showed no worms, there was old machinery rusting away in the paddocks and balage-wrap/twine/broken beer bottles and other sundry stuff lay all over the place. But - the little dairy shed was almost new. It was filthy, and it obviously needed some repairs and maintenance, but it was almost brand new.
I reflected. If you were prepared to look past the state of the place and search into the heart of the property, it had what I call ‘good bones’. It was a perfect size for me to handle, I had enough cows to fill the milking contract, it was affordable (just), I knew I had never been afraid of hard work and I also knew it was a never-to-be-repeated opportunity.
I agreed to sign my life away and flew home thinking what the hell have I done?