After 26 years of farming you might think I would have learnt a thing or two about resilience. One thing I have learnt is resilience is not something that we are born with, Resilience is making a decision to play the cards you get dealt in life. As we start a new decade you can rest assured that there will be plenty of Jokers and Wild cards thrown our way, along with the usual sprinkling of Aces.
The secret is how to play and when it comes to resilience the best way is when we all play together and help each other out. Even better when an old bugger like my old man is willing to pass on some experience. After all, despite what you think someone has always been there a generation before one way or another!
I was 29, I had been farming my own farm for only ten years I had already experienced a one in 100 year drought, a one in a 100 year flood, a one in 100 year snow storm, the arse had fell out of the wool market, the wheat market and every other market that I happened to depend on. But I was young and optimistic and can remember telling the old man that I was lucky, I had got all the bad shit out of the way early in my farming career and the next 70 years would be a piece of cake based on the one in 100 year thing!…… I forgot about the 1 in 500 year thing!
5 years later I was literally sat on my arse with a 7.1 earth quake the epicentre was only a few
thousand meters from my new business Gladfield Malt on the Greendale fault. What a bloody fright that was, my first reaction at 4:30 am while steam was pissing out of the boiler, a 100,000 litters of water sloshing around the malt plant floor from ruptured steep tanks and water pipes, and malt strewn everywhere, was shit Wellington must be completely f…… ! You see, we were told at school that Canterbury was the safest place in NZ for earthquakes and Wellington was well overdue to fall off the face of the earth from a catastrophic earth movement. I rang my sister who lived in Wellington thinking she must be a goner if we were anything to go by. She wasn’t impressed at being woken early (but at least she was still alive!) so I just hung up thinking well Wellington is still with us, but my Science teacher didn’t know shit!
What I didn’t tell you was the old man’s reply 5 years prior when I was getting cocky about the next 70 years being a piece of piss (The old man had been farming a bloody long time, he was born at the end of World War two, he had seen, heard and experienced a shitload more life than me and he had learnt a lot from my Grandfather who had seen even more! This is what he said, “ Son, one thing you need to know about life is that when everything is looking rosy it only means one thing, you’re about to get a kick up the arse, and if everything has gone pear shaped then that only means one thing, it’s only going to get worse!” (The old man was uncanny alright because only a few months after the first earthquake we had an even worse one in the centre of Christchurch).
Here’s another piece of advice the old man told me when I was 5 year old and had my first pet
lambs, “where there is live stock there is dead stock” so six months later when one of my lambs had had a guts full and was lying on its back with its legs in the air I thought this is cool now I’m a real farmer I can tell the old man I’ve got live stock and dead stock he will be really proud!
Despite what you might think at Gladfield we are an optimistic bunch, after 5 generations of farming in New Zealand we have learnt to hope for the best and expect the worst and know the sun will still come up tomorrow. That way you never get disappointed and it makes it easier to climb out of the lows. As long as we have got each other’s back that is all that matters.
Because of the old man and the wisdom that he passed down, his steadiness, (he never panicked except every time my brother and I brought our school reports home!) it certainly made bouncing back from the lows a hell of a lot easier. At least it was easy to make the decision to keep playing cards even after a thrashing.
Resilience is so important when we navigate life, without it we won’t get far. It is important that we help each other and share our experiences and pass on our learnings to those around us.
At Gladfield we are thinking of our mates in Aussie and everywhere else around the world who have had a kick up the arse or are about to get one. Just remember what the old man said and know one thing, its not the cards you get dealt in life it is the way you play them that counts.
At Gladfield we are about looking after each other’s back, it’s our family history, it’s the way we look after our staff, our growers, our customers and those that become part of the Gladfield family. You would be surprised how resilient you can be when you are part of a big family like Gladfield.
Take care, be strong and let us all knock it out of the park together for another Decade of Jokers, Wild cards and Aces!