Tim Walker’s Fieldays

The overwhelming focus of this year’s Mystery Creek Fieldays seems to be money-saving techniques for dairy farmers.

Unsurprising given that about ten years’ ago, back around the time where most every sheep or crop farm in Mid Canterbury was having all its trees uprooted, every fence pulled out and being ultimately levelled to make way for a dairy conversion, I recall posing the query to one of the aforementioned farmers: “Do you guys reckon you know what you’re doing – I mean, do you honestly reckon there’s always going to be this much demand for dairy?” It was at that point I recall losing confidence in my line of questioning and wrapping it up with a few choice key words such as ‘potential market overstimulation’, ‘massive commodity overproduction’, ‘flooded market’ and so forth.

The response, coming from behind one of the thickest hand-rolled cigarettes I’d ever seen was an unyielding: “Progress, Timbo, it’s all just a big ol’ bucket of progress.”

Yeah, well, evidently, your ‘bucket of progress’ had some holes in it. After peaking a few years back, dairy farmer’s payouts have been dwindling ever since. Now Fonterra are taking steps to cut their own overheads in a, supposed, effort to better treat the farmers/shareholders/owners who provide the company’s lifeblood…

Fieldays. It’s the most ridiculous fusion of words I have ever seen. ‘Field’ might be a legitimate word, but ‘ays’ certainly isn’t; conversely ‘days’ is fine, it’s ‘Fiel’ in that case that doesn’t sit right with me. ‘Fielddays’ would be acceptable but then of course you’d be compelled to hyphenate the double-d thus, ‘Field-days’ – which, funnily enough, is the only version that the computer doesn’t underline.

…Then there’s my father who, incidentally, while everyone else was undergoing their beloved dairy conversions, all jumping aboard the milk-product train which in their opinions was going to carry on forever but which in reality was set to derail a decade or so down the track, quietly went about maintaining his sheep and crop farm. Everyone around him did the dairy thing; he maintained sheep and crop. Their farms are barren; he still has trees on his land.

Dairy Farming in New Zealand, in my opinion, the way so many tired and fed up farmers hurried to board the bandwagon all those years ago based around the promise of hard work coupled with high returns, also the way this extensive style of farming is doing its best to ruin the land and tributaries, was always destined for failure.

As predicted, flooding of the dairy market was inevitable and now, out of respect for the fallen, any ‘crying over spilt milk’ puns shall be avoided.

Thank you.


Article by Tim Walker

Edited by Dear Ray Firmer

Photography by Deidry Cow

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