Thursday, April 16, 2009

Coming down south like heading into a different land

I am fortunate enough to be in Southland for two days and can't help being fascinated by the woolly little furry white animals I see on the roadsides looking nourished, healthy and anything but under threat.
Sheep were part of my upbringing but living in Canterbury and growing crops and being surrounded by dairy farmers makes you forget about that Southern part of your life but it was reassuring to see the quality and quantity of stock coming down yesterday.
A friend asked me last night if I thought that sheep would ever return to some of these dairy farms in the province and honestly I think this is an improbability.
However, on many South Otago farms there lies a history that may prove otherwise. Dairying and sheep farming have always been cyclical in the area with many farms still housing derelict milk factories to prove that.
So never say never. It has been dairying land before and it has been sheep farming land before. Undoubtedly though moving back to the strong sheep farming history would be highly unlikely when you take into account the on farm investment on dairy farms these days and the high capital costs.
But if sheep farming does become a marginal commodity it could lead to an increase in demand particularly if wool was to come in fashion again. One can only wonder at those heyday years of the 50s my father in law talks about when the wool cheque more than balanced the books.
In any case it was somehow reassuring to see that not all sheep farmers are bowing out. It just wouldn't seem right if we didn't have that scenery anymore.

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