No rest for Young Farmers on Anniversary Day

It’s Taranaki Anniversary Day on Monday – but for the eight Young Farmers competing in The National Bank Young Farmer Contest; this won’t be a day for relaxing.

The Taranaki/Manawatu Regional Final is taking place in Hawera on March 12th. Both the Practical Day and the Evening Show are being held at The Hub on Waihi Road. The Practical Day kicks off at 8.00am and the Evening Show at 5.30pm (Evening Show tickets are $50 available from The National Bank Hawera, Stratford and New Plymouth).

A mixture of Students, Dairy Farmers, Stockmen, Crop Farmers and a Consulting Officer will be lining up at the Regional Final – all hoping to make it through to the Grand Final to get a shot at $100,000 worth of prizes.

Twenty one year old Sam Lawn will be competing in his first Regional Final this year. He holds a Bachelor of Commerce (Agriculture) from Lincoln University and leases a 250 cow dairy farm south of Okato. Sam is the Vice Chair of the Coastal Club.

Brad Lewis (26) is also a Lincoln University graduate; he holds a Bachelor of Agricultural Science (Honours). The Opiki Club member has a partner, Laura, and is a Dairy Farm Manager. He manages a 170 ha, 500 cow dairy unit in Levin and is a keen fisherman.

Calvin Ball is the Immediate Past Chair of the Massey Club and helped organise the 2011 Taranaki/Manawatu Regional Final. The 22 year old student is completing a Bachelor of AgriScience (honours) and plans to move into consultancy on completion of his degree.

Twenty year old Cam Shaw is also studying towards a Bachelor of AgriScience and plans to complete an honours year next year. He plans to work as an Agronomist or Field Representative once he’s finished University. Cam first entered the District Finals last year and is the current chairman of the Massey Club.

Christine Christensen has a long and active history with New Zealand Young Farmers, is a current member of the Fitzherbert Club and has competed in three Regional Finals. The 27 year old is completing a doctorate in soil science along with working as a Junior Research Officer in a Fertiliser and Lime Research Centre. Christine also owns a 120ha sheep and beef farm with husband James.

Twenty three year old James Lawn has a Bachelor of Applied Science and is a Consulting Officer for DairyNZ. He is a member of the Okato Club, has been involved in several other Clubs and competed in the Waikato/Bay of Plenty Regional Final last year.

Nigel Will has been a member of the Marton Club since 2004 and has held various Club positions along with competing in the Contest and NZYF Competitions. The 25 year old has a partner Nicola, holds a Diploma in Agriculture and is a Farm Manager on a 150ha beef and cropping farm.

Pete Fitz-Herbert is the current Chair of the Marton Club and was second along with Nigel Will in the 2011 NZYF National Fencing Finals. He has competed in two previous Regional Finals and is a stockman on a 1500 acre sheep and beef farming operation.

The eight Regional Finalists will have to complete four different Challenges during the Practical Day. First up is the AGMARDT Agri-business Challenge, a written exam that will test their theoretical business skills. The Ravensdown Agri-skills Challenge will then take place throughout the morning; here contestants will complete eight 30 minute practical modules that will test the skills they possess and maybe some they don’t!

The Lincoln University Agri-growth Challenge sees the Contestants facing an interview panel made up of three judges throughout the morning. Finally; the big crowd pleaser that is the Silver Fern Farms Agri-sport Challenge kicks off after lunch. In this physical gut-buster Contestants will race against each other to complete a series of agricultural tasks; but the quickest may not necessarily be the victor – points are allocated for both speed and quality.

Contestants then have a couple of hours to prepare a speech and get tidied up for the Evening Show at The Hub from 5.30pm. Here the winners of the various Challenges will be announced and question buzzer rounds will give Contestants a chance to pick up more points before the Tasman Regional Final winner is announced.

Contestants will be competing for their share of $20,000 on Monday – a very generous prize pack thanks to The National Bank, Lincoln University, Ravensdown, AGMARDT, Silver Fern Farms, Honda, Swanndri and Echo.

AgriKidsNZ and TeenAg Competitions will also be taking place at the Regional Final.

For more information go to www.youngfarmercontest.co.nz and click on MEDIA CENTRE


The Three Feathered Psychos (that used to darken my door)

Once upon a time six little eggs were placed under a broody, very grumpy black hen named Maggie May. Maggie May wanted some little chickens all of her own. After 21 long days out hatched five little chicks all fluffy and sweet.

One little chick though did not live the night, and then there were four. One was a little hen named Feather and the other three were little roosters named Flick, Sunshine and Flake. Three little roosters that grew far quicker and bigger than little Feather and soon they were cramping her style. How was anyone to know that the three little roosters would turn out to be The Three Feathered Psychos!

Maggie May was the farm yard boss no if's, but's, or maybe's about it.Not even the cats dared to take her on - otherwise punishment came with the end of a sharp chicken beak and a good old fashioned hen's cackle of a scolding. The Three Feathered Psychos though had other ideas. The had it all planned out by the time they were a year or so old. Complete with loud crows and shiny pretty rooster tails they figured they were just the best thing to have ever come out of Chicken Heaven. Not a chance there.

All three would chase Maggie May and Feather around the farm doing what all typical roosters did. Jump the hens and try to make chickens. If the term 'hen pecked husbands' could be applied literally then this had to it. Stupid rooster would jump on Maggie May, who in turn would cackle with indignation then chase said offender right down the long farm driveway pecking him as she went. Full speed they would go with dumb rooster squawking from each peck received. Served them right I say. Darned roosters.

They turned into the rooster mafia by the time they were eighteen months old. All big colourful feathers and great big spurs they started to take on the human residents. The kids got chased, the cats got terrorised and I'd end up with Sunshine the Rooster sitting on my bench every other day waiting for the cats to get fed.

No visitor was safe at the farm gate. One of the Three Feathered Psychos would always be there to make the surprise attack. Our rural postie gave them the marching orders every time they tried taking him on. A good swift boot in the tail feathers soon had them showing him some serious respect.

The last straw came when they started attacking everything that moved including their owner. From that point on it was war. Human versus Three Feathered Psychos. We never left the house not without a big stick and they soon got the message take me on Feathered Psychos and it will be the last thing you lot ever do.

At last we got them imprisoned in the chook house where they could do no further harm. As to their fate I think most can guess. I don't miss the Three Feathered Psychos and their 3 am crowing competitions. I'm too busy enjoying the peace now they have long since gone to Chicken Heaven.