George Buchanan, Otaio James Agnew, Otaio NZ and Australian Land Co.'s Levels Estate John Hayhurst, Temuka Hugh Brosnaghan, Levels Flat Richard Hoare, Levels Flat
Otago Witness, 22 March 1879, Page 4
A Visit to Mr George Buchanan's Farm, Riverside, Otaio, Canterbury. Mr Buchanan left England for Canterbury twenty-six years ago, when quite a young man. He took up a run, and was engaged as a pastoralist for about seven years, when he returned home to Yorkshire, intending to settle down. He remained, however, only seven or eight months. Returning to New Zealand, he engaged in various land speculations, and finally purchased 350 acres at Otaio, adjoining the Pareora Estate, to which he since added 200 acres, where he has resided for the last five years. The land was a portion of a run owned by Messrs Anderson, the greater part of it being downs and the remainder flat. The soil upon the downs is a rich loam — an intimate mixture of clay, sand, lime, and vegetable matter. It is, no doubt, an ancient lake alluvium, rich in the mineral and vegetable food required by plants....
Mr Buchanan has a splendid three-year old draught entire, named Judge, from a fine mare of his own, the sire being the well-known, horse, Knockton. He is a true scion of the good old. horse who has departed, and will make his mark yet in the district. A good deal of attention is given on this farm to pigs. There are fine concrete sties, and the animals are very comfortable and well fed. All that are not sold on foot are converted into bacon. The business paid until last year, when prices went down. The breed is half Berkshire, a great improvement having been effected by a boar which Mr Buchanan purchased in Caversham. Our conversation with Mr Buchanan was here suddenly broken off by the arrival of a visitor, and we left for the farm of Mr Agnew, two miles farther up the flat.
A Visit to Mr James Agnew's Farm, Burnside, Otaio, Canterbury. Mr Agnew is a native of Kilmarnock, Ayrshire, where he was brought up to farming. Two years before he loft, he leased a farm for 19 years. He wont to a good deal of expense in draining, manuring, liming, and otherwise improving it, but two bad seasons came, and at the end of the second year he was £600 out of pocket. He paid his landlord £50 to cancel the lease, and left with his wife and seven children for New Zealand, landing at Port Lyttelton in September, 1863. He made an engagement to serve Sir Cracroft Wilson, as overseer, for two years, at £100 per annum, and maintenance for his family. When his time was up he purchased 120 acres of land in the Otaio district, near the Pareora estate, at £2 per acre. Six years ago he added 80 acres, at £2, and last year he purchased 142 acres, at £14 5s per acre. He has now a fine farm of 312 acres, ring fenced, and divided into seven paddocks. It is all under cultivation, and there are not more than three acres upon which the self-binding harvester may not he used. About 150 acres are flat alluvial land, and the remainder is slightly rolling. ....
This was all accounted for, when we ascertained the fact but five years ago Mr Agnew unfortunately lost his wife; and his daughters, who are very young, attend school at Timaru. They are not unused to work, however, and one of them will shortly be old enough to take charge of the house.
Close to Mr Agnew's farm, a church is being built of freestone, and a school and schoolmaster's house, of wood. The Board of Education have purchased two acres of land at £20 per acre for the school, and a township to be called Gillpentown is being surveyed. The road leading from St Andrews to Gillpentown, a distance of six miles, is a good one, double the width of our Otago roads ; one half of it being covered with gravel for winter traffic, but a great portion of it is completely overgrown with thistles— the down in some places covering the ground like snow. This road passes through the 6000 acres of the New Zealand and Australian Land Company's Pareora estate that were sold in farms, in December last. This splendid tract of land is divided into farms of from 150 to 200 acres each, and brought, we believe, an average of £13 108 per acre. Nearly all the purchasers were bona fide farmers, but only two or three have, as yet, commenced working upon the ground.
There is a well kept hotel, a store, butchery, and blacksmith's shop at St Andrews, and a school is greatly needed, as there are in the neighbourhood 22 children old enough to attend.
A large amount of produce is sent north and south, by rail from St Andrews, and increased accommodation at the railway station is urgently needed.
Otago Witness, 5 April 1879, Page 4
A Visit to the New Zealand and Australian Land Company's Levels Estate, Geraldine County, Canterbury. This estate, which now comprises 74,442 acres freehold and about 10,000 acres leasehold, was taken up as pastoral country some 20 years ago, by Messrs Rhodes Brothers. Its present proprietors have held possession about 15 years. It is mostly rolling downs, and is bounded on the north by the Opihi river, on the south by the Pareora river, on the east by the Mackenzie Country, and the Opihi river, and on the west by the Albury ranges. We had not an opportunity of seeing- much of the country, but we are informed that the soil bears every evidence of having been in great part deposited by water. The fact that logs of decayed timber have been found on the tops of the highest downs, while no remains whatever of roots are found in the ground, would indicate also that they were at one time covered with water.
The estate, for convenience in management, is divided into three blocks or runs the Island, the Levels, and the Opawa; and there is a superintendent and three overseers. There is upon each run a woolshed, stabling, dips, &c. The whole is fenced in and subdivided into paddocks of from 100 to 500 acres each ; one third of the fencing being wire and the remainder whin. The 'Island' block, which is noted ; for the excellent quality of its soil, is nearly all a downy country, intersected by small creeks. There are upon it about 2000 acres of rich swamp land, a portion of which has been reclaimed and surface sown. It affords rich pasturage and will hereafter become valuable for cultivation. The soil upon the higher land is a rich black loam upon good stiff clay, with a limestone bottom. The stone is of a creamy colour, and harder than that of the Oamaru district. The soil upon the Levels block varies from a rich heavy to a light loam, upon a clay which is more or less compact. There are several flats, some of which are a little shingly. The Opawa block, which is nearest to the Mackenzie Country, is downy, and very similar to the Island ground, the soil being a fine rich loam, and some of it upon lime-stove. Nearly the whole of the land upon this estate is considered first class for wheat, and produces large crops of oats and roots. This year, owing to the prevalence of dry weather, the paddocks are rather bare, and creeks, which have never been seen dry before are now without a drop of water. Had it not been dry last year, the drought would not have been so severely felt this season.
The quantity of land in wheat this year was 2727 acres ; of oats, 648 acres ; of turnips, 4712 acres ; and of mangolds, 469 acres. There are 21,968 acres in English grass, 250 acres in plantations, and 42,088 acres in Native grass swamp, and bush. The stock consists of 96,000 sheep, 400 head of cattle, 180 horses, and 40 to 50 pigs. The kinds of wheat grown are chiefly velvet chaff, purple straw, and red chaff. The ordinary average yield of wheat per acre is 33 or 34 bushels. This year it is estimated at little over 25 bushels. One paddock on the Level block, containing 393 acres of wheat, would have yielded 45 to 50 bushels per acre, were it not for shaking which occurred in the beginning of February. The yield is estimated at 30 bushels. Many farmers in the district suffered severely in the same gale. The largest crop of wheat grown upon the Island block, produced 60 bushels to the acre. The ordinary average yield of oats is 50 bushels to the acre. This year, owing to dry weather and wind, it will probably be 35 bushels.
In-breaking up tussock land, the depth of furrow is usually only four inches. Upon being ploughed, it is harrowed and sown with turnips. Next season it is ploughed and sown with wheat, or let for one crop with wheat. It is then ploughed and laid down in grass. The saving of the crops this year was greatly aided by five of M'Cormick's self binding harvesters, which made splendid work on the level ground. There was little trouble with them, after the first two or three days. We are assured that they were a great success, and effected a material saving. Nearly 11,000 acres were cut with them. The machines and horses were supplied and 1s 6d per acre was paid for cutting. In some spots, where the downs were steep, two men were required to run them.
The Company commenced with a flock of merinos. About eight years ago Leicesters and Lincolns were introduced. Besides the merinos and cross-breds, there are pure flocks of Lincolns and Romneys. During the last store season, from 35,000 to 36,000 sheep were sent off the estate. There are now 27,000 lambs on turnips. Cattle are bought in the spring and fattened for market. There are 20 light and 30 draught brood mares. Last year the entire draught horse, Farmer's Fancy, one of Fisher's stud, was imported from Australia. He was foaled in March, 1870, his sire being Rantin Robin; imported dam, Lass o' Gowrie, by Drew's Prince of Wales. He is a superb animal, and a great acquisition to the district.
In harvest time and during the shearing, 150 men are employed, besides as many contractors. Fully one half of the work is done by contract. It is expected that from 5000 to 6000 acres will be under crop next season ; a portion of it being let. Great facilities are afforded by the railway for sending the crop to market, as, for a distance of 24 miles, the Albury Timaru Branch Railway passes through it, and there are upon the estate six railway stations.
The value of the buildings upon the estate is set down at close upon £12,000. There are three woolsheds, a superintendent's house, overseer's houses, men's kitchen, station hands' sleeping house, bake house, shearers' sleeping houses, coach house, stables, boiler house, chaff house, granary and loft, cart shed, carpenters' shop, shoeing shed, blacksmith's shop, dove-cot, piggery, sheep yards, slaughter house, stock yards, wells and concrete tanks, &c. Roads must have cost a good sum of money. There are 371 chains of ditches, and 10,065 chains of drains.
There are some large plantations or blue gums, which, if they do not afford much shelter, are valuable for timber. Within the last two years a commencement has been made in planting coniferous trees, and there is a large quantity of the Pinus insignis, Oregon pine and Scotch fir in the nursery, ready for planting out.
The estate is supplied with the best of machinery and implements. There is a portable engine and one of Clayton and Shuttleworth's threshing mills with a self feeding apparatus and the latest improvements five harvesters, four or five reapers, 12 double furrow ploughs, 20 drays, grain strippers, crashing machine, chaff cutter, &c. There is also a gorse-cutting machine, made by Reid and Gray, which was used two seasons, cutting five miles a-day both sides and top.
Hares are becoming plentiful on the estate ; there are a few rabbits and some partridges. Pheasants are doing well.
Otago Witness, 12 April 1879, Page 4 CHATS WITH THE FARMERS.
A Visit to Mr John Hayhurst's Greenheys Estate, Temuka, Canterbury.
Mr. Hayhurst arrived in the Colonies from England in 1847, and went to Wellington in 1848. In 1849 he went to Christchurch to assist in preparing for the immigrants expected to form the Canterbury settlement. In 1860 he took up about 7000 acres on the Temuka Plain for grazing, a good portion of which was considered at the time a worthless swamp. The estate, which is the freehold property of Mr Hayhurst, is situated 12 miles north of Timaru, and consists, for the most part, of a deep rich loam on a sandy clay. About one-fifth of it is rich swamp land, which has been reclaimed by drainage, and there is running through the property a ridge of lighter land, which in dry seasons is not, of course, so productive as the low lying and level part of the plain. Greenheys, in its natural state, was covered with a heavy growth of tussock, with strong flax and Maori heads in places. A considerable expenditure of labour and capital was necessary to bring a great portion of it into a state fit for cultivation. Many miles of ditches were cut, which converted the swamp into some of the richest land most productive land in the district. Last season was dry, and the land along the ridge felt the want of moisture. A race was cut from the Ohapi Creek to this ridge, and was carried along it a distance of two miles and a half. The work was completed this summer, and already great good has been effected by it in irrigating the land along the line. As evidence of the richness of the soil upon some of this land, we might mention a fact stated to us by Mr Pilbrow, Mr Hayhurst's steward. One year a crop of Canadian oats, although attacked by the caterpillar, yielded 102 bushels to the acre. Mangolds, he says, have been grown upon the same land, weighing as much as 501b each. Greenheys is bounded on the north by the Ohapi Creek, on the south by Rhodes's property, on the east by the ocean, and on the west by Temuka township and the main line of railway.
Mr Hayhurst, who had several sheep runs, was one of the earliest in South Canterbury to encourage agriculture. In 1860 he imported a flour mill from England, which was the first in the district. He was also the first to start boiling down, and a large boiling down establishment which he conducted is now carried on by one of his tenants. Some fifteen or sixteen years ago he commenced leasing land, and his property is now divided into about forty farms, of from 20 to 900 acres each. Many of them were let to good steady men whom, he knew in Christchurch, and some of them who in this way got a start are. now large land owners themselves. Several of the leases were given for 21 years, at 1s per acre for the first seven years, 10s per acre for the second, and £1 per acre for the third. Most of the leases will expire within seven years, any that are taken now being made to fall in with others which end in 1885. Farms hereafter will be let by tender, and one of the conditions will be that no more than two consecutive crops of grain shall be taken off the same land. Mr Pilbrow estimates the average yield of wheat upon this estate at from 40 to 45 bushels to the acre. This year it will not run over 30 to 40 bushels. He has known paddocks to yield 60 bushels. The ordinary yield of oats he se's down at 50 to 60 bushels. This year it will probably be 40 to 50 bushels. Only a little barley is cultivated. Splendid crops of potatoes and turnips are grown. We learned from him that a good deal of the wheat cultivated in the district is sown in drills with a Suffolk drilling machine, which he imported and introduced to the notice of the farmers sixteen years ago. He mentioned several of the advantages of sowing with the drill, and said it is growing in popularity in the district. The land having been harrowed into a smooth state, the seed may be deposited at any uniform depth chosen. There is a great loss of seed in sowing broadcast, and an irregular braird especially on ill ploughed land ; besides, while thick sowing produces an abundance of ears, the grain is of no size or weight. Fruit trees or cabbages will not thrive if crowded together, and why should a plant of wheat, oats, or barley? Mr Pilbrow says it is surprising to see what fine, strong, productive plants grow when the seeds are sown with this machine upon well prepared land, the plants not being crowded too closely together. He says it is absurd to suppose that two wheat plants should grow in the same spot, any more than two cabbages. He says that the Suffolk drill will sow twenty acres a day, with three horses, and that the saving of seed pays the expenses. Upon ordinarily good land, the quantity of seed wheat drilled in with the machine is from 3/4 to 1½ bushel to the acre, according to the season, while in broadcast sowing the quantity is from 1 to 2 bushels. We should have liked to have obtained from Mr Pilbrow further particulars for the information of our Otago farmers, and perhaps he will be kind enough to communicate with us upon the subject. For instance, we should like to know from actual experiment the difference in the yield of grain per acre between broadcast and drill sowing.
One of Mr Hayhurst's tenants used three of the self-binding harvesters this year, and he states that the cutting, binding, carting, and stacking of his crop cost him an average of £l per acre.
Mr Hayhurst imported from California a quantity of forest tree seeds, and he not only offered some of his tenants plants, but valuation for timber grown, but they refused, as they would be at the expense of double fencing. Mr Hayhurst himself has planted out a large quantity of trees. One belt is over half a mile in length. His residence is a handsome building containing 24 apartments, and is most substantial, the greater portion of it being of concrete. The grounds are well planted with trees, and there are pretty avenues, with a lawn of brilliant green, and in front of the mansion two fountains make a handsome addition to other beauties. There are no rabbits upon the property, a few hares, some partridges, pheasants, and quail. Wild cats, which find refuge in the whin hedges, are supposed to destroy a large quantity of game.
The township of Temuka, which is situated in the heart of this highly prosperous agricultural district, contained at the last census 900, which would indicate a population at the present time of fully 1000. Should the Milford Harbour works be carried out, it will no doubt become an important place of business. It contains five churches, five hotels, a school with an average attendance of 200, a Mechanics' Institute containing 600 volumes and a good reading room, one Masonic and two Odd-fellows' Lodges, Good Templars, Sons of Temperance, a Fire Brigade, a Volunteer Corps, and last, though not least, a very independent and spiritedly conducted bi-weekly journal— the Temuka Leader.
Otago Witness, 19 April 1879, Page 4
A Visit to the Farm of Mr Hugh Brosnaghan, Levels Flat, Canterbury.
Mr Brosnaghan arrived in Lyttelton eight years ago from the County of Kerry, Ireland. He had been used to farm work at home, and he readily obtained employed as ploughman at 25a per weak and his board. Four years ago he purchased 100 acres of shingly land from the Government at L 2 per acre. It is perfectly level, the soil being a good mellow mould a few inches in depth mixed with gravel, and below that rounded stones embedded in a little clay. There are probably from eight to twelve inches of free mould mixed with small stones, and below that layer after layer of pebbles, chiefly of bluestone, larger or smaller, as they may have been sorted by the force of water in some remote period. One of the first tasks which Mr Brosnaghan had to undertake was the digging of a well, which be says is the deepest one on the Flat. The first five feet was through soil and stones mixed, and the rest of the sinking through very compact seams of water-worn stones. The well required no slabbing. On the next farm water was obtained at a depth of 20 feet. Fifty acres having been fenced in with a bank, stakes, and wire, Mr Brosnaghan, who had a job of fencing on hand for a settler, paid 10s per acre for ploughing it. He cross-ploughed it himself six months afterwards, and put in 25 acres of wheat and 25 of oats. The wheat averaged 47 bushels to the acre, and the oats 65. After threshing he put up a whare, and broke up 25 acres more. The next year he had 50 acres of wheat, 25 of oats, and half an acre of potatoes. The wheat averaged 30 bushels, and the oats 35. The first paddock was laid down.in grass, and another of 25 acres was fenced in and broken up. Last year there were 50 acres of wheat, 25 of oats, and 25 of English grass. The season having been a dry one, the wheat and oats did not yield more than 10 bushels to the acre. This season there were 25 in wheat, 25 in oats, and 50 in grass. The wheat and oats average seven bushels to the acre ; and now Mr Brosnaghan is in a bit of a puzzle, not knowing whether it will be best to try wheat and oats again, to put the whole into grass, or sell out altogether. He is most inclined to put it all in grass, and add to his stock, which consist of four milk cows, a fine team of four horses, and a few pigs. Upon our asking him if there were insect plagues, be replied: "Och, divil an insect; its only the drought that troubles me." A couple of years ago he put up a neat frame house, which cost Ll00, and got married, and he thinks now that by going in for dairy farming, feeding a few cattle and pigs, and growing potatoes, he may do better than by giving up the whole of his land to grain. Besides, he can always make a little in the course of the year by reaping and ploughing for some of the settlers, as he has a fine team and a reaping machine of his own. He has to haul his firewood from Geraldine, a distance of 18 or 20 miles, where it costs Ll 2 per cord. Posts for his fencing cost 35s per hundred in Geraldine. This farm is a short distance from the Levels railway station, adjoins the Levels estate, and is about 7 miles north of Timaru.
Otago Witness, 19 April 1879, Page 4
A Visit to the Farm of Mr Richard Hoare, Levels Flat, Canterbury. Leaving Mr Brosnaghan's farm, we travelled along the Flat to within three or four miles of the Arowhenua river where we visited the farm of Mr Richard Hoare. The Levels Flat is from six to seven miles in length, by a breadth of from three to four miles. A great portion of it is shingly land, which produces well in ordinarily wet season's. Last year was dry, and the crops were poor ; and this year having been an exceptionally dry one, the crops are poorer still. Many of the shingle farmers are hard pushed, and, if next year should happen to be a dry one, they will be ruined completely, life hardly possible, however, that there will be three dry seasons in succession. Such a thing was never known.
Mr Hoare came out from Kerry, in Ireland, 12 years ago. He made good wages at bullock driving and other kinds of work, saved his money, and nine years ago bought 20 acres of land on the Levels at L2 per acre. He added to it from year to year, paying L 3 for some of it, and for his last purchase of 35 acres, made nearly a year ago, he pad L500. He has now a valuable farm of 500 acres, the only inconvenience about it being that it is not all in one block. He has also another farm of 600 acres at Rangitata. Some of his paddocks are two or three miles apart. If he goes on, however, as he has gone so far, he will fill up the gaps in a few years and make it a compact estate. One hundred and seventy acres of his farm are rolling downs and the remainder flat— very little of the latter being what might be considered shingly, the gravel lying deeper towards the river. The foil upon the downs is a good deep black loam upon a friable clay. That upon the flat is good alluvial soil varying-in depth and quality. Good water is obtained upon the flat by digging to a depth of from 10 to 12 feet.
The ground in crops this year consisted of 310 acres — 200 acres of wheat, 100 of oats, and 10 of potatoes. The ordinary average yield of wheat on the downs is estimated at 35 bushels to the acre, and on the flat 35 to 40 bushels ; of oats, 50 bushels ; barley, 45 to 50 bushels and potatoes, six to 10 tons. This season the crop will be a little under the average. The usual course adopted has been to take two crops of wheat, and one of oats, and lay down in English grass for two years with oats. Root cultivation receives little attention, and it is not considered necessary to apply manure to the land. There are upon the farm about 450 sheep, 20 head of cattle, eight horses, and 10 or 12 pigs. Last year there were 70 pigs. Mr Hoare commenced with merino sheep, and crossed with Lincolns, and this branch of his farming has paid well. He milks eight or 10 cows, rears calves, and sends fresh butter to the market. He has two good teams of horses, including two fine draught mares. The farm is fenced with three sods and three wires and posts, the sods being planted with whin.
Otago Witness, 28 April 1898, Page 6
I recently had a chat with a few farmers in the Otaio district, which includes the northern portion of the Waimate County. I first visited and was most hospitably received by Mr S R. Dickson, formerly of Toi-tois, Southland, and of Albury, South Canterbury. Mr Dickson being an old friend and neighbour of mine, I made his place my headquarters for a day or two, and was kindly driven by him around to see some of the neighbouring farms. He occupies a nice little fertile farm in a valley between the downs, and though his deep and loamy soil has felt the dry weather in common with the rest of the district he had a wonderful yield of barley and a very heavy patch of peas with vines some 7ft or 8ft long. His turnips look strong and healthy, thanks to careful hoeing and weeding and constant battling with fathen — that irrepressible curse of all good land in Canterbury.
Mr W. Quinn's property was next visited, and I had a long, chat with him while looking through his large and substantial farm buildings, from which he works the home farm and several others which he owns in the Waimate district. Three large windmills supply abundance of water for at purposes, and a fixed steam engine drives all the machinery in the capacious buildings. At the time of my visit Mr Quinn was just starting a new machine for dressing and grading seed wheat. It consists chiefly of two long cylindrical screens set at a slight angle, into which the wheat is elevated from a bopper near the ground. Mr Quinn is a thorough believer in good seed, and takes almost as much trouble with his seed wheat as with his grass and clover seeds. His machine is driven by steam, and can, he assures me, dress the seed to a nicety, even taking out cornbine, that bugbear of all wheatgrowers and flourmillers. In the same building there is a grass crusher or bruiser, by means of which hedge trimmings of one year's growth are rendered soft and palatable to horses, cattle, and sheep. Mr Quinn bruises large quantities of gorse every winter, and he says the stock like is very much, especially when mixed with some chaff. It is, no doubt, a good substitute for hay when hay cannot be grown in dry season but I fancy the gathering and carting of the small gorse trimmings to the shed must entail a lot of labour. Also convenient to the engine is situated a handy little roller flour mill for crushing wheat or for making flour in an emergency. Should the Russian cruisers bombard Timaru and destroy the big mills Mr Quinn's household will not be debarred from obtaining the staff of life. There is also a Californian. smulter and dresser within reach of the engine belt ; but the most interesting of all was a splendid grass and clover seed dresser, which does its work in a most thorough and ingenious manner and is evidently the pat and pride of its owner. Besides the large machine shed, implement sheds, woolshed, piggeries, and stables, there is a large grain store built to face a private siding on the railway, and containing a large quantity of Tuscan and velvet wheat, awaiting a buyer at a price which Mr Quinn thinks he should get. The sample is first-class, and if the owner can catch the top of the market the result would be a very nice cheque. Although Mr Quinn does not despise the "gintleman that pays the rint" in the Emerald Isle he told me that in his opinion there is nothing to beat a good crop of wheat for " aising a cheque." If is not; surprising that he should think so, seeing that he has this season bagged 60 bushels an acre from some of his paddocks. In one small enclosure of four acres near the homestead he sowed two bags of seed, and threshed there from 67 bags of excellent wheat.
Leaving Mr Quinn's place we called upon Mr Andrew Martin, another old settler in the district, who has a large and well-appointed homestead snugly situated at the foot of the downs. Mr Martin is not behind his neighbours in the number and size of his farm buildings. An efficient windmill attends to the water supply, and steam power is used for crushing, sawing, and chaff-cutting. The sheep dip is one of the neatest and most convenient that I have seen anywhere, and, in fact, the arrangement and general tidiness of the steading are such as to show that the owner has provided a, place for everything and sees that everything is in its place. Mr Martin and his sons possess a good many broad acres, and I had the pleasure of taking a drive with him over a portion of them. The turnips are a fair average crop, and near by we saw four teams turning over land which looked fit to grow a good crop of any kind put into it. Messrs Martin and Sons had a large area in wheat, which promises to yield from 20 to 25 bushels per acre, either of which is below their usual average in a moister season. The dams on this property are still holding water, and the sheep were looking as well as anyone could wish. As the question of manuring wheat has cropped up lately in the Witness, I asked Mr Martin if he had tried any manure with wheat. He said he drilled in 1 cwt of superphosphate with the wheat on the dark faces a few years ago, and found it answered well, in so far that it brought the crop on faster and also strengthened its growth, so that the dack faces were as good and were fit to cut as soon as the rest of the field. In my travels I also heard of another South Canterbury farmer who has used bonedust with wheat with good results. In conversation with another farmer I learned that he proposed trying bonedust with a few acres of wheat this next season .
Apples seem to be plentiful, as I was told by a Timaru farmer that he had given two tons to his lambs already, and found that they appreciated them hugely, and seemed to do well upon them. Though there is little grass to be expected from the grass paddocks this winter, I dare say the stock can be kept going upon apples, gorse, turnips, and straw, to say nothing of molasses.
Timaru Herald, 15 June 1899, Page 4
Mr John Murray, late manager of the Orari station, was entertained at Quirke's Orari Hotel on Monday night on the eve of his departure for Australia where he intends to spend a well-earned holiday before returning to Canterbury to settle down on his own account. There was a large attendance of settlers from Rangitata, Belfleld and Orari, also a number of Geraldine friends and a full muster of employees from the station. The chair was taken by Mr F.H. Barker who read apologies for absence from Mr B. Tripp and Dr Hayes, also from Mr E. C. Paul, Ashburton, who in his letter drew attention to the length of time Mr Murray had been in the district, and gave him area praise as a sterling man of good qualities. As a station manager he had always been well spoken of by his employees, and he had undoubtedly improved the estate since he had charge of it. The chairman then had much pleasure in presenting Mr Murray with a handsome silver-mounted leather combination travelling bag and dressing case and valuable marble clock suitably inscribed, from his numerous friends as a token of esteem. Mr B.R. Macdonald said he had found Mr Murray an excellent neighbour. Mr Murray, said he could hardly find words to suitably acknowledge the kindness he had received from his friends that evening. He could not put into words his feelings in regard to the kindly, spirit in which they had invited him to meet them ; he felt he did not deserve it all, especially the handsome presents they had made him. Men always learned about themselves on occasions like the present, and he felt somehow that he had been made out a better man than he really was. When he came into the district 16 years ago he was fresh from the back country, and since he had taken up his duties at the Orari station. he had always tried to do his best between his neighbours and his employers honestly. Mr Andrews, Orari railway stationmaster, proposed the toast of "Farming Interests" and Mr Guild in reply made a most amusing speech. He described the farmers as the draught horses of the community, and said that, it was remarkable that every section of workers from the shoemakers to the lawyers had their organisations for defending their interests, but the poor farmer was out in the cold. He held that the farmer had been hit very severely during the past eight or nine years, and that he was the only man in the community who paid taxation on his debts. And the farmer was the only man in the community to come to the front and face the foe. It, had come to a pretty pass when he had to compete with the grain grown by darkies in India who laboured for 3d and 4d per day. The Government had relieved a good many of their friends, but if it were not for the frozen mutton just now farming would be at a very low ebb. But what was the good of talking about organising when the . Government was the time making some poor miserable men with swags on their backs into full fledged farmers. They could not organise men of that stamp, it would be better to finish them off with an old age pension. He was very much struck with the employees of Orari station. They were all born orators and some of them touched on poetry too. And when he saw one of them come into the room with a bundle of music under his arm he took him for a descendant of the great Mendelsshon. Mr Brodie did not see any use in farmer looking on the black side of things whether it was about, the darkies oanyone else. If they did they would never plough at all. His experience was that if farmers endeavoured to pro duce the very best products they could they would get top prices and would do well. The farming we were doing in New Zealand, he held, was merely scratching the ground." Of all places in New Zealand he had found South Canterbury to be the best. He thought there was a splendid future before them. Meers Inwood, Priddle, Guild, Hutchenson, Glanville, Searle, Brodie, DeRanzy, Priddle, Andrews, Mr G. O. Neil, Fitzpatrick (employee), Ferguson, Clarke, Seward, Bracefield.
Timaru Courier March 11 2010 page 6
Farmer started from scratch by John Button
Very few accounts exist of starting a farm from scratch in
South Canterbury. Fortunately, one farmer kept a meticulous diary from 1890 to
1958, recording his progress and providing a fascinating insight into farming
and general life at that time. William ‘‘Bill’’ Annett, born in 1865 at Weedons,
was one of those who drew a block when the Pareora Estate was broken up to form
a new farming area — Lyalldale. It is absorbing to see how he went about turning
his block of virtually bare land into a viable mixed farm, and his story is
probably typical of the way the early settlers worked to make the most of their
opportunity. It is also interesting to see how he built up his finances to do
so. Mr Annett and his wife applied for several other sections on the former
Estate but drew the one he least preferred. It had no road fences, no shelter
trees, no buildings, and was covered with oat stubble, which meant there was no
grazing available at first for stock. Unlike some who drew blocks, he had a
farming background. His father had emigrated from Northern Ireland and farmed at
Hinds. Bill left school at 12 and took a job as cowboy labourer for J.
Ballantyne at Mayfield. The year 1890, when his diary started, saw him travelling with his younger brother Dave round parts of the North Island, presumably
for wider farming experience. He certainly got it. He mentions scrub cutting,
under scrubbing, poisoning, bushfelling, logging up, stumping (with a stump
jack), post splitting, cutting cocksfoot, harvesting, contract flaxcutting,
shearing, fleece picking, wool rolling, footrotting, dagging, docking,
mustering, drafting, threshing, burning off, roadmaking, fencing, cutting
tracks, wool pressing and so on. Much of this work was monotonous — ‘‘cut
cocksfoot 14 hours’’, ‘‘Did 10 hours flailing’’, but his financial statement at
the end of 1892 indicates how he was steadily saving: ‘‘Cash received £64, 15
shillings, 0 pence. Cash paid 14.9.9. Balance in bank accounts 220.19.7d.’’ At
the start of 1893, he returned to Hinds and worked stacking stones, harvesting
and stacking oats, often working 11 and 12 hours, but the recreation and
social life seemed to pick up: ‘‘
4 April: At Ball from 10 last night till 4.30 this morning
21 April: Stacking stones 6 1 /2 hours. In evening drove to Mt Somers, went by invitation to Bachelors’ Ball in the schoolroom.
22 April: Got home from Ball at 4am. Stacking stones 7 hours.’’ Not the ideal way to spend the day after.
In 1900, he acquired his property at Lyalldale — a reward for years of long, hard work and systematic saving. The previous year he had married Georgina Foster, from a Burkes Pass family. He took up the section on April 11. His younger brother Phil and he bought a tent in Timaru and camped on the property before building a chaff house and then renting a neighbour’s cottage. Skim ploughing, sod fencing, carting totara posts and gum stakes (350 of them), building dams, sinking a well and putting up a windmill to pump up the water, cutting gorse fences and so on took up much of their time for some months, but despite the obvious urgency of work and lack of any entertaining way of spending the time, Sunday was always spent ‘‘in camp’’, a day of rest.
Domestication went a stage further with fruit trees, rasp• berry and currant bushes and rhubarb roots being put in the garden, near where the house was to be, and macrocarpa and pine trees being planted around the orchard on the north facing slope. The orchard eventually consisted of apple, quince, peach, plum, pear and walnut trees. It was finally time to build a house on the property. Workmen came by train from Timaru. Farmers had to supply them with accommodation but the workmen supplied their own food. Bill then summarised his expenses for the first five months of his occupation, and there is quite a difference from his accounts of 1893. In April and May, he spent £225.10.0; in June £107.3.11; in July and September £291.15.10. And at this stage he had virtually no income. The following year, however, income was £700 and expenses only £414, so things were on their way. By 1919 Bill had done well enough to buy a new car and the following year a neighbouring property.
A mail service started in 1922 and the telephone soon after. Continued prosperity saw a new tractor in 1924 and then a threshing mill so that contracting added to the farm income from then on. The purchase of this mill, thought to be the first of its kind to be sold to a farmer in New Zealand, was notable. It was to prove its value during the Depression when it provided work for the growing family. A big event in 1929 was the switching on of electricity. He was a highly respected man who lived until 1960 and a fitting conclusion is the comment made at his funeral. As the 95 year old’s coffin was being lowered, his younger brother Jim, already in his 90s, remarked sorrowfully to another mourner: ‘‘Poor Willy! He worked too hard!’’
Old windmills around South Canterbury are several makes and models, with the oldest being built in the United States in 1880. Some are from Australia and there are New Zealand built Hayes windmills.
Press, 3 March 1911, Page 9
Among those who had the highest dairy herds in the district were Messrs T. Hardcastle, at Pleasant Valley, and J. Hay, at Kakahu, and for a number of years these were the principal exhibitors and prize-takers in the cheese classes at the Timaru show. The former, whose dairy consisted of over 100 cows, had been regular supplier of butter to the Timaru market, which was thirty miles distant, and delivery in those days was no easy task. Towards the end of the seventies cheese making became unprofitable, and many gave up only see prices rise again.
Hawera & Normanby Star, 8 September 1923, Page 4
"The farmer of to-morrow," says a noted scientist, "will be a biological engineer, since all forms of growth are manifestations of microbic activity."
The farmer bold,
In days of old,
Was a simple son of toil.
He drove his plough,
With sweating brow,
As he tickled the stubborn soil.
He raised his wheat
In the summer heat,
He grew his oats and corn.
He reaped his beets,
And he smoked his meats,
And milked his cows in the morn.
The farmer now
Doesn't milk a cow.
Nor toil through the weary year.
His brow is high,
For he is a bi-
No wheat nor corn,
No-cows in the morn,
No pangs of rheumatism.
He looks with pride
On his acres wide,
Timaru Herald, 8 June 1901, Page 2
A traveller informs us that he saw a queer thing in a paddock not far from Timaru. As a precaution against petty larcenists, a farmer had passed a chain through the three wheels of a doublefurrow plough, and had locked it. He must have been impressed by the number of reports of thefts of bicycles in Christchurch lately. So secured, his plough was no doubt reasonably safe.