Phil and I are so fortunate to have great people supporting us to run Rockley Farm, as well as MCM Dairies which we also own. Whenever we’re looking for someone to join our team, honesty and integrity top the list of our priorities, along with their attitude to work.
Looking after our staff is really important to us. Whether it’s the day-to-day management side of things, or regularly checking in with staff about their goals, it all comes down to clear communication and making sure we listen.
Emma and Hayden Patterson contract milk the farm in Mandeville and we catch up with them on-site every 10-14 days. They manage the day-to-day running of the farm, but it’s important to us they feel supported. Decisions about genetics and breeding come down to me, while Phil offers support with feed management.
At Rockley Farm, we’ve had Briar Swanson working with us since September 2020. Having grown up on a farm, Briar says she’s always known that she wanted a career in farming. Before coming to us, she’d worked at Coleridge Downs training farm for two years and started her Primary ISO studies, which we supported her to complete.
She arrived at Rockley eager to learn our systems and policies. She’s always been one to ask questions. She has a strong head on her shoulders and high standards, and she’s always lapped up any extra responsibilities we’ve given her.
Naturally, people want to progress in their careers and we are committed to supporting them. In her time at Rockley, Briar has completed the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Generation Next Programme, designed to build farmers’ confidence and grow their understanding of work behind the scenes. We want to give her opportunities to continue to grow in this career.
Whether it’s shearing, or weighing and tagging calves, we have complete confidence in Briar to oversee things when we’re away. Plus, she’s excellent at keeping records of animal health, which is great for compliance. She may be young, but we call her an ‘old soul’.
We work closely with Briar each day, and of course she knows our kids well too, but it’s vital she also has space to do what she wants to do. She’s a keen netballer and is also involved with Young Farmers in Balfour.
As for other support on the farm, my Dad often turns up – usually in time for morning tea! He enjoys helping out, whether it’s on the farm or with the kids, without being responsible for any big decisions!
A word with Briar Swanson
When I was young, my parents split up and Mum re-married a farmer. So, I got to spend a lot of time on the farm. From a very young age, I knew this was what I wanted to do. I was so into it. I had the attitude: I can do this, and I will do this – it didn’t matter that I was a girl.
When people ask me what my job is like, I can’t even tell them how incredible it is. I don’t think you can get better people to work with than Kath and Phil – they are so supportive. They are very good at making sure everything is on track and that I am enjoying work.
Also, the work is so diverse. We are doing something different every day. Every morning we plan it together. The satisfaction comes after working really hard on a place for a couple of years and seeing your progress and the input you’re having.