Keeping You

Farming: Life after farming. A study of retired farming couples in Otago/Southland

07 Feb 2018

I have spent the last two years interviewing retired farmers on how their lives have gone since they moved off the farm and I am publishing the study in a booklet in the next couple of weeks.

In it I describe interviewing 20 farming couples and 10 farm advisers and it runs to over 100 pages. I will advertise it via this newsletter once it becomes available and it will be available for free, either in hard copy by mail, or as a link to a pdf version on-line.

By way of introduction to the study, I am going to refer to the first question I asked my couples, ‘How did they get onto their farms?’ I separated the responses I got into those from the men and the women.

For one reason or another, I was only able to sit down with 16 of the farming women. Some of the farming men had lost their wives and a couple of them were unavailable.

There were some sad stories from our women respondents coming off farms, going back to how they were treated by their parents, getting very little consideration compared to their brothers. They learned from their experiences what not to do with their own children.

For one of our women farmers:

I was one of three, a girl with two brothers. My elder brother inherited the family farm, but he sold it pretty early on. Then I shared my parents’ inheritance with 6 nieces and nephews.

It was a shocking story, really. I would have liked to have bought the farm off my brother when he sold but he didn’t tell anyone he was doing it, so I never got the chance. It was a mess all round.

All our respondents had differing accounts of how they were treated although they didn’t all come off farms.

Nursing was the initial career of 7 of our 16 women farmers, or 45%.  Were the young farmers attracted to the young nurses for some reason, or, did the nurses seek out the farmers? Either way, nursing seemed to be a perfect fit for young, married women farmers. The practical, down-to-earth nature of nursing, dealing with life and death on a daily basis, sickness and recovery, caring, not easily shocked; it could be seen as an ideal prelude to farming

The women in our group of farming couples all contributed hugely to the farming operation including working off-farm to bring in essential cash flow, to running the books of the business, to helping with all the major events on the farm, to taking the major role in bringing up the children.

Hard working and frugal, like their husbands.

You will be able to look through hundreds of case studies like this one above in the full report when it becomes available.

Keep asking great questions …


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