Life is too short not to give things a go, Five Forks Young Farmer and ‘‘Jack of all trades’’ Alice Perry says.
Ms Perry, who farms with partner Alan Harvey at Airedale, near Weston, recently qualified fourth in the Aorangi South area to compete in the Aorangi FMG Young Farmer of the Year 2022 regional final. She was one of three from the Five Forks Young Farmers group to do so.
‘‘Alan had always competed, and I didn’t really think I was good enough, so I just supported Alan through it all. Now that he’s kind of retired from competing, I thought I’d give it a go and just try my hand.’’
The Five Forks Young Farmers Club hosted this year’s district competition, and Ms Perry thought ‘‘the more people the better’’.
She was one of at least three women in a field of about 12 and everyone competed on an equal footing, she said.
She was excited to be in the finals, but nervous too.
‘‘It’s a big step up. You’ve got all the practical elements as well, but then you’ve also got the night-show-type thing — the quiz component, but it’s all over the place. It could be absolutely anything. You study, and you hope there might be an overlap with questions from the previous year, but you’ve just got to know everything.’’
Despite growing up on a cropping farm in Mid Canterbury, and being involved in the day-to-day running of hers and Mr Harvey’s 190ha sheep, beef and ‘‘a little bit of cropping’’ farm, the 29-year-old did not describe herself as a ‘‘full-time practical farmer’’.
‘‘But even being a full-time farmer, there’s still so many gaps in what you might know.’’
Building up to the district competition, Ms Perry had to work her preparation around being mum to baby Ella, who turns 1 tomorrow. Mr Harvey, himself an Aorangi Regional Finalist in 2019, was ‘‘no help’’ to his partner, because he was convener of the event.
‘‘He couldn’t tell me anything or be any help. I managed to rope him in to help look after Ella, at one stage,’’ she said.
The district competition was made up of 13 modules, each lasting 15 minutes. They included fencing, chainsaw assembly, tractor operation, veterinary modules, shearing and handpiece assembly, and ‘‘identifying a whole lot of farming tools that one might never see in their lifetime’’.
‘‘Yeah, there was just so much to do . . .and things I haven’t had to do in a very long time,’’ Ms Perry said.
She had wanted to test her skills and knowledge, and felt like it was a safe environment to do that.
‘‘If you’re starting out in the industry, or have been farming for any length of time, it’s something you should do, ’cause it’s fun . . .and you’d actually be surprised by how much you do know and can do.’’
The Five Forks Young Farmers Club has 23 paid members, a record in recent years. The club met once a month, at Enfield, with a meal at the The Fort, followed by a meeting at the town hall, and then a return to The Fort for dessert and ‘‘rehydration’’, Ms Perry said.
Her official roles were publicity officer and treasurer. Membership was open for those aged 16 to 31, and being a farmer was not a pre-requisite
‘‘You just need to like socialising with other people, and understand that they may talk sheep and cows.’’
As well as farming, and being a mum, Ms Perry was also a member of the Weston Volunteer Fire Brigade, had taken part the World Triathlon Champs, and raced sled dogs.
If something piqued her interest, she did not stand back. ‘‘You don’t have to be amazing at everything. Giving something a go is the most important, and hey, you get to do some pretty cool things.’’
The top three placegetters in the Aorangi South district competition were: 1st Tom Adkins (Upper Waitaki Young Farmers), 2nd James Hurst (Five Forks), 3rd Daniel Durdle (Five Forks).
The Aorangi Young Farmer of the Year regional final will take place next year on February 26, in Fairlie.
The winner will qualify for July’s grand final in Whangarei.