Home' Northern Outlook : July 27th 2013 Contents 17
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Let's Talk Farming
Topdressing big influence
ON THE JOB: Neville Cleland baling hay at Huiroa, east of Stratford, earlier this
Photo: JONATHAN CAMERON/FAIRFAX NZ
FROM Page 16
Similarly, with broken bales, the
contractor has to keep count of
them, because at the end of the job
these have to be deducted from
the final count.
In his first season, Cleland
pressed about 9000 bales of hay,
and while he didn t advertise his
service, someone was saying
something nice about him,
because this doubled to 20,000
from the second season onward.
His main competition came from a
firm named Wickstead, based in
Cardiff, which operated as far
eastward as Tututawa.
I envied them, says Cleland.
I had a Massey Harris baler
that had a Wisconsin motor
and had to be hand-cranked.
Wicksteads had the same motor
on a Holland baler and this was
started by a battery.
Most of my work was pretty
local, but it has to be remembered
that in those times, the roads
were nowhere near as good as
they are now.
The tarseal ended at Douglas.
From there on, it was gravel
roads, which really slowed down
progress when I was moving
machinery from farm to farm.
While Cleland cites aerial top--
dressing as the first major break-
through during his time on the
family farm at Toko, it was his
father who initially reaped the
benefits of it.
It came around 1952, he says.
The first Taranaki airstrip
from which aircraft operated was
at Douglas, but then we got our
airstrip going. It made farming so
much easier. The biggest problem
on our farm was carpet fern. We
had bracken fern as well and the
superphosphate gave the soil suf-
ficient fertility for the grass to
start to grow through it.
Dad spread about 100 tonnes
of superphosphate annually by
air, and the flats, where we grew
our hay, got extra.
Actually, one year, when Dad
was developing 20 hectares of flat
swamp country, because of the
lack of tracks through the prop-
erty, we had to get hay dropped by
air to isolated cattle. A Cessna
flew down from Te Kuiti twice
weekly, with three bales of hay
sitting on bomb bays on either
wing. The pilot had only to press a
button, and the bales would drop.
By 1960, Cleland s hay contrac-
ting business was flourishing.
There was a new tractor and the
aging baler was replaced with a
battery started Massey Ferguson
model. The seven-cow dairy herd
had expanded in number to 57.
However, the latter brought with
it some new problems.
After a long day out hay con-
tracting, it was sometimes 9pm by
the time I could start milking the
cows, says Cleland.
Getting married that year
made the world of difference.
Ruth, who was a dairy farmer s
daughter, was a God-send. She
helped out with the milking,
moved the machinery from job to
job for me, and sometimes helped
out baling hay."
In 1967, Cleland bought his
third tractor, a brand new Massey
Ferguson 165, for $3000. He also
bought a new baler for $1800, and
both are still operating.
It was a year for splashing out.
He bought a new, but smaller, sec-
ond Massey Ferguson 135 for gen-
eral farm work.
While times have changed and
either big round or big square hay
bales are commonly made on most
Taranaki farms these days, there
remains a limited demand for the
smaller conventional bales,
especially from farmers with
small holdings or lifestyle blocks.
And while the machinery may
have changed, farmers haven t.
The weather determines when
hay can be cut and baled.
Farmers can be easy-going for
364 days a year, but when the hay
has been mown and teddered, and
there s a black cloud hovering over
the farm, their temperament can
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