‘Farmy Army’ shows rural spirit alive in the south

SHARE
Wyndham Rugby Football Club team captain Phil "Harvey" Norman helps clear debris off damaged fencing on an Edendale farm on Monday. Photo: Abbey Palmer

FOR Edendale dairy farmer Mike Henderson, land quality has become a major concern after his 250ha property was submerged with water about a metre and a half high during last week’s Southland-wide floods.

Like many other farmers, he now had to bear the brunt of the damage.

“It definitely will knock us for a full round of grazing. We’re feeding a lot more supplement than we normally would, we would normally feed no supplement,” he said.

This time last week, the biggest question he faced was whether or not rising water levels would force him to relocate his 750-cow herd.

By Tuesday afternoon last week, his farm was under water.

“It was up well over our fences here, right the way through, so pretty much everything you can see here out the back behind us was gone.”

Thanks to his neighbours, stock was able to be held on another farm until flooding had subsided, he said.

“Now it’s just a case of getting through those paddocks and letting them regrow.”

A week on, Wyndham Rugby Football Club members spent the past few days volunteering to help their manager clean up the wreckage.

of planned on having the weekend off to be honest… but we had about just under 30 people turn up yesterday so, by default, we just got in to it,” Mr Henderson said.

Out of all the destruction caused, fixing fences was the main focus.

About a dozen team members were on site on Monday in a bid to strip fencing of debris and re-build what had been washed away.

Player Joe McRae said he reached out to his fellow team members to see if they would get stuck-in with him and help.

“Mike does a lot for our club so I just encouraged a few guys to get out here and give a hand.”

While some players were not farmers themselves, “the beauty of it” was they were still helpful, he said.

Mr Henderson said the support from the community, as well as farming and agricultural industry groups had been “absolutely brilliant” and “really really humbling”.

“The likes of rural support, they’ve been really good, we’ve really noticed that.

“I think probably 10 years ago that wouldn’t have happened, a lot of people wouldn’t have asked how we were, that’s been huge actually.”

Southland Federated Farmers meat and fibre chairman Dean Rabbidge said about 45 people had volunteered to help the “Farmy Army” tend to farms affected south of Gore on Saturday, about 80 on Sunday and “40-odd” on Monday.

Many had travelled from out of town to offer their skills and moral support.

“It goes to show the rural spirit. No-one has complained, they’ve just gone and done it.”

However, he did admit more help was needed for farmers based north of Gore.

“I think there are a few people who are too proud to ask for help and need it, but that’s what we’re here for.”

Advertisement