Lead by a passion for rural life as well as a wholehearted belief in the value of hard work and quality products Sarah and Jono Reed are making their story known.
Situated at The Grampians near Culverden, north of Christchurch. The couple, along with their three kids, Hank (7), Greta (4), and Alba (2) farm stud Angus cattle and Merinos on land that was purchased by Jono’s grandparents in 1973.
In 2020 Jono and Sarah were both working, Jono on farm and Sarah as a nurse in Amberley Medical Centre, as well as being heavily involved in several community projects, when the family began to get overwhelmed. “The pressure just became too much” Explains Sarah, “Pressure from the farm, pressure from a growing family, pressure from needing to complete my job safely and I actually ended up having a bit of a breakdown” It was at about this time when Alba was born, and New Zealand went into COVID lockdown that saw the genesis of change and the beginning of a journey for the Reeds. “I got through lockdown and thought ‘geez, I need to do something here because I’m a really social person and I love being around other people and connecting with them, so I found lockdown really challenging”.
The change of pace for Sarah began with retailing for Norwegian company Devold which the farm sells its main line of Merino fleece. “With all the barriers that came with COVID, we decided it was better to invest money in our own line and that’s when we started brainstorming what we could do with The Grumpy Merino,” says Sarah. “The wool has a real X-factor with the micron it’s at, and there aren’t many people producing Merino blankets in New Zealand”.
The Reeds are ambitious and motivated and are doing their best to deliver a nimble and proactive response to the current climate “Jono is always thinking of new ways of doing things, while being conscious that we have three kids and we want to be generating enough equity to help them in the future” explains Sarah, “we’re big on efficiency and ensuring everything plays its part and that’s where the genetics of our stock comes in, we were fortunate to have the help of Mark Ferguson and the Next Gen Agri team to get our stock to where they are”. “neXtgen Agri has helped us in opening our eyes to the potential in our Merinos, as well as changing our mindset. Mark has also thrown ideas around with our cattle stud. I like the fact that he understands that there are optimum performance levels when breeding for a system and an environment. He is also mindful not to lose the good we have while trying to improve output traits” summarises Jono.
Jono also attributes part of their farming success to knowledge being handed down over generations “Our family has a rich history of farming in hill and high country, so we take a lot of pride in being good stockmen. This year we pushed the boundaries keeping stock numbers up through really poor autumn. You definitely learn more through the tough times than the good!” Recalls Jono
The couple feel positive about the future of the agriculture industry and have some no-frills wisdom for others on a similar journey “Get stuck in and be prepared to roll up your sleeves. Things have a habit of working out when enough effort and dedication is put in. Passion for what you do is nearly all you need” offers Jono. “Ensure you have a thorough plan for a solid foundation, suggests Sarah. “I see market knowledge and producing a product with an X- factor as being really central, don’t take no for an answer then grit your teeth and get it done,” says Sarah, “but also don’t forget to take care of yourself, it can be exhausting running your own business, it’s the same as farming, there’s always something to be done”.