Last year did not start well. There were just too many uncertainties. But it ended well.
My health was good and the weather was kind to us. We managed to treble our production, which is not easy with an organic system, yet still could not meet the demand for our products.
The prices of our own products were reasonable (never good enough) and the prices of our inputs remained stable.
But, best of all, our management improved substantially. I am very aware of my own shortcomings.
One of the many is being incapable of repetitive work, which is of course essential on a dairy farm.
Another is with age, comes a depletion of energy, making it difficult to attend effectively to the three daily milkings and all other activities on the farm, including processing and distribution.
Fortunately Kevin Langman, who knows our herd well, joined us on a semi-permanent basis as herd manager.
Mahlatse Ramaphakela, who did his postgraduate training on the farm and finished in July, decided to stay on.
Together with Nakedi Ramollo, who also started on the farm as a postgraduate trainee and who has now been with us for three years, the three are a formidable management team.
This makes life much better for me and the farm – the results are proof of that. It also makes life slightly more bearable with the farmer’s wife, who makes increasing demands to see the grandchildren all over the country and who wanted to retire to the sea some time ago.
The New Year will hopefully be a year of consolidation and further growth. We just need to increase production on all fronts to try and meet demand and make the venture more profitable.
I wish all the readers the very best for 2015. May your farming activities be profitable and enjoyable, may you have happy families and good health.
Thank you for the responses, advice and encouragement I have received from you in the last year.
If you are ever in South Africa and near Pretoria, come and visit us. firstname.lastname@example.org
Danie Schutte is an organic Ayrshire dairy farmer who also processes dairy products on his 90hafarm near Pretoria, South Africa