The only constant in life is change. Alice Scott catches up with farmer, retired farrier, and new business owner Stuart Moore.
Over the years South Otago farming identity Stuart Moore has had to take a moment to stop and review the trajectory of where he is heading.
After eight years managing Gem Lake Station, near Roxburgh he finished up four years ago and has kept himself ‘‘out of mischief’’ working as a casual farm worker in the local area. With a busy side hustle as a farrier, he has had to retire from the occupation due to issues with his back and recently Mr Moore and his partner Esther Mitchell have moved to a lifestyle block on the Taieri and started a trough and tank cleaning business.
Growing up on and around farms; his father Blaikie Moore was a musterer, worked for the rabbit board and spent nearly 50 years working as a shearer. A young Stu developed his stock skills working on various Southland and Otago farms in his late teens and early 20s. He also spent four years working as a shearer and learnt how to shoe horses.
Casual farm work has been his ‘‘bread and butter’’ over the last four years. Until recently, he was based near Lawrence on Ms Mitchell’s family farm. He spends most of his time working between Beaumont and Nokamai Stations. ‘‘After being in a manager’s job at Gem Lake and all of the planning and stress that managing a farm involves, I really enjoyed the change in level of responsibility; just being able to turn up, do the job and head home again. There is so much on farmers’ plates at the moment, so it’s actually quite nice to not have all of that over my head if I am being completely honest.’’
Demand for the farrier work was strong but a bad back meant Mr Moore had to give up the work.
‘‘There is a lot of farrier work out there for those that can do the job, but it’s picking and choosing the right horses that are going to behave. Some owners expect a lot from a farrier; they want their horses shod but first some of them need to be broken in as well. It is a very hard occupation and I can understand why farrier charges have gone up in recent years.’’
Horses have been a constant, right through Mr Moore’s life. He has been involved in rodeo, hunting and has been on more than 20 Cavalcades, a trail boss for six of those, until he decided he had had enough. It was a chance experience on the heavy wagon trail with some borrowed Clydesdales that led to the discovery of a new passion in the horsey world. The following Cavalcade he was back with his own team of Clydesdales.
‘‘I had an absolute ball.’’
Finding a ‘‘great little spot’’ on the Taieri recently has led to another side hustle for the couple; a trough cleaning business.
‘‘We haven’t really been pushing it too hard, most of the work we’ve picked up is through word of mouth. We are out on farms cleaning out troughs and water tanks as well as water tanks for lifestyle properties that aren’t on the main water scheme.’’
Mr Moore says he enjoys working alongside his partner.
‘‘We get on pretty well, Esther’s pretty easy going. She’s the one that gets inside the tanks to clean them, so if we have a disagreement, she’s in the wrong place to do much about it,’’ he said, laughing.
Reflecting on his career to date and what advice he might give to up-and-coming shepherds, Mr Moore said he regrets not travelling as much as he probably could have.
‘‘I did a lot of work around this area, but I didn’t get up to the North Island and I probably should have. My advice for young people in the industry is to get out and have some adventures, don’t tie yourself down year after year in the same place.’’
It was also important to understand that it takes a few years of experience and hard graft ‘‘at the bottom’’ before young people should expect a management position.
‘‘Some young ones out there want to go straight to the stock manager position after they’ve done five minutes as a shepherd. I guess it’s just knowing that you need to learn how to walk before you can run. The best advice I can give is to turn up early, be respectful, ask lots of questions and learn as much as you can, because farming isn’t just about chasing sheep,’’ he said.