Stephen Malone, of Timaru, and former wife Karen (see page
7), were the winners of the first and second Southland
regional Sharemilker of the Year competitions in 1990 and
1991. He is still milking and passionate about his orchard.
Photo by the Malone family.
Since moving to Timaru, dairy farmer Stephen Malone has
discovered a new passion, an orchard.
In addition to working as a lower-order sharemilker, milking
900 cows, he owns an orchard and sells raspberries and
''For me the orchard is very satisfying,'' Mr Malone said.
While it was easy to milk, growing fruit was more challenging
as they had to grow it, market and sell it, and build up the
He and his former wife Karen, with whom he had three
children, were the winners of the first and second Southland
regional Sharemilker of the Year competition in 1990 and
They have since split up and Mr Malone moved to Timaru.
He has married Jo and has two children, Zak (10) and Kyla
(8), and he and son Casey milk on a dairy conversion near
Mr Malone said they won the first two regional competitions
but were unable to compete in the national final the first
year, because of the event's timing. When they entered the
second time they again won, then competed in the finals and
were placed second to Clem and Patricia Captein, of the
''It was only .4 of a point in it.
''I wasn't expecting to win but I was pleased to get second.
''We were pleased to be recognised as being from lonely old
''We were competing against traditional farmers from Waikato
and Taranaki and they all thought only penguins were farmed
He said during the two-hour presentation the judges looked at
the financial records and toured the farm.
Safety, effluent and staff management were not part of the
criteria, but figures from mating, production and costs per
hectare and per cow, feed management and off-farm leadership
roles were judged.
''Our biggest claim to fame was we used to be able to calve
half the herd in 10 days and our production per cow was very
high at the time.''
He said the biggest change was being recognised and
well-known and appearing in the media for months afterwards.
''That was quite difficult, in some ways, because the focus
was on you.
''It opened a lot of doors and created more opportunities but
we didn't realise the affect that it would really have.''
Mr Malone also judged the first Otago SMOTY competition and
they convened the next couple of Southland competitions.
After the couple split, he went sharemilking and bought a
block of land near Timaru and converted it to an orchard,
initially planting 5500 cherry trees.
He sold his cows to a man who came up the driveway and
offered to buy them, which he said was too good an offer to
At times, the busy periods on the orchard coincide with
calving and milking and he gets little sleep.
''The orchard is my passion and I like to do as much as I can
on it and oversee the dairy side of things.
''I didn't realise the tsunami that was going to hit [when
learning about orchard work], and there was so much to take
He said there was a huge demand for fresh produce and before
Christmas he could expect to see a queue of people waiting
for the stall to open from 7am.