Couple meeting need for relief staff

Relief milking is one of the farming jobs Kelvin Cormack and Janelle Davison do to support struggling farmers near Winton. PHOTO: VALU MAKA
Relief milking is one of the farming jobs Kelvin Cormack and Janelle Davison do to support struggling farmers near Winton. PHOTO: VALU MAKA
Winton couple Janelle Davison and Kelvin ‘‘Rocky’’ Cormack are helping farmers needing relief staff.

The duo started their business, The Gofer, about eight months ago. It caters to farmers in a range of ways including, but not limited to, relief milking, calf rearing, tractor work, fencing and farm minding.

The pair are a ‘‘jack of all trades’’ when it comes to farming with about 40 years of experience collectively under their belts.

Their experience includes sheep, beef and deer farming.

Mr Cormack said the idea for the business began when he was working as a stock truck dispatcher.

‘‘I was talking to farmers every day and they would always be talking about having no staff and how they were struggling to pick things up because they had no-one to mind their farms. So I went home one day and said ‘maybe I’ll go farming full-time’.’’

His partner quickly jumped on board with the idea.

‘‘We’ve always had our hand in farming,’’ Ms Davison said.

‘‘We enjoy being out in the wide open spaces because it is quite often we stop in places and go wow . . . it’s so beautiful.’’

They had a small clientele and often travelled to small remote areas such as Wendon, Wallacetown and Wairio.

Ms Davison grew up in Invercargill and lived in Winton for 20 years. Mr Cormack grew up in Otautau and shifted to Winton about six years ago.

The couple first met in 2019 when Ms Davison was taking care of Mr Cormack’s former manager’s children.

‘‘I was looking after the kids because Rocky’s boss was away in Ireland at the time and the kids really liked Rocky.

‘‘He was working in the office and the children wanted to drop off cupcakes, so we did,’’ she said.

Mr Cormack was grateful for the kind gesture and took the initiative to contact Ms Davison to thank her and the children for their efforts.

‘‘. . . and it all started from there,’’ he said.

Their two Boxer dogs, Bella and Bindi, occasionally tagged along with them on jobs, Mr Cormack said.

‘‘Sometimes we take the caravan out to paddocks when we do farm minding and we take the girls along with us.’’

They were booked out this year for Easter as families wanted to get away for the holidays.

The pair were happy to know they were meeting a need, he said.

‘‘There is a huge staff shortage out there and, with what we are doing, it has really filled the gap for the people.

‘‘ A lot of people have rung us and we have been able to help out —but there is never a dull moment.’’

Their business motto was to ‘‘never say no’’, but sometimes that was a challenge due to there only being two of them, he said.

‘‘We often help out farmers on short notice but sometimes we unfortunately have to say no because we can only do so much and Mondays are our only day off.’’

They were encouraged to see the business growing, as initially starting up had been slow.

‘‘For a start, things didn’t kick off, so I had to go back to driving a truck but after that things picked up through word of mouth.’’

They helped a farmer out in Wallacetown who had broken his arm and had no staff and he passed on their contact details to another farmer who was short on milking staff.

They acknowledged the farmers and small communities within the surrounding areas who had supported them.

‘‘The support has been very great and we are meeting a lot of different people we would not have met if we were stuck in the office, so we are putting a lot of faces to names,’’ Mr Cormack said.

‘‘It’s been a fun road. I remember us sitting out at the tubs out in Otatara at the outdoor baths maybe in our first month and we were thinking, ‘imagine if this goes big then we could have our own franchise’.’’

The duo had even gone so far as making merchandise: hoodies, caps and calenders.

‘‘We thought if we are gonna try, why not go the full way and make merch,’’ Mr Cormack said.

As a way of giving back to the community they had decided to sponsor Kart racer Jacob Begg.

‘‘There are so many young people out there who want to give things a go, but financially can’t do it. So with Jacob we wanted to help him out and we want to continue to do things like that to give back to the community,’’ Ms Davison said.

valu.maka@odt.co.nz 

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