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When the lockdown was announced, Lincoln University Young Farmers Club chairman Callum Woodhouse and his brother Archie made the decision to return to the family’s sheep and beef farm at Eketahuna.
“My flatmates are from Canterbury, so when the lockdown was announced they weren’t too worried, but we were stressing about flights and we had to book a last-minute flight and get home.
“The old man was expecting us home anyway in April for the three weeks term holiday, but now he’s getting a few extra weeks’ work out of us.”
The brothers are juggling farm work by day and catching up with lectures and study in the evenings.
“It’s particularly challenging as the internet connectivity in rural areas is not always reliable and with Archie and I both at home, we are struggling to download the lectures,” Callum said.
“But the university is really good about it. They’ve done it before, having been through the earthquakes.”
Those who are not able to access the lectures online were able to get them downloaded on to a data stick and couriered out, he said.
But learning online was not the same, as it was not possible to do lab work and group projects were a challenge, so assessments have been changed.
Callum said it was uncertain when they would be able to return to Lincoln or how exams would be conducted online if the university was still in lockdown at the end of the semester.
“The uncertainty is probably the hardest part. It all depends on when we go to Level 2 and what it looks like with domestic travel.
“I am certainly missing being at Lincoln especially with the third year being my final year.”
He said the young farmers club continued to meet online and the executive was doing its best to keep in contact with members to ensure they were coping.
The Covid-19 restrictions and the economic uncertainty meant the club’s annual fundraising pig hunt was unlikely to be held this year.
“We are lucky as a club that we are in a good financial position from previous years.”
Callum, who is studying economics and accounting, was planning to travel overseas next year, but realises he may need to postpone that idea and stay closer to home.
“But I enjoy the practical side of farming, so I will probably look to go somewhere else in New Zealand to broaden my experience.”