Calling time on farm after 81 years

Errol and Marylyn Copland are holding a clearing sale on their sheep farm in Waimumu tomorrow. The couple talk to Shawn McAvinue about calling time on the good times on Cosydell farm.

A clearing sale on a sheep farm will close a chapter for Errol and Marylyn Copland in Waimumu tomorrow.

"It’s time to go," Mr Copland said.

The sale on their sheep farm, Cosydell, about 15km west of Gore, would be emotional, he said.

"It will be hard."

The Coplands leased the 200ha farm about 12 years ago, in a bid to take it easier after Mr Copland had a valve in his heart replaced.

After leasing Cosydell, they remained living in the farm house, which his father, Andrew "Gardy" Copland jun, and grandfather on his mother’s side, Charlie Goodwin, built about 90 years ago.

The house was the only place Mr Copland had ever called home.

"I’ve been here 81 years, but I’ve changed bedrooms."

After the sale, they would shift to a new build on a quarter acre block in Gore.

"I don’t know how I’ll get on in a new house because I know my way around in the dark here," Mr Copland said, laughing.

Waimumu was a great place to raise their three children, Ross, Trevor and Jane.

"We had a mighty district and all the neighbours knew each other and everyone looked after each other — it was a great life."

He was not the oldest person living in Waimumu, but no-one had lived in the area longer than he had.

Mrs Copland said they would miss Cosydell, including its vegetable garden, chickens and sweeping view of the Hokonui Hills from their deck.

"It will be a shame to leave it."

Mr Copland said they should have moved to Gore a decade ago, but he struggled with the idea of leaving the farm.

"I’ll know I’ll miss it. I’ll miss going out to the shed and welding something up or fixing a broken motor."

Mrs Copland agreed it would be difficult to leave.

"We stayed on because we love the place."

The pair met when they were children.

Their fathers were farmers and good friends and the families shared the ownership of a crib in Riverton.

Mrs Copland (nee Cowie) lived near Waimumu in Te Tipua and they got married in 1966.

Cosydell had been in the Copland family for more than a century.

Errol, 81, and Marylyn, 79, Copland are holding a clearing sale on their sheep farm, Cosydell, in...
Errol, 81, and Marylyn, 79, Copland are holding a clearing sale on their sheep farm, Cosydell, in Waimumu tomorrow and will move out of the only home Errol has ever known. PHOTO: SHAWN MCAVINUE
His grandfather, Andrew Copland sen, moved to Southland from Canterbury to buy a 280ha "rough block", including Cosydell, in 1913, Errol said.

"It needed a lot of development and is a totally different farm to what it was then — it was all gorse and tussock."

Andrew sen sold the farm to return to Canterbury and bought it back after the new owners put it on the market following an economic downturn.

A reason for his grandfather returning to Cosydell was because it was easier to grow crops in Southland when dry conditions were biting in Canterbury.

Errol’s father, Andrew Copland jun, kept farming Cosydell between pioneering the crayfishing industry in Fiordland.

Errol is the middle child of five siblings, including four sisters.

He started at Waimumu School at age 4, to bolster his class numbers to three.

Waimumu once had a school, shop, church and hall, where a dance was held every weekend.

Now only the hall remains.

After boarding at John McGlashan College in Dunedin for three years, Errol returned home to run Cosydell, aged 16.

During his tenure on Cosydell, improvements include removing gorse, cultivating, establishing duck ponds, planting shelterbelts, building sheds and installing fences and drainage.

"I’ve put a fair few thousand tiles in."

Marylyn worked as a teacher and helped to keep the farm going when times were tough.

The first "holiday" Errol had off-farm was from drawing the ballot for 14 weeks of military training in Waiouru.

During the "marvellous experience" he celebrated his 21st birthday by "digging trenches and practising war".

"I met a lot of good friend on the train to Waiouru."

He had enjoyed farming on Cosydell, but if he had his time again, he probably would have sold up and bought a flatter property.

"I’d expand rather than develop. Those that have done that have done very well."

That said, life had been wonderful in Waimumu.

The fond memories include Errol being in a band performing at local dances.

"It was a lot of fun."

Mrs Copland agreed Waimumu was a great place to farm and raise a family.

"We lived in a good time and we’ve had a good life."


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