Challenging but rewarding

John Chittock with some of his dogs. Photo: Ken Muir
John Chittock with some of his dogs. Photo: Ken Muir
A request to act as a referee for someone applying for the job as manager of Jeff Farm ultimately led to John and Liz Chittock ending up in the role themselves.

Jeff Farm, on Old Coach Rd between Mataura and Clinton, is a 2400ha property owned by the Salvation Army and, besides overseeing the running of the farm, Mr Chittock also supervises four young people as part of a residency training programme.

''Timing is everything and it really all came together in terms of Liz and I finishing up at Jeff Farm,'' Mr Chittock said.

''We just sold our livestock contracting business when the opportunity presented itself.''

Originally from West Otago, Mr Chittock met wife Liz, who was from Tarras, while mustering at Wanaka and the couple took over Jeff Farm in 2001.

''Overall, it's been a challenging but rewarding experience,'' Mr Chittock said.

''This is especially the case when dealing with young people but we really enjoy watching them develop and go on to have further experience in the farming sector.''

He said he was well supported by the Salvation Army board which provided farming advice and governance expertise.

The residency programme is a two-year course, with two new young people starting each year and two leaving.

''The majority stay in the industry,'' he said.

''As well, some have returned to the farm to work here and we've enjoyed seeing them return with their families.''

Jeff Farm's head shepherd Matt Lane was one who started as a cadet and came back.

In all the farm had some 30,000 stock units and Mr Chittock said it had continued to expand to add strength to the business.

The challenge of improving environmental performance across the operation also has to be addressed and the farm has embarked on a significant planting programme as well as fencing waterways.

Although retirement was a little way off, Mr Chittock said he and his wife were already thinking about it.

''We won't need anything fancy,'' he said.

''So long as I can have a place where I can take care of my dogs, I'll be happy.''

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