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Retiring farmers Dexter and Sharyn Nind have sold their sheep and beef farm in Southland to return to Dexter’s roots in Central Otago.
More than 160 people who registered bought everything on offer at a clearing sale on the couple’s more than 500ha sheep and cattle farm in Waitane, about 10km west of Mataura, last month.
The Nind family, which includes four children and eight grandchildren, travelled from across the South Island to be at the sale.
As the crowd bid, Southern Rural Life asked Dexter how he was feeling.
"It’s a bit sad, in a way. You spend all of your life doing something like this but you’ve got to get out while your health is good or what’s the point?"
Sharyn said it was emotional for the children — Adam, Amy, Becky and Kristy — to depart their family home for the final time the day after the sale.
"All the kids cried as they were leaving."
The farm sale came from a property agent cold-calling Dexter to ask if he had any interest in buying a neighbouring farm, which Dexter replied: "I’d be more interested in selling".
Dairy Holdings staff and the agent visited the farm soon after, Dexter said.
The clients were "suitably impressed" and a deal was signed, pending Environment Southland approving a consent to graze dairy cattle.
As the couple had a history of grazing dairy cattle on the farm, the new owners were more likely to be able to gain a consent to continue doing it.
Initially, the expectation was for the consent process to take a few months and the farm to be sold by Christmas last year.
The reality was the consent process dragged on for about a year before the sale went through, allowing the couple to retire to a lifestyle block in Alexandra, running about 30 sheep, Sharyn said.
Dexter was born in Ranfurly Hospital and raised on his parent’s sheep and beef farm at Blackstone Hill, near Becks.
His parents were sheep and beef farming on about 485ha in Poolburn when his father Ian had a massive heart attack.
At the time, Dexter was 15 and boarding at Waitaki Boys’ High School.
Dexter left school to work on the family farm with his only sibling, older brother Barry, to help run the farm during their father’s recovery.
In 1973, their father retired to a 40ha block at Brydone, near Edendale.
"We had gone through three horrendous droughts in Central Otago and dad suggested shifting down here because there is plenty of grass," Dexter said.
A week after celebrating Dexter’s 21st birthday in a woolshed in the Ida Valley in 1977, the brothers sold the farm and bought a 250ha sheep and beef farm, Kowhai Park, at Waitane.
The brothers were able to run the same amount of stock as they had at Poolburn, which was nearly twice the size.
The Hedgehope Stream, a tributary of the Makarewa River, runs through Kowhai Park.
The development on the flat farm included years of installing drains and ditches, which allowed them to double the stocking rate, and Dexter described it as a "brilliant farm".
Dexter met his future wife, Sharyn Kerr, in Edendale, where her father was a spraying and dipping contractor.
In 1989, in the woolshed on Kowhai Park, Dexter’s father, aged 64, had another heart attack, despite being fit.
"He went outside because he was hot and he passed away — bang, all over."
Dexter’s mother Mavis moved to Waimate to be closer to her family.
The brothers stayed farming in partnership until Barry went engineering in 1999 and Dexter stayed on the farm.
Dexter and Sharyn were considering demolishing an old wooden bungalow on Kowhai Park to build a new home.
When an 80ha share of a neighbouring farm, Glenfelt, came on the market, the Ninds bought it and scrapped their plans to build a new house.
The property included a woolshed, covered yards and a farm house, where they raised a family.
In 2006, they bought another 430ha of neighbouring properties including some more of the Glenfelt farm.
To ensure the farm business remained financially viable, they diversified the farm operation including dairy grazing, growing grain, rearing dairy calves and wintering lambs.
"We thought outside the square to make money to pay interest. It was a labour of love."
The couple felt sorry for sheep and beef farmers new to the industry, who could have new environmental regulations limiting their land-use options.
These restrictions and expensive consent costs might make it difficult wanting to retire to sell their sheep and beef farm, which was a concern, as the consent process was ongoing, Sharyn said.
"It was such a huge thing for us to be able to sell three farms in one transaction."
Farm life was always busy and finding time to take their children on holiday was always on the backburner until some friends forced their hand.
"They rocked in and helped us get the lambs crutched and dragged us on a camping holiday and it was the best thing."
The family found a holiday was possible because the work would always be waiting for when a farmer returns, she said.
Although their sheep had moved on, Dexter was struggling to do the same.
An image of his flock remains the screensaver on his mobile phone.
"It’s a sickness," he said, laughing.
Although farming was hard work, it was enjoyable.
"You’ve got to love it," he said.
All of their children had forged their own careers.
Dexter said now was the right time to sell the farm and retire, while they remained in good health and could spend quality time with family.
"You never see a hearse towing a trailer."