Dairy farmer’s fields of dreams

Frampton Fields owner Ian Frampton has dried off his herd after his first year of owning a dairy...
Frampton Fields owner Ian Frampton has dried off his herd after his first year of owning a dairy farm on the Taieri. PHOTO: SHAWN MCAVINUE
A burnt-out dairy farmer has returned to the industry refreshed to chase a dream of farm ownership.

Ian Frampton and his wife Deli have finished their first season milking on their new farm Frampton Fields on the Taieri.

The family, including children Hemi, 6, Jack, 3, and Daisy, 1, dried off their herd of nearly 300 a week ago.

A target was set at the start of the season to produce 400kg of milksolids per cow.

The herd produced 124,000kg of milksolids, more than 420kg per cow.

"It has been a heck of a year," Mrs Frampton said.

Mr Frampton was born in England and was 4 when his father was made redundant from the packaging industry.

Soon after, the family moved to New Zealand in 1994.

When Ian was 13, his father left an office job at Tip Top in Auckland to manage a dairy herd at Popotunoa, north of Clinton, for farmer Mark Adam.

"Mark taught me to milk cows," Ian said.

After leaving Gore High School and studying agriculture at Lincoln University, Ian returned south to work as a herd manager on Mr Adam’s farm on the Taieri for two years.

Ian and Deli moved to Marlborough after she accepted a physiotherapy job in Blenheim and he worked on a dairy farm.

Frampton Fields second-in-charge Franklyn Wate. PHOTO: SHAWN MACAVINUE
Frampton Fields second-in-charge Franklyn Wate. PHOTO: SHAWN MACAVINUE
Due to the shiftwork of both jobs, the newlyweds struggled to find time to be together.

"I got burnt out and I needed time with my wife," Ian said.

He left the dairy industry and started a building apprenticeship in 2014.

They moved to Dunedin to be closer to family in 2017 and he continued his building apprenticeship. They bought a section in Broad Bay and started building a house.

The family, which by now included newborn Hemi, lived in the house as they built it in their spare time.

"It was a very busy time," Ian said.

Deli said a shared dream was to own a lifestyle block to run livestock and raise a family.

"We always wanted more space for the kids."

The search for a lifestyle block led the discovery of a dairy farm for sale in Henley.

They couple floated a business idea to Deli’s parents Tony and Sue McDonnell, who own a dairy farm in Chrystalls Beach, south of Milton.

The proposal included Ian and Deli selling their house to buy cows to sharemilk on the farm the McDonnells bought.

Her parents called the next day and told them they did not want to own another farm but they would loan them the money so they could put in a tender offer to buy it themselves.

The tender offer was accepted and the Frampton family have been living and working on the farm since June last year.

"We never thought we’d own a farm," Deli said.

There were some bumps in the road to farm ownership.

Ian was operating a digger to get the landscaping finished so their Broad Bay house could be put on the market.

He stepped out of the digger, into a hole and heard a snap.

Deli recalls looking out the kitchen window and seeing her horizontal husband clutching his broken leg.

She praised him for continuing to chase their dream.

"He still did heaps with a broken leg."

Those duties included travelling around Southland with Rural Livestock dairy agent Peter O’Neill to buy in-calf heifers and mixed-age cows.

"A lot of young, a lot of old and not much in the middle because they are the expensive ones," Ian said.

The mostly KiwiCross herd were from six properties.

He laughs about the challenge of the heifers being milked for the first time, a duty he had not done for about a decade.

"There was a lot of firsts going on in that shed."

"The heifers didn’t want to go in the shed but we got there," Deli added.

He Mr Frampton sold his Ford Ranger ute to buy a Protrack drafting gate so one person could milk the cows.

The plan was to implement fail-safe systems on the farm to avoid staff getting burnt out.

They employed second-in-charge Franklyn Wate in February.

Ian milks the cows in the morning and Mr Wate in the afternoon.

The usual working week for Mr Wate was between 8am and 6pm on weekdays.

Staff getting the weekends off would hopefully help retain them and avoid burn out.

Ian’s parents, Paul and Judith Frampton, live in a hut their son built on Frampton Fields and relief milk and feed out on the weekends.

Taieri dairy farmers Ian and Deli Frampton and their children (from left) Daisy, Jack and Hemi....
Taieri dairy farmers Ian and Deli Frampton and their children (from left) Daisy, Jack and Hemi. PHOTO: KIMBERLEY CHEYNE PHOTOGRAPHY
Paul and Judith looked after their grandchildren so Ian and Deli could attend the Taieri Winter Crop Competition in Mosgiel earlier this month.

A Frampton Fields entry won the direct-drilled kale on the flat section, the first winter crop Ian had ever grown.

He bought a drill seeder for $5000 and spent $1500 to unseize it.

After working out how to calibrate and set the depth, he drilled Cleancrop Firefly kale seed and applied Ballance DAP fertiliser in four 2ha paddocks on December 11.

He applied Ravensdown N-Protect urea on the crop about six weeks later.

Deli laughed about how stressed her husband was after seeding and his constant checking for any sign of germination.

"We would go on family crop checks," she laughed.

He said the stress was due to the possibility of the crop failing to strike, creating a massive bill to winter the cows off farm.

The worry was baseless as each paddock produced a top crop.

Deli bought Ian a new farm sign for his birthday.

The couple jointly named the property Frampton Fields.

"Frampton Farms was taken," Ian said.

shawn.mcavinue@alliedpress.co.nz