Loyalty key in a lifetime of farming

Retired farmer and wool classer Alastair Eckhoff, of Moa Creek, (pictured with Rosie and Chloe), believes loyalty is an important quality for anyone to have. Photo: Yvonne O'Hara
Retired farmer and wool classer Alastair Eckhoff, of Moa Creek, (pictured with Rosie and Chloe), believes loyalty is an important quality for anyone to have. Photo: Yvonne O'Hara
Experience is the key to successful farming and horticulture. Southern Rural Life is asking its readers to tell us what tips or wisdom they have learned during their lifetime on the land, which they would like to pass on to the next generations.  We would also like to know the stories behind that hard-won knowledge.

Loyalty is one of the most important qualities a person can have, retired farmer Alastair Eckhoff says.

When Southern Rural Life asked him what wisdom he would like to pass on to the next generation or the one after, he said, ''The really major one is loyalty.''

Mr Eckhoff was a stock and station agent for 38 years, owns a sheep farm in Moa Creek, and is also a wool classer.

Until earlier this year, he also had an English Leicester stud.

He has been involved with the Central Otago Racing Club, rugby refereeing, and is a judge, referee and examiner for Shear Sports New Zealand.

To illustrate his point about loyalty: he and some friends owned shares in a racehorse called La Girl.

She won four races, which he was extremely excited and happy about.

However, later in her career, experts said she was dry, so the owners talked about sending her to the works, which Mr Eckhoff said was disloyal, given the amount of pleasure she had given the group when she was successful.

She now lives on his farm.

One morning last year he went out into the yard and found a new foal.

''I couldn't believe it and I started to look to find out who had put it in the paddock.''

Now, that foal is a yearling and is likely to be given the name Unexpected.

Loyalty also proved its worth early in his career, when he was just starting out as a cadet on

the Wrightson's experimental farm near Lincoln.

''I used to grizzle about my wage, as I was only getting 600 a year,'' he said.

His boss told him that if he was loyal, and did the job he was asked to do, then things would improve.

Later, he was given a stock and station agent position in Omakau, which had a good wage, a car and a house.

''I was given the job because of simple loyalty.''

He said it was also important to be loyal to a firm and not always go chasing the best markets or the best deals.

When he was younger, he was helped into his farm by the original, older owner.

He said he decided to lease his farm to a young couple who were just starting out earlier this year.

''I was given the opportunity to go farming,'' he said.

''Now, I am doing the same thing - I am paying it forward.''

-If you feel you have 'pearls', then contact Yvonne on yvonne.ohara@alliedpress.co.nz or Nicole on nicole.sharp@alliedpress.co.nz.

Other tips

  • ‘‘Buy a bit of land as soon as you are able, as they are not making any more of it,’’ he said.
  • He said that was an important step in a person’s career.
  • Plant lucerne.
  • Do not buy expensive machinery if it is going to sit in the shed for 10 months of the year. Using contractors is efficient and economic.
  • Diversify the business — for example, include deer on a sheep and beef property — as that will help subsidise the farm income.
  • Have interests outside of work, including sport or something else, and also accept invitations when offered.


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