Thursday, 29 March 2018 14:55

Rodeo makes for work/life balance on farm

Written by  Daniel & Charlotte Montgomery
Charlotte Montgomery barrel racing. Charlotte Montgomery barrel racing.

Our dairy farming work life is full on: we love our cows, put their needs first in our decision making, and our success proves our decisions have been and are correct.

But there was a cost -- our social life. 

We are keen New Zealand rodeo circuit followers -- making lifelong friends on the circuit and seeing our children growing up with our friends’ children.

They have loved packing up and going away for weekends to the rodeo, spending hours in the car in family chats, laughs and games. We loved taking our horses on the road and showing our children how to care for them while seeing the countryside.

When the dairy industry took a downturn we decided to stop rodeo and focus on the farm; we decided this because our cows needed to come first, so our time away from the farm took lower priority. 

We made a full time employee redundant, which imbalanced our work/social life, making it work-heavy. 

With this came an emotional battle; NZ has terrible mental health statistics and we know how they can arise. 

We threw ourselves into our business: no weekends off, no family trips away and only our five-year-old getting to ride her pony on the farm. With work the sole focus of each day, the days can quickly become endless and weekends no different. 

We had made the correct decision business-wise, and we learned a lot about ourselves and the value of time off; when life is well-balanced, all aspects are more enjoyable. 

But we learned that time off the farm helps us make better business decisions and focus on goals. In contrast, when we were always at home, with only short breaks from daily routine, our judgement got clouded.  

Rodeo is our way of finding balance during time away – perhaps as simple as an evening ride in the arena with the kids on their ponies, or heading to a friends’ place for practice, going to jackpots in the region or taking a weekend away at a rodeo. We believe all farmers need to find a balance that suits them, their business and family.  

Seizing opportunities

Farmers Charlotte and Daniel (Monty) Montgomery have been 50/50 sharemilkers for seven years, with their own herd, in Leeston, Mid Canterbury. They have three children.

They bought their herd, as a part of an equity Share milking partnership before dairy boomed and grew the herd during the high milk-price years. They went out on their own moving from South Otago to Canterbury, growing from 250 cows to now 400 cows.

They have built the herd with good breeding, hand choosing the cows’ sires to enhance the traits that best suit their goals, farm and longevity of the offspring.

Farming has been their way of life since they left their parents’ homes. 

Monty left home to go to Telford Rural Polytechnic, then landed his first full-time role on a dairy farm, later going into partnership with those employers.  Charlotte grew up dairy farming, went vet nursing then became a rural technician when the dairy industry boomed.  


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