Bite-sized slices of farming life in NC



Five North Canterbury rural businesses feature in a new book.

Launched at the West Eyreton Hall on Friday evening, Waimakariri-based rural journalist Tim Fulton’s new book, Kiwi Farmers’ Guide to Life, features 25 “bite-sized” chapters telling the stories of New Zealand farmers and their families.

“I was able to cover all sorts of farming operation types and people from all over the country,” Tim says.

“I’ve set it out to make it chunky, with bite-sized chapters, so it’s something you can pick up and just dip into the chapters.”

He began the project last year, on the eve of lockdown, which caused an immediate rethink.

“I was just about to get going and then we had lockdown, so I ended up doing a lot of phone calls and emails to farmers around the country, and when I eventually got to go and see them, it was like I was bolting in and getting what information I could, knowing I may only get to visit them once.”

Five North Canterbury families made it into the book, including Tim’s neighbours Alan and Margo Vliet Vlieland of West Eyreton.

The couple migrated to New Zealand from the Netherlands in the 1990s and have gone on to breed Clydesdale horses and compete in ploughing matches with the Clydesdales.

Margo fell in love with the Clydesdale after seeing them at the Canterbury A&P Show, with Alan later training as an equine dentist in the United States.

Chapter one is Andy Fox of Foxdown at Scargill, in the Hurunui district.

“It’s the classic tale of an inter-generational dry land family farm,” Tim says.

“Andy is a real contributor in his community and he’s a really interesting guy. He has his own museum of vintage cars and classic cars, and one car had its origins in the Al Capone era in the 1930s.

“And he has tales of how people have farmed over the years.”

Tracey Topp grew up in a sheep farming family at Cust and now runs Cosy Toes at Rotherham selling Merino clothing and created the We Love NZ Wool social media campaign.

The Brothers Green features in a chapter, telling of family ties to the Culverden area and the story behind establishing the hemp growing and retail business.

Leighton and Jane Croft are sheep and beef farmers at Omihi, north of Waipara, and have hosted the Omihi Trailbike fundraiser for their local school on the farm.

“These were people I thought I knew, but now I know them a heck of a lot better,” Tim says.

Kiwi Farmers’ Guide to Life: Rural tales from the heartland by Tim Fulton has been published by Bateman Books and is on sale at bookstores for $39.99.