On the next episode, screening 23 April 2017 at 7pm on TVNZ 1:
Tending the Flock
Waiouru sheep and beef farmer, Tracey Peters, has the odd hobby horse – and hobby deer. Nearly three decades ago when her husband Brian was alive, he and Tracey fell in love with some Timor Ponies and without so much as a “Can I keep him? Can I?” they found themselves bringing a pair home.
A breeding pair as it turned out.
“Now they’re all over the farm. They're cute! Real cute!” says Tracey.
But Tracey doesn't have a lot of time to do much with the cute Timors. The sheep and cattle keep her quite busy enough. Even the deer – which also began as a hobby – are just a small group of hinds, kept in case the venison market suddenly takes off.
“They're - spooky bloody things! You have to be patient with them. You have to like deer. Not everybody does” She explains.
Brian died of cancer after he and Tracey had only been married a few years. She’s been farming the 800 hectare property high on the Central Plateau largely on her own for twenty five years. But when farming took a downturn five years ago, she came very close to folding.
“I was about to go broke and the bank were going to foreclose on me.”
It was docking time and she broke it to her crew that this would be their last time together. A few days later two friends, John and Alex, who’d helped her docking for free for years, came to her with a partnership proposal. The farm was saved.
Tracey continues to do the day-to-day running of the farm and John and Alex, provide financial support, advice, and have invested heavily in farm infrastructure.
“John and Alex are great,” says Tracey. “I can’t think of anyone I’d rather be in partnership with”.
For all her hard work Tracey thinks she has the dream job. And she manages to fit in a wide variety of hobbies off-farm. Once an avid deerstalker, Tracey realised she didn't like killing animals and focussed on target shooting instead, discovering she was “actually pretty good”. Good enough in fact to win gold for New Zealand in the Oceania Games more than once, and she still likes to coach. She belongs to walking groups, reading groups and a community choir.
Oh and, did we mention, she is the priest of the Taihape Anglican church? A little like the farm, it too was on the brink of closure not long ago. Without funds for a full-time minister, Anglican high command insisted “Run it yourselves or close the doors”. Theology was already one of Tracey’s interests and the local community put friendly pressure on her to become ordained and take up the reins.
“And blow me down - here I am with a collar around my neck!”
She is on a quarter of a wage but often does a great deal more than “a quarter of a job”.
“But I love it” she says. “And I somehow manage to fit it all in! God has been very kind”
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For more about Deerstalkers NZ, visit: www.deerstalkers.org.nz/
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Producer Julian O’Brien