Salers Society – AGM & Tour Autumn 2019

Doug Simpsons’ farm visit

Destination Otago for our 2019 Tour – Monday, 13th May – the North Islanders hopped on the bus, with driver Russell, at Mosgiel, with the Mainlanders catching up at various points… first stop, the Kissing Gate café at Middlemarch, one of the many delightful cafes dotted around New Zealand – serving great coffee, and homebaked goodies. Cheese rolls were on the menu for several of us – first opportunity for ages, to enjoy this local delicacy. Myra, Doug and Jenny joined us here…

Mixed age cows at Nenthorn

Next stop – Nenthorn, where John had most of his Salers herd lined up ready for inspection; all looking well after a more productive grass growing season than usual, in their district. A lovely roast-beef and lamb – was served by John and Tricia.

Ngaio Glen bull at Nenthorn

On we went – with John and Mary joining the bus. Macraes village, spruced up with Oceana funding, provided a pub stop, and an outlook over restored buildings, plus a walkway/wetland (all Oceana funded – the pub is owned and run by the company – a cosy haven on a cool, windy day…) The Macraes mine looks as huge and daunting as ever, massive trucks like toys when viewed from the observation room – apparently, it is very productive at present, with a new seam being followed, into the hillside.

On to Oamaru via Palmerston, passing the Brydone statue, and the first freezing works in New Zealand… Ken and Dawn had beaten us to our hotel, the Brydone, named in honour of the freezing works manager, Thomas Brydone, is a classic Oamaru stone building – but Myra was the only one to score a room in the “vintage’ part, the rest of us were tucked in at the newer end. The restaurant and bar area were all vintage style, very comfortable, and the kitchen produced great meals – a good team in there!

Monday evening, 6pm, saw everyone settled in the Whiston room for the AGM – minutes etc attached… We managed to finish on the dot of 7.30pm, when our dinner was booked – we had to be gently encouraged to leave as we were keeping the bar staff up…

Tuesday, 8.30am, back on the bus – first stop, Rockvale Gardens, hosted by Linda and Bob Wilson – owners also of one of the local stone quarries, which would have made a great visit – but “Health and Safety” no longer allows this, so we toured the garden, set up as a wedding/visitor venue by Linda.

Next stop – Doug and Elena Simpsons’ Little Road farm, north of Oamaru. With low rainfall (average 22 inches/annum) and well above sea level, an apparently productive cropping (barley, ryegrass, red clover) on the flats, with the breeding cow herd mopping up and running on the steep faces. Doug invested in Salers cows thanks to the influence of then-neighbours, Bazel and Myra Severinsen – and he is maintaining a Salers based cow herd, with Hereford bull power. Some of Dougs’ cows are well in their teens (shades of France), still bringing a calf in every year… Doug is seeking to top up his Salers cow herd, I have issued him with an updated contact list, but he can be found on 03 431 2021; he is happy to take sound older cows.

Salers x Herefords at Simpsons’
Still bringing gold out of Macraes

Lunch proved to be problematic – the Duntroon pub following the local custom of closing on Tuesdays – so a coffee and hot chips at the Glenavy dairy tided us over… directed by Malcolm Harvey, Puketiro Station, now a confirmed Hereford man, but keen to meet up with the Salers folk he had toured with a few years back

Our Tour was rounded off with a visit to “Dots’ Castle”, near Glenavy, funded by the 7,000 cows farmed by the Smith family. Originally Northlanders, the Smiths have clearly thrived in the south, with their sons part of the businesses – one farming, one an international chef, now running the restaurant/café, adjoining the Castle, specialising in fresh seasonal produce – a fantastic fruit and veggie garden, apparently fueled by cow manure, and mulched with pea straw, is part of the complex. Also, a labyrinthine shop, an opportunity for retail therapy! With Dot leading a garden tour in England, one of the gardening team lead us around the Castle… an example of what can be achieved if you have the energy to follow every whim, and a cheque book to match – every room decorated and dressed to the nth degree; unlike medieval castles – this one had central heating, and huge windows, with outlooks to the surrounding countryside, and the artificial lake (France again… Versailles??).

Another enjoyable dinner at the Brydone, a final gathering at breakfast time, and that’s’ another tour over… Some of us were lucky enough to have added a couple of extra days in Oamaru – touring the Whitestone Cheese factory, a great local initiative, utilising local cows’ and goats’ milk, employing over 50 locals, and even exporting cheeses to France. The Vanished World fossil trail, based at the Duntroon Geological and Fossil Centre, and the Blue Penguin colony were well worth visiting, not to mention the wonderful Oamaru stone buildings, many now filled with interesting shops…

A big thank-you to John and Tricia Harvie, and Myra Severinsen, for all their help/local knowledge, setting us up for another enjoyable tour!
Maxine is working on Tour 2020…

Salers x Hereford team at Doug and Elena Simpsons’

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