1 Jun 2023

Moving Day, for some, means moving islands

4:42 pm on 1 June 2023
Dairy farmers Sam and Matt Bell, all packed up to travel from Ashburton to Raglan.

Dairy farmers Sam and Matt Bell, all packed up to travel from Ashburton to Raglan. Photo: Matt Bell / Supplied

It is 'Moving Day' for many farming communities across the country on Thursday, marking the start of the new dairy season.

Regional councils urged those on the move to stand cows off green feed for around four to 12 hours before loading them onto trucks, to keep effluent out of waterways and off the roads.

It has been a slog for a Mid Canterbury dairy farming family, embarking on an 1100km journey up the country to start their next chapter in Raglan.

Matt Bell said he, his wife Sam and their five-year-old boy Blake hauled all their farm equipment and belongings on the 20-hour journey by road and ferry to greener, calmer pastures.

"It's a lifestyle move for us - so we're moving from Canterbury where we were milking 1700-1800 cows to 50/50 on 430 cows just out of Raglan. So we're really excited to just enjoy it again, because yeah, it's pretty tough sometimes."

He said it was a huge transition that has been amazing, chaotic, exciting, tiring and stressful - all at once.

farming gear

Two tractors, a quad bike, young Blake’s playhouse and a container filled with the family’s belongings hit the road. Photo: Matt Bell / Supplied

"For me, when I grew up, the two things I always wanted to own was my own tractor and my own cows. And as of [today], I will own both, which is pretty amazing. And without my wife, we just wouldn't have done it."

He said it has been a surreal Moving Day for the Bells.

"Even just the pictures of seeing my first cow get off the truck. It's sort of a realisation of a huge amount of work in terms of our life goals."

The business has bought 430 cows from a friend in Ōtorohanga, which left on a wet, muddy move across Waikato to Raglan over the past few days.

road to raglan

The family has travelled more than 1100km from Mid Canterbury to Waikato. Photo: Matt Bell / Supplied

"Thankfully, we weren't moving cows across the strait. I bought cows out of Ōtorohanga, and they were trucked out yesterday and today. And it's tipping down there, and trucks are getting stuck and just all that good stuff. Well, that's the way isn't it?

"[Our] young fella Blake, who's five, nearly six, he was unloading the cows yesterday and he said to mum at the end of the day, 'That was the best day ever!'"

Bell was Young Farmer of the Year in 2015.

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