By: Mike Bland

Farm ownership has always been a goal for Jared Baines. Now he is on track to achieving that goal much sooner than expected.

Jared, 30, grew up on two King Country sheep and beef farms owned by his parents Chris and Lynda, but after finishing school he left home to work on other farms.

He says his parents, who own Waikaka Station near Matiere, had always encouraged their children to make their own way in the world. They instilled their offspring with a strong work ethic and taught them the importance of saving money.

Like his siblings, Jared reared calves on Waikaka and used the proceeds from this and other work to buy a rental property that could later be used as a deposit on a home or farm.

He bought a house in Taumarunui when he was 18 and went shepherding, working his way up to a stock manager’s position in the Wairarapa and then becoming a block manager on Te Pa Station, Ohakune, which is owned by the Atihau-Whanganui Incorporation. He moved to the East Coast in 2014 and managed Ngahiwi Station near Gisborne for four years.

While on the Gisborne farm he enjoyed teaching farming skills to highschool students through the Gateway programme.

He still keeps in touch with three of these students, who have all gone into farming-related careers.

In 2018 he and his then-wife were looking for another management position on a larger farm when the opportunity to return home came up.

Chris and Lynda had just bought a 316ha farm (240ha effective) next to Waikaka Station. They formed a company to own the new farm, known as Jolly Farms, and Jared bought 25% of the shares, using proceeds from the sale of his Taumarunui rental. Unfortunately his marriage broke up soon after returning to Waikaka.

Jared now works between Jolly Farms and Waikaka Station, but will soon assume management of about 500-550ha of Waikaka, close to half of the effective area. Chris and Lynda will manage the rest of Waikaka with the help of general shepherd Jack Casey, who will work between both blocks.

Casual labour is employed over the summer months. Last year the Baines also bought another block near Otorohanga that will be used for finishing lambs. Jared, Chris, Jack, Lynda and their summer labour will continue to team up for big jobs, such as drenching, dagging and dipping. By June this year Jared will be managing about 7000 stock units across the two farms.

He runs a flock of 150 registered ewes on Jolly Farms which are used to provide terminal rams to the whole operation.

Otherwise, stock policy on Jolly Farms has been “a work in progress”.

It will finish about 200 autumn-born Friesian bulls this year.

“I started with bulls because sheep were so expensive, but ideally I’d like to get bull numbers down to about 150 and build ewe numbers up to about 1000.”

About 30ha of the farm is flat to rolling, 120ha is steep hill and the rest is medium hill.

Jared hopes to own about 75% of Jolly Farms within five years and is balancing development work with buying shares in the farm.

“I focus on one development project a year. Last year it was track work and this year the aim is to do about 1.5km of river fencing.”

In the longer term he’d like to buy Jolly Farms outright.

“And the ultimate goal would be to buy a 10,000 stock unit farm that I could run with one full-time staff member.”

Jared is extremely appreciative of the opportunity his parents have given him.

He believes farm ownership is an achievable goal, even for those who don’t have a farming background. Young farmers should save hard and put their savings towards an appreciating asset like a house, he says.

“Having debt is compulsory saving.”

His advice to anyone considering a farming career is to go for it.

“It’s a great industry to be involved in. All you need is one person who is prepared to give you an opportunity. Don’t let anyone say you can’t do it.”