June 11, 2018

60 years of milk – Co-op farmer celebrates diamond supply anniversary

When 88-year-old Raglan farmer Jim Bardsley first started supplying Fonterra, he remembers separating his own milk.

Always the inventor, Jim’s flying fox was one of many memories shared by friends and family at his retirement lunch. Shareholders’ Councillor Ross Wallis and Raglan Area Manager Brendan Arnet were also on hand to congratulate Jim on six decades of supply. 

“The truck would come to collect the cream cans and the skim milk would be taken to the pigsties.

“I built a flying fox from the shed to the roadside so I could run the cans down for the trucks. The kids loved playing on it.”

Born in Hawera, Jim always had a passion for farming and attended Feilding Agricultural High School. He started off as a farm hand in Te Awamutu and went on to share milk in Motumaoho before purchasing a 45 hectare stepping-stone farm in Te Uku, near Raglan, that he and his late wife Shirley ended up keeping permanently.

He was an active member of the Raglan community, serving on the Te Uku Primary School board, the local domain board and attending almost every service at his local church. (He missed only one when a cow fell in a water trough.)

Piece by piece, Jim acquired the land around his boundary until he had 102 hectares for his 250 cow Jersey herd. He’s spent the past 30 years planting natives such as rimu and kauri on his land for his 14 grandchildren.

Jim’s son in law Norris Peart says Jim was a man who did it all.

“He did everything himself, there’s still evidence of his handiwork across the farm today. Every gate is handmade, and in years gone by he made everything from fertiliser bins to an automatic rain gun sprayer that would clean down the cow yard with a press of a button.”

Jim won countless first prizes at Fieldays for farm machinery he created in his shed, “even though some of them were sometimes slightly dangerous,” recalls daughter Janet.

With the farm such a huge part of their lives, Jim didn’t want to sell once he hung up his gumboots. Janet says leasing the farm to her and her husband Norris means the milk will continue to flow.

“Dad’s pretty pleased that we’re keeping the herd going – girls can do anything.”