When Temuka-based farmer Hamish Pearse suffered a devastating fire in his milking shed in February he witnessed first-hand the benefits of the co-operative spirit of his neighbours, friends and Fonterra.
“The staff were pretty shaken by the whole thing,” says Hamish. “My dad was emotional about it too, because he built that milking shed himself 30 years ago.”
The fire investigation later determined it was an electrical fault which started the blaze, but with 600 cows due to be milked the next morning, the cause was the least of Hamish’s priorities. The father-of-three was grateful when Fonterra Area Manager Bryan Barnett “turned up first thing in the morning with scones, slices and drinks and replacements gloves and other farm supplies that’d been cooked in the fire.”
John Welsh and Aaron Rumble from the On-Farm Assets team also came in and were able to arrange to get the Pearse’s cows milked at the neighbour’s shed. “Hamish’s absolute first priority was to make sure his cows were looked after,” John says.
Time was of the essence to get the Pearse family’s old operation back up and running because their herd weren’t used to the rotary shed and milking took about three times longer than in their usual herringbone set-up. Two of Hamish’s friends took time off from work at Fonterra’s nearby Clandeboye site to help out.
They worked alongside Fonterra’s On-Farm Asset team, contractors and some friendly members of the community, who were able to get half of Hamish’s shed back working within two days, and the full shed within two weeks. John Welsh says, “It’s what we do. When things go wrong, we’re there to give the support the farmers need. It’s about looking after everyone’s wellbeing – the farmers and the cows.”
For Hamish, the help was a huge relief, “Fonterra were great, and so were the others who helped get us back up and running again so fast. It was a pretty stressful time, but they were fantastic.”
Eventually he’ll be building a new shed to replace the damaged one, but in the meantime his herd has been able to continue its daily routine with minimal disruption – a testament to the help and co-operative spirit of neighbours and the farming community.