Northbank Station has been operating for over 23 years and three years ago Adam Waite came on board as Farm Manager. During that time he has made many improvements, including beginning the switch from the original border dyke irrigation to more efficient, environmentally friendly spray irrigation.
Adam previously worked on a large farm in the North Island. So what brings him to Northbank Station, in the middle of the Canterbury plains?
“I've worked with sheep, beef, and dairy. I just prefer deer - they're a majestic and beautiful animal. Deer are easy care, really, and they think.”
One of the things Adam loves most about the deer is their playfulness. “One will stand in the water trough, and splash it out for the others to roll in. They'll sometimes make themselves a little mud hole to play in it… coating themselves in the mud. Or they'll follow the irrigation pivot around, walking underneath and playing with the water as if it was raining on them. On a hot day, they all just follow the pivot - it's quite a good watch!”
What Adam enjoys most about his job is achieving the weights they’ve set out to produce and seeing the finished product. When a mob is underweight, Adam places them on a different feed to move them along and get the desired results. “When they’re not growing as fast as you’d like, you can quickly change them to a better feed. It’s simply a matter of moving them to a different part of the farm, from ryegrass to a red clover”.
Rob and Adam inspecting the feed
Of course, as with any farm operation, mother nature plays a big part in how fast they can grow the deer. Just recently they had a dry spell which affected stock growth.
As Northbank Station is a finishing unit for Mountain River Processors, in his role, Adam has to manage moving ‘goalposts’ in response to venison sales. His job is to provide the core supply and backup for the processing and marketing operation. “The key part of my job is to keep the plant running. If they're short on deer, I put deer in.”
There will be days when he and Rob talk multiple times, changing tallies when Rob is unable to source from elsewhere. It’s Adam who gets the call so that Mountain River is able to offer reliable supply to the global market.
Usually, a farmer doesn’t have such a close association with the processing and marketing operation. Adam is interested in what the product is doing in the market and often meets with John to gain a better understanding of what the market wants.
This feedback and inside knowledge empowers Adam to produce an even better product. As he explains, “I love seeing what chefs do with the product and the different flavour combinations they discover. More-so, hearing that chefs are happy with the product is ideal because then I know that we're playing our part in producing a top-quality product.”
What makes him even more invested in what the product is doing in the market, and on the chef's table, is because Adam trained as a chef. Although he didn’t finish that training, Adam takes pride in farming the animal from hearing about the end result - from the customer’s perspective, through the chef, and back to us.
It’s worth noting that many other farmers feel the same way - and so we again encourage you to share more of what’s happening in your neck of the woods, as part of the Mountain River Community.
So the big question - how does Adam like his venison?
“A lot of what I do is on the BBQ grill, or I’ll sear whole cuts and finish them in the oven, usually with roast or mash potatoes and steamed vegetables”.
If there are guests over, he prefers to prepare the French rack being that it’s aesthetically pleasing. And for the family, Adam will usually cook a back steak.
We look forward to hearing more about Adam’s work at Northbank Station and will post information about the new pivot irrigation early in the New Year. Stay tuned and reach out if you have any questions or would like to know more!