Community spirit is alive and well in western Southland, after a group of rural rugby players showed up to help an injured Tuatapere farmer crutch 1,300 lambs in less than four hours.
Nathan Parris was already under significant stress due to drought conditions in western Southland when he broke his collarbone in five places in a dirt bike accident on February 20.
The usually fit and healthy sheep and cattle farmer endured a week-long wait for reconstructive surgery on Feb. 27, and now faces another five to six-week recovery.
“I actually didn’t realize it was broken in so many places until the operation…it was pretty nerve-wracking,” he said.
* Death of a farmer on a quad was probably caused by a gust of wind
* Record dry conditions hit farmers in North Canterbury and Banks Peninsula
* North Island farmers lose 100,000 lambs after spring storm
Drier than usual conditions since the start of the year had reduced feed availability on Parris’ 485-hectare farm, and as a result he had booked to move 1,300 lambs to Canterbury using the facilitated service of stocks from the Alliance store, but they had to be crutches first.
Unable to complete the task himself and with all the contractors being too busy to complete the job within the required time frame, Western Southland Alliance Livestock Representative Blayne De Vries stepped in.
As outgoing chairman of Waiau Star Rugby Club, former senior player-manager and current player, De Vries began calling current and former members of the club to see if they could help.
“When I learned of Nathan’s injury, I knew we had to act quickly to make sure he could get his lambs crutched and transported off the farm… There were too many lambs for me alone. could crutch them, so I contacted members of the Waiau Rugby Club,” De Vries said.
“[I thought] there’s nothing wrong with asking, they can say yes or no… quite a few were just sympathetic to Nathan’s situation I think.
By 6 p.m. that evening, De Vries had formed a group of 12, which included nine players and three former players.
“They had four guys at a time cruising, four hanging out, two doing wool and two parking. It was amazing how fast they beat 1300 and pumped up another 200,” Parris said.
It took the team just over four hours to crutch all the lambs, although some of them were unfamiliar with the process.
“It was a great example of the rural community coming together to help each other,” De Vries said.
Without the intervention of the rugby club, Parris would have had to delay unloading the lambs for a further week or two, or until a contractor was available, which cost the company dearly.
Parris credited the local community, his family and friends, his farmhand and his father-in-law, who had traveled south from Arrowtown to help as soon as he heard of the injury, for keeping the farm going. during his recovery period.
“I never thought I would need this level of support at my age…I’ve always tried to be a community-minded person…I’m very lucky.”