My late father, Bill Williams, started Waidale Romneys and Herefords in 1965. Initially they were farmed on an 800-acre property (predominantly hill) at the head of the Kenepuru Sounds in Marlborough. The annual rainfall on that property at that time could be up to a 100 inches a year.
From 1973 - 1990 the studs (by 1990, My mother and father had added another four studs, these being, Southdowns, Lincolns, South Suffolks and Angus) were run on a property next to the Wairau river in Marlborough (twenty minutes from Blenheim). This property was half flat/ half hill (rolling to steep) with considerably less rainfall than the sounds (droughts were an issue on this farm, hand line irrigation was the saviour on the some of the flat).
In 1990 the studs were shifted south and run on an 840-acre flat property 15 minutes out of Temuka, 3kms from the Coast in South Canterbury. This was early country, with low rainfall, that successfully ran 1200 stud ewes and 150 stud cows and resulting progeny thanks to the three Rotorainer irrigators that watered the whole property.
In March 2002, a 300 acre property was purchased in Totara Valley, (10 minutes out of Pleasant Point in South Canterbury) where the four sheep studs (Waidale Romneys, Southdowns and South Suffolks, Whydid Lincolns), are presently run. The farm comprises of around 33 hectares of hill, the majority of which can be worked and the balance being heavy flats. The annual rainfall is around 25 - 26 inches per year. The property is situated between 350 to 450 feet above sea level. We can irrigate about 50 hectares of the farm. As you can see from the photos the Southern Alps are not too far away, and accordingly it is not the earliest country in the world.
The farm prior to our taking over has been well run as cropping and commercial sheep operation, the P and Ph levels etc are all pretty amazing. We have obviously have had to make some changes to accommodate the studs, the primary one being, fencing, with four breeds of sheep, we quite simply need a lot more paddocks at mating time, our operation is fairly intensive.
As the photos show we do get snow, but generally it doesn’t hang around for very long, just long enough to give me the chance to take some decent photos. At certain times of the year, we do get a lot of blustering Norwesters which drive you balmy and of course have the ability to make the feed disappear like candy floss. In 2006 we had a foot and half of snow that hung around for more than a month, a one in 65 year event apparently, it was a bloody nightmare, but thankfully it is not a regular occurrence.
As the farm history illustrates, our stud flocks have been run on various terrains and under varying climates over a period of more than 40 years. This past has assisted us in breeding a ram that invariably shifts and adapts to differing terrains and climates.