Ike Williams: This photo was taken around 2005, and as those that know me can testify, I am still bloody good looking!!!
I was born on the 8 February 1965.
My parents were farming at the head of the Kenepuru Sounds until I was 8. My first year of school was actually correspondence, then I attended Waitaria Bay School.
When I was 8, my parents then purchased a farm 20 minutes out of Blenheim.
In 1983, after completing 5 years at Marlborough Boys College, I went and worked for Graham and Jenny Robertson for a year (the Merrydowns Romney and Southdown studs) in West Otago.
In I984 I went and worked for Richard and Margaret Brown for a year (the Banklea Romney and Suffolk studs) at Kiwitea, just out of Feilding.
In February 1985 I went overseas, for what was supposed to be a year, which ended up being 5 years, I worked and travelled through the US and Canada for a year, then England, around Europe for 3 and 1/2 months, then 15 months travelling from Morocco, overland to South African and Namibia, then after another stint of working in England, I travelled through Mexico and South America for another 12 months.
After about five years of travelling (around 1990) I returned home to the family stud farm, which moved from Marlborough to South Canterbury. Over the next 2 years, I went back to England for 6 months, then back to the farm and for a number of reasons at that time (of which none are relevant today) I decided I was not going to go farming.
In 1992 I went to Massey University, then spent another four years after that at Victoria University in Wellington, finally graduating with a commerce and law degree.
Upon leaving varsity I practiced as a lawyer in Palmerston North for around 5 years.
In July 2002 I returned to farming. For the next 18 months I ran the farm at Totara Valley with my mother and for the last 12 months of this period I was working 20 hours a week for a local law firm in Timaru.
From January 2004 I have been working solely on the stud farm at Totara Valley.
From a very early age I was heavily involved in all aspects of our stud breeding, including both the sheep and cattle studs. I was fortunate to of had a father who was a top stockman and through him to of been given a solid grounding in farming, breeding and stockmanship. Up until the age of 20 I did not think I would ever be anything other than a stud breeder. However things change and as such in 1991 I made, what at the time, was a very difficult decision to not go farming with my father. Over the next 10 years I continued to be involved with the studs, with obviously less direct involvement while practising as a lawyer. However despite my change of profession, I continued to keep up to date with what was going on in the sheep industy and my father ensured that I was fully appraised of what was happening on everything.
Out of the tragic circumstances of my father and brother's death, the opportunity to return to my first passion of breeding presented itself, which I of course took. I am fortunate in that Waidale rams: Romneys, Southdowns, South Suffolks and Lincolns are already a product that I believe is as good as you will get anywhere in the country, the challenge for me has and is to continue to develop and build on the genetics we have in the hope that one day we may breed the perfect animal, which of course I will never do, but you must always strive for that, otherwise you may as well get out and let someone else have a go. The fact that I make my living solely from breeding rams to sell is a huge commercial incentive to ensure that I continue to breed an animal that meets and serves the markets requirements.
I have been separated for about 11 years now, so my family isn't as complete as it once was.
My daughter Scarlett:
She is 17 now; Scarlett, who I believe anyone who has been fortunate to have met her will testify she is a terrific girl, and that its not simply a very proud and loving father saying this.
Unfortunately through my separation and the acrimony of it all, Scarlett has a sister Emerald and a Brother Samora, who I do not see anymore. Like Scarlett I am very proud of them both and loved them as my children prior to separation and still do.
My Father Bill Williams:
My father left home at the age of 15 (he was told to leave). Bill spent the next ten years shearing, mustering, hunting pigs, cutting scrub and whatever else people would pay him to do, to fulfill his ambition of owing his own farm.
In 1962 Bill purchased his first farm, 800 acres of hill at the head of the Kenepuru Sounds in Marlborough. He walked into this farm (his principle form of transport at the time) with sugar bag over his shoulder, his rifle, five dogs, which were his prize possesions and entire worldly belongings at the time.
Over the next few years Bill continued to shear fulltime and do other casual work. In 1964 Bill married my mother Yvonne. My mother was thrust into looking after the farm while he was away and she subsequently spent the next 40 years working outside on the farm as much as any farmer as well as looking after the house and us kids
My father said that as he could never see himself owning thousands of sheep or cattle, that if he was only going to have a few, they may as well be "good bastards". Consequently he started the Waidale Romney and Hereford Studs in 1965. In 1972 he started the "Whydid" lincoln stud. In 1975 my parents started the Waidale Southdowns, which at the time were small thick waddly wasty little "pigs" (as we have always referred to them as). In the 1980's the Clyde Angus Stud and Idale South Suffolk Studs were also added.
My father was an avid follower and supporter of all shows and fairs, bull sales etc. He believed that it was only by comparing your stock against others, that first you realised that they weren't as good as you thought they were, and second you learned what made a good animal. The difficulty today is the historical past perception of shows, that all animals at show are pampered fat mongrels (justified in the past, but generally it is not the case today) mean that very few people show, and sadly even less farmers are interested in the shows, which means with the demise of young farmers stock judging, there is now no general forum where people new to the sheep industry can learn the basics, statistics are helpful, but they need to be combined with good stockmanship.
My father was truly a self made man (with a great deal of assistance from my mother). They started with nothing and at the time of my fathers death, they owned a fully irrigated and developed 800 acre farm; had a Romney, Southdown, South Suffolk and Lincoln Stud that all arguably were one of the top studs in their respective breeds in the Country: the eleventh annual bull sale of around 35 hereford and angus bulls took place a few days after his death.
As anyone who knew my father will tell you, my father was a top stockman, a very direct man, who never left anyone in doubt where he stood on an issue. My father like us all was not perfect, but he was someone to be respected and admired for his ability as a breeder and a stockman, his humour and beliefs and his committment.
It is this legacy of studs (which are already leading studs) that I have had and continue to have the privilege to build on and take to another level.
My Mother: Yvonne Williams
As stated above my mother has made a massive contribution to what she and my father achieved with the Studs. My mother has pretty much retired these days, but still keeps an interest in what is going on and still does the accounts, which I hope continues for as long as possible. Mum's experience is invaluable and in particular when I am away, it is reassuring to know that I have someone as reliable as mum to ensure that things are being done as they should be. I am now in living at the farm and my mother lives 10 minutes away on outskirts of Pleasant Point. She also is a passionate gardener and the garden at the farm is a full time job in itself.