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Hyundai Country Calendar


Episode 23: End of an Era

On the next episode, screening July 25 at 7pm on TV ONE:

After 150 years on the same farm, the Preston family of Ranfurly is preparing to move on.

This week's Country Calendar looks at the family's dilemma about whether to put tradition ahead of their own needs.

Geoff and his wife Susan took over Longlands Station from Geoff's father Kit in 1992, making him the fifth generation on the same farm - all descended from Englishman Joseph Preston, who arrived in 1858.

Although he's from a long line of farmers, as a young man Geoff had other ambitions and trained in Sydney to be a commercial pilot.

But as he neared completion of his training, Geoff had a change of heart and moved back to New Zealand with his Australian wife, eventually taking the reins at Longlands.

It turned out he was far more at home on a tussock covered hill with a team of dogs and a mob of sheep than at the controls of an airliner.

It hasn't always been easy - like other farming families, the Prestons have had to cope with years of poor returns and terrible droughts.

But this year looks like being a good one for sheep farmers and Country Calendar follows the Preston family through the seasons, from lamb tailing to their on-farm lamb sale, where about 80 percent of the year's income will be earned in a few days.

But while they carry on farming, the Prestons are also counting down to a party at which 150 years on Longlands Station will be celebrated with family and friends.

The family will also get official recognition with a "Sesquicentennial Station" plaque from the Century Farm Award organisation, which is based in the small Otago town of Lawrence.  Families from around New Zealand whose ancestors took up the land 100 or more years ago are eligible for the awards, which are presented at an annual dinner.

But while the celebrations go on, the family has been grappling with a bigger question - whether they will stay on Longlands or whether they should sell and move top a bigger centre so their two children can have greater opportunities.

For Geoff and Susan, it's been a difficult choice but they're now committed to a move - and they say even though it means breaking a long tradition, friends and family support their decision to sell.

- More about the Century Farm Awards
- More about the Maniototo area