Not much can compete with the striking beauty of New Zealand farm country. But when Dave ‘Gundy’ Anderson talks about his life and philosophy of living with the land, his words strike like a modern-day Aldo Leopold.
Gundy is the owner and manager of Bog Roy Station, located nearly smack in the middle of the South Island of New Zealand. The farm has been in his family since 1919, when Gundy’s great-grandfather first settled in to farm.
Even with a movie of his life, we wanted to hear more about daily life on the farm and how taking care of the earth returns the gift in kind.
Ibex Question (IQ): February is summer for you. What are the sheep up to? [Ed. Note: Bog Roy shears approximately 6200 sheep annually.]
Gundy: The ewes are out roaming the more extensive hill country with the lambs doing the rounds of the paddocks.
IQ: Not a bad life for a sheep – or any animal (including human) for that matter. How many dogs does it take to tend to the herd?
Gundy: I have five working dogs, plus one Labrador. Two of the dogs are “Heading” dogs: they cast out around the sheep and bring them back to me and do not bark. These dogs originated from Scotland and were brought out by our ancestors.
Two are “huntaways.” They bark and are used to move the sheep along in front clearing hill country or in moving the sheep through the yards and Woolshed. Plus I have one pup at the moment.
IQ: You had us at “puppy.” Are you running other animals at Bog Roy – or other agricultural pursuits?
Gundy: We run 120 Hereford cows. Plus, we also rent out our farm cottage so people may share our environment with us.
IQ: “Sharing the environment” is the perfect segue to my next question. We love what you have to say about taking care of the sheep and the sheep taking care of you, just as with the land. Can you give some examples of what you’re doing at Bog Roy that supports this philosophy?
Gundy: We are currently involved with a veterinarian program called “Stockcare.” It monitors every aspect of our stockcare throughout the year, basically to ensure we are looking after the sheep and cattle to the very best of our ability. In turn this means they perform to the best of their ability.
We are also working on what some term “landscape” farming. We plant (mainly) lucerne [a type of alfalfa] in the best dirt in the valleys, while leaving scrub and shelter on the ridges. This provides very high feed value grazing, provides shelter for the stock and minimizes the risk of wind erosion from the dry ridges.
We are working on several forage projects run jointly by The New Zealand Merino Company and Lincoln University, our National Agriculture University.
We are also ZQue accredited, which is the assurance program of the New Zealand Merino Company.
We have also just made the regional final of our national farm environment awards.
IQ: Congratulations on making the regional finals. It sounds like you’re taking a comprehensive approach to stewardship. At the end of the film, you talk about the “full circle” from the sheep to commodity to finished product. Ibex is clearly thrilled to have Bog Roy as a partner. We’re not fishing here…truly. But what was it about Ibex that encouraged you to partner with us?
Gundy: The New Zealand Merino Company was responsible for forming the partnership. They looked at what Ibex required, and felt we were well suited to be a supplier.
After John [Ibex founder and CEO] and the guys had stayed here on the farm, we were thrilled to be partnered with Ibex as we feel we shared a lot of common life values and love the company philosophy. Combine this with the beautiful functional garments Ibex makes we feel very proud to be a part of this whole process.
Being able to sit and yarn with John about how he founded Ibex makes it a very personal relationship that feels so good.
We are trying to look after our stock and land to the best of our ability. [We hope to] supply [ourselves] with a good living, coupled with a sense of responsibility to pass on the property in a better state than we started with – so our children can sustain the cycle.
Gundy shared credit for the above responses with his wife Lisa, and their children, Pippa and Robbie.
Thank you to all the Andersons and to the entire team at Bog Roy. We are grateful to have you as part of the team. – Ibex