What’s your earliest memory of achievement?
I think I’ve told this story here before, and when I was about 5 years old, on Frank Harvey’s farm at Hinuera, I was down at the cowshed with dad one morning and he was having troubles with one cow and calf. I asked if I could do anything and he replied (jokingly as it later turned out, but I didn’t get that) that I could get the tractor with a couple of bales of hay.
The tractor was a little Ferguson 35, that to start required holding down the clutch, and pushing the gear lever forward and to the right to engage the starter motor. I was too light to make the clutch lever do down, so I had to stand on the clutch with both feet, then push up with both hands on the steering wheel above my head, to get the clutch lever to go down, then holding with my left arm locked straight up above my head, stretch across with my right arm and push the gear lever to the starting position, then into reverse gear, then using both arms gently let the clutch out and drive the tractor slowly backward to the hay barn. Once there I just turned the key off to stop it.
Then I climbed up the stack, and used my legs to roll two bales from the top, down onto the tray of the tractor.
Once I had the hay on board it was start the tractor again, put it in first gear, ease clutch out, and drive slowly around to the other side of the cow-shed where dad was. I had to stand on top of the gearbox to see, and had the hand throttle to control speed, and the key to act as brake.
The look on my dad’s face as I drove the tractor into view told me I had achieved something beyond his expectations.
I guess that sort of set the tone for the last 55 years, of not letting anyone else’s beliefs interfere with what I thought I could do, or what I thought needed doing and was worth the effort involved.