It was started by Lance’s father, Gordon Caddy, who began as a contract shearer in 1933, and working as a tractor driver for the Schlaepfer family in Pukekohe.
Gordon and a friend also took on haystack building in and around Paerata and when they had completed five or six stacks both men ended up with three pounds each, which was a lot of money in those days.
Lance, who joined his Dad on leaving Wesley College, says he can remember Gordon told him many stories about the hard work that went into making a living on the land, and the funny stories that went with it.
“The man who actually did the stack building was Jack Yelavich and he was paid sixpence an hour more than the other workers,” says Lance who adds that, as soon as he was paid, Gordon went to the races and lost ten shillings during the day.
“After that, he never bet on the horses again.”
When the Second World War ended, Gordon purchased a farm from his brother, Lewis (Lew Caddy), on Sim Road at Paerata and, for the next 11 years he also drove an International baler for local contractor, Winn Kirkwood.
Gordon purchases first baler
“He finished up with two balers. I drove one during the holidays, and when I joined him on the farm once I had left school.”
Lance has fond memories of those early days, around the 1960s and early ’70s when every farm in the vicinity produced around 1,000 to 2,000 small, conventional bales annually.
“We only worked for about 10 farmers at that time and all lived around the Cape Hill, Wesley College area.
Those few farmers provided around 20,000 bales annually for Caddy Agricultural Contractors who offered a very good service, made easier by the farmers who had their own mowers and rakes.
“We just drove in, baled the hay, which was all rowed up for us, and we drove out again.”
Round bales introduced
Then, of course, things changed. Land was sold and split up into what we now know as ‘lifestyle blocks’ and the farming community became somewhat smaller. Hay and silage contractors had to travel further to make a living and then the machinery got bigger – round bales came on the market.
“The first person to purchase a round baler in this area was Bruce Stewart of Karaka who bought a two Klaas balers in, or about, 1977-78,” says Lance.
“Around that time, I went traveling, overseas for a couple of years, doing the standard OE, to Eastern Europe, Africa, and the UK.
“We purchased our first round baler for the 1985-86 season and that led us into round bale silage. We also bought the first automatic round baler wrapper, a Tanco 1050 and since then our business has grown to the extent that our services include round bales, conventional bales, round bale silage, square bale silage, maize, planting and harvesting.”
“In those days, that was a quite a distance to go but we had to go where the work was.
“Even traveling to Maramarua was an hour’s drive. Today, we take it for granted.”
Currently, Caddy Ag is situated on a specialist block near the roundabout on Kingseat Road, Patumahoe, and they have a fleet of six modern tractors – three John Deere and three Fendts, all ranging from 120 to 200 horsepower.
They have the associated machinery that goes with them such as drills, balers, planters and a fully mechanised workshop. Their staff consists orf one fulltime member and four part-time drivers. Lance and Sandra also drive.
Members of Agriventures
Caddy Ag is a member of Agriventures, an international farming exchange organisation of which Lance is a board member.
Agriventures sends people overseas annually to work on farms, with the first ever student going to Sweden in 2004. About 100 young people come into the country each year, working on farms all over New Zealand.
“We normally have three students come and work with us every year,” says Lance.
“This year we had two men from the UK and one Canadian girl driving for us.”
Totally dependent on weather
Lance says that, during all the years he has been an agricultural contractor, the weather has played a major part in how successful a season can be.
He says if there is a downside to the business it is that there is no guarantee of an income.
“Contractors work hard for eight months of the year, and struggle for the next four.
“In this line of work we are totally dependent on the weather. As an example, the 2012-’13 season was extremely wet and it really did make the winter very long and drawn out.
“Last year was normal and we picked up a few more maize jobs this year, which is good.
“We only finished the autumn grass drilling last month and this has helped the coffers somewhat but really, we are just like farmers who will tell you: ‘the weather is our mistress’.”
For more information on Caddy Ag’s services, phone 09 236 3439, email email@example.com or visit their faceboook page here. Lance can be contacted on 0274 932 845.