When I left high school I really didn’t want to go to university. My mother was disappointed because she was a teacher and a bit of an academic, other adults in my family were disappointed as well but I had simply had enough of schooling, I wanted to get out in the world and start making money. My father was a farmer, I think he understood.
Eventually I reached a compromise because in truth, I didn’t actually know what I wanted to do let alone know how to make money. I enrolled as a Civil Engineering Cadet with a government department, The New Zealand Electricity Department. The deal was that I would begin work much as an apprentice would, and take courses of study as necessary along the way which would eventually lead to the recognised qualification of New Zealand Certificate In Engineering. It wasn’t a degree as my mother would have wanted but it was the next best thing and it mean’t I could start earning money.
I achieved my NZ Certificate in Civil Engineering in 1979, a year quicker than it should have taken and took my place as an Engineering Officer for NZ Electricity just when the work ran out in 1980. You see, New Zealand isn’t very big and the country had been building hydro electricity stations and transmission lines for years. Suddenly there was no need for any more of them, there was nothing left to do. The other thing I discovered was that when you become qualified in any field really, you have to settle into a particular position in a company or organisation where you no longer have the freedom that you had when training where you sampled every aspect of the business. I hated being confined to an office and worse, a cubical, where I had to produce paperwork and drawings for other people to do all the fun stuff, the building.
I left the civil service to take up dairy farming. Not because I really wanted to be a farmer but because I wanted freedom to make my own decisions. Farming was a good business to be in at the time and it was something I knew about. I worked for my father on my grandfather’s property. Dad had his own farm but managed my grandfather’s farm as well so he was glad to have me rather than anybody else (I was easier to control). I learned a lot in that first year, it was hard, very hard but I loved it. I decided to carry on and buy my first herd of cows (all with borrowed money) and farm the land in a 50/50 partnership with my father. In New Zealand 50/50 Sharemilking as it is known, is a common stepping stone towards farm ownership.
Six years after first venturing into farming I was able to purchase my Grandfather’s farm. It wasn’t easy, especially during the recession years 1986 to 1988 but we made it work. I had a family tragedy when my youngest son had a serious reaction to one of his vaccinations when he was only 5 months old. That was February 1990 and after that things went from bad to worse. I discovered my wife had been seeing another man for years which led to divorce in 1999, the sale of my farm and the end of that chapter of my life.
I had three children to bring up on my own, one who was severely brain injured. My ex- wife preferred not to burden herself with the children so that she could get established with her new life without distraction.
Eventually I met another woman who I felt I could make a life with, we purchased a Motel leasehold business in a very popular seaside holiday location. The business went really well, I learned a lot about business that I didn’t know, but the motel was a little small to keep us both busy so I purchased another business to keep myself busy. In 2006 I had the opportunity to purchase the Management Rights to a new serviced apartment complex. We terminated the lease agreement on the motel, it was losing money and we wanted out. My other business was absorbed into a bigger I.T. Business so that left me with just the Apartment operation to focus on.
The Apartment business eventually failed in 2013 due to a number of outside and unforeseen circumstances. I was broke, my second marriage was over and I was back on my own. I took time out to travel to the U.S.A. by borrowing money from my mother. My eldest son was a pilot for Qatar Airways by then so he paid for my flights. I attended an Online Marketing conference in Denver, visited my Step-Daughter in Seattle then attended the 2013 EAA Airventure extravaganza in Oshkosh Wisconsin. It was during this trip that I had the revelation that the answer to what I needed to do with my life came to me.
Back in New Zealand, I rented a house for my youngest son and I at the beach in Papamoa (Thanks again Mum). After so many years of having carers help take care of my son I decided to do it myself. I had some help from a part-time carer who worked a couple of hours a day, but soon I didn’t need her any longer. I got a little rescue dog for extra company, I was 55 years old and finally happy.
To cut a long story short, I’m now married again, we own a beautiful house at the beach in Papamoa where we live a stress-free life as full-time contract carers for my son. Life is good.