The Poplars Farm in the Kirikau Valley was purchased by Robert and Suzanne Carter in 1987. Farming has always been in their backgrounds. They worked tirelessly to raise the capital needed to buy a farm big enough to support them and their family. The farm needed fencing, fertiliser and pasture development. The Carters used their Coopworth ewes and a herd of Hereford/Angus cross cattle to break in areas of the farm.
Kirikau is where they chose to raise their family and officially begin their full time farming careers. They moved in with a flock of Coopworth sheep from their small blocks closer to Taumarunui. They chose Coopworth sheep because of the "Coopworth Breeding System" which uses science and good animal husbandry to breed great sheep for the environment where they live.
In 1992 the Taumarunui area was hit hard by Facial Eczema (FE). They lost 26% of their ewe hogget flock but noticed that the older Coopworth ewes were tolerant to FE (indicating natural selection). Robert and Suzanne began the quest to breed greater levels of FE tolerance into their flock. They became involved with the Northern North Island Sheep Council and met breeders who had been working on FE tolerance in sheep for many years.
Robert and Suzanne incorporated Coopworth and Romney genetics from the highly tolerant sheep flocks belonging to Edward Dinger and John Reeves. (Ceres Farm Coopworth and Waimai Romney)
Rob is the so-called general manager and one of the brains behind the business. Growing up near Taumarunui he is a qualified electrician and an experienced sheep and beef farmer. Rob coordinates the bigger picture for the family business. Off farm he is a keen jet-boat driver and Whanganui River tour guide for Forgotten World Jets Ltd. He loves the technical side of farming and anything mechanical or electrical. Robert is also a keen amateur builder and sawmiller. If you have a question for the nitty gritty farm details this is the man to talk to.
Suzanne is the 'glue' holding the farm together. She is the woman keeping the farm in order including getting all the t's crossed and i's dotted. Growing up on a Northland sheep and beef farm she too has farming in her genes.
Not only does she manage the books, she helps with general farm duties. She also takes great pleasure in supporting their married daughter Hayley and husband Aaron with their four daughters. Suzanne's background includes working as a high school teacher and latterly as PA to the District Council CEO and Mayor.
Travis is the son of Robert and Suzanne and is the day to day farm manager. He has a Bachelor of Applied Science in Agriculture from Massey University and has worked in various positions including that of an Environmental Management Officer for Horizons Regional Council, Whanganui. Travis has also worked on large farm stations, and was the local Taumarunui Young Farmers' Club Chairman. When not farming Travis spends his available hours mountain biking, snowboarding, white water kayaking, or rock climbing.
Julie first ventured to New Zealand in pursuit of Travis, and lucky for him she has fallen in love with the farming lifestyle. Originally from Vancouver Island, Canada and without rural experience, Julie has quickly adjusted to life on the farm. She is a natural stock person and adds great value to the performance recording side of the operation. She is a Registered Nurse who, when not working in town, helps with farm activities. She's also the backbone of our advertising and marketing campaigns.