Retired farmer Ian Jordan has been recognised for his services to livestock in the New Year's honours list. He talks to Marlborough Weekly's Paula Hulburt about his varied career and his continued passion for farming life.
At the grand old age of 94, Ian Jordan may have slowed down some but his interest in livestock remains as strong as ever.
Sitting at home close to the family's Willowhaugh farm, Jordan is entirely modest about becoming a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit.
Surrounded by colourful congratulations cards from delighted family and friends, he did however admit to being quietly thrilled.
But, he chuckled, he almost missed out.
"They had sent an email from Government House and noticed I hadn't accepted it and it [the deadline to accept] closed the next day.
"'I was out in the garden when the call came ... and was having a job with reception so in the end, my daughter Christina found out first.
"I've always had a bit of a joke with friends how I haven't seen my name in the New Year Honours, and now I have," he laughed.
Born in the house next door to the family home where he has lived since 1952, Jordan joked he never went very far in life.
The glinting silver of the many cups and trophies he has won for showing his Jersey cattle and Southdown Sheep tell a different story.
Medals and show ribbons in rainbow hues speak of a successful career spanning generations and it all started with his father, Stewart Jordan, he explained.
"I took over the cattle from my father, he started the stud the year I was born in 1927. It was years before anything got going properly and yet it finished up very successful.
"We've been here as a family since 1881 and before that my grandad worked for John Godfrey. I was 24 years old when I got married and Valerie [my wife] had a lot to do with my success."
His ties to the land that surrounds him today were forged generations ago. The views may have changed over the years but the family's commitment to farming has not.
"I remember when the airbase at Woodbourne wasn't there, I remember when SH6 was just a gravel road," he mused.
"But the livestock looks the same."
Jordan and his wife Valerie, who passed away 20 years ago, raised their three children (Roger, Sue and Christina) within its walls, walls now adorned with photos of milestone moments.
A huge silver trophy stands in pride of place, awarded to Jordan in 2019 for Champion Animal in Show in Christchurch.
The Southdown he showed that year had to score better than all of the other animals.
"It wasn't just cattle we had to beat that day but horses, pigs, cattle, poultry and a couple of Alpacas too," he laughed.
Other accolades include Supreme Meat Sheep. While not revealing any trade secrets, Jordan said it wasn't just about looks when it came to raising show winners.
"The meat has to be in the right places too."
Jordan still keeps a keen eye on the stock business, exporting Southdowns, recently sending a ram to Uruguay and a cargo of the breed to north Japan by air.
"After a while, you get a fair idea whether a lamb is good or not," Jordan said, while his practised eye took in the trove of prizes.
Latterly, the wins had been a family effort, he said.
"Christina's keen and she's had more to do with it recently than me. She has a good eye for stock and a lot of the credit in later years must go to her.
"We've had some big moments."
"Sue was eleven years of age when Christina was born and as you can imagine Sue paid a large part in her upbringing and on the farm.
"Sue spent many years accounting for us and many other fortunate clients in Marlborough, also finding time to be the Young Farmers National President."
As co-patron of the New Zealand Ploughing Association, Jordan had spent many an hour tilling the land, guiding the powerful plough horses to success at many competitions over the years.
Photos, first in black and white and later in colour, tell a tale of success here too.
But again, he saves his pride for his children who have followed in his footsteps, unassumingly playing down his talents on the field.
"Ploughing was a hobby for us. My father was a ploughman and I think my grandfather started it off. My son Roger was a runner up in the world championship, he's a much better ploughman than me.
"I tried a bit but never won a competition in a New Zealand Final let alone the world, but I always tried hard. He [Roger] must get more of his brains from his mother."
Less nimble on his feet these days, and preparing to celebrate his 95th birthday in March, Jordan was determined to collect his Order of Merit Medal in person.
"It's been earmarked for May, and I just have to stay upright until then," he chuckled.
- Marlborough Weekly