Brian Doughty picks some apples from one of the trees on his Brunswick property as a treat for the two large cattle beasts in his paddock.
Although he likes to spoil them now and then, Doughty doesn't allow himself to get attached to the animals. The tags attached to the cows' ears identify them as stock purchased for the Farming Friends of Hospice Whanganui (FFHW) charitable trust.
"They will soon be sold and sent to the works, so you don't give them names," he said.
"I give them a good life and good grazing while they're here and the proceeds are donated to Hospice every month."
Hospice Whanganui chief executive Davene Vroon said the monthly donation from Farming Friends allowed the organisation to fund its operational costs, including staff salaries, medical supplies, fuel for vehicles and utility costs.
"We receive around half the funding we need from the Whanganui District Health Board so we are immensely grateful for this long-standing and trusted partnership with the Farming Friends in Whanganui. They do an amazing job," Vroon said.
"Covid-19 restrictions have had a negative impact on our op shops and so many of our regular community events have been cancelled so to have this steady, reliable donation has been more valuable than ever."
Vroon said Hospice Whanganui supported about 350 patients with a cancer diagnosis in any given year.
"When you include each person's family members and friends that's a lot of people we are interacting with on a regular basis."
FFHW was founded almost 16 years ago and there are now more than 170 participating farmers across Ruapehu, Whanganui, and South Taranaki.
Doughty, who has been involved for around 12 years and is now FFHW chairman, said the group formed in 2005 with seed funding of just $100. The trust held its inaugural meeting in 2006.
"The initial idea came from Eric Weir of Waverley whose wife Diana had been diagnosed with cancer," Doughty said.
"It wasn't hard to find support for the idea because most people knew someone who has received support from Hospice."
At the time, the scheme had already been going in the Waverley district through the Waverley Lions Club and the group saw an opportunity to build on that throughout the health board district. Ruapehu Lions Club was also an early contributor.
Weir initially arranged for 60 calves from farmers in the Waverley and Ruapehu districts to be grazed out free of charge on other farmers' land.
The aim was to entice farmers and rural residents within the Whanganui District Health Board catchment to donate stock to be grazed. Once sold, the money from the stock was invested and the revenue generated was used to fund Hospice operations.
Doughty said an $18,000 grant from the then Powerco Trust, supported by late Whanganui District Councillor Sue Westwood, provided crucial support to the initial success of the trust.
FFHW now donates a consistent amount of $60,000 to Hospice Whanganui every year, paid in monthly instalments of $5000. A Bulls-based stock agent takes care of sales for the trust and Whanganui businesses Grange Transport and David Jones Motors also lend their support to the scheme.
Doughty said when FFHW had surplus funds they had been able to provide extra support to Hospice by purchasing vehicles for community support services.
He said the ongoing success of FFHW could be attributed to its founders and those who continued to support it.