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5 minutes with YOLO Farmer Wayne Langford

Wayne Langford, the man behind the You Only Live Once Farmer blog and President of Federated Farmers Golden Bay.

How did you come to be the YOLO Farmer?

After struggling with my mental health I decided that I needed to do something to get myself out of "the rut" before things got worse. On my 34th birthday I jumped out of bed and headed to the beach with our family. After having a great day (the first in a long time) I told my family, "We are going to do something every day for the next 365 days to say that we have 'lived' for each day." One of the kids said "YOLO" (You Only Live Once) and that's when our journey started.

I started recording what we were doing each day on our Facebook page, YOLOd2, YOLOd3. After 365 days and having a bunch of people following along, we created its own social media platform. We are now at YOLOd1580 with over 30,000 people following along.

 

What are some of the things you have done?

At first I thought it was going to be one of those movies – climbing to the top of mountains, travelling the world and finding myself. What I didn't realise was it was going to be the small things each and every day that would make the huge difference. Whether it be a trip to the beach, a bush walk, throwing rocks off a bridge or playing sports, it all helped. Most of all, connecting with old friends and members of the community was our biggest win. Each conversation opened my mind, just a little bit at a time. Remember my mind had closed itself off to the world, so by opening it up a little piece at a time it eventually became more light than dark. It takes time and it's absolutely worth it.

 

Did you have any idea where it would end up?

We thought it would be a massive achievement to make 365 days. So to make it to where we are today has blown us away. Little did we know how much it would change our lives and how many doors it would open along the way.

 

You must have helped a lot of people. Tell us about some of them.

One of the reasons we kept going after 365 days was because we were getting numerous messages every week of other people sharing their stories. By being slightly vulnerable myself, it helped others feel it was OK to share what they were going through. Mental health can often be seen as dark and cold. I wanted to change that to a positive experience, showing smiles and happiness that come from living life.

 

How do you feel your experiences help you in your role as a farming leader and as a farmer?

It's easy to look at farming as a job, a business or an investment. Of course it's far more than that and I think it's really important as farming leaders that we show that. I love to talk about the emotions and experiences that come with farming. It's great to have people on-farm experiencing just a fraction of what we get to experience every day. Most of all it's great to show our communities that it's about more than just the money at the end of day, it's about the community, the environment and joy of doing what we love on-farm.

 

 

You got a lot of support from your wife, Tyler – how important has that been?

With the increased focus on mental health, especially in the rural sector, there has been plenty of attention on the person struggling. What is continually missing is the support for the partner or person helping those going through that challenge. Tyler was the rock behind my journey. She put down her life to pick mine up and I'll be forever grateful for that. It's a tough role to play and I would suggest getting support and help. Otherwise it could be a long, lonely, difficult journey.

 

What's your favourite way to spend the day?

My favourite thing to do is opening my mind, challenging myself to think differently and getting outside my comfort zone. I now live a busy life but one that is focused on family, fun, farm and the future, in that order.

 

Is there a book, author or speaker you have found particularly helpful on your journey?

I'm not a big reader but I do love to watch and listen to people. I don't hold anyone in particular on a pedestal, instead I like to get thousands of little lessons from thousands of people and piece them all together. Remember, don't ever talk to someone about the weather because I guarantee they have a far better story to tell than that.

 

If you could give people one piece of advice, what would it be?

You Only Live Once – think about what that means? You could be dead tomorrow – what are you waiting for? Even if you do live for another 50 years, do you want to do 5-10 new things, or do you want to do 20,000 adventures, one each and every day. Live life.

 

Tell us about your farming operation?

We milk 230 cows once a day on 93ha in Golden Bay. We have moved from 360 higher-input cows to 230 lower input cows over the last 5 years. Our future goals are to simplify our farming system, reduce inputs and increase profitability, while being proud of how we are farming and who we are.

 

To find out more, visit www.facebook.com/YOLOFarmerNZ/.