Stronsay

Current Owners: Stronsay Farms Ltd

Area (ha): 1825

About 64 km from Blenheim, and at the end of the Medway Road, is Stronsay. This is a freehold property that was approx 707 ha until May 2009. It was owned between 1980 and February 2007 by Mr E Ross Beech and his wife, Chris. The property is now owned by Mark and Heidi Smith as Stronsay Farms Ltd. In May 2009 a further 815ha was bought from Weld's Hill so Stronsay is now 1825ha.

With the addition of the extra land purchased from Weld's Hill, the Smiths have been able to increase the carrying capacity of Stronsay. There are now 3500 ewes and 200 breeding cows.

Stronsay has a good water supply from a spring. Heights vary from about 426m at the homestead to about 914m. The average rainfall is about 787mm. Electric power came to the property in February 1962. Improvements to the Medway Road including the Medway Bridge have been of great benefit to the holding.

Mr Sinclair Cummings took over from his brother, David in 1938. Stronsay was part of their father's land owned by his brothers from 1924. Mr Cummings Snr bought this holding in 1908 from the Assets Realisation Board of the Bank of NZ - it being part of the old Upton Downs run. Stronsay was so called because Mr Cumming's mother came from Stronsay in the Orkney Islands.

 When the Beeches took over they changed the ewe and wether flocks from Corriedale to predominantly Merino and a small herd of breeding cows was carried, providing fattening stock for the property. A flock of meat goats was a diversification for a while. In Mr Cumming's time, the sheep were Halfbred (replacements retained) and green feed and rape were grown as supplementary feed. Currently some baleage and hay may be made dependent on weather conditions of the season.

By 1965 the holding was rabbit free and the Cummings were able to carry twice as many sheep as their father did when he came to the area in1908. The fertiliser programme initiated by the late Mr Cummings provided a good base for the Beeches to further develop and subdivide Stronsay and so extend the carrying capacity. The property is no longer completely rabbit free, however the rabbit population is kept under control with an active management (poisoning) programme.

The homestead was commenced in 1939 added to in the Sinclair Cumming's time, then extensively renovated and added to by the Beeches in 1984. The woolshed that was built about 1940 was renovated and extended in 1981.

Medway ValleyGillian McLeod