Message from John Firth – December 2022

Message from John Firth

Dear farmers, friends and readers

Another challenging year it has been, with load-shedding featuring most on our radar—a serious hindrance to productive and profitable farming it continues to be. Loadshedding is an issue that we simply have to deal with—as much as we all just wish it would go away. 

Be that challenge as it may, when I reflect upon some of my past Christmas Messages, I stand amazed at how God’s grace continues to sustain the farms—despite the many challenges that farmers everywhere, have to face on an ongoing basis. There’s never a time when all goes well, without any challenges. This is farming for sure!

From my 2018 Christmas Message, I recognise how important gratitude was (and continues to be). Once again, I extend due reverence and thanks to our Heavenly Father for his many blessings that he continues to shower upon the many families and employees that are sustained from the Firth Group. …From the ‘produce of the lands’ that God has graciously bestowed upon the Firth family—ever since my great grandfather Thomas Spence Leask started farming 5 generations ago. 

In my 2019 Christmas Message, I am reminded of the importance of remaining curious and courageous, and to conquer one’s fears in the world of farming and business:

Curiosity opens one’s eyes for opportunities and opens the mind for learning.
Courage is that leap of faith to step out of one’s comfort zone into the unknown.
Conquering one’s fears when we step up in hope, to that prized space where unlimited possibilities exist—if only we reach and strive to make them happen, with passion, commitment and a drive to succeed no matter what the challenges may be.

Whilst writing my 2020 Christmas Message, President Ramaphosa was being televised with yet another ‘family meeting’ announcement—a true sign of the Covid times that we found ourselves having to contend with back then. Now, with the wisdom of hindsight, we easily recognise that we managed to pull through it all. Sadly, many lost their lives to the dreaded coronavirus, but the overwhelming majority had to endure—to survive, regardless of the challenges being faced. Today, the principle remains unchanged: we will pull through, come what may—load-shedding included, for there is no other way forward really. 

In last year’s 2021 Christmas Message, despite the ongoing pandemic, we managed to see some surprising successes—particularly by being awarded a Brangus Four Star Award, the successful first harvesting of our inaugural pivot-irrigation maize crop and the continued growth of my very special collection of cycads at the Highlands Cycads division

This year 2022, the continuity is sustained, with the Firth Red Brangus cattle division receiving multiple awards, a Brangus Four Star Award, as well as the coveted 1st Place Supreme Champion Bull at the Brangus National Championship Show 2022. And then, to our absolute surprise and amazement, our very same Supreme Champion Bull won the second place spot in the Brangus Cattle Champion Of The World competition — 2022 Brangus-Champion of Asia/Africa division.

Also, the recent rains that the farms have been experiencing come as a welcome respite after many years of drier weather conditions. For this, my father (Doc Ian Firth), my team and I are extremely grateful and thankful. These abundant rains have done well to aid our Maquassi Spruit Pecan Nuts business division in obtaining record crops which, when coupled with the year’s weak Rand/Dollar, have seen us realise very good prices for our export product. 

So, to conclude my 2022 Christmas Message, I can once again think of no better words than to repeat my trusted general manager, Piet Botma’s words: “Let’s continue to remain positive and focus on doing what we do best—farming!” 

Also, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: perseverance remains key—we are to “run with perseverance the race marked out for us” as God’s Word so aptly encourages every believer who trusts Him, to do.

On behalf of my entire team at the Firth Group, may I wish you and your family yet another blessed and peaceful Christmas. Also, may yours be a happy and fruitful New Year too! Let us never forget the true meaning of Christmas—namely, that we celebrate the birth of Christ and the priceless gift of salvation that Jesus brings to all who place their faith, hope and trust in Him. After all, in the light of eternity, our ultimate Hope always has been, and always will be, in Christ alone—our Cornerstone!

Warm season’s greetings

John Firth

About the Author
Adrian Baillie-Stewart

Adrian Baillie-Stewart

On a part-time basis, Adrian serves as lead digital communications consultant for the Firth Group of farms. This includes Firth Red Brangus, Firth Wagyu, Maquassi Spruit Pecan Nuts and Highlands Cycads. A communications specialist at Content Strategics (Pty) Ltd., Adrian helps small to medium enterprises achieve their primary operational goals by maximising the commercial impact of their media content published across multiple online digital platforms.

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