Historic homestead visited
Foxdown featured on Country Calendar, TV One, on April 4 at 7pm. The Foxdown homestead was built in 1937 by Keir and Thompson of Rangiora, from plans drawn up by Cecil Wood. Edith Fox, the present owner’s grandmother, was offered by Alex Fox, her husband, a new house or a trip around the world. She chose the new house, although she got her trip around the world after World War II.
Andy Fox’s family have owned Foxdown in Scargill for 136 years, and he’s the fourth generation of his family to farm the land, so he knows better than most that North Canterbury summers can be very, very dry. A 1416-hectare (3500-acre) hill-country property running about 6000 sheep, and 150 cattle, has been in the Fox family since 1877. Andy Fox is very conscious of his family heritage. Today he still uses sheep yards built from stone by his great-grandfather more than a century ago. He sees it as his duty to leave the farm in a better state than when he took over — a tradition which has carried on down the generations. Since the late ’80s he’s undertaken major farm development, spending weeks on a bulldozer, year after year, clearing scrub to convert steep hills into productive pasture.
Andy loves farming, but he also enjoys people, which led him to become involved in various farming organizations and then join the board of meat co-operative PPCS (now known as Silver Fern Farms), on which he served for 10 years. He stood down when he was elected to the board of Meat and Wool New Zealand. Andy also makes an impact in Wellington, too, fitting farming around regular commutes to the city, where he was on the board of Beef and Lamb New Zealand for nine years. He still does contract work for the board on various projects while farm manager Phill Jones looks after the Scargill Valley property.
Despite all this, he manages to fit another passion into his very busy life — collecting historic artefacts and displaying them in his private museum. Understandably, these include farm-related items from over many decades — including a variety of barbed-wire designs and profiles — as well as a number of classic cars. He had a magnificent 300-square-metre building built for his collection in 2008. He’s got hundreds of items of memorabilia from days gone by, no doubt bringing back memories for all who see them. They certainly did for Lorraine and me.