Shorn No Bull puts the spotlight on NSW smallest high school

The 2018 Archibull Prize is now in full swing with schools receiving their Archies, connecting with their Young Farming Champions and starting their blogs. I was very taken by this heartfelt blog post from the smallest high school in NSW

Welcome ‘Shorn No Bull’ to Bombala High

Hello and welcome to Bombala High School’s Archibull journey.

This is our very first year of participation and we hope you’re as excited about the Archibull Prize as we are!  In this, our very first post we thought we would take the opportunity to introduce our school and address the white bovine in the room… Why Archibull?  Situated in the southern most region of the Snowy Mountains shire, Bombala High is the smallest high school in New South Wales. Everything we do at Bombala High centres around our school values which are personal best, respect and responsibility and we pride ourselves in our ability to deliver a high standard of secondary education to the children of our rural community.

So why is Archibull right for Bombala High? I hear you ask. Well of course we are motivated by the generous prizes on offer however; there is more to Archibull than mere accolades. Participating in the Archibull competition will provide a variety of valuable opportunities to our students, most notably the chance to be part of something larger than themselves, as well as the ability to give their small, remotely situated school a voice on a national platform.  Being situated on the Monaro it is very apt indeed that our assigned industry is wool. Agriculture and specifically the wool industry make up a large component of the local economy. This means that the Archibull is particularly relevant to many of our students, whose families are employed within the wool industry. A major component of the Archibull is research into the allocated industry and consequently, the Archibull will provide an invaluable opportunity for students to explore the wide range of employment opportunities on offer within the wool and agriculture sectors, as well as furthering their understandings of how these industries operate and contribute to local and national economies.

The creation of our Archibull also provides a range of opportunities for students with different strengths and skill sets. Participation in the Archibull is designed to be inclusive and is not limited to those with artistic abilities. The compulsory blog component of the Archibull is an invaluable chance for our budding writers and information technology students to participate and further their skills. We will also be calling on our agriculture and primary industries students to provide us with information about the wool industry, sustainable agriculture and biosecurity.  All in all we have a lot to do in the upcoming months and we look forward to sharing our Archibull journey with you all.

Bombala High School will be working with Young Farming Champion Dione Howard who knows what its like to grow up in a small town in rural NSW. She looks forward to inspiring the students to follow in her footsteps to a career in the agriculture sector.

 

Special shoutout to the Monaro Team at South East Local Land Services for supporting Bombala High School on their Archie journey

Image: Northlakes High School entry in 2015 Archibull Prize

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Wool Young Farming Champion Katherine Bain gets the Cow Girl experience in Canada

Our Young Farming Champions are finding a career in agriculture offers many opportunities and opens exciting doors.

A number of our Young Farming Champions are travelling overseas and blogging from far flung places

Today we hear from Katherine Bain who is ticking off  her ‘See how the World Farms’ bucket list on a cattle ranch in Canada

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 Katherine Bain with her dog, Pluto, on the family farm near Stockyard Hill in Victoria 

Hi everyone, my name is Katherine Bain, and I am a 2017 wool Young Farming Champion.   At the start of this month, I began an adventure I’ve had on my bucket list for as long as I could remember – to head to Canada and work on a cattle ranch!

The ranch is located in British Columbia, a province on the west side of Canada, in the Chilcoltin region. It’s a beautiful area surrounded by snow-capped mountains and tree-covered hills. So pretty much the opposite to the rolling grasslands I’m used to back home in in Victoria!

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The ranch is called Dane Ranch and is run by Cordy Cox-Ellis. It runs roughly 1000 cows and calves, 160 replacement heifers and 90 breeding bulls. They also produce hay  to feed their cattle in the winter. The ranch runs Angus cross cows which are usually 75% Angus, and 25% either Simmental or Gelbvieh. They cross black or red Gelbvieh or Simmental, or Charolais bulls onto the cows that are more Angus in type, and then Angus, SimAngus, or Gelbvieh Balancer bulls onto the cows that look more exotic in type. The ranch also has a small herd of purebred Angus and Gelbvieh cattle.

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They do a lot of work on horseback. This day we were moving cattle into a new paddock

Currently, we are in the middle of calving! There is lots to be done including checking the pens a couple of times a day to ensure all the calves are healthy, cleaning out the barn where sick or mis-mothered calves are kept, processing newborn calves and feeding cows. Processing is a similar process that we follow with our lambs.  The calves are generally processed a couple hours after being born, as it is important to know who the mother is, so they can trace the genetics and know where they go on the range during the summer months. This is a similar process to how I ran my Coopworth Sheep Stud, to make sure we can follow the genetics and assess which ewes are the best breeders.

Processing allows Dane Ranch to inspect each animal and assess their overall health, vaccinate them and attach identification tags. They get two tags – an RFID tag and a large number tag to link it to its mother. The cross bred bull calves are castrated

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Tagging the calves – they do grow into their tags!!!

Processing can be like doing a puzzle as we have to work out which calf goes with which cow. Often the calves are sleeping while their mums are off eating, so we have to wait until they are back together to be certain we don’t make any mistakes.  Because of all the snow on the ground during winter, the cows are calved down in smaller paddocks and “containment” pens. This is to make it easier to check them throughout calving and for feeding them.

There is no grass yet, so they  get fed hay and have salt licks and mineral tubs to ensure they have a balanced diet. The snow is almost all gone now, so they will soon be put back out to bigger paddocks with fresh grass before going up onto the range!

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Feeding the cows

My jobs at the moment are mostly helping in the barn. My day starts with feeding and watering any cows in the barn and in the small pens. The water has to be refilled with a hose as the pipes freeze! The main troughs have heated pads and insulation to keep them going  throughout the very cold winters. The temperature in the winter can go as low as minus 35 Celsius with an average from December 1st to March 31st around minus 13 Celsius !!!. Thanks goodness we don’t have to worry about this at home

After feeding I help treat any calves that are unwell.  Its very important to watch them closely to ensure they don’t get scours which can lead to dehydration. Dehydration is treated with electrolytes and antibiotics if necessary.

So far working on the ranch has been pretty different to working on my sheep farm back home. Dealing with the freezing weather and snow means that extra care and planning needs to be done well before Winter sets in – mainly ensuring they will have enough hay to see them through! Learning to work with cattle has so far been an awesome experience, but I’ve got a long way to go to become a “cowgirl”!

In the coming month calving will finish and the next big thing will be branding and moving cattle onto the range. So stay tuned for the next instalment!

_2017 Supporting partners Capture

 

 

Young Farming Champions Danila Marini and Max Edwards bring the research to the farm

Many of our Young Farming Champions are pursuing career in research with Dr Danila Marini and Max Edwards choosing careers in the wool industry with a special interest in on-farm technology 
Max is a fourth generation sheep farmer who grew up in the paddocks and shearing shed of Catombal Park near Wellington.  He moved to the city to study a Bachelor of Animal and Veterinary Bioscience at The University of Sydney, and employed emerging technology as the focus for his honours project. Using remote monitoring techniques Max set up an automatic, solar-powered weigh station on water points and trained sheep to walk across it. Their weights were recorded and matched to electronic tags in their ears, and the data was sent directly to his laptop. The project provided rich information on the factors affecting live-weight change in lambs. See the full story in The Land here. 
 

Max has long term plans to extend his honours research with a PhD and to branch into consultancy but for now is gaining real-world experience back on the family farm.  Surrounded by family members with diverse careers in the agriculture sector, Max and his father are making the most of the technology and expertise available to them to run their business to the optimum level.

 ‘My first year full-time on the farm has seen us cope with some out of left field animal health challenges and low rainfall but it’s been very rewarding to work with my family to build business resilience.’    

The challenges of running a family business will hold Max in good stead for his future plans and give him credibility in the world of consulting, allowing him to fuse the academic and practical aspects of agriculture.

Danila is originally a city kid whose first interaction with agriculture was as a 9 year old and her family bought a small property and started a little hobby farm where they had chickens, cattle, sheep and goats. Danila had always loved animals and attributes the hobby farm to sparking her interest in agriculture. The agriculture sector will be forever grateful she answered the call to country.

After finishing her PhD at UNE,  Danila is putting her expertise into developing technology to get the best outcomes for animals and farmers 
Below is a story on Danila’s latest work with virtual fencing for sheep. This story first appeared in the Stock Journal.  UNE researcher to discuss training sheep to virtual fences
University of New England post-doctoral fellow Danila Marini will be a guest speaker at the Angaston Ag Bureau hogget competition, on training sheep in virtual fencing systems.

 University of New England post-doctoral fellow Danila Marini  was guest speaker at the Angaston Ag Bureau hogget competition, on training sheep in virtual fencing systems.

Sheep can be trained to remain within virtual fencing systems in the same way as cattle, according to University of New England post-doctoral fellow Danila Marini.

That is the promising early result the NSW based Uni and CSIRO has found, with sheep wearing collars responding to audio cues within three to six interactions.

Dr Marini  was a guest speaker at the Livestock E-Technology for Natural Resources Management seminar, held by the Angaston Agricultural Bureau and the Society for Precision Agriculture Australia, on Friday March 23.

She is part of a team of researchers working on the three-year virtual fencing project and hopes to develop ethical training protocol for sheep.

She says Agersens is close to commercialising the technology in cattle, but far less is known about the ability to train sheep to remain within the electric fields.

The biggest challenge for sheep will be developing an ear tag or other device to deliver the electrical stimulus.

“Australia has a lot of Merinos which grow wool so a collar won’t work by itself ,’ she said.

Dr Marini’s project is now turning to finding the optimal percentage of the flock which will need collars for effective fencing,  and also whether lambs can be trained with their mothers.

Danila also outlined a couple of other projects she is involved; one in SA with the Department of  Agriculture and Water Resources looking at using virtual collars on sheep for weed management and another with Dairy Australia looking at grazing management of dairy cattle.

The team at Art4Agriculture gets a huge buzz from following the career journeys of our Young Farming Champions. We thank our supporting partners for investing in them
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An invitation for Primary School students to meet the Young Farming Champions at the Sydney Royal Easter Show

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A passion to link consumers with producers … to promote public understanding of farming, and the interconnectedness of health and well-being and the agricultural sector … is the driving force behind the role of the Young Farming Champions (YFC)

Our YFC help agriculture to build its fan base and encourage young people from all walks of life to join them and follow their career pathway into the agriculture sector. Since 2010 they have being doing this very successfully through The Archibull Prize.See our 2017 Annual Report here. The Archibull Prize is a world first. A competition that uses art and multimedia to engage school students in genuine farm experiences, and gain knowledge and skills about the production of the food they eat, the fibres they use and the environment they live in. Young Farming Champions (YFC) participate in The Archibull Prize by visiting and mentoring schools, sharing their stories and insights into contemporary farming practices and inspiring students to consider careers in agriculture.

Over the past three years the YFC have been spreading the agriculture love far and wide as keynote speakers at conferences, delivering TED talks and running events and workshops across the country.

In 2018 our YFC will be participating in a smorgasbord of events to hone their skills and deliver their unique style of engaging and inspiring future generations of agriculture ambassadors and the best and brightest to join the sector

I cant think of a better way to kickstart 2018 than a partnership with the agriculture education team at the Sydney Royal Easter Show. In the lead up to the show we will be inviting  Primary School students to sign up to meet the YFC team on Primary School Preview Day in The Food Farm. Students meeting the YFC will participate in hands on workshops for the Cotton, Wool, Horticulture and Egg Industries. They can also chat to YFC and farmer Tim Eyes who will be the star attraction at the Thank a Customer workshop.

Get a taste of Primary School Preview Day here

Secondary students will also get the opportunity to hear from  and meet the YFC at the Careers in Ag  workshop in Cattle and Horse Experience Arena

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We look forward to profiling our Event Activation Team over the next 10 days. Get a sneak peak and meet them here

#youthvoices18 #youthinag

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Meet Sam Wan – who was destined to work with sheep and has come a long way since she met her first lamb

sam-wan-1Mill owner’s daughter. Foreign exchange student. Victim to the lamb-is-a-poodle scam. These are my favourite and most amusing cases of mistaken identity.

Hi there, I’m Samantha Wan and I’m a Technical Officer and Auctioneer for Elders Wool, based at the National Wool Selling Centre, Melbourne. I haven’t always been a passionate advocate for the wool industry and agriculture but I am where I am today because I’ve been shaped by the experiences and people met on the way.

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Sheepvention (Hamilton, 2016)

I’m a first generation Australian-born Chinese. My Mum is from Hong Kong with Macanese heritage and Dad is Chinese Malaysian. I’m the eldest of 2 and from the Western Sydney suburb of Blacktown, 35kms west of the Sydney CBD. Looking back, I didn’t know what lamb tasted like until I was around 10 and I have a not so fond memory of Dad putting it into a herbal Chinese soup. I’d always thought corned beef came from a can – and I only knew it in a congee (rice porridge).The closest thing I had to seeing agriculture in action was Fairfield City Farm, more a petting zoo that showed me how to milk a cow and feed chickens.

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A go at shearing (Yass, 2010)

A career in agriculture never seemed an option so I continued on my merry way expecting to be something (anything) in the Information Technology race.  That wasn’t until high school that I was introduced to Agriculture while it was being offered at school. A great teacher, keen classmates and a mixed bunch of black Corriedales opened up the world of ag shows, sheep classes and junior judging. Even though I was quietly sure this was the start of something bigger, my family weren’t sure what to make of the pieces of satin I hung so proudly and if the fun and enjoyment would ever amount to anything.

Wool broker doesn’t quite make the top three careers your Chinese child should be (see; doctor, lawyer and accountant) so it’s a good thing my parents didn’t fall too hard into stereotypes. After all, my first car would have been my grandma’s old Corolla hatchback instead of a Commodore ute and I’d say it takes a bit of willpower to let your firstborn journey off to places like Yass, Hay, Dubbo, Molong and Warren after you have only had them pointed out on a map.

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Mustering (Warren, 2009)

As was expected, I went to university. The University of Sydney for Science in Agriculture. I also did cross-institutional Wool units with The University of New England. There was more than a bit of alarm when I decided to take a break for a Certificate IV in Agriculture at Richmond TAFE. It was different to say the least and I relished the opportunity for a more hands on go at animal husbandry, including halter breaking in steers. I did eventually go back to complete my Honours with a project on “Vitamin B12 Response Trial in Merino Ewes Incorporating Iodine Supplementation Pre-lambing”.

Through my Wool units at UNE, I was accepted into a short term student research position with The Australian Wool Testing Authority in Melbourne “The Measurement of Colour on New Zealand Wool using NIR.” The industrial training gave me a huge insight into the processes and innovation associated with wool testing.

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Research in progress (AWTA)

To date, I’ve been with Elders for 4 years and 8 months. Each day has something a bit different to deal with – putting AWEX ID’s on wools from across the country, seeing the wool in the shearing shed and now as samples in boxes on the showfloor, analysing and valuing clips, lotting wools for sale, discussing markets with clients and keeping an eye on the dollar. The challenge of assisting with benchmarking events such as Ovens Valley Wether Trial, Gippsland Sheep Breeders Wether Trial and the Elders Balmoral Sire Evaluation Trial through data calibration, wool valuing and AWEX-ID’ing wools also adds another dimension to the work.

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East Gippsland Field Days valuing for the Gippsland Sheep Breeders Association wether trial (2014)

Volunteering as a sheep steward while studying allowed me to network, seek out opportunities and be on the front line of hearing what judges discussed and favored. Now working in the industry, the advantages are still the same but with a stronger sense of being part of the chain.
Agriculture has allowed me to see truly stunning areas of Australia, add to my experiences and meet amazing people, most of whom I still list as my mentors today. I get to tell the best stories to bewildered aunties and uncles while my sister envies how soft lanolin makes my hands. I love how dynamic the industry is. The limitless recounts of individual perceptions, about how the industry used to be, how many generations have been farming the same land and hearing them come to life rather than just reading it from a book.  It has taught me life skills as well – ones that are second nature for some but are hard work for me. Observation, sense of direction and distance, using landmarks, logic and problem solving all can be tied into more than just a few stories of my own!

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Shearing calls (Omeo, 2014)

The teachers and mentors in my life didn’t just give a suburban kid a glimpse of a world outside the city. They enriched my life. From them I drew direction into an incredibly rewarding, constantly evolving industry. If by sharing my story I’m able to convey my passion for an industry that adopted such a black sheep, it might open the eyes of someone who didn’t think agriculture was the place for them.

Note from the Editor

Its is obvious Sam Wan was born to tell stories and we all know how powerful stories can be. They can make you fall in love, they can be an antidote to bias, they can heal rifts, they can be an antidote for bias and a catalyst for change.

Sam didn’t include this adorable little pix  in her blog post but I spotted it on Facebook and just had to share it

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Meet Emma Turner who knows every day three times a day you need a farmer

Our guest blog today comes from young wool farmer Emma Turner

‘for many farmers their career is a calling,
simultaneously more than a business and more than a lifestyle’  R L Wilkinson

My name is Emma Turner, I am 18 years old and this is my story………..

Emma Turner

 

I grew up on Stanbridge station, our 100,000 acre Merino sheep station, 100km south of the tiny town of Ivanhoe, in western NSW.

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I feel strongly connected and passionate towards agriculture underpinned by my family connection.

I am a sixth generation wool grower – the fifth in the Ivanhoe area – with my family roots to farming going as far back as 1844 when my English relatives moved to Adelaide and took up farming as a profession.

Agriculture has always been part of my life, with many life lessons being learnt from it.

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Mustering a mob of ewes and lambs at shearing time, enjoying the fresh grass after drought years.

Wool growing has taught me patience and being involved with our family business, Abbotsford Pastoral Co, has helped me learn many practical farm and life skills and lessons.

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Enjoying the mud on the four wheeler after 100mm of rain

It has also inspired my love for the industry and my passion to make a difference in agriculture – all while having fun and enjoying rural life.

I completed my primary years at Clare Public School where I was the only person in my class and the only girl at my school for three years. We never had any more than six students! Going to such a small and remote school taught me to make friends with everyone as sometimes you can’t afford to be choosey! It also taught me to participate in everything and be a team player on sports days and swimming carnivals, as most of the schools we competed against had at least 20 students!

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Our school photos had the best background

Having two younger brothers I was never bored or alone and over the years we invented our own forms of entertainment, from riding dad’s sale wethers around the yards and seeing who could stay on the longest before getting yelled at, to practising tricks on our motorbikes. We learnt from a young age how to ‘doctor’ ourselves, covering our cuts in Band-Aids before mum came at us with the dreaded iodine bottle!

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My brother and I enjoying a ride on our home made ‘speed boat’

Loving animals is really a given when it comes to agriculture, with my best mate being my dog, as well as a pet lamb to look after. Animals have always played a role in my life, and after watching the suffering they can experience in a drought, they have inspired me to study a Bachelor of Agricultural Science after my gap year. My dream is to study genetics and the role it could play in breeding a hardier, more drought resistant Merino.

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Enjoying rides in the ute with my best mate,

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and taking my poddy lamb for a walk after the rain

People farm for many different reasons, some for pleasure, some for return on capital, some for social approval, some for financial security, some because of the challenge and some because they can see no other alternative. I believe it is important for the agriculture sector to build relationships with the community to expand knowledge and understanding of the modern day farmer and what motivates him or her. It is important the wider community is able to understand the sacrifices and hardships that Australian farmers make everyday. Farming in Australia is a job and a lifestyle and so much more. It’s also lifestyle that can throw the biggest and hardest challenges, with more often than not no short term solutions. There is no quick fix for a flood or a drought. Farmers need support and targeted and relevant research and development so they can be resilient through these tough times.

My favourite quotation about agricultural is simple,

Every day three times a day you need a farmer

I believe this simple fact is overlooked in today’s modern society. I believe the long term future of the Australian agriculture sector relies on farmers and the community working together. Fresh ideas and innovative solutions are needed to start building these partnerships and I am doing what I have always done and that is putting my hand up to be on the team

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Pat Morgan has red dust running through his veins

Hi, my name is Patrick Morgan, a 20 year old university student/farmer from Colbinabbin, in Northern Victoria. Our first family farm “Wanella” is 8 kms out of town. It is a mixed farming enterprise of cereal and oilseed cropping for grain and fodder production & merino sheep for wool and prime lambs.

Wanella includes the original Morgan family farm of Nerada, where our family settled 5 generations ago. clip_image002

Harvesting in the late 1990’s

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Harvesting in 2013

At this present day there are 3 generations that are farming in our family, my grandfather, my father with  my 5 brothers and me lending a helping hand .

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Marking lambs with the family in 2005

I am currently studying at Charles Sturt University in Wagga Wagga but at any chance I can grasp, I jump straight in my ute to head home; to sow, spray, cut, bale and harvest our crops or to crutch, shear and sell our home grown wool.

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At times we use light planes to spread nitrogen on our crops

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Good soil and moisture and carefully fertilised crops make great hay 

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Its always good to have plenty of hay on hand when pasture is in short supply

Along with a little help from my right hand man Jed (my kelpie pup) in the shearing shed, I am a professional Woolclasser by trade.

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Classing the wool

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Pressing the wool

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Branding the Wool

When the wool comes of the sheep’s back I test it for various characteristics, press it into a bale of over 100kg and then I place my wool classers stamp on the bale to then be sold at an auction. clip_image014

My grandparents, my twin brothers and me with the Elders representative at the Wool Auctions in Lara. The wool on display beside me contains samples of our wool to be auctioned

Jed is 6 months old now and has become the typical ‘man’s best friend’ of mine. Jed will sit on the back of the motorbike, ride in our speed boat and work a very decent day in the sheep yards without hesitation and always wagging that tail of his.

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My dog Jed

Most of our family’s wool and lamb production comes from my grandparent’s property which is just out of Heathcote, Victoria. We are running approximately 3000 head of Merino Ewes and Weathers and Prime Lambs.

I have had roughly 15 students in my year level throughout my primary and secondary schooling, in Rushworth Victoria. Even though these communities that I have grown up in are so small, I find it quite interesting that we are only 2 hours by car to the heart of Melbourne. I have loved growing up in our rural community and I will be forever grateful for the place I will always call home.

At the moment I am concentrating on my completing my Bachelor of Agricultural Business Management degree.  It is a wonderful opportunity through my degree to have access to diverse array of experts in Agriculture/Agribusiness. To say that I am thoroughly enjoying this course and the University here at Charles Sturt would be an understatement, and I can’t wait to put all of it into practice in the near future, as a professional in the field myself.

Ever since I was a young boy I had become fond of Lee Kernaghan and his music. To this day a particular verse still sticks with me, a perfect metaphor for my thoughts on farming, what I love.

“It’s planting seed and praying for rain, its Red dust running through your veins, where there’s a corrugated iron shed and work boots on the back doorstep, it’s when my wheels hit the gravel road and it feels like home, it’s a way of life, it’s the life I live, and its right where I want to be, it’s the way it is.” – Lee Kernaghan.

It shows me that we as farmers, have a great underlying passion for what we do for a living, and if the rest of the farming community is anything like me, they take a great deal of satisfaction of succeeding in this occupation.

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Can you just imagine what it is like harvesting wheat with a backdrop like this

For me a career in agriculture is the ultimate grow

To plant a seed and watch it grow and be harvested to feed many

To nurture a new born lamb and gather its wool to clothe others  

To have the opportunity to share my story and showcase how good OUR agriculture sector is, I believe a career and a goal second to none.