We farm 1050ha on the Barunga range, the paddocks are undulating red brown earth that crack with some small areas of sand. Annual rainfall is 400mm with the hills receiving slightly more. Parts of the farm are steep; it is nearly always breezy, and we have stone, but frost is not an issue with the cold air being able to drain to the Snowtown plains and Spencer Gulf 30km to the east and west.
We grow lentils, canola, barley and wheat as well as run a self-replacing merino flock where we carry between 1500-2000 sheep.
‘Percyton’ was settled by my ancestors 150 years ago. It has been many shapes and sizes over the generations. I came to be the custodian from a period of lease. My father had stopped farming in 1999 and went to university. In 2015 Dad gave me the opportunity to farm his land, we hired my then employers’ equipment and planted some of the paddocks whilst still working for them. This was a fantastic opportunity that enabled the start of the farm business as we know it today. Between 2015-2019 we saved and accumulated machinery to 2020 where we were able to get access to the hills portion of the farm (a generous gift from my parents) and left full-time employment.
The hills had been leased out for 20 years, whilst the tenants treated the land with respect they didn’t invest in improvements. We rock picked 110ha, installed reticulated water and did 10km of fencing. With this we bought our first flock of sheep (400) and planted the hills paddocks to canola.
2020 was the worst drought Barunga Gap had suffered since 1982. We went backwards big time and it was a cruel reminder that no matter how hard you work, you need some luck. My Mum told me with a smile that it was a good lesson and that it would put me in good stead for future challenges (I’m not sure that I agree!)
2024 marks the year when our equipment finance for our initial fleet finishes. While we have the huge privilege of family land, farm businesses are expensive and our business Percyton Pty Ltd is something we are very proud of creating. We have neat serviceable gear that works our hectares easily with capacity to expand. In 2022 we fitted out our shearing shed and 2023 we built new sheepyards. Whilst farms are always a work in progress, we feel the most confident in our position since leaving the comfort of a monthly salary.
This year we have been busy with sheep work and fallowing our paddocks in preparation for the new season crops. We will grow Regiment canola for the first time, with Highland lentils being replaced by Thunders and Sceptre wheat out in favour of Calibre. Barley will remain the same with Commodus being the choice. Confidence is good with approximately 150mm of rain falling since harvest 23 providing a good base of stored moisture to grow this year’s crops.
Work off farm will continue with local government and GrainGrowers' National Policy Group. I find off-farm commitments valuable; they broaden your horizon and remind you that there is more to life than your farm business. Tennis and lots of time in the pool during summer, volunteering in the community and trail bikes lead to a busy and fulfilling life.
The privilege of growing up on a farm watching my Dad and Grandpa motivates me immensely to provide the same for my children. We want the best life for Margot and Bill with setting the example of achievement and service coupled with love and fun. The old saying of it taking a village fits perfectly with us. The help and support we have received re-establishing the farm business has been incredible.
The journey to here makes me excited for the future.