Young Co­lac farmer steps up

Dairy News Australia - - GENERATION NEXT -

EV­ERY TIME Sarah Chant steps on to her farm near Co­lac, she brings a piece of her fa­ther Steven with her.

Steven passed away a year ago leav­ing Sarah, now 26, with big boots to fill. How­ever, he did his best to make sure she was ready to take the reins.

Sarah started the process of run­ning the farm a year be­fore her fa­ther died and a di­ary he kept con­tin­ues to show the way.

“Dad had can­cer for a long time so I’d been grad­u­ally step­ping up,” Sarah said. “We knew it was ter­mi­nal so he started keep­ing a di­ary for me and jot­ted down lit­tle notes of things I’d need to run the farm.

“It wasn’t easy but it was eas­ier know­ing that it was go­ing to hap­pen. It wasn’t like I woke up one morn­ing and was in charge of a 250-cow dairy farm.”

Los­ing her fa­ther at age 55 might have made Sarah stronger in many ways, but it still hurt. “It was in­fu­ri­at­ing,” she said.

“He was fit and strong, barely drank and quit smok­ing when I was a lit­tle girl be­cause he re­alised how bad it was for his health. He had a healthy, ac­tive life­style and still got can­cer.”

Sarah grew up on the farm at War­rion, 20 min­utes north of Co­lac and had just re­turned from Canada when she learned of her fa­ther’s ill­ness.

“I prob­a­bly would have trav­elled for a cou­ple more years but I was al­ways go­ing to come home on the farm,” she said. “I’d wanted to do it since I was a lit­tle girl.

“I have older brothers but they didn’t want the farm so it went to the youngest daugh­ter. We broke tra­di­tion there.”

The farm at War­rion, 20 min­utes north of Co­lac, was pur­chased by Steven’s par­ents when he was 18. It’s on the north­ern edge of West­ern Vic­to­ria’s dairy­ing re­gion but ir­ri­ga­tion and “amaz­ing soil” make it good dairy coun­try.

“I love work­ing with the cat­tle and rear­ing calves; I’m a sucker for go­ing back to the calf shed af­ter hours if any­one is sick. I love be­ing out­side on the farm. Hav­ing lost Dad, it’s a bit of a con­nec­tion to him.”

Sarah’s Mum Roslyn does the books and Sarah runs the farm busi­ness sup­ported by long-time em­ployee Joel Kirk­man.

“When I was first in charge I was a bit ner­vous,” Sarah said. “Joel knows the run of the place so when I started mak­ing the calls I’d ask if it was the right thing and he’d say `what­ever you think Sarah’. I’m get­ting more com­fort­able with it now.”

From a dairy per­spec­tive, Steven’s death couldn’t have been at a worse time. “We got news of the milk price drop the day Dad died,” Sarah said.

“I know it was ter­ri­ble for farm­ers but it didn’t up­set me that much; we had big­ger things to deal with.”

The Mur­ray Goulburn sup­plier has weath­ered the storm. “We’ve coped quite well,” Sarah said.

“There was a bit of cost cut­ting and we’re not spend­ing where we don’t have to, but hav­ing such a fantastic sea­son has saved a lot of lo­cal farm­ers who buy in feed.

“We cut more hay and silage than ever be­fore with the good spring. If we had the milk price drop and a tough sea­son it would have been a lot worse.”

Sarah Chant

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.