What is your job?
I am a farmer. We have Fleckvieh or Simmenthal, both beef and milking strains and sell stud animals. My wife Rhonda is interested in genetics and we import semen from all over the world.
We sell all our spare heifers to China, who need them in pristine condition and pay a premium for them so they are shipped in top conditions. I also chair the Kiewa, Mitta and Upper Murray Water Services Committee for Goulburn Murray Water, running meetings about services and prices.
GMW looks after all the dams in the Victorian side of the Murray Darling Basin and is responsible for water management for North East Water and other urban water authorities.
I am also a building designer – an architectural draughtsman.
I work out of home, making plans for new houses and renovations, commercial and residential.
I designed the Rocky Valley Bikes and Snow Sports eating area, and I also did the plans to turn the Catholic Church in Eskdale into a restaurant.
I am a graduate of Marcus Oldham Agricultural College in Geelong and also of Wodonga TAFE.
Is it something you always wanted to do?
We have always had the beef cattle, but no, Rhonda and I grew raspberries commercially for about 28 years.
We were founding members of the Australian Rubus Growers’ Association, which is now the Australian Berry-growers’ Association.
The bulk of the fruit was machine picked and then became frozen berries or went into 20 litre pails for commercial jam making.
We did pick-your-own, Rhonda made jams for sale, and we supplied supermarkets in Albury Wodonga and Sydney.
We were always very environmentally aware and used integrated pest management.
The variety we had needs 2000 hours below 10 degrees over winter and if it doesn’t get that the plants only flower in dribs and drabs and won’t come out of dormancy.
Global warming was doing a lot of damage and the last straw was the 2009 fires which burned us out.
When I saw the end of the raspberries, that’s when I went to the TAFE to get my building qualification. What do you love about the job?
I’m my own boss. Every day is different and you know what they say - if you have a job you really like you don’t have to go to work.
What else do you do?
I am involved with the Upper Kiewa Landcare subgroup and was the chair for six or seven years of the Kiewa Catchment Landcare Groups, which comprises Upper Kiewa, Kergunyah, Yackandandah, Kiewa/Bonegilla and Gundowring.
We had monthly meetings to guide strategic planning, managing the budget and employing the coordinator.
I’m not doing much outside my job at the moment because I had a heart attack in June and nearly died.
I have been doing cardiac rehab in Mt Beauty for the last eight weeks, 40 per cent of people who have what I had are dead, and the other 60 per cent mostly end up with long-term health problems. Rhonda and I are both CFA first aiders, so we are constantly being told about CPR.
My advice is if you have any unusual chest or shoulder pains, call an ambulance.