Bill and Joy are passionate custodians of their land feeling a deep responsibility to replenish it. In fact they believe sustainability isn't enough, it needs to be regenerative.
As Orange Ag College graduates with farming backgrounds, Bill and Joy bought their first farm in 1994 and ran it, as had their forebears and adding the latest innovations. They expanded in 2001 and 2007, bringing their total area to over 5,500 hectares. But this bounty of land came with a cost.
Bill “ To run the place we needed ourselves, 4 full time staff, as well as part time workers. We employed contract farmers; contract hay/silage workers; a full time mechanic header driver; the list went on. Gradually with season failures, ill thrift in stock, soil, plants and ourselves, we were forced to start questioning what we were doing wrong. First we did the Grazing for Profit school, became pasture croppers, grazed and monitored pastures on a rotational basis and kept researching. But we still needed answers. Finally we hit on Allan Savory and Holistic Management. What a revelation that was."
They now follow Holistic Management guidelines ‘to the best of our ability’. They are also Natural Sequence Farmers following Peter Andrews’ methods of rehydrating the land. Impressively they have gone from employing 4 - 5 staff to 1 employee.
Joy ‘We do the work we love. We’re not stuck in the office organising someone else to do it. We feel we are in sync with nature and all that is around us. We rest our pastures and ourselves. It is a good place to be.”
Getting to this stage took time, effort and passion.
Bill and Joy’s farm is special for many reasons. In the first place they were attracted to the land by the large amount of native vegetation left untouched and the scope to regenerate the farmed country. But there’s a second more unusual characteristic.
Joy “The Hume Highway separates our land. We and our animals can see, hear and even feel so much humanity enclosed in their vehicles as they hurtle past our farm, a blink through our lives. So often the last time we see our animals is when they join this same highway to their final destination. We would like to connect with the people who eat our product, to help them see the whole life cycle and the role they play in helping to renew this land."
Bill “Our work is about regeneration, renewal and revitalisation of land. In this way we raise animals the right way, by providing them plentiful pastures to roam freely, play and thrive naturally.“
This translates into the human environment. Bill and Joy have created a beautiful ad peaceful environment in which to live and work. They have time to keep learning, time to enjoy what they have achieved and time to share what they’ve learned.
Bill “Ten years ago we were conventionally farming cattle and sheep as a commodity. We used many industrial aids - pesticides, insecticides, chemical fertilisers, and lots of diesel powering the many machines we used. We fought against nature with all the way against droughts, low stock prices, ill thrift and spiralling input costs. Everyone was stressed, soil, plants, stock and humans.”
Joy “Today we just use nature- the sun, soil, rain and animal impact, to grow natural, nutritious grasses for our stock to eat. We rotate our sheep and cattle through our plentiful pastures, taking the time to notice and enjoy the regenerating land."
In particular the couple love the simplicity of moving a contented, placid mob of cattle or sheep through rippling grasses, listening to bird-calls and noticing all that surrounds them.