Well g’day there and welcome back.
A few weeks ago now the team and I caught up with the Haycock family who are based out in Yeoval. The Haycocks are long-time customers of ours and are a prime example of true Aussie farmers. We wanted to share their story with you all for a number of reasons, but mainly because of how resilient they’ve been and how they continue to adapt as weather conditions and life on the land change.
The Haycock’s have been farming for over 100 years. The first generation that began out on the land in Yeoval were cropping farmers. They had mainly barley, wheat and oats, but as time went on sheep and cattle were slowly introduced.
John Haycock and his son Chris run the family farm. The father and son team have worked extremely hard to get to where they are today, but that success hasn’t come without its challenges. The drought has taken its toll on the Haycock’s just as much as the next family. Sitting back looking at all the dry red dirt, reflecting on how little rain they have had isn’t easy but it’s a reality that they’ve had no choice but to face.
Last December was the first time the family had been able to strip in three years, seeing only 20 tonne come through in 3 years. The Haycock’s say they usually get 26 inches of rain on average per year, but in the last 12 months they’ve only seen roughly 8 inches.
Although it has been tough, the Haycock’s aren’t the type to give up without a fight. They did what most would do and sat down to work out a plan that would see them adapt and change with the harsh conditions, implementing new technologies and practices on the farm.
They know almost all of the tricks in the book, but one of their best despite being so simple is to store grain. This family produce the grain and then store as much as they possibly can to ensure they are self-sufficient. A great way to use your resources wisely.
They haven’t just stopped there though. Once the middle of this year rolls around, they are planning on planting vetch in a bid to continue to stay self-sufficient. The plant itself is low in sugar but high in protein. By planting and harvesting vetch, producers can reduce the amount of hay they have to cut by roughly half, allowing more to stay in storage and reduce overall costs.
Although the father and son duo are the operators of the family farm, they do have three younger helpers in tow too, Chris’ children Thomas (15), Brooke (12) and Jack (9). Chris says they chip in when needed, but Thomas already knows the ins and outs of how life out on the land works.
Thomas says being on the land is basically all he has ever known and he wouldn’t change a thing. Waking up every morning, knowing that as a farmer you get to make all the decisions to keep the farm running smoothly is what he can’t wait to do when it is his time. One thing he already knows though is that farming isn’t always smooth sailing. Just take our current situation for example.
Although it’s hard to know that kids as young as Thomas realise how tough farming can be, in a way it’s reassuring to know that he shares our pain. It shows how much he appreciates and cares for his families’ livelihood. Growing up he has learnt that there will be numerous challenges, big and small, but with the guidance of his Dad and Pop, he also knows that there are always ways to work around problems that may arise.
As for the future the Haycock’s say they aren’t in any hurry to leave the family business. They’ve been working towards implementing a 5 year plan that would see them sow parts of the property so they rely solely on pasture, then after 5 years rotate back. They plan to keep switching it around so if things go wrong, or they find themselves in a drought like we’re in at the moment they know that in a few years’ time they will be back onto a new rotation. This way they aren’t relying on one source of income and they are able to get back on their feet.
We loved catching up with the Haycock’s and can’t thank them enough for sharing their story with us all. As I said before, they’re the perfect example of how families just keep on working through hard times, adapt with change and implement smart solutions to futureproof their livelihoods.
I’ll be back with you all in a fortnight or so.
Steve, the Silologist.
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