Wimmera Farmer presents a monthly feature that profiles young people in agriculture and looks at what drove them to a life on the land.
WHEN Longerenong farmer Alex Ellifson was 21, he bought his first farm.
It was a feat that many young people in agriculture dream about, but Alex was determined to make it happen.
Fast-forward six years and Alex now owns 660 acres across Longerenong and Kalkee.
He is also about to be a father – he and his girlfriend Melissa Cosford are expecting their first child in early August.
Alex said he always knew he wanted to be a farmer because it was in his blood.
“My grandfather and father are both farmers too,” he said.
“I didn’t really have any other options or ideas teed up.
“Farming was the only career path I ever knew.”
Alex completed school at Horsham College before joining his family on the farm at Laharum.
He then spent two years at Longerenong College, doing a Certificate IV in Agriculture.
Alex now has a mixed farming enterprise, running sheep and cropping wheat, barley, canola, oats and beans.
He also enjoys working in the shearing shed.
“Shearing was just a part of being a sheep farmer,” he said.
“I now shear for about two to three months of the year as a way to help out with extra income.
“It’s not too bad, I don’t mind shearing.”
Alex said life on the land was about freedom.
“With farming, you get to do something different every day,” he said.
“It’s a great lifestyle too – you can pick and choose what days you work and what jobs you do.
“You are your own boss.”
After working with his family for a few years, Alex took the plunge and ventured out on his own.
“I am still hoping it pays off one day,” he said.
He said he wouldn’t have been able to do it without the support of his family.
“My dad is my guarantor and I have a lot of debt,” he said.
“I would encourage other young farmers to take the leap, but you have to have some backing behind you, otherwise it would be pretty tough.
“I was lucky in that way, to have the support.”
When he was 16, Alex had his first taste of international farming.
With farming, you get to do something different every day.Longerenong farmer Alex Ellifson
He flew to the United States to work overseas.
”I’ve been to the US three times now – the last time was in 2013,” he said.
“I wanted to go and see the world before I got too tied down with the farm.”
Alex said it was a great experience.
“I had people come out from the States and visit me on the farm only last week,” he said.
“Working over there was not very relevant to our farming, but it was still a worthwhile experience.”
So far, this season is proving positive for Alex.
He hopes it will not follow the pattern of the past two seasons.
“The crops are looking good – everything is looking pretty good at the moment, which is great,” he said.
Alex predicted he would run his farm for a long time to come.
“I hope I do, anyway,” he said.
“As long as I don’t go broke in the process.”
However, the next generation of farmers for the Ellifson family could be female.
“We are expecting a little girl in a few weeks,” he said.
- Do you know a young person in agriculture who has a story worth telling? Email firstname.lastname@example.org