Wimmera Farmer presents a monthly feature that profiles young people in agriculture and looks at what drove them to a life on the land.
FOR some Wimmera young people, life on the farm comes at a price.
Ledcourt producer George Howard splits his time between being a full-time builder and farming, hoping to save up enough money to buy his own land.
George, 22, is a fourth generation farmer and runs about 1000 ewes on 700 acres west of Stawell.
However, he is from a farming family where his father and grandfather are still active on the land and therefore there is no room for George to work full time.
After he finished school he became a builder. He now he leases land from two neighbours and looks after his own sheep.
“I’ve been farming myself for about three years now,” he said.
“I like it on the land – I wish I could do it full time,” he said.
“It’s so casual - you can be your own boss and do what you like.”
George also grows crops of oats and grain for feed.
“The crops are almost a bit too wet at the moment,” he said.
George worked at a supermarket in Stawell during school and when he finished he became an apprentice builder.
He has to work full time and lease his farm land because he can’t afford to buy his own.
“Working full time and looking after the farm can be a bit tricky,” he said.
“I’m lucky that my old man helps me out a bit.”
George knocks off work each day about 4.30pm and spends his afternoons checking his stock.
Despite the juggling act, he managed to mark all his own lambs this year, and usually shears them himself as well.
GEORGE’S dream is to buy his own land, but unfortunately it’s not an easy thing to do if you are a young farmer.
“I hope to buy my own land one day, if it comes up around here,” he said.
He currently leases from two neighbours and uses his family's shearing shed.
“It’s just a matter of roving the sheep through the gate,” he said.
“If I bought my own land elsewhere though, I would have to set myself up with equipment.
“I wouldn’t be able to do anything without dad and his machinery – it’s really hard for young people.
“There needs to be more support to help young farmers get started.”
George said he hoped he could work full time on the farm one day.
“I lease land because it’s just too dear to buy,” he said.
“I’ve thought about building myself a house in Stawell and use that has an asset to pay a loan off.”
GEORGE’S father traditionally shears in autumn, but George decided to to switch to September shearing, which seems to have yielded better results.
Earlier this year he received awards from Landmark after his lamb wool topped the market in price.
For his 19.2 micron wool, he received 1035 cents a kilogram, greasy, and for his 18.8 micron wool, he received 1068 cents a kilogram, greasy.
“We sold a fair few bales – I didn’t know it was going to get such a good price though,” he said.
“I sold the wool before the end of the financial year and wool prices were really good at the time.”
Family knowledge was passed on to George in shearing as well.
“I learnt to shear from my dad and my pa,” he said.
George used to get off the school bus and skirt wool while his relatives were shearing.
He started shearing on his own when he was about 17.