FOR 70 years, Cannum farmer Ken Bibby has driven a header during harvest.
The 84-year-old has decided he will semi-retire from farming this year, along with his son Brendon.
“There’s no one older than me farming around here anymore,” Ken said.
”I’m too old to work and we’re not big enough farmers for us to employ somebody, so we’ve decided to partially pull the pin. But I'm not pulling the pin completely; there’s always something to do on the farm.”
Born in Warracknabeal, Ken was not born to the farming life and first starting working on farms in 1948.
“Dad and I leased some property in 1948 at Boolite. It was a wheat, barley, oats and sheep farm,” he said.
“We rented there for eight bob (shillings) an acre. That was the normal rate.
“Nobody had much much money back then, and we didn’t either. Dad had worked around in the quarries and then away we went into farming.”
After five harvests at the property, Ken and his father bought a farm at Cannum in 1953. “Our family has been here ever since,” Ken said.
He said a lot of changes had occurred in the agriculture industry since he first started.
“That first harvest I drove a two-speed John Deere on steel wheels towing an eight-foot header,” he said.
“It’s a bit different today – our current header is 30 feet. They are just huge nowadays – and have auto-steer too. The big ones are too dear for me to buy now.”
Ken said farming life was always filled with tests.
“Farming is always a challenge and you’re always past the eight-ball,” he said.
“This year we had the best price we’ve ever seen. We harvested every acre this year and the quality was really good. Our best crop one year was 15 bags per acre for the barley.”
Brendon said his father had had to adapt to the changes in the industry – including the introduction of technology such as GPS in the header.
“He’s still not used to using it, so every time something goes wrong he calls me,” Brendon said.
The pair have decided to share farm their 2300-acre property to other farmers in the region.
“We also share farm for other people to make it a little bit bigger,” Brendon said.
“When dad and his dad first started farming, they would go out and sow 20 acres by hand. That would take them all day. Now we do 30 acres an hour.”
Brendon said he always had a long list of jobs to complete at the property.
“I’ll still be living here and have got plenty of jobs do around the place,” he said.
“I’m cutting back from seven days a week to about four. Dad will still come out to the farm and help out doing odd jobs.”
While you’re with us, you can now receive updates straight to your inbox twice weekly from the Wimmera Mail-Times. To make sure you’re up-to-date with all the news from across the Wimmera, sign up below.