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House that for a harvest ‘reunion’ as two sons return home

The House family, of Gnowangerup, have had a homecoming harvest with the return of the younger generation to the farm.

Richard House said the 2020 harvest, which was completed before Christmas, was the first time his two boys, Timm and Fraser, had completed a harvest together as adults.

“Previously at boarding school, they had always been home a week or two to help out,” he said.

“The harvest was fairly normal, if that is a word these days.”

Richard said the boys drove a header each.

Timm House checks on the wool harvest under way at the Barloo woolshed.
Camera IconTimm House checks on the wool harvest under way at the Barloo woolshed. Credit: Bob Garnant

“With machinery becoming more and more efficient, it seems finishing before Christmas happens more often than not,” he said.

“The harvest weather was dry, which has been the case for the last few years, making it fairly straightforward.”

Richard said the boys completed high school as boarders at Hale School and then followed an agricultural pathway after school by completing farm management and agribusiness degrees at Marcus Oldham College, in Geelong, Victoria.

Barloo farm's cropping overseer Alister Clark transfers another load of Barfeed pellets.
Camera IconBarloo farm’s cropping overseer Alister Clark transfers another load of Barfeed pellets. Credit: Bob Garnant

“They both completed their practical year as a part of this course at farming properties in Victoria,” he said.

Richard said the boys were the third generation to farm at Barloo, a mixed cropping and Merino property, which is the home of the Barloo Merino and Poll Merino stud.

“Timm returned home to the farm in December 2019 and Fraser completed his degree in November … although he spent a fair amount of time at home due to COVID finishing it online,” he said.

“It is an exciting time for us to have the next generation on board with their youthful enthusiasm and energy, and their many new ideas.”

Richard and his family started their seeding program mid-April by sowing some canola, followed by beans, barley, lupins and wheat.

Timm House had the job of cleaning the harvestor.
Camera IconTimm House had the job of cleaning the harvestor. Credit: Bob Garnant/Countryman, Bob Garnant

“Canola, beans and barley were sown dry, while the wheat and lupins were sown after some rain at the end of May,” he said.

“We seeded approximately 400ha of canola, 150ha of beans, 400ha of lupins, 1500ha of barley and 2000ha of wheat.”

At Barloo, grains are held on-farm or sold off the header, with timing depending upon price and the farm’s need for fodder.

Grain can be held for the Barfeed pellet mill, depending upon quality.

Barloo cropping overseer Alister Clark.
Camera IconBarloo cropping overseer Alister Clark. Credit: Countryman

“The season was very dry with a late start,” Richard said. “Timely rains enabled a good average result overall.”

Richard said the growing season rainfall was 230mm on average across different locations.

“My wife Cindy and I have three children, including our daughter Holly, and they all have always had an interest in being a part of our farm business, and we certainly haven’t discouraged that,” he said.

Richard said all the children had been included in the farm’s business planning meetings from the last couple of years.

“Sheep worfk has been constant, managing water shortages and feed almost all year, and now it seems it is happening all over again this summer, too,” he said.

“Both boys are interested in sheep and cropping and involve themselves with both alongside our regular permanent work force.”

Shearing all the stud and commercial sheep was completed in December at Barloo by the local NNN Shearing contractors, headed by Paul and Shane Nicholas.

“They shore approximately 8500 commercial ewes and 3800 stud ewes,” Richard said.

“Our grown sheep averaged 20 micron.”

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