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This website aims to develop case studies of the development of farming practices and attendant transformations of local ecologies of defined blocks of land. Through these biographies of particular plots of land we are developing localised analyses of the wider historical trends in the political economy/ecology of the Northern Rivers.

Go to: Arriving in the Northern Rivers | Moving in | Changing land-use | Dairying | Farm work | Markets | Off-farm income | Expansion | Succession | Organic farming | Bush Regeneration

Moving in

I thought that there was a sniff of a chance that there was… that there was enough potentially productive land on there that we could make a go of it and that’s all I really wanted and expected and it had the bonus of these disused dairy bails which at the time was full of old cars and rubble but it actually had electricity connected and one lined room which was the old cream room but able for us to move straight into and it also had an old disused piggery that I was able to use for dairy bails. It didn’t have a roof on it anymore but it had the pad there which was useful and in an out gates and those sorts of things I could rig up. So we were immediately in production and were immediately able to move into the building.

Both the other two houses that were attached to the farm had been bought by people that had moved to the district because they wanted to move into a country area and that little cluster was one of, there were only two other houses on the road which is 4 kms long at least and has a couple of little side roads and there were only two houses on those at the time. This has changed significantly since then. It was a very quiet country road even though it was a through, potential, through road to go through to places like Rosebank. There was basically no traffic. If a car came along the road you would know whose place it was going to.

I spent 1979 repairing the fence lines and putting up fences as well as doing the milking and delivering and building on to the house, to the bails to make it a house.

It was a very weedy block with lantana and all the common weeds of the north coast were there. I could see some potential to utilise the woody weeds as fodder for the dairy herd and they would change the nutrients that were tied up in those woody weeds with their manure in the ground and able to put nutrient back into the pastures and initially I got second hand wire from the tip or anywhere I could find it, if there were any clearing sales on and…I didn’t have a tractor or anything but … by hand or with my old trusty ute I could get anywhere on the property or go along the road and throw it over the fence and roll it down the hill, that sort of stuff. And my hand loppers, hand saw and a little mini chain saw I cleaned up the fence lines because they were all 100 years old most likely.

The other blocks only ever had, if they had stock on them, they only had agisted stock at that period of time. Most of the other side of that farm, at that time, was at least as weedy as our side in terms of other species since the dairy input stopped. It didn’t take very long, in fact you could see paddocks, I remember driving past paddocks and the stock would be moved off because you’d get a new owner and they wouldn’t have stock in there and within 8 years it would go from mainly grass to can’t see any grass and would just be weeds.

One side had been scraped with a dozer by the previous owner to try and grow grass but he didn’t follow it up and there was less grass than before he scraped it, according to the neighbours, than afterwards and I certainly saw that and there was, at the time, quite a bit of groundsel, a noxious weed that the Weeds Authority were chasing every season, and that paddock had quite a bit of groundsel established on it as well which I had to remove by hand.

Although in 1980, one of the neighbours whose father had bought a property neighbouring he had a tractor, and I got him to come over and plough up the one flat paddock on the property that had been historically the fallen paddock to grow small crops and he came over and I did that.

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