Bumper falls fill Wandering dams

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Cally DupeThe West Australian
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Nicola and Shane Kelliher with two of their four children, John (2) and Lucille (2), of Wandering Clover Fed Beef.
Camera IconNicola and Shane Kelliher with two of their four children, John (2) and Lucille (2), of Wandering Clover Fed Beef. Credit: Cally Dupe

Dams are full and smiles are wide at the Kelliher family’s cattle farm after storms dumped a record-breaking 129mm across the property in 24 hours.

Shane and Nicola Kelliher own Wandering Clover Fed Beef, 3km south-east of the town, and run hundreds of Hereford-Shorthorn cattle across five properties in Wandering, Pinjarra and Darkan.

It’s been an erratic year for rainfall across their holdings, with the Kellihers’ homestead property recording a below-average 239mm until the skies opened on June 23.

“It was really strange — I was home and saw there was a lot of standing water but I didn’t realise just how much,” Ms Kelliher said.

“It was just all day, constant rain and then it just stopped.

“We would prefer it to have been spread out but it has filled out the dams, which gives us a bit to go on with.”

The Wandering town site recorded 131mm and other farmers in the area told Countryman their farms received about the same.

However, some farmers at nearby Carrabin recorded up to 175mm.

For the first time in the Kellihers’ memory, rainfall flooded the Wandering Brook and water gushed over a key bridge on the Wandering-Pingelly Road.

Mrs Kelliher said local children hopped off the school bus on one side and were transported to the other by one of their parent’s four-wheel-drive.

It was a bit of excitement for the Kellihers’ four children, David, 10, Annabelle, 8, Lucille, 6, and John, 2, who either watched or were ferried across the water.

“The kids were really rescued from across the bridge — there was a bit of commotion,” Mrs Kelliher said.

“A friend called and said, ‘I have the four-wheel-drive ready’, and the water was just over the bonnet.”

It was a welcome downpour at the property after months of “feeding and feeding” cattle in dry conditions, Mr Kelliher said.

“It was starting to worry us — we were putting the oat and pea-hay crop in and just kicking up dust,” he said.

The couple started Wandering Clover Fed Beef three years ago and the operation has gone from strength to strength. Cattle are fed a mix of clover, rye and serradella pasture and oat and pea crops to provide what the family regards as optimum nutrition.

Animals processed under their trademarked brand are accredited under the national pasture-fed cattle assurance system.

They are hormone-free, anti-biotic-free and bred to have a calm nature.

“It started as a hobby — we got a few boxes back for ourselves, and then our mates wanted one, and then it grew and grew,” Mr Kell-iher said. “The sugars in the clover come through in the meat and it caramelises really well.”

A seasonal product, Wandering Clover Fed Beef sources its beef from the family’s Kelliher Bros farming enterprise.

It is one of the first beef enterprises in WA to hold the Pasture Fed Cattle Assurance System certification, which assures cattle are hormone and antibiotic-free.

The Kellihers will start to mark calves at the end of July and hope their pastures will start to flourish after the recent rainfall. The family’s selling season for Wandering Clover Fed Beef will begin in September and is expected to be busy.

“I could have sold our entire rump stock last year another three times,” Mrs Kelliher said.

“A lot of people want it year-round but at the moment we are still small, which does attract a high level of interest.”

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