Seeds full of hope sown

Headshot of Cally Dupe
Cally DupeCountryman
Hyden farmers Tracey and Tyron Utley.
Camera IconHyden farmers Tracey and Tyron Utley. Credit: Countryman

A new workman arrived just in time for seeding at the farm managed by Tyron and Tracey Utley, but it will be a few years before he pulls his weight.

Baby Ethan was born just four days after the couple rolled the airseeder out of the shed for a second year of cropping together at Sibford Farms, 19km east of Hyden.

His arrival has kept the couple on their toes, as they juggle keeping a newborn and one-year-old Curtis happy while seeding their 2500ha cropping program.

A 100ha mix of wheat and barley went into the farm’s “very dry soils” first, under sown with a clover mix of Dalkeith, Geraldton and Nungarin for winter pasture.

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“It has been a pretty big few weeks of seeding, having a new baby is just another challenge to add into the mix,” Mr Utley said.

“Tracey is with the kids all day, and I help out between working on the farm. Our program is not huge, so we don’t run a 24-hour operation.”

After a dry 12 months, the Utleys are thankful they installed a series of new bores last year at the tail end of the State Government’s Farm Water Rebate Scheme. “They have been very useful this year ... about 25 per cent of our dams have dried up or are too low to be usable for stock,” Mr Utley said.

“Last year’s rainfall was down about one-third on average, from our usual 350mm to 250mm, and we have had very little summer rainfall.

“We’ve been using bores to substitute livestock water ... not to mention how dusty it is for seeding.”

The Utleys have so far seeded 100ha of serradella, 150ha of lupins and 500ha of barley with the help of their two workmen, Ryan Dalzell and Lukas Labudek.

In coming weeks, they will put in a further 1500ha of wheat.

Their planned pasture program has been scaled back a bit after the dry summer, but they have set their long-term sights on improving soil health across the property.

Farming at Hyden is a world away from their past life in Perth, when Mr Utley worked as a senior mechatronic engineer and Mrs Utley was an occupational therapist.

Their journey to farming at Hyden was largely driven by the opportunity to give their children a rural upbringing.

They jumped at the change to manage Mrs Utley’s family farm and arrived in Hyden on Australia Day last year.

“We thought raising our children in a rural environment would benefit them,” Mr Utley said.

“The opportunity to be a part of a welcoming, honest, supportive country community was also appealing ... it’s just a nice place to be.”

The couple have embraced the agriculture industry, with Mrs Utley joining the SafeFarms WA board and Mr Utley completing the week-long ag-tech accelerator program HARVEST 2.0 last year.

The couple’s homecoming has been welcomed by Mrs Utley’s parents, Colin and Sally Utley, who are loving having their grandchildren home.

While Colin and Sally are in their 70s, they are still active on the farm and play a big role in managing the sheep.

“It’s really nice to be close,” Mr Utley said.

“Although we work long days and spend seven days a week on the farm, you still see the kids at breakfast, lunch and dinner.

“That is really nice.”

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