On the farm, happily Eva after

Kate MatthewsCountryman

Rodney Eva represents the next generation of farmers — and he could not be happier.

At 31 years old, Rodney has worked as a truck driver carting livestock, grain and hay, at a manufacturing firm building silos and for other farmers including his father.

He said this work experience had provided an insight into how agricultural producers work and everything he had learnt would help in the future, including his schooling at the WA College of Agriculture, Narrogin.

Last April, Rodney started leasing the family farm, Rambling Acres, just north of Pingelly.

He said he was lucky he could still ask his father for advice.

“I’ve always wanted to go farming and the timing was right last year,” Rodney said.

“There is no other job like it. You are doing something different every day and are not stuck in an office.”

With seeding just around the corner, this year’s program, which will depend on rain, will include 250 hectares of Calingiri wheat and 250ha of Wandering oats.

While waiting for the rain, Rodney has been busy spreading superphosphate and, depending of soil test results, lime where needed.

Rodney said soil testing was important and he had been experimenting with different chemicals to see what worked best.

Under Rodney’s leadership, another change for Rambling Acres was the introduction of Dohnes into the sheep enterprise.

He said sheep production was the main focus of the Pingelly farm, with Merinos a key component.

The sheep flock includes 2000 ewes, which are mated to Merino, Dohne, Suffolk and Border Leicesters.

The first of the Merino-Dohne cross lambs will be born at the end of April.

“I’m trying Dohnes, because I’m looking for a breed that incorporates meat and wool, especially with the way prices are at the moment,” Rodney said.

“I’d rather build up sheep numbers and drop the crop back.”

The biggest change on the Merino component was the move from horned to polled rams.

Rodney also breeds Suffolk rams for the Suffolk component.

In the future, Rodney said he would seek to pregnancy scan ewes and run the twin baring and singles separately.

“I would like to try lick feeders, so there is less stress for the ewe. It won’t have to chase the trail feeder, leaving lambs behind,” he said. “Any cut down on wastage has to be a good thing, considering the price of grain and pellets.”

Alpacas could also be added to the mix in a bid to protect lambs.

“Every dollar counts and the loss of a few lambs to foxes soon adds up,” Rodney said.

“I also want to start putting more effort into improving the quality of pastures by using different varieties of clover and ryegrass.”

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