See how it's done at Gidge

Countryman

Sue and Bill Blumer, along with their daughter Sarah John, run 90 breeding ewes and 40 lambs on their property, Nardie Wiltshire stud. They have been involved with the Gidgegannup field day open farm tours since the first event four years ago.

“We show visitors pasture management, feeding and nutrition,” Sue said. “We show how to build efficient yards — either how to build them yourself or with off-the-shelf components. We’ll also provide information on husbandry.”

Sue said the Wiltshire Horn breed was introduced to WA in 1952 after a “horrific” outbreak of flystrike in the Wheatbelt.

Wiltshires are fast growing and easy to manage, which Sue said made the breed ideal for small landholders and new farmers.

Since establishing the stud in 1994, Sue and Bill have focused on conformation and correctness. They use LambPlan and stringent culling programs to improve carcase measurements.

Emphasis has been placed on breeding strong, healthy, paddock-reared sheep with excellent longevity.

They shed their wool, can be run without chemicals and ewes are good milking mothers.

Sue said they were keen to share their knowledge and experiences of the Wiltshire breed, and have in the past sold their sheep to other breeders as well as organic olive growers and vineyards.

“Most of our market is rams to Merino breeders,” she said. “They are also handy for cropping and are prolific breeders.”

Other properties participating in the open farms tour are Jim Dawson’s jujube and fig farm and Bees Neez Apiaries, run by David and Leilani Leyland.

Jim will share his experiences of growing and propagating the exotic jujube tree, while David and Leilani will share information on how to manage an apiary business efficiently and profitably.

The Leylands will also take visitors through the process of honey making.

David, who has been working with bees for 28 years, and Leilani opened the retail and education side of their business seven years ago. They sell beeswax candles, honeycomb and bee-related gifts, as well as six different types of honey.

The Leylands regularly host clubs and groups on tours of the apiary, but Leilani said this was the first time they had been involved in the field day.

“Initially, we had locals asking where to get our honey,” she said. “We sold it through shops but it wasn’t enough. Now it’s developed into an education thing. Some kids don’t know where their food comes from. We want people to learn.”

The Gidgegannup Small Farm Field Day is on May 28. Transport to all farms is free for field day attendees. Buses leave from the main gates every hour between 10am and 3pm.

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