Noel for Christmas

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Bob GarnantCountryman

The Fowler family, of Williams, is in the midst of a memorable lead-up to Christmas as shearing is producing some very white and bright wool, stamped Rapanui, being baled up to mark the special occasion.

It was only in the past year that Jamie and Jo Fowler’s son, Noel, returned to the farm full-time, fulfilling a dream the couple always envisioned.

“While our daughters Belinda and Caroline both have good careers in Perth, we are very pleased both our sons, William and Noel, are now back on the farm, ” Jamie said.

Noel, 26, who manages the east farm, said his time between school and working off-farm was a great learning experience and he was now ready to take on the challenges bestowed by his late grandfather, Aubrey.

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“I enjoy how harmoniously we all get along and how passionate our family is for farming and great country living, ” he said.

Rapanui has always been a mixed farming operation and Merinos instrumental in the development of the business.

“Dad, who is the farms’ general manager, was always keen to improve on the wool quality and cut, ” Noel said.

Although Noel says he is on a fast learning curve on the stock side of things, he does see the intrinsic value Merinos have played out on the farm.

“We run some 30,000 sheep, all Merino, and for very good reasons, ” he said.

“During a low-yielding crop season like the present, sheep become the best performers.”

Noel said the rain gauge recorded only 240mm during the growing season.

“We work on 450mm in a normal year, ” he said.

“Sheep are also instrumental in our crop rotational management and weed control.”

Noel also is pleased in this year of rising fine wool prices that the Merino flock has continued to produce low micron fleece.

“Over Christmas, we will bank some 600 bales of fine wool this year, ” he said.

It was all good cheer at the Rapanui board meeting recently after discussions of an early harvest and plans for a joyous staff Christmas party.

In the New Year the family is off to Switzerland to attend William’s wedding to Zurich-born Celina Blum.

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