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Farm life in pictures

Haidee VandenbergheCountryman

Photographs line former Hyden farmer Theo Marshall's house, documenting the beginnings of his farming career as a new land farmer right through to when he retired from farming in 2005.

Theo was rarely without camera in hand and estimates he took as many as 5000 photos while he was farming.

After starting share farming with his father, John, a pioneer in the Hyden area, Theo and his brothers, James and Geoffrey, left to start their own venture in 1968.

As Theo remembers, clearing new land was hard work, with no short cuts.

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"We were very fussy in not clearing too much at one time and we left wide bush breaks," he said.

"We would knock it down in September, burn it in February, plough it two or three times and then put in a crop the next year after nine months of fallow.

"When we did light them up it could be 300-400 hectares.

"There was so much heat it would suck the sand up into the air and then it would fall back onto you - it was like a bomb had gone off."

After successfully developing a farm with his brothers and then striking out on his own, Theo retired at 60 but said an interest in farming - and photography - still lingered.

"I'm rather proud I took all those photos and the pictures tell a story, right from when it started," he said.

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