Suitable lifestyle

There is more to living on a farm than just maintaining a healthy bank balance.

Happy livestock, land and lifestyle is what farming is all about, according to Goolma locals Len and Claire Cooney.

On their 500 hectare property ‘Cromer’, the Cooneys “farm to suit ourselves”.

Mr Cooney has worked in the wool industry all his life and knows how much labour is involved in breeding fine wool Merino’s.

However, he and wife Claire found that culling the problems from their flock as soon as they became evident meant that they were able to reduce this workload.

Mr Cooney said he could tell if a sheep was prone to flystrike just by looking at the sheep's wool.

“Checking for flies involves a high workload,” Mr Cooney said. “We have no tolerance for flystrike so we cull the fly prone.”

By doing this the couple said they have much more time to enjoy other benefits of living on the farm; such as continuing the family tradition of recording statistics and admiring the local wildlife.

For generations the family has been recording information and observing the trends that develop.

Temperature and rainfall readings for both the Goolma district and on-property, dating back to 1866 when Mrs Cooney’s family is first said to have moved to the area.

In 2009 the couple used the records to put together a that showed trends that had developed across the years.

“(We) observe and record changes, trends start to show (and we) become aware and act,” Mrs Cooney said.

It is not only weather statistics being recorded but also wildlife sightings on the property.

Recording the sightings is not only a favoured past-time of theirs but helps them to understand animal behaviour as well.

“We find that our sheep are suited better to our hard country where there is a lot of bush,” Mr Cooney said. “There is a bigger variety of scrub in the hills. It’s an animal’s natural urge to seek variety.”

The couple said learning about animal behaviour and their reactions to particular changes was fascinating.

“The yabbies came back last year after disappearing after locust spraying about five or six years ago,” Mrs Cooney said.

“(Spraying) did immeasurable damage and a lot of the natural wildlife that we saw before is still missing.”

Mr Cooney said after seeing the damage from the poison all those years ago, the couple had learnt a valuable lesson about their own Merino wool operation.

“We don’t do what everyone else does,” he said. “We just farm to suit our lifestyle.”

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