The History behind Heathfield
Early days “in the blood”
“I was probably always destined to have a passion for sheep.”
I lost my father at a young age, left school to work on Heathfield at 16, and was managing the farm at 18. Family stories I have heard over and over involving sheep have influenced and inspired me to breed the most profitable sheep I can.
Dad and his dad – both Steves – came from Lockhart, New South Wales, purchasing Heathfield in 1947. Prior to that the family farmed near Texas, Queensland. Dad was a shearer with a passion for sheep, and I think he moved from Lockhart to leave wheat behind and concentrate on his passion.
Their mob destined for Heathfield was walked from Lockhart (before the days of road transport) and shorn at a property along the way. When a cold snap came up, that landholder – who also had sheep off shears – put dad’s sheep in the shed leaving his own out. Dad was touched by this and this story has always stuck in my mind.
In the early days some rams were purchased from the Sydney sales. It was usual to transport a ram in the back of the car with the seat pulled out (much to the amusement of city motorists) and I am told one had a ride over the Harbour Bridge. The rams would spend a couple of days in mum’s parents’ back yard while mum and dad had a break in the big smoke.
Later there was an annual trip to the Albury sheep show and sale. Dad and his best mate Roy would take the old green Bedford truck that had just had its yearly wash whether it needed it or not. A ram was nearly always purchased. They were a bit rough on the gear tho – lead foot Roy, the designated driver drove hard enough to blow the dipstick out on several occasions.
Dad’s stud Corriedales were heavy cutting, big, fertile poll sheep. Some of the blokes that used to shear in our shed would tell me later how much wool dad’s sheep cut, how big they were and how hard they were to drag out. Over time these blokes became firm family friends.
A Merino mentor
At 18, without a father’s guidance I was lucky enough to meet Peter Westblade of Pastora, Lockhart. I bought rams from him, and he sourced Gum Hill and East Bungaree Merino ewes for me to kick start my breeding program. I developed enormous respect for Peter as a man for his qualities of compassion, determined attitude to achieve, and freely giving his knowledge and time to anyone that needed help. It has stuck with me all the way through my farming career and influenced my thinking.
One of Peter’s influences was to educate me to grow my sheep as fine as possible while cutting as much wool as possible, and having as many lambs as possible. Although our sheep have changed over time, these key goals have not changed.
Our vision for ram breeding is to provide excellent quality rams at reasonable cost to enhance our clients’ businesses.
We welcome enquiries – feel free to come for a visit or ring and have a yarn at any time without obligation.