FOR six generations and 110 years, the Gilham family has farmed in the Boggabri region.
During that time the family has seen its fair share of good seasons and bad.
But according to Richard Gilham the family’s philosophy has always been the same.
“It’s all about hard work,” Mr Gilham said.
“I think it comes down to going back to basics.
“We source our own meat and our own milk and try to be as self sufficient as we can.”
Drought is nothing new, it’s something that farmers in this country have encountered many times before and each time you learn something new for the next one.- Richard Gilham
Mr Gilham said he believed most farmers in the region were finding their own way to work through drought.
“The bad thing about a winter drought as opposed to a summer drought is you have to keep the stock warm as well as fed,” he said.
“Stock have to work pretty hard in the winter keeping themselves warm and if they are not properly nourished it’s hard for them to do that.
“However, I think most farmers who are in this position are set up well enough and prepared to find a way around it and continue on.
“Drought is nothing new, it’s something that farmers in this country have encountered many times before and each time you learn something new for the next one.”
I think it comes down to going back to basics.- Richard Gilham
While more than 70 per cent of the state’s breeding stock has been sold at market, the Gilham’s have held onto most of their stock.
“At the moment we are running a few thousand head of sheep and a few hundred head of cattle,” Mr Gilham said.
“In my opinion, it comes down to working out how much feed each animal needs and for how long and working out from there how much feed you need.
“We are going okay in that department at the moment with some left-over feed from seasons past.
“But, given how prices are looking particularly at the cattle sales at the minute, we are almost looking to buy more.”
Mr Gilham said “off-farm income” could play a part in surviving the drought.
“Diversifying is very important so we have crops, sheep and cattle,” he said.
“But one thing around here that does help is the amount of income that can be made away from the farm.
“Things like mines and contract work can help keep some farmers going through tough times.
“We don’t have any off-farm income, but diversifying means that you don’t have all of your eggs in one basket.”
The fifth generation farmer said he was in for “the long term”.
“Mate from here we will just keep doing what we’re doing,” he said.
“We’re in a good position despite the drought and hopefully we can continue to keep pushing on.
“Hopefully we see some rain again soon though.”
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