The close connection of his family with the land inspired Harry Cook to continue the tradition working the mixed-farming property in the eastern Riverina.
“Farming is in my blood on both sides of my family,” he said.
“From my mother’s side I am third generation farming in New Zealand, and all my uncles and cousins are farming over there.
“It is a good lifestyle, but we also make a reasonable income and it’s a great place to bring up our family.”
Still in his twenties, he is the third generation on his father’s side on the 1000 hectare property “Kolonga”, Harefield between Wagga Wagga and Junee, although his family have been in the district for five generations.
Keen on a longterm farming career but wanting to gain experience away from the family operation, Mr Cook went jackarooing on a cattle station in far-western Queensland for two years.
He had planned to stay longer, but returned home a few years earlier than he expected.
“I came back to the farm six years ago after my father had an accident when I was twenty to take over the operations of the farm,” he said.
“Mum does the books and assists me on the farm and Dad is still involved as much as he can.”
It was a tough start for the young man, but he had and continues to get a lot of support from his peers and leaders of the local farming community.
With an enterprise mix of sheep, cattle and cropping Mr Cook said he is focused on lifting the performance of the sheep flock, while the cropping rotation of 120 hectares wheat and lupins is crucial in reducing weeds prior to sowing down improved pasture for the stock.
“We are now moving to SAMM Merinos, getting out of straight Merinos and targeting a dual-purpose sheep but still retaining good wool growing capacity,” he said.
“My father likes to grow quality wool and since I have back on the farm we are breeding prime lambs from our Merino ewes.”
But Mr Cook felt he needed ewes with greater stamina and with dual-purpose characteristics.
“The SAMM’s are the breed of sheep I want to pursue,” he said.
Bell Cook is pursing a professional career off-farm but still finds time to support her husband in his endeavour to drive an interesting business.
From an outside perspective, Mrs Cook is able to use her financial expertise and advise on the best finance structures, to keep them ‘ahead of the game’. “I hope that I can keep them up to date with any assistance which is made available to all farmers and they can take advantage of,” she said.