Baptism of fire for the Butlers

Baptism of fire for the Butlers

100 Stories of Hope
Tree change: Tony and Lynley Butler started farming at Yass 18 months ago.

Tree change: Tony and Lynley Butler started farming at Yass 18 months ago.

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For Tony and Lynley Butler the start of their new life on a farm at Yass coincided with the start of the drought.

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For Tony and Lynley Butler from Yass, the introduction to farming has been a self described baptism of fire, but a challenge they're embracing.

A year and a half ago, Mr and Mrs Butler sold their shoemaking business in the Sydney suburb of Belmore, and made the move south to the 308 hectare property they've chosen as their new home and business.

But the move coincided with the start of the drought which has the Southern Tablelands well in its grip.

That meant the Butlers had to learn very fast how to be farmers, with little room for trial and error along the way.

But they remain optimistic.

"We came into farming, as we have done in life in our previous professions, with planning," Mr Butler said.

"If we'd walked in on a fantastic season we may not have done everything as quickly as we've had to, but we wanted to set the place up so we do get the easy times.

We've had days we've turned up and nearly cried, but the benefits outweigh the drawbacks. - Lynley Butler, Yass.

"We began drought proofing from day one, putting in silos, putting in crops, putting in and refurbishing dams."

This year the Butlers enrolled in the local Prograze course run by Local Land Services NSW to learn how to manage their pastures and fit that management in with the requirements of their small cow herd and their 2400-head fine wool Merino flock.

Mr Butler said they also haven't been scared of admitting they need help and are happy to utilise the expertise offered by Local Land Services.

"They'll come out if we have problems and they've given us advice which has been really positive," he said.

"This time last year we were feeding our stock every second day and they were struggling.

"This year we weaned our April lambs straight onto oats, and we're seeing the difference that made to them, and the benefit to the rest of the stock."

With the drought continuing, the Butlers are looking at getting back into a feeding regime soon.

Mr Butler said it was something they're now prepared for, and they hope with lessons learnt about managing their stock, pastures and proper feeding regimes, the season ahead won't be as difficult.

While the move was seen as step towards semi retirement that hasn't happened yet, and Mrs Butler is working part time at the local hospital.

"It's not retirement but it's just the most wonderful lifestyle," she said.

The Southern Highlands of NSW has missed the rain and remains in drought.

The Southern Highlands of NSW has missed the rain and remains in drought.

"We put in long hours some days and short hours on others.

"We've had days we've turned up and nearly cried, but the benefits outweigh the drawbacks.

"We like being together and we like being on the land and we are learning and growing."

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