Graham Baker had a successful beekeeping business for 40 years, but has now returned to his roots on the land.
Mr Baker and his wife, Karen, operate their commercial Angus enterprise in the New England region with properties on both north and south sides of Glen Innes.
His Angus cattle are testament to his love of the breed, after leaving beekeeping close to four years ago and handing over the reins of Baker Beekeeping Pty Ltd to his son, Jake.
"Bees were my life, but I always loved the land and was born on my parents' dairy and mixed cropping place east of Glen Innes," Mr Baker said.
"I wanted to go on the land but after working for a beekeeper I was fascinated by the bees, so I went beekeeping," he said.
"It's an industry that doesn't leave much of a footprint on the environment - Fairly harmless but fairly essential as well."
After leaving their beekeeping business, the Baker's set their focus on undeveloped properties that they purchased in the Ben Lomond and Inverell districts in 2014 and 2017, respectively, and purchased their first Angus cattle in 2014.
"It was a very good Angus herd, as I bought a complete dispersal from a top breeder," Mr Baker said.
However, the drought of 2018/19 hit the Baker's pretty hard, decimating their herd, and they were forced to sell.
"It shook me up a bit, and I thought I might finally retire then, but I couldn't," he said.
"I traded my way back in a rising market once it started to rain.
"I was buying good quality heifers on AuctionsPlus, growing them, putting my top bulls over them, and selling them PTIC.
"I did very well and traded myself back into solvency to the point where I had some really good heifers, so I decided to get back into breeding."
I will be aiming at the feeder steer market hoping to get them up to 480 kilograms by 16 months, if the seasons go with me. I will keep some of the better heifers, or sell them PTIC and anything maybe not up to standard will go to the abattoirs- Graham Baker, Brymaroo, Glen Innes
The Baker's sold their two properties at Ben Lomond and Inverell, and just 18 months ago purchased Brymaroo, north of Glen Innes, which is 285 hectares of lighter country, and then as recently as eight months ago, added a finishing block to their enterprise, with another 90ha of undulating heavy basalt country, Burnleigh, purchased to the south of the town.
"Already we've finished some steers beautifully on it, as it's some of the best country in the district," he said.
Buying his bulls from Jim and Jackie Wedge, Ascot Angus, Warwick, Mr Baker said his two current Ascot sires were rising six years old now, and as good today as they were when he first bought them.
"What impresses me is that they are good quality soft bulls, with great depth, and are still hardy and structurally very sound," he said.
"Quite often bulls don't go to six years as something goes wrong, but they're fine. I will definitely go back to Ascot.
"However, we have also had great success with Eaglehawk bulls, and we will be purchasing from there again too."
Currently running 130 Angus breeders with calves at foot, Mr Baker said he continued to look for bulls with low birth weight and high growth rates, and was prepared to pay extra for those traits.
"Low birth weights eliminate a lot of calving problems, especially in young heifers," he said.
"Because I haven't had finishing country until recently, I've been selling into the local weaner sales at Glen Innes, but now I will be keeping them myself and finishing them here.
"I will be aiming at the feeder steer market hoping to get them up to 480 kilograms by 16 months, if the seasons go with me.
"I will keep some of the better heifers, or sell them PTIC and anything maybe not up to standard will go to the abattoirs."
Mr Baker said he chose Angus as they performed very well on the Northern Tablelands of NSW.
"They are also the most saleable cattle, and bring the best money. If you can turn them off at 16-18 months, as a finished product, you're not keeping them forever."
He believes strongly that only 100 per cent pure Angus cattle should be marketed as that.
Utilising all improved pastures, with some oats, Mr Baker said he had been feeding cattle up until Christmas on his lighter country.
"We had only received storm rain, but grasses are going away from the cattle now," he said.
"We were very fortunate that we put in a trough system last winter, pumping from Furracabad Creek, so water is not an issue for us, however some neighbours need some run-off to fill their dams."