Chapter 18 Local Initiative and Perseverance

I think I was fortunate that I began farming in the Depression time when I was 14. We were a family of four boys, and we were short of money. The two younger ones were able to go to high school, but Ron and I had to start working on the property.

Then we began doing some work for ourselves also, for we never received wages when working on the farm for our father and mother.

As mentioned earlier by the time I turned 171 had £25 ($50) from rabbitskins, and Ron also had £25 ($50), so we rented from different farmers paddocks which they considered were their poorest. We began growing potatoes, and as we had no horses we rented them and paid wages for men to plough the potatoes in.

We cut the seed and planted the sets, and sowed manure in the furrows. This was no easy task, for we used to run with half a bag of manure, weighing half a hundredweight, on our backs, and had to race the horses, which went well on their diet of crushed oats. We had to be able to cut enough seed during the next lap the horses went round the paddock, and then be ready to start in behind the horse team again. So every penny was important, which is what I meant when I mentioned that I was fortunate in one way because I started in the Depression years with no money. That made me understand how valuable money was as a means of making progress. Its value, of course, is how to use it to the best advantage.

Often throughout my lifetime I have not filled the car with petrol on the last day of the month, but waited until the next day, the first of the month, to give me another four weeks credit on the purchase. Even today we do not buy a lot of things at the end of the month if we can leave it until the first of next month, which gives us another four weeks' credit. This helps our overall income and expenditure situation, and interest bills. It is just sensible, commonsense, down-to-earth financing.

I have been called an unorthodox farmer, and perhaps I am. For instance, we do not drench our cattle unless they are really sick; it is too expensive and time-consuming to drench them regularly for no reason.

If the grass they are eating is well kept and they are given plenty of natural feed, warmth and shelter they are not so likely to get sick, and if you don't need to do sOmething why do it, because every body else does?

Of the 11,295 acres (4,571 hectares) on Wyambi more then 2,471 acres (1,000 hectares) has been left as natural bush for the benefit of the cattle, which know what they need. If you leave plenty of bush they help themselves.

For instance, our cattle do not need to be given molasses, because the natural yacca plants on the property supply them with enough sugar, and the clover and pasture plants complete their diet. We just harness Nature. From January to end of April 1988 we had a record dry period. We then had a wonderfully good growing month during May, with mild weather accompanied by frequent showers for some weeks. It turned Out to be a wonderful autumn, because usually if you have a poor spring in our part of the State, you have a good autumn. Or if you have poor summer and autumn you have a good winter and spring. For example, in 1987 we had a poor spring, but a good autumn. It does not pay to rush around and buy hay and other fodder at a big price until it is really needed.

Farming is quite a lot different from some other businesses where there is a regular schedule of work with only minor variations. Because of the rain, the climate and the day-to-day variation of the work routine, farm employees need to be versatile, to switch to a different job without losing time. Our staff are very versatile.

We are fortunate at Rushy Lagoon that most of the men have been miners and understand a lot of what to do in various circumstances. They are very practical, for they are not used to having engineering firms at their beck and call.

When we were building dams on Wyambi we bought some big 28-inch (711 millimetre) valves from the acid plant at Burnie when it was being pulled down. We got them cheaply, but a couple of representatives of engineering firms happened to be on the property and I asked them whether I could get the valves going, as they had seized up. They said it was doubtful; probably we could get one going, but not the other. This concerned me, because the valves were worth some thousands of dollars each if purchased as new.

However, George Reynolds and his brother Sandy were there with big scrapers putting on 21 tonnes of dirt every four minutes on a big wall when we were building the dam.

It came on to rain very heavily about 10.30 a.m., and I said, It is no good, you chaps, you won't do any work when you go home, so could you stay, light a fire, heat these big valves and get them operating for me?

They weighed about three quarters of a tonne each, but George and Sandy had them both fully operational by 4.30 p.m., as well as fixing a pump. The valves are still working perfectly after six years. I think they will still be operating in fifty years.

This shows that by not giving up, persisting and trying, often a loss can be turned into a profit. This has happened many times in my life-time, for example the Dewcrisp Factory, engineering Forester River tides and rock problems on the Arthur River road construction.

Perseverance is essential in all walks of life. In sport, in military campaigns, with health problems and in business success, the work ethic and perseverance will make up for a lot of items you think you lack.

I like the well known quote by Calvin Coolidge, President of the United States from 1923 to 1929:

Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan 'press on' has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.

Perseverance has in the past been essential to mankind and is at present and will be in the future.