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TAS Country : September 30th 2010
16 TASMANIAN COUNTRY AGFES C ya n M ag e n ta Y el lo w B la ck GOING NOWHERE: The old holding cell in the paddock. Pictures: NIKKI DAVIS-JONES HANDS ON: Derwent Valley native Neil Williams. ROMA REVISITED: An Engli land THIS Jennifer Crawley Feature Farm History harvested TURKEYS roam around Cawood's Italianate sandstone homestead on the banks above the Ouse river. Murray Grey cows chew in lush paddocks, sheep scramble along the rocky river edge and crops grow in the rich soils of the river flats. Cawood has sprung to life under the care of owner Rob Paton and managers Neil and Julie Williams. The River Ouse tumbles along 5km of the 800ha property. A diving board is perched above a deep pool below the tennis court but Cawood is more than a gentleman's residence. It is a working farm. Dr Paton, an anaesthetist, has owned Cawood for 14 years and commutes between Hobart and Ouse at weekends. But he is no gentleman farmer, says Neil. ''He likes to get dirty. I've even had him up to his armpit preg-testing cows. ''He's no different to me when he gets out there, he's just an ordinary guy.'' Neil and wife Julie take great pride in their work. They have been married for 33 years and Cawood is their home. Neil grew up on a Derwent Valley farm in the Black Hills and has worked on farms ''all over the place''. He was recommended for the position at Cawood before he applied for the job. ''My hat had been thrown into the ring by somebody else,'' Neil said. ''As soon as I made the call to Rob he said 'I was wondering how long it was going to take you to ring up'.'' They have just finished calving on Cawood and were on the ground calf-marking last week. The 150-strong herd of Murray Greys includes replacement heifers and this season's calves. ''They're lovely cows, they don't come better,'' Neil said. He buys his bulls from breeder Charles Wallace at Cressy. Neil has built the herd up from the original 50 to 60 cows. ''We've got the herd up to a nice reasonable number now,'' he said. Neil runs a small herd of Angus but said Cawood will probably move out of them in the future. He got rid of all non-productive sheep during the drought. This is the second year of a changeover from Merino ewes, wethers and cross-bred ewes to Dohnes, he said. Building up the Dohne flock is a project close to Neil's heart. ''We used to breed our own Border Leceister- Merino ewes for prime-lamb production plus we had a self-replacing Merino ewe flock, but now we're going a little bit different,'' he said. ''We're still going to have a self-replacing ewe flock but it'll be Dohne based, the dual-purpose wool and meat sheep.'' The decision to switch to the South African breed was made after much research and talking t other people at sales, Neil said. ''We started off with seven second-hand used rams for the first go,'' he said. ''They gave us a hea of lambs, and 65 per cent of the first drop were ewe lambs.
September 23rd 2010
October 7th 2010