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TAS Country : January 27th 2011
14 Friday, Janu A farm bu The owner of a sheep property that as a colourful past is looking to the future with confidence, writes Emma Hope Farming is quite enjoyable at the moment, there's a lot of confidence in the industry right now HERITAGE: An historic trough hewn from sandstone. OKEHAMPTON, at Triabunna, was land granted to Maria Island penal settlement commandant Major Thomas Lord, who was one of the first Europeans to settle the area, in 1825. The Weeding family took over the property more than 50 years ago and these days it is a successful Merino stud run by Paul Weeding. Major Lord named his property Okehampton and had a signal station set up so he could communicate with his officers on Maria Island. Mr Weeding said he was fascinated by the history of the property and had learned of many amusing anecdotes since owning it. ''They granted him [Major Lord] 1000 acres and he grew it up from that,'' Mr Weeding said. ''He was a pretty funny bloke from accounts. ''Major Lord was playing cards one night with the man who would eventually take over his property. ''But he ran out of money, so he put his daughter up for stakes. ''So the man finished up with his property and his daughter.'' Mr Weeding said a lot had changed and progressed since his family took over Okehampton. ''I was 14 when we moved here to live. ''When we came here in 1956 there was only 40 or 50 acres of cultivation, the rest was all bush, so it's all been developed since that time.'' Mr Weeding currently has 14,000 hectares, though it was more until the property was split between him and his brother five years ago. ''There was only about 1200 sheep and about 20 cattle on the place when we first got it. ''Before the property was split we used to get up to 12,000 sheep and 150 cows. ''But then with the droughts that number dropped. I'm running about 5000 sheep and 130 cattle at the moment.'' Mr Weeding said he had experienced some challenges through his time but currently, with such strong wool prices, things were good. ''Farming is quite enjoyable at the moment. There's a lot of confidence in the industry right now.'' Mr Weeding is on the council of the Stud Merino Breeders' Association of Tasmania and is highly regarded in the industry. Mr Weeding lives at Okehampton with his wife, Jean, he has brought up three daughters on the property. He has three sheep dogs and a small pet dog. Roger, his ''right hand man'', is a loyal sheep dog who has taken to living in the house. The farmhouse was built in 1956 just before Mr Weeding's family bought the property. The original homestead, which was situated behind the current one, was pulled down when the new one was established. ''We've done quite a few renovations, we rendered all of the outside of the house about five years ago. ''We also got a new kitchen just last year.'' The property consists of the house, the shearing shed and the auction shed. Mr Weeding said that in December he put up 70 rams for sale in the annual Okehampton auction. ''Back in the early 90s we used to have auctions Farm Feature Okehampton
January 13th 2011
February 3rd 2011