HAPPY holiday took on a new meaning for the Evans family after a call from their wool broker on Wednesday last week.
Brooks and Janet Evans and their children Chelsea, 9, Ashlyn, 7, and Lachlan, 4, were in Augusta on the second day of their annual holiday.
Splashing their way from the farm at Chowerup, south-west of Kojonup, to the coast the day before took twice as long as usual because of torrential rain that drowned the South West and adjacent parts of the Great Southern.
Skies were overcast and it was too cool for the beach so the on-holiday feeling had fallen a little flat for the family.
Then Primaries broker Stephen Squire rang with a summary of sale results for the Evans' 187-bale wool clip, followed up by a detailed email, and it became a very happy holiday.
From sweepings off the woolshed floor to the finest white Merino fleece the Evans family pride themselves in producing, their entire clip averaged a return of 1001 cents per kilogram greasy, and they had sold the lot.
"This year's was one of the better clips I've seen," a happy Mr Squire said after relaying the sale results.
"It was well grown and it had good numbers."
The Evans' clip was from a late November into December shearing that was held up several times by thunderstorms, and was classed by Eric Brown, Kojonup.
Overall, the wool averaged 17.3 microns with a yield of 67.6pc, with 25-38Nkt and 88-104mm staple length for the fleece and, thanks to a new wool press and accurate scales, an average bale weight of 186kg.
The average cut was 4.1kg from relatively small-framed adult sheep and about 1.3kg from lambs.
Partly due to good wool and partly due to the strength of the wool market, the Evans' 14 fleece lines all sold at better than 1044c/kg and to a top of 1095c/kg.
At 929 and 900c/kg, two of their lambs' wool lines easily bettered the best fleece prices paid at the corresponding week-30 sale in January last year at the Western Wool Centre.
The prices the Evans received for their pieces and bellies oddments would have made growers happy 12 months ago had they been for fleece.
What a difference a year makes.
With his brain still in holiday mode, Mr Evans said he thought his clip last year had averaged about 830c/kg.
"It was a fairly flat result last year, but we expected that," he said on Thursday during a visit to Margaret River.
"We looked after the sheep a bit better this year and cut a bit more wool, so we expected a bit more money, but we didn't expect those prices.
"It came as a bit of pleasant surprise, especially when we're on holiday."
Mr Evans said the prices on Wednesday last week were the best he had received for wool in the 15 years he had been running the family's Mooringa Farms enterprise after taking over from his father.
But, as usual on farms, the money from the wool clip was already spent, Mr Evans said.
"We're expanding so I've got to pay for the extra land," he said.
He is adding a 200 hectare harvested blue glum plantation site to the family's existing 1100ha, with 85ha of stumps to be ground out and the rest pulled out before he can sow it or run sheep on it.
The Evans have about 9000 sheep on the farm but expect to reduce that by about 1000 in coming weeks.
"I've got about 700 culls ready to go and there will be some others, but I might hang on to some of the wethers a bit longer now.
"It all depends if the wool prices stay up, I can get another year out of them," Mr Evans said.
"We've only just started feeding so my first job when I get back home (late this week) will be feeding sheep.
"I'm feeding barley for the extra protein.
"We run big mobs of 2800 ewes so I'll start dividing the mobs up into fat ewes and skinny ewes and then I'll have to find paddocks to put them in.
"We had a reasonable season, there was an early break and the green held, but we didn't get a spring flush at all.
"We had water in the dams but we didn't have growth."
The lack of a spring flush had more of an impact on his 400ha cropping program, Mr Evans said.
A canola crop had been disappointing, but barley had fared much better, producing between 2.5 and 3.5 tonnes per hectare.
A 20ha oats crop harvested at 2.5t/ha and, with the barley and bought-in lupins, provided the feed which hopefully would soon be supplemented by some fresh green pick, the result of 80-90mm of rain last week, he said.