IT WAS a moment for farmer Shaun Westlake to celebrate, after finishing his seeding program two weeks ago at Calingiri.
After machinery drivers Jane Glass and Phil Aramoana seeded around the clock to get the job done, Mr Westlake was glad the heavy rains that fell a fortnight ago didn’t hold back operations too much.
However, the rain did slow the speed of seeding activity and Mr Westlake only cropped 80 hectares over five days due to the continuous rain.
“It was a bit too slippery to be seeding,” Mr Westlake said after receiving 24 millimetres for the week.
Despite the challenges brought on by the wet conditions, Mr Westlake welcomed the moisture and said it was a good change from the dry start.
Like many people, Mr Westlake found the dusty conditions early in the season tough on the air seeder.
“We had a few breakdowns from the dust and stuff but we kept going,” he said.
“For some reason the press wheels were breaking from the dust and I think I replaced 16 of them this seeding.
“But since it rained I have only replaced two.”
Mr Westlake said he had been kept busy spraying and filling up the truck throughout seeding, as well as completing repair works when needed on the seeding bar.
“This would be the longest seeding this year finishing up on June 8,” he said.
“In the past two years we have finished about May 25.”
This year the dry start meant Mr Westlake changed 70 hectares of canola to barley.
Now his program consists of 600ha of canola – half TT and half genetically modified – 640ha of Bass and Spartacus barley, 160ha of lupins for sheep feed and 1300ha of Zen and Scepter wheat.
He also put in some Serradella which had been successful over the past few years.
With seeding finished Mr Westlake said the pressure was off and he would focus his attention towards the his 1900 sheep.
“Now I can worry about mulesing, that’s the next thing,” he said. “It’s never ending what we have to do.”Mr Westlake has a farming partnership with his parents, Brian and Shirley Westlake, who also help out on the farm.
Before the season break Brian was constantly feeding the 1900 sheep on the property with lick and trail feeders.
“Thankfully the old man is still here,” Mr Westlake said.
“The sheep would have gone hungry if he wasn’t here I think, because it was nearly a full-time job feeding sheep.”
With the price of wool being at an all time high, Mr Westlake said the family recently changed its shearing time from August to April.
He said the change helped with lambing, meaning if they lost any ewes during the process then they wouldn’t loose their fleece as well.
Although the past few months have been busy on the farm, seeding wasn’t the number one priority with Mr Westlake putting his family first.
Mr Westlake’s wife Cherie is fighting bowel cancer and requires multiple trips to Perth.
He said he knocked seeding on the head for a day or two to go with her to Perth.
“Cherie is more important to me than the farm that’s for sure,” Mr Westlake said.
Cherie is a big part of the farming operation with a full-time job in the office three or four days a week.
Their three daughters Tahlia (16), Darcie (13) and Sidney (10) are also heavily involved with the farm.
Sidney, who is home alone with her two older sisters at Saint Mary’s boarding school in Perth, has found her own on-farm hobbies with newly hatched chickens in the lounge room under warm lights.
Mr Westlake said he liked to just get the job done on the farm so he could go and enjoy life somewhere with his kids.
“We go to watch the kids play sport and just get away,” he said. “But the next thing I will be doing is the Roundup Ready spray on my canola.”