Tincurrin's Don Thomson bids farewell with big clearing sale

By Ty Miller, Nutrien Livestock, Wickepin/ Kulin/corrigin Agent
Updated February 28 2022 - 4:21am, first published December 28 2021 - 10:00am
Well-known Tincurrin farmer Don Thomson will farewell the farming industry next week when he holds a clearing sale on his property at Tincurrin this Wednesday, March 2.

This Wednesday, March 2, will mark the end of an era for well-known Tincurrin identity Don Thomson when he offers up more than 6000 breeding ewes as well as all his machinery at his on-property clearing sale.

At 1pm more than 50 years of Merino breeding will start the sale and will give purchasers the opportunity to buy into some of the best Merino genetics in Australia.

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While taking a break from making preparations for the clearing sale and sheep dispersal I sat down with Mr Thomson and took the opportunity to ask him a few questions about farming.

Mr Thomson completed Primary school at Tincurrin and then years eight to 10 at Narrogin Senior High School before going to the Narrogin Agricultural School in years 11 and 12.

It was 1963 when Mr Thomson finished ag school and went home for harvest, and apart from three months up north obtaining his wool classing stencil, that's where he has stayed.

The farm at Tincurrin was 5200 acres when Mr Thomson came home but only 1800 acres was cleared.

A solid clearing program was implemented for the next 10 years.

In 1972 he married his wife Bobbie which he said was, "the best move I ever made".

Some of the notable workers on the farm over the years have included Normy Edwards, who can fix anything and Mr Thomson reckons all the businesses in Narrogin pay him to take him, Mick Goldie, who worked on the farm for 19 years and even lived in the house and was a part of the family and Gary Charles, who worked on and off for 20 years as a tractor and truck driver but could do anything.

Mr Thomson started showing an interest in sheep as young as five-year-olds and took over running the sheep side of the farm in 1973.

Mr Thomson says he got his passion for breeding sheep from his mother and that the main difference from the 1970s to now is that sheep are run a lot harder.

In Don Thomson's clearing sale more than 6000 Merino and Poll Merino ewes will go under the hammer. Most of the ewes will be scanned in lamb and all will be offered as a sequential sale on AuctionsPlus as well.

The base of the Merino flock in the 1970s was from Woolkabin and Kurrara Park, however in 1977 Mr Thomson bought three stud rams and put them each to 50 of his top ewes and in 1978 starting breeding his own rams.

He made sure they were all fleece weighed and tested and used both Kylie and Billandri blood rams to soften up the wool.

From the 90s Kingussie, Anglesey and Kolindale rams were used as stud sires and today East Mundalla makes up the majority of the bloodlines but rams from other studs in the Wickepin area have also been used.

Mr Thomson said he always bought to a type which had a good lock and frame but the first thing he looked at was teeth, feet, legs (they need to have the right dangle between the legs) and then wool, which hasn't changed in 50 years.

The biggest changes he believes there have been in the sheep industry is they must be profitable, run DSEs and you must cut kilograms, while the biggest challenges are the brick walls that animal liberationists put up, increase in legislation and the weather.

When it comes to advice to young farmers, Mr Thomson has a few thoughts and that includes telling them there's work involved, you have got to have an interest, you only get what you put in and if things are going wrong go back to basics.

Although known for sheep breeding, Mr Thomson was equally keen on cropping with pastures setting up the cropping phase with a strong base of clover.

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In 1997 Mr Thomson won the top crop for WA and the Golden Grower competition with a 4.2 tonne per hectare crop of Cascades wheat which cost $98.60 a hectare to grow which sent them around the world for three weeks all expenses paid.

Mr Thomson also started clover harvesting in 1968 and sold to a client list of up to 80 people.

The most recent clover harvest had just been completed as the gear for the clearing sale was being lined up.

In the mid 1990s Mr Thomson and his compost tumbler became a regular fixture on the ABC at 6.15am from Monday to Friday hosted by Owen Grieve.

He would give a wind direction, rainfall reading, cloud cover report and of course would check for any dew or frost in the compost tumbler.

For 18 years Mr Thomson gave his early morning report and was given two T-shirts for his services and one of them didn't fit.

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The family farm has now been leased to three of his neighbours and despite moving out of the game now Mr Thomson says farming has been good to him and his family and hopes that it is equally as good to those taking over.

Mr Thomson moved to Narrogin in 2013 and plans to travel more around Australia once able to again but will still be a regular at ram sales and sheep sales in the district.

A few of Mr Thomson's mentors over the years have been his uncle Harry Thomson, Keith Nelson who never made a mistake, Jim Bagshaw who bought their ewe hoggets for the past 22 years and never had any wool problems even with the higher wool cut and skin, Rob Smith from Dongolocking, Jon Knox and Malcolm Talbot.

A couple of Mr Thomson's sayings to leave you with are:

"You can always learn and you can always improve."

"If you are going to panic, do it organised."

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