Farmer in Focus – Kate Cowan, Sheep Hills

Can you give us a bit of background of yourself and your farm?
I grew up on a mixed farming property at Laharum. I met my husband 15 years ago and started helping him on his grain property at Sheep Hills in the holidays and weekends. I studied a Bachelor of Education and taught at Warracknabeal Primary until we had our first child. I continued to help during busy periods which then turned into full time. I enjoy being on the farm and farming alongside my husband Robert, my two kids and his parents. We have grown our cropping business and we work well as a team. We crop wheat, barley, lentils, oats, canola, faba beans, oaten hay, and vetch/radish for brown manure. 
 
How does your farming operation work? Do you have specific set roles that you focus on?
​We currently employee five full time staff who do majority of the operational tasks around the property. I manage the bookwork with help from Robert’s mother Carol. I do the grain testing and budgeting. Robert manages the employees to maximise the efficiency of tasks being completed. As we are spread out there is a lot of logistics involved. I also drive some machinery/vehicles when needed – bit like an allrounder. 
 
What are your plans for the farm in the next few years?
Our main yard and business have seen a lot of changes over the past six years with added storage, better access during the winter months for out loading hay and grain. We plan to continue improving the efficiency and running of our business. 
 
Where do you go for advice?
​We use a diverse range of consultants to help us with decisions with nutrition, agronomy, marketing. I also enjoy days that the GAPP group (Growth, Adoption, Production and Profit discussion groups) have put on in the past and find workshops like these very beneficial in building knowledge. Also gain a lot of insights from talking with like-minded people and particularly people who have been farming or in business longer then I have. 

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