Hi, my name is Samantha Schottelius and although my family have been involved in the agricultural industry for years I am a first generation farmer!
My mother’s parents, Peter and Sue Bambling who were married in 1962 were both from well know families of the Gayndah district. My grandfather Peter was the youngest child of four and with a passion for earthmoving and large machinery he decided to take up contracting. As time went on their efforts to purchase land paid off when in 1971 they drew a ballot block on the Mackenzie River north of Dingo, now known as ‘Merion’. This is where they settled and still call home today.
My father’s family originated from South Australia and made the move to ‘Willawa’, Theodore in 1965 where they also decided to make the transition from Herefords to the new Braford breed with the purchase of first herd bull in 1966. The Schottelius family drew a ballot block in 1973 north of Middlemount, which took several years to fully stock due to the beef slump. 1978 saw the formation of ‘Willawa Braford Stud’ with classification of seven cows, the purchase of stud bull and two heifers. ‘Willawa’ was bought out by the mine in 1981 and the move to ‘Rolf Park’, Middlemount was made.
As for my parents Mark and Bronwyn what a rollercoaster they have been on over their married life. They were situated at ‘Rolf Park’ with Braford cattle from 1988 until 1997 when the Schottelius family partnership was separated and my father’s parents decided to retire. From here my parents along with my brother and I moved all around Central Queensland following dad with his truck driving. During all of this my mother with a very keen eye and extreme passion for cattle and the land was always travelling to and from her family home ‘Merion’ as her father was diagnosed with Motor Neuron Disease in 1993 and her help was needed. Finally, in early 2004 Mum, Dad, myself, younger brother Myles, sister Sara and on the way brother Joe, moved home to ‘Merion’, Dingo. This is where we are now settled and my parent’s lease and share farm part of ‘Merion’ along with agisting two other properties in the Central Queensland region to fatten young steers.
Siblings L to R Joe, Me, Myles and Sara at ‘Merion’ in 2005
So where does this leave me and how could I possibly be a first generation farmer? Well after boarding school in Rockhampton I took twelve months off to help my family on the farm and once again moved myself back to Rockhampton to start university at CQU. I began a three year Bachelor of Business majoring in Business Management in 2009. As my studies went on I made the decision to defer from my degree and gained a position as a Livestock Administrator in Roma. I absolutely loved my time in Roma, moving there and not knowing a soul I met and made some of the most incredible friendships. After a very short 8 months and quite a bit of involvement with the Braford Society I was offered a position with the Fitzroy Basin Association, a natural resource management body in this region. I am based in Middlemount a short 50km from ‘Merion’. Yeha a chance to move back home to the farm!
The area I cover focuses on the Mighty Mackenzie River which flows into the Fitzroy and then out to the Great Barrier Reef! Wow who would have thought that by making farming and grazing practice changes this far inland could make such a difference to our beautiful Reef.
What do I do all day? I LOVE my job!
I travel from property to property in my region helping farmers and graziers to make practice changes on their farm. Our organisation assists landholders to make an investment into our environment.
Today’s landholder may want to fence of his riparian area to improve the water quality which flows to our Reef. This fence not only protects the banks and improves the quality of water from stock but can also create a corridor for wildlife and protected species. This fence helps the landholder manage stock access to this riparian area and also allows him to provide an improved water source to his stock.
Tomorrow’s landholder may want to separate his paddock by fencing off different land types. This allows the landholder to manage once again stock access to different forage. If you were a cow roaming around open pasture and you had a choice between lamingtons and dry biscuits which would you choose? All the lamingtons would be gone! The idea of land type fencing is to utilize all pastures and protect the preferred area from being destroyed by hungry cattle. Giving the preferred pasture the opportunity to recover gives the landholder power to increase ground cover in order to reduce the top soil (nutrients and sediments) lost and deposited into creeks and river systems and of course onto the Great Barrier Reef.
The remainder of my time is spent either in training or workshops and field days, learning and working with other keen agriculturalist in Central Queensland.
Landholders testing pH in a trough on a property at Nebo. This was during a Mick Alexander workshop held for our region in 2012.
Unfortunately, the amount of agricultural land available to use is increasingly declining and with the help of natural resource bodies, new technology, agricultural groups and representatives we are able to make changes to the quality and quantity we produce on reduced areas of land. It is so exciting in my role to see so many people on the land wanting to if they haven’t already make this move to sustainable and environmental agricultural practices.
Brian McGuigan one of my many enthusiastic landholders I am fortunate to work with on a regular basis. His property ‘Dumbarton’ is on the Mackenzie River North of Dingo.
During Beef Week held in Rockhampton 2012 thanks to the Braford Society I was given the incredible opportunity to be associate Braford breed judge with judge Lindsay Dingle.
What an experience to learn from someone with the knowledge and eye as Lindsay. The following week in May 2012 I was visited by two members of the Braford Society to classify 28 Braford females that would establish ‘Triple S Braford Stud’. Later in 2012 I also made the purchase of one heifer and two stud bulls to pursue the dream of my own Braford Stud in partnership with my parents.
Why Brafords?! Well you’ve just got to look at the history, Brafords have been in my blood since the get go. My retired grandfather is constantly visiting making sure I have everything under control! Did I also mention that I spent my high school holidays working on a Braford Stud that my father had also helped on at my young age, along with travelling the show circuit with the school show team. Brafords are beautiful animals and even if they weren’t in my blood I would still chose this incredible breed.
I have met and continue to meet and work with some truly amazing people each and every day, graziers and farmers, consultants, representatives all with an impressive passion for sustainable agriculture. These are the people I look up to, who continually support and inspire me to make a difference in our industry. All these opportunities and experiences could not have come about without my family who have done nothing but support and encourage my every move. The agricultural industry is a welcoming and knowledgeable industry in so many aspects. You don’t need to live on a farm to be part of it! We do have a strong community and I believe we can stand together and bring our urban communities with us.