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The Geddes Family

November 30, 2022

The Christmas season will be a busy one for the Geddes family given that

calving falls over the 6 months of Summer at Bauhinia Ridge, the Geddes

family 1620 Droughtmaster run near Dingo, Central Queensland.

Up on the cattle farm, 10-year-old Mackenzie Geddes keeps her parents on

a tight rein. Under only the most extenuating circumstances are they to go

around the calving stock without her. Christmas Day will be no exception,

given that calving falls over six months — September through to March —

at Bauhinia Ridge, the family’s 1620 hectare Droughtmaster run. When

they’ve done the rounds, it will be off to Rockhampton two hours away

for an extended family Christmas lunch with all the trimmings.

Mackenzie’s parents Shelley, 30, and Adam, 36, are chuffed their three

children love life on the land as much as they do, whatever the season.

“Mackenzie is really into the cattle,” Shelley says. “She always remembers if

I have to go and check a cow that’s calving and, like Adam, she remembers

which cow had which calf. If Adam’s been to a bull sale, she’ll ask him all

about it. And she gets upset if we check the cows calving before she gets

home from school, which is 53 kilometres each way on the bus.”

Shelley and Adam’s sons Archie, eight, and Connor, five, like weaning time

best, because that’s when they get to ride baby bulls. Not bronco-style,

mind you. “The boys like the quiet ones they can pat or ride,” Shelley says.

Droughtmaster cattle are known for their docility, a quality Shelley and Adam

cultivate through their breeding program. “We also spend a lot of time with

them in the yards and as weaners,” Adam says. “After school, we bucket feed

the weaners. The kids sit there giving them grain and scratching them with

sticks on their bellies and necks, where they like it.”

In September, the Geddes hit the news when one of their bulls, Oasis A

Long John, sold for a record $220,000 at the Droughtmaster National Sale

at Gracemere, Queensland. “Family’s $220k payday after years of drought

hell,” said The Courier-Mail headline. “A Queensland family who endured

years of carting water to keep 400 head of cattle alive through one of the

harshest droughts in recent history has sold a bull at a world-record price.”

Adam tells Graziher about Long John over the phone from a 400 kilometre

round trip to a Rockhampton store sale. “He was 800kg at only 19 months

old and he was so quiet my kids could have ridden him into the ring.”

The cheque came in handy after tough drought years, with the stress of

running out of water and the money, time and effort of cartage hitting the

couple hard. At last, they are feeling confident enough to forge ahead to

build a new home on Bauhinia Ridge, which they bought in partnership

with Adam’s parents before taking it over two years ago.

Shelley is bringing her own emotional drought-proofing to the build,

knowing that it is only a matter of time until the next big dry. While their

cattle are renowned for their ability to handle aridity, not so Shelley, despite

her bush upbringing in the Boyne Valley two hours south of Rockhampton.

“It’s a weatherboard with verandahs, all clean and modern, all white inside,

something clean and fresh to walk into. I think that’s the thing in drought.

When the lawn’s not green and you walk into a house that’s rundown, it’s

just that bit more depressing.”

What she is most looking forward to is a dishwasher. “Washing up, I’m over

it,” she says, laughing. “That’s the main reason I want the new house. It’s the

little luxuries.”

Adam jokes that Shelley’s expectations flew through the roof after Long

John had his big day out. “The new home got flasher after that bull sale,

I know that,” he says with a chuckle. “Everything turned into marble!”

In a sign of industry confidence, the record Long John set by his sale to Rondel

Droughtmasters of Winton was broken just a month later. The future looks

bright for leading Droughtmaster breeders such as the Geddes, who joined

Adam’s parents Noel and Robyn, of Rosels, Rockhampton, and formerly of

Oasis, Emerald, in stud breeding.

In the meantime, Adam, Shelley and the kids are setting off on their first beach

holiday in years, following a bumper season with plenty of rain. After kicking

back at Yeppoon on the Capricorn Coast, the family is heading to Rosels for

Christmas with Noel and Robyn. Shelley is already salivating at the thought of

the glazed ham she will prepare for lunch and pondering whether she should

get that animal-loving daughter of hers a horse before too much longer. It’s a

bit of a vision — the boys mustering on their bikes, with Shelley and Mackenzie

bringing up the rear of the herd on a long, loose rein.

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