Farming was a hard life for Stan Dugan | PHOTOS

2014 marks the International Year of the Farming Family. 

Each day we have contact with a farmer, though we may not realise it. 

Through the milk we enjoy on our breakfast, the meat we have for dinner, to the clothes we wear, a farmer has had something to do with our daily lives. 

This year we honour our farming families across the Central West and Western NSW, bringing you their stories in the paper and online each week. 

Stan Dugan's love of sheep and quality wool created the continuing basis for his family enterprise near Lightning Ridge .

He was in the sheep and wool industry most of his life, following in the footsteps of his dad Thomas Dugan and his grandfather.

Stan was born 1915 and lived on Lolleep near Walgett.

He moved to Bondi as a young boy because of his father's failing health where  he boarded at The Kings School, Parramatta. 

He and his twin brother Jack returned to Lolleep in 1932 to help his brother Ken who was managing the property.

Stan purchased Bonanza in Lightning Ridge in 1939. 

The property is now the home of his grandson James, his wife Jo and their two children.

Stan was married to Ann in 1943. 

The couple had three daughters, twins Helen, now living in Lightning Ridge, and Patricia, who lives in Brisbane, and Sue who lives in Vail Colorado USA. 

From Stan's records the wettest year at Bonanza was 1950: "With 1032 millimetres of rain and the blowflies were horrific as there weren't any chemical for protection like there is today."

The driest year was 1965 with 257 millimetres of which 100 millimetres fell in December.

The 1965 drought was his worst as it started with a very hot summer and no rain. There was no air conditioning then and everyone was exhausted  by the sleepless nights and scrub cutting.

Winter was very hard with lambing ewes in poor condition and limited scrub to cut. Grain was nearly impossible to purchase and it was trucked from a very long distance. There were over 100 poddy lambs that also demanded their bottles morning, noon and night along with the poddy calves.

Stan must have been a good boss as through those bad wet and dry years his right hand man, station hand Bill Hudson, was with him from 1949-1957 and then again from 1958-1980 until he retired.

The Lolleep Stud was formed in 1908 at Lolleep and Stan became the sheep classer for the stud in 1936 until he retired in 1989. 

In 1942 half of the stud stock was transferred to Bonanza under the control of Stan.

In the wool boom in 1948 the Bonanza wool clip held the world record price for a short time.

“The floods you knew they would be gone in time , with a hope of bumper crops to follow, the drought you never knew when it would end.” - Tony Morris

In 1969 a ewe bred at Bonanza on native pasture and then housed nine months in the ram shed was reserve grand champion ewe of the Sydney Sheep Show, competing against the best in Australia.

Stan was in partnership with his family, trading as TJ Dugan and Sons and Lolleep Merino Stud until 1962 when he formed his own stud, Bonanza-Lolleep, known as the Bonanza Stud today.

Stan purchased Swamp Oak Limbri near Tamworth in 1949 and had the same manager, Stan Wade, until it was sold in 1972.

Wethers aged 12-18 months were purchased from the Walgett district (Lolleep blood) and trucked by train to Limbri.

Stan would order a full train with sheep carriages and a train drover to oversee the stock.

The wethers were run as wool cutters until they were about four to five years old, then sold off and replaced by another load from Walgett.

This continued between 1950 and 1960.

Many people remember Stan as a well known sheep judge at the Sydney and Queensland Sheep Shows. He was on the Western Lands Board when many business and housing blocks were given out in Lightning Ridge and he was also a patron of the Walgett Show Society and a director of the Walgett Pastures Protection Board for many years.

Stan's daughter Helen married Tony Morris in 1967.

Tony's  great grandfather was part owner with his nephew Langloh Parker of Bangate Angledool between 1879 and 1895.

The newly married couple purchased  Glenelvyn and were fortunate to have some of the Bonanza stock.

It was hard work for them both. At shearing time Tony would muster the stock to the shed holding paddocks where George Wright would organise the shed staff and shearers. Tony did the wool classing and Helen, along with Des Sullivan, did the dipping and yard work.

They also did their own lamb marking until 1991.

The acreage they now hold employs one full time employee and when the season allows part time drought employees and tractor drivers.

In 1967 that acreage employed five full time employees and supported five landholders and their families.

The Morris family started farming in 1998 with mixed success and a lot to learn.

It allowed them to pit grain and when crops failed they were able to bale hay or make silage for drought time.

The floods were the most beneficial  with excellent crops but was also very costly with the seeding regrowth that had to be addressed.

In 2011 the Morris family won the Agricultural Society Council of NSW/Walgett Champion Field Wheat competition

The 224 hectare paddock was under flood water in January for six weeks. It was the second year the country had been flooded.

In 2012 James planted a 410 hectare crop of Canola on the Baroona property. This was the first time the Morris' had planted Canola.

Pipe and capping of the bores in 1999, along with farming have been the major changes to their industry, allowing them to try and drought proof their country (90 per cent is now piped).

One dam was sunk in 1892 and has never been dry until November 2013.

Other changes were mobile phones, UHF radios and quad bikes which  were not available in floods of the 1970s. 

The introduction  to safer chemicals for stock and fly protection, and computers meant less time doing bookwork and for farming GPS guidance systems and air conditioned tractors are some of the modern introductions to farming.

Helen and Tony retired in June 2013 and now live in the town of Lightning Ridge, spending their summer months on the coast.

Their daughter Katie lives at Moree on a farm with her three children and James is now living and farming on Bonanza Lightning Ridge.

Helen and Tony say they wouldn't change anything other than the drought.

“The floods you knew they would be gone in time , with a hope of bumper crops to follow, the drought you never knew when it would end,” Tony said. 

* BATHURST: Dan and Steve Owens 

* DUBBO: Cherie and Matthew Coddington 

* PARKES: Neil and Alison Westcott and Cliff and Helen Westcott

* DUNEDOO: The Armstrong Family

* COWRA: Charlie and Christine Galea

* ORANGE: Mick West

Do you know a farming family who would like to be featured in our series email their details to lpinkerton@fairfaxmedia.com.au.

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