Big dreams for farming family

Honey-May learns the ropes of yard work from her mum Francesca Lumb on Wintinna Station.
Honey-May learns the ropes of yard work from her mum Francesca Lumb on Wintinna Station. FankieLumb

IN A TRUCK loaded with all their possessions, including three dogs and some poddy calves, two 24-year-olds drove to their new home, Wintinna Station, ready for a challenge.

Thanks to a bank loan, and a business partner, fourth generation grazier Jake Fennell and Yorkshire farm girl Francesca Lumb had bought a property to call their own.

Ambitious and determined, the young couple felt there was no risk in investing into one of Australia's most isolated regions - about 180km outside of Coober Pedy in South Australia.


"It's what we both wanted to do, we've been brought up doing it and believe the beef industry is on the way up," Francesca said.

"Where we are located we are able to produce clean, chemical-free, grass-fed beef."

Flash forward a year, add in a baby girl and an awful lot of hard work, the couple have settled into station life.

"We knew it was going to be a big challenge when we moved in... we did slightly underestimate the challenge but we have a good support network between both of our families," she said.

"It has been exciting, rewarding and scary all at the same time."

Although she is a long way from her United Kingdom homeland, Francesca feels blessed that her gorgeous tot, Honey-May, can be raised on the land.

"We have lots of space and we are getting to have a business, home and lifestyle all in one place," she said.

"We are both doing what we love."

The vast property also means there is plenty of room for the couple's three dogs, Banjo, Hoolio and Cowgirl, as well as their poddy calves Flower, Peter, Phantom and Beauty.

Francesca met Jake when she was jillarooing on the neighbouring station to his family's property along the Oodnadatta Track in South Australia.

She described their romance as "love at first sight".

They met at a local bronco branding event.

During this time Francesca was in the midst of completing her degree in agricultural science, so their relationship was forced into being long-distance while she completed her study in the UK.

But as soon her last exam was finished she packed her bags for Australia.

After much thought, the couple decided they wanted to have their own property, and when Francesca's mum Janet came on board as a 50% business partner, they settled with Wintinna.

The property is 3812sqkm, with a mix of open mitchell grass tablelands, breakaway country and areas of sandy mulga country.

"It is a pretty block," Francesca said.

"The homestead is situated right on the Wintinna Creek."

On a "shoestring budget" the couple worked hard improving and modernising the property.

Their main focus is to improve the block's carrying capacity.

"When we moved here a lot of infrastructure was run down and in need of repair," she said.

"We've done all sorts from standing up hundreds of kilometres of fencing, cleaning out bores and wells, switching windmills to solar and sectioning off areas of country to give it a spell."

As cattle prices were still at record highs when they bought Wintinna, the couple opted to agist out their paddocks so they could form a steady income.

"High cattle prices are good for everyone, but us," she said.

"It makes it harder for the people who are trying to get a start with cattle."

But with patience and careful planning they have now slowly built up their own herd to 150 charbray heifers.

Janet is now running 500 head of her own hereford cross cattle, and Wintinna is still home to about 1000 head of agistment cattle.

This year's good seasonal rainfall means their dams are full and their paddocks are looking good.

It's been a period of ups and downs for the couple, who are now both 25.

Seeing the paddocks they chose to spell recover well has been a particular highlight for Francesca, and she is enjoying having her mum stay with her at the moment.

However, life in the outback has thrown them a few curve balls and for the second time in 18 months their phone lines have been cut for more than three weeks.

While they wait for Telsta to fix the issue, getting phone reception means driving 80km to the little town of Marla.

"We have the internet though so we aren't totally cut off from the outside world," she said.

"It does make it very difficult though."

There are three things Francesca misses most about the UK: her family, green grass and constant rainfall.

"I miss my family the most, I'm one of six so it's hard being away from everyone," she said.

Keep up to date with the couple's journey on Wintinna by following Francesca's Instagram site, FrankieLumb.

Topics:  farming

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