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Tradesman dares to dream of life on the land

FARMER HAS A WIFE: Farnsfield farmers Deanne and Steve Krieger pictured with a high rise spray rig designed by Steve.
FARMER HAS A WIFE: Farnsfield farmers Deanne and Steve Krieger pictured with a high rise spray rig designed by Steve.

WITH not one bit of cane farming knowledge or experience, just a dream, bricklayer Steve Krieger jumped head-first into the sugar industry 15 years ago.

While most cane farmers are "born" into the sugar industry, owning and operating his own cane farm was Mr Krieger's long-term desire and so, against all odds, he gave it a go.

All we had was a two-wheel-drive tractor ... that was the only tractor that was working. It was quite a challenge to start.

But it wasn't without risk.

The move into the sugar industry meant Mr Krieger and his wife Deanne had to make the huge life-altering decision that forced them to say goodbye to a brand new brick home in Bundaberg, as well as selling off investment properties, and throwing in their lifestyle and secure jobs.

It was a sacrifice the couple was willing to make for the industry that had always intrigued Mr Krieger.

In 1998 the Kriegers bought a rundown Farnsfield farm that took about six months to fix up in order to move the family to the farm.

"We built ourselves a nice lovely brick home in Bundaberg and then I saw this place ... oh my god," Mrs Krieger said.

With discarded rubbish, shrubs and trees burying the property, the Kriegers had their work cut out for them.

Getting the farm to where Mr Krieger wanted would take a few more years.

Aside from having to convert the rundown house into a home, they had no idea how to grow and run a cane farm, and equipment was limited.

"All we had was a two-wheel-drive tractor ... that was the only tractor that was working. It was quite a challenge to start," Mr Krieger said.

"Machinery was a major challenge, but I was lucky enough to have good neighbours that if I struggled with something, I would get a loan of some gear."

Mr Krieger said he was grateful for the help he received from his neighbours for not only the loan of equipment, but the advice they were always willing to share.

It was this community spirit that helped the district during the tough times, including the devastation of smut and orange rust diseases.

"The Isis district is renowned for sticking together and working together," Mr Krieger said.

"One of my neighbours said when we first got smut, 'If any district was to get it first, it's probably best we get it'."

Mr Krieger said they had gone through some "pretty tough times", but he had no regrets because he entered the industry knowing there would be hardships.

Over the years the family has dabbled in small crops alongside growing cane, including passionfruit, pumpkins and seedless melons, but cane has always been the number one reason the family moved to the district, and remains Mr Krieger's passion today.

It has become a real family affair, with their three children, Kristie, 17, Joshua, 15, and Jade, nine, all chipping in to help run the farm.

Topics:  sugar