RYAN Skamp was only 19 years old when he leased his first farm – a feat for anyone, but even more impressive for a man who grew up in Perth and only moved to the country when he was 17.
Mr Skamp had a typical urban upbringing – he attended a local elementary school in Victoria Park and played some sports before starting a carpenter’s apprenticeship at the age of 16.
After a year in this role, he was offered a job in Badgingarra, a city he had never been to. Therefore, he changed his training and moved in 2018.
“It was a self-imposed experience – I was happy to take on the challenge, but it was really difficult at times,” said Skamp.
“The community gave me a very good hug, but I wasn’t even 18 years old so I couldn’t go to the pub and found out that a lot of socializing in rural towns is in the pub.
“It was a different social circle than I was used to, but I tried to adapt as much as possible – there were lots of young people taking me under their wing and lots of people went out of their way to help me . “
Having never lived in the country before, it didn’t take Mr. Skamp long to figure out where he belonged, and when he finished his apprenticeship early last year, he also quickly discovered that he had a passion for farming and warehouse work .
“The whole rural lifestyle was something I always wanted and when I moved here I realized that my greatest passion was livestock,” he said.
“I do a lot of weekend work around town for some older guys. I go out and help with the camp work with my own working dogs. So a lot of guys know me well in advance as someone willing to help them.”
In April 2019, Mr Skamp and his current fiancé, who is the daughter of the man he trained under, rented a 40-acre farm with a homestead.
Mr. Skamp bought 150 ewes from the family of a partner, the Kennys, and set out to work full-time to complete his education while managing his herd.
“This was my first project and I enjoyed having something to do when I got home from work. It was interesting to balance the two, but it was definitely worth it,” he said.
“I sold the sheep when the prices went up in the east, so I took them all down and now I’m growing some forage before I come back next year.
“I brought out some lupins with some fertilizer last year and I will probably bring out some clover this year, but there are lots of good grasses that grow naturally on the property.”
After completing his training, Mr. Skamp decided that he wanted to focus on training as a stockman and got a job with Black Arrow Agriculture in Hill River.
In that role, he had a mentor named George Large, a 75-year-old on the verge of retirement, whom Mr. Skamp credits for teaching him everything he now knows.
After Black Arrow was sold to Andrew Forrest and the official transition took place this week, it was time for Mr Skamp to move on and he will begin a new role with a local family, the Fitzgeralds, next Monday.
“They run a mixed farm and livestock farm with a strong focus on Angus cows. They are also trying to increase their sheep numbers so there will be a lot of warehouse work,” he said.
“They also cut a lot of silage and hay for feed production, so I think I’ll do a bit of that too.”
Looking ahead, Mr Skamp plans to focus on his new job this year before buying sheep for his own property in 2022.
“Last year I got ewes and mated them and sold them as mated ewes,” he said
“I’m not sure what I’ll get next time and it will depend on the market, but I will consider buying ewes again and keeping them raised.
“I’m a sheepman, but I’ll try to get a few cows to help each other and eat different grasses. So it’s a good idea to have different types of herds.”
When it comes to his long-term goals, it’s simple: at 30, Mr. Skamp wants to lease more land and turn his own farm from a hobby into a full-time job.
For him, this means leasing around 2000 hectares for a mixed cultivation and livestock farm, which is dominated by a stocking program with 2500 ewes and a feed program.
“I didn’t grow up on a farm, but nobody in Badgingarra really cares as long as you show that you can work hard, so there’s a real mutual respect,” Skamp said.
“I plan to call this place home for a very long time. For me, the farm is a place where I want to raise my children and I want to offer them this life.”