Bruce Richards farms cattle on 500 acres on the banks of Glennies Creek, which feeds into the Hunter River west of Singleton. He currently has 120 cows and calves but for many years has looked to diversify his farming options to create a more flexible and sustainable enterprise. Oats and lucerne sown in a couple of paddocks, can produce up to 45 tonne of hay but Bruce only bails it if he needs to.
"When we first came here 30 years ago there were two run down dairy farms and the place was a real mess. There were about six trees on the property and not a single one on the banks of the creek." says Bruce.
Bruce takes a pragmatic approach to the opportunities offered by the local mines and government agencies in funding things like planting trees and fixing up the river banks along the creek:
"I reckon while it's on offer you might as well get in there and take advantage of it, because it may not be there in the future," says Bruce.
In recent years Bruce has taken up funding from government agencies and other sources for planting an additional 500 trees along the banks of Glennies Creek, fencing off the riparian zone to keep stock out, and installing off-stream watering points.
His plans for the future involve splitting up his existing paddocks into cells and rotating stock every six months to ensure that the pastures get a chance to recover and build up better ground cover.
As part of the stock management, cattle are allowed back into the fenced off riparian area for up to 10 days at a time to graze and help get on top of the weeds. Unfortunately green cestrum has become a real problem and because it's toxic to cattle it's extremely difficult to control.
"In recent years we've lost about half a dozen cows and a very expensive bull. It's terrible stuff and they only need to eat a little bit for it to kill them. It's an issue a lot of farmers in the area are struggling with and it really needs a concerted effort along the river to get on top of it."