THROWING in a career in the music industry to take on a Merino sheep farm is not a standard career move for most 30-year-olds.
But for fifth-generation central Victorian farmer Marty McKenna, the change was the right move.
The McKenna family have worked the land around Glenhope and Baynton since the 1850s.
Marty is the latest in his family to take on farming, after deciding careers working as an audio engineer and in rural merchandising were not for him.
“I always bounced back and forward between jobs and studying, and would come back to the farm and work in between,” he said.
Marty realised it was time to come back to Victoria in 2008 after living in Hobart for two years.
“Living in Tasmania, I really was missing the farm, so I thought I’d come back and give it a shot,” he said. “And once I was back, I just fell in love with it.”
Luckily for him, he was the only one in his family who wanted to take on the family business. His brother is a carpenter and his two sisters are married and living in Kyneton.
He said he was also lucky his father, Martin, was willing to give him half of his land to work.
“He didn’t want any one of us to feel like we had to take on the farm (but) I do think he’s happy, which is evident in the opportunity he’s given me.
“There are people my age that get frustrated by a lack of opportunity, or with their folks who are not willing to loosen their grip on the land.
“It’s hard for an old farmer who has been doing it all his life to step back.
“I’m pretty lucky with the opportunity I’ve been given – I know that.”
Marty said his lifestyle change had thrown up its challenges, but overcoming these difficulties made the rewards so much more worthwhile.
He said while the music industry was a difficult business, his time in it has helped him face what could sometimes be crushing adversity on the land.
“The first year I was back we had a terrible time with flies,” he said.
“It was hard work and heartbreaking at times, but it was a good year. It came together in the end (because) we had good wool clip and the price was pretty high.
“In some ways, the adversity makes it more rewarding. It shows what you can go through.”
Marty said he had never regretted his decision to move back to central Victoria to farm. “In terms of my lifestyle, it’s been a definite success,” he said.
“Part of it is being your own boss, part of it is being outside and producing something of worth.
“There’s a real rewarding aspect of producing super-fine wool. There’s really something about it.”
He also said following in his forefathers’ footsteps gave him a sense of personal satisfaction. “It is kind of nice to continue a family history on the same dirt.”
And any thought of a return to audio engineering?
“I do play music around town. It’s a brutal industry but it’s good as a hobby so I’ll just stick with that.”
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