THE Stuart farm is a family affair.
Jack Stuart took over the Serpentine farm from his father 15 years ago, after working on it for his entire life.
He is the fourth generation in 101 years to work on the farm, which spans more than 930 hectares of land containing barley and wheat grain, Merino sheep and beef cattle.
He has a few helping hands in the form of wife Janet and children, Kate, 19, Joe, 17, and Mardy, 15.
Dogs Charlie, Lucy and Lily (a corgi) are also integral parts of the farm.
“Lily is our best farm dog. She just loves sheep,” Jack said.
Janet comes from a farming background and grew up near Bridgewater.
“I travelled the world twice and married a guy down the road,” she said.
Kate is home for Christmas after working in the Northern Territory as a jillaroo this year.
She will return to the station after the wet season finishes.
“It is long hours and hard work, but it’s good,” she said.
She also said working in the dust-ridden Northern Territory made Serpentine’s summer feel like winter.
Joe, 17, has completed year 11 but is unsure whether he’ll tackle year 12 next year or take on more responsibility at the farm.
It is Joe’s plan to take over the farm one day and become the fifth generation of Stuarts to work the land.
In the meantime, he is happy to follow his father around and learn the tricks of the trade.
“He’s taught me a few things,” Joe said.
“I follow him around the farm. I’ve been doing it since I could walk.”
Jack does not know when it’ll be time to pass the farming baton on to his son, but is quietly pleased someone will continue the Stuart tradition in Serpentine.
“Maybe in 10, 15, 20 years. I’m not sure,” he said.
“It keeps me going. But I’m pleased they all help out on the farm.”
When not working the farm, the family enjoy horse riding, camping, fishing and campdrafting.
Jack has been a long-time member of the Bears Lagoon Serpentine Football Club committee.
He has also recently taken the well-worn route from playing cricket to playing bowls.
“I couldn’t play cricket any more so I had to take up bowls,” he said.
Jack said his childhood was similar to his children’s, coming home from school to help out on the farm every day.
“I went straight out of school and started working with my dad and then I took over,” he said.
“It’s all I’ve ever known.
“I’m my own boss. It’s not a bad lifestyle.”
Joe is pretty satisfied it’s a lifestyle he will like as well.
“I like driving tractors, working with animals and mucking around on the farm.
“I’d rather be out there on the farm than inside all day.”