Keeping history alive

In honour of the International Year of the Farming Family, the Bendigo Advertiser continues a series looking at farming families across central Victoria. Today we meet Nick Collins and his family at Bridgewater...

HIS grandfather's 1920s H.V McKay seeder was attracting rust under a piece of corrogated iron for decades until one day Nick Collins asked his dad about it. 

The 14-year-old Bridgewater boy wanted to do it up - and "see what the good old stuff could do".

The seeder is a far cry from the farm machinery used today - originally pulled by a horse and only able to sow small sections of a crop at a time. 

But Nick was determined to use it for his own crops. 

His father Gary Collins watched him spend two hours a night for eight weeks loosening the combine seeder and getting it back to its original condition.

He worked with his uncle Ken and within two months the once-rusted seeder was hitched to a 1958 model tractor and ready to go. 

"It was time consuming because it hadn't been used, or even touched, since the 1970s," Mr Collins said. 

He wants to see what it's like and bring something else back to life. - Gary Collins

"Nick is interested in all the old stuff, though, and likes dedicating time to it."

Mr Collins said once the seeder was in good condition, he used it to sow his wheat crop. 

"You wouldn't want to be sowing a few thousand acres with it, that's for sure," he said. 

"But that's what my dad used for all his years as a farmer and it just shows how much we've progressed on our farms and what we're capable of now."

While Nick remains a little shy, and "doesn't like the limelight", the Bridgewater community has visited the Collins' farm to look at the machinery. 

And they're sure to do the same when Nick gets started on his next project. 

"We've bought an old horse-drawn sunshine stripper that's from the 1920s that Nick hopes to get operational in the winter months," Mr Collins said. 

"He certainly won't be able to harvest all of his crop with it but he wants to see what it's like and bring something else back to life."

Mr Collins said he hoped Nick would take over the family farm, which has been producing wheat, canola and barley since the 1860s. 

But other interests might pull him away. 

"Nick has an interest in a lot of other things and my eldest son is a great mechanic," Mr Collins said. 

"I would like to see them take it over, but I'm not going to force them into anything. 

"I'm just proud that Nick takes it on himself to keep busy and find these projects to work hard on. 

"It was amazing to see such an old piece of machinery that needed so much work be used on the farm again - just like his grandad used it." 

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