MY FARMING FAMILY: Tradition meets technology on sheep farm

Farmer George Hamilton and daughter Madie enjoy the sunshine on their property near Meroo as some of the sheep they farm graze in the background.

Farmer George Hamilton and daughter Madie enjoy the sunshine on their property near Meroo as some of the sheep they farm graze in the background.

2014 marks the International Year of the Farming Family. 

Each day we have contact with a farmer, though we may not realise it. 

Through the milk we enjoy on our breakfast, the meat we have for dinner, to the clothes we wear, a farmer has had something to do with our daily lives. 

This year we honour our farming families across the Central West and Western NSW, bringing you their stories in the paper and online each week. 

The Hamilton family

For sheep farmer George Hamilton, keeping the family property Meroo Hills running meant taking a step back from the traditional farming methods used by his father and his father before him and trying something new.

"We manage differently to traditional farms.

"We don't plough up the paddocks anymore like my dad did.

"We're holistically managed so we don't use chemicals where possible and if we do anything we do pasture cropping and cell grazing.

"It's not just about the sheep these days, it's about the land and trying to keep the farm going for future generations to come," Mr Hamilton said.

Mr Hamilton is a third generation farmer, his daughter Madie is a fourth.

Mr Hamilton's father grew up on a property in Boorowa with his foster family and when he was old enough brought his own property in the same region.

"Dad had a place out at Boorowa and he grew up on a farm out there," Mr Hamilton said.

"He had 25,000 acres that he farmed before he moved out here and brought this place (Meroo Hills).

"I came here in 1983, but we've had the place since 1976.

"Ever since then we've been farming, grazing really."

While Mr Hamilton's farmer was a very traditional farmer, running superfine merinos on the land through some of the worst years of drought NSW has ever seen, Mr Hamilton is more about getting the best out of the land and using holistic practices in order to do so.

"The younger generation of farmers is a lot more educated and they're introducing a lot more sustainable practices to their farms then their fathers and grandfathers," Mr Hamilton said.

"When I took over from dad, so to speak, the wool market had collapsed so we looked around for other things to keep us going."

One of those things included running Dohne sheep alongside the merinos and a few years later, starting up Farmer George Lamb to provide grass fed lamb to customers across NSW.

"We were looking around for something that was better and Dohne's are both a great wool sheep and a good meat sheep, so we had something to sell when the wool market dipped," Mr Hamilton said.

" As a farmer you have to adapt to the changes around you."

Ms Hamilton runs the marketing department for Farmer George, taking a business that countless Australian families have been a part of for years, and putting a slightly more modern twist on it.

While farmers have been selling meat to those around them for years, Farmer George has taken it to a new level with help from social media.

"We try to educate out consumers about real life on a farm," Ms Hamilton said.

"A lot of our customer base are Sydneysiders so we make mini-videos and post a lot of photos online about the day-to-day life of a farmer in the country."

That education occurs through social media sites like Instagram and Facebook, which Madie runs with help of her father.

"There are actually quite a lot of farms and farmers on Facebook, and they all kind of band together and help each other out when they need it," Ms Hamilton said.

For more information on the Hamilton family and Farmer George Lamb, visit farmergeorge.com.au.

Farmer George can also be found on Twitter (@FGMudgee), Facebook (facebook.com/FGMudgee) and Instagram (@officialfarmergeorge).

More farming families

* LITHGOW: The Lowe Family 

* LIGHTNING RIDGE: Stan Dugan 

* BATHURST: Dan and Steve Owens 

* DUBBO: Cherie and Matthew Coddington 

* PARKES: Neil and Alison Westcott and Cliff and Helen Westcott

* DUNEDOO: The Armstrong Family

* COWRA: Charlie and Christine Galea

* ORANGE: Mick West

* FORBES: The Alley Family

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