Light at the end of KI farm rebuild for Couchmans

Light at the end of KI farm rebuild for Couchmans


Kangaroo Island livestock producer Ryan Couchman was looking forward to getting started on rebuilding his house and shed infrastructure within the month.


KANGAROO Island livestock producer Ryan Couchman said it had been a busy and tough time these past six months since the bushfires.

But there was a lot more positivity about on the island, with lambing under way onto lush, green pastures and rebuilding happening in earnest.

Mr Couchman and wife Leah lost their house, sheds, shearing shed, 400 rolls of hay and 900 sheep on their farm west of Parndana in the summer fires.

But the rebuilding of their house is planned to start within the month, with the shearing shed planned for August, and not a moment too soon.

"We have to start before winter really sets in, otherwise we may have to wait until spring," he said.

"But I have a mate that's a builder, so we're ready to go with getting a slab down straight away, now that we have just got council approval."

Mr Couchman considers himself one of the "lucky ones" as some people had only just begun the arduous task of planning their rebuild.

"We had some delays in the beginning of clearing our old house and sheds away, so we did it ourselves in the end," he said. "We didn't have an asbestos house so we just buried the debris."

They did have a hold-up in getting their insurance paid out, which didn't help decision-making.

"It made the rebuild hard because didn't know what to rebuild or how as we didn't know how much our insurance would cover," he said.

"It was the same when we tried to buy sheep back in, we didn't know how much we could spend.

"I wish we had bought more with the way the season and prices have gone."

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Mr Couchman's 85-breeder cattle survived the fire - one of the few remaining herds left in the fire scar - while they also managed to save about 500 sheep.

They sold off about 20 cows as they had more than 300 hectares of grazing country burnt in the fires, but have since restocked with about 800 sheep, mainly bought from NSW.

All the sheep were initially on agistment after the fires, mainly at Naracoorte and some to Mount Pleasant.

But they returned to the island about a month ago and lambing was well under way.

"Our pastures have come back thankfully," Mr Couchman said.

"They're not great as there is a lot of capeweed and some areas are still bare from the burn, but it is good to have lambs and calves drop onto pastures."

They calved in April with relatively minor issues, while lambing is expected to also be good, but had only just started.

Mr Couchman said fencing had kept them busy the past six months, erecting about 20 kilometres, with another 10km to go.

"We made a few small changes to configurations, but nothing major as materials and labour were hard to come by," he said.

"BlazeAid and the army were very handy in the beginning, but progress has since slowed because of COVID-19 restrictions."

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