Stantons stand strong, plan Stokes Bay Genetics ram sale

Sarah and Michael Stanton of Stokes Bay Genetics in the remains of the stock yards with some of their surviving Poll Merino ewes that are due to lamb soon.
Sarah and Michael Stanton of Stokes Bay Genetics in the remains of the stock yards with some of their surviving Poll Merino ewes that are due to lamb soon.

The Stanton family have had an exceptionally challenging year, recently losing three farms, housing, infrastructure, pets and well over 4000 head of sheep and cattle in the devastating Kangaroo Island bushfires.

All this was taken from the family's three farming operations at Stokes Bay in a single evening on January 3.

While clean up, rebuilding, and planning have been their main focus, Stokes Bay Genetics stud principal Michael and his wife Sarah have been working hard behind the scenes to keep their passion alive and running.

Key to recovery is going ahead with their annual ram sale in October, both to signal their resilience but also to provide much needed genetics to the Island's other bushfire affected farmers.

"After such a devastating time we look forward to offering about 80 rams at this year's sale," Michael said.

"Although the sale may be held in the middle of a paddock after losing all of our infrastructure, we look forward to catching up with our past, present and new clients.

"It's a service for the Island and lets our clients know we are still here and will still be here for years to come."

Fellow KI breeders Turkey Lane Merinos, equally devastated by the fire that same day, have also committed to holding its ram sale in November with its 140 surviving ram lambs.

Michael and Sarah Stanton repair fencing on one of the family's three farms on Pratts Road at Stokes Bay.

Michael and Sarah Stanton repair fencing on one of the family's three farms on Pratts Road at Stokes Bay.

The last seven months have been challenging for the Stantons, although they refuse to be knocked down for good from the hand dealt to them.

Michael was volunteering on the local Stokes Bay CFS appliance that fateful day, starting way out west at Cape Borda at 7am.

By 9.30am, the fire had jumped Cape Borda and was heading south into the national park.

Nobody thought it would make it all the way to Stokes Bay that very same day, arriving at Stokes Bay at 9.30pm, just 15 minutes after Sarah left the farm.

Michael arrived at the farm shortly after the fire impacted to see the mayhem break loose and all the structures and fencing starting burning.

The heat was intense and sounds horrific as the fire raced out of neighbouring timber plantations and heritage scrub into their farms.

Ironically there was light rain falling as the fire roared further westward taking out more Stokes Bay properties before making it to the north coast in a narrow strip, burning right up to the previous Duncan fire.

"We always thought we would be fighting fire from a hot northerly, but this was something different," he said.

"It was raining and yet there were huge strips of burning bark falling from the sky."

Michael Stanton in front of the one remaining corner of the shearing shed where the ram sales used to be held.

Michael Stanton in front of the one remaining corner of the shearing shed where the ram sales used to be held.

The remains of a fan in the burned shell of the shearing shed.

The remains of a fan in the burned shell of the shearing shed.

Father and mother Richard and Kate and sons Michael and Sarah and Will and Jenny lost 4035 sheep, 65 cattle and farm dogs that day, requiring 14 huge burial pits while elsewhere there are still skeletal sheep remains tangled in vegetation.

The gruelling task of cleaning up stock soon turned to treating the animals that had a chance to survive.

This proved a difficult task after losing the shearing shed and sheep handling equipment.

"I recall finding a stubby holder in someone's ute and a piece of wire to create a vaccinating holder for around our necks," Sarah said.

"There were no tools left so we had to resort to bush mechanics. I vividly remember the excitement when a friend dropped in some duct tape."

After losing the majority of their stud flock, their passion to breed rams for KI conditions shines through as they push forward making plans for the years ahead.

Michael has worked tirelessly planning this year's sale and the outcomes for the years following.

And so the Stanton family is proud to announce their 12th on-property sale.

Surviving poll merino ewes are ready to lamb. Stokes Bay Genetics is both a poll dorset and merino operation.

Surviving poll merino ewes are ready to lamb. Stokes Bay Genetics is both a poll dorset and merino operation.

They have purchased rams from Majardah Rams, Glencoe, to offer at the sale, scheduled for October 16.

These rams line up with their breeding objectives of high growth, high muscle and low worm egg count, the Stantons are in good stead to continue their stud breeding well into the future.

"After losing our highest TCP indexed stud sire, ranking exceptionally within Australia, we feel relieved to know that we have lots of his genetics stored away after we had him collected last September," he said.

"Luckily most of our ewe lambs survived and, along with purchasing some ewes, we feel we are in good stead to continue our stud breeding well into the future."

The Stantons would like to extend their thanks to those that have made their journey that little bit lighter.

"We would like to thank those of you who dropped everything to come and help us bury our pets and thousands of livestock, fencing, meals and everything in between, we thank you," Michael said.

"We will never forget your generosity and kindness in our darkest days. You have not only made an impact to our lives but the lives of our children, for that we will be forever thankful."

The Stokes Bay Genetics Ram Sale is 1pm on October 16 at 68 Pratts Road, Stokes Bay.

"Add this date to your calendar as this sale is certainly not one to be missed," Sarah said.

If you require further information or would like to request a catalogue, please contact Michael on 0427 992 260.

This story Stantons stand strong, plan Stokes Bay Genetics ram sale first appeared on The Islander.

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