SCOTS PGC College in Warwick, Qld, is helping senior prefect and goat farmer Clay Armstrong get both industry qualifications and an ATAR.
Story Ken Eastwood
When Clay Armstrong was just 9 years old, his parents gave him and his younger brother Zac, then aged 7, free rein to make a farming enterprise out of their new 80ha property at Blackall, central Queensland.
“My parents said to me and my brother ‘the place is sort of yours to make it work’,” says Clay, now about to enter his final year of high school, boarding at SCOTS PGC College in Warwick, Qld. “Out there, 200 acres is not enough to grow cattle so it either had to be sheep or goats. I thought goats sounded alright. Everyone else has sheep out there, so the goats were a bit different.”
Starting small, with 20 nanny goats and a billy, the boys caught hold of a rise in the Australian goat market, but have also had to deal with seven years of drought, meaning much of their profit has gone back into feed. But they now have a 250-strong herd that will form the basis of a new, larger operation 80km out of Blackall, as well as a registered stud, Barcoo Boer Goats. Up until now, the boys have financed and run the operation themselves, but now their parents Nina and Scot have also invested.
“It’s been a wonderful learning curve for them,” Nina says. “Clay has always been interested in the business side of things. During the school term, in terms of hands-on management of the goats it’s left to us at home, but at night and before school he is still doing an enormous amount of work on it. He makes calls to transport companies and people in the goat industry. He does a huge amount of organising from school.”
Clay has been elected a prefect for 2021 and is doing what is called a ‘blended program’, in which he does some normal academic school subjects (English, maths, biology and geography), but is also completing a Certificate III in Agriculture, a Certificate II in Engineering and a Certificate in Hospitality that includes gaining qualifications to work in pubs and bars.
“It’s fabulous,” Nina says. “It’s just so great because he is such a hands-on sort of a fellow and is keen to get into the workforce, but he also understands the value of education.”
This story excerpt is from Issue #134
Outback Magazine: Dec/Jan 2021