He’s a loving family man, an all-round nice guy, and the dude owns his very own farm. Thomas Sheppard is a true-blue aussie from Queensland, and we say he’s a real trooper for sharing tales of how he came to be who he is today with us over a “few” beers.
1. Hey there Thomas! We’d like to kick things off with a hello and a personal introduction of yourself to our readers.
I’m an environmental engineer, a farmer, a keen fisherman. I’m also a homebrewer without enough time to brew, and a father of two funny kids.
I was born and raised in a small regional district called Iredale, Queensland. I say district because there are no facilities there, just small farms. My parents are hard workers and as a kid, I held jobs preparing the local tennis courts, working in a fruit & vegetable shop, and working for my mothers catering company as a waiter as well as on the farm with my father.
Following high school I pursued a hospitality career and soon learnt that the late nights and weekends wouldn’t be the best lifestyle to accommodate having a family, which was on my to do list. Also on the list was travelling.
During my travels I made my way from Turkey to Sweden and realized that I should get an education in something I was good at, and interested in. I returned home and studied environmental engineering.
Following my university days which were an enjoyable part of my life, I entered the professional world working on contamination and remediation sites across Queensland, in particular, metal mines in North West, Queensland.
I met my now wife during this time. She was the Human Resource manager that employed me and later became a community consultant. We spent a couple of weeks on the road together and fell for each other during that time; we’re now married with two kids.
I have since changed jobs and now work as senior environmental officer at a coal mine in Queensland, undertaking responsible mining, and rehabilitate formerly mined land to a good standard.
I have also purchased the family farm I grew up on, and I now learn new skills every day to keep costs down on the farm.
2. We think it’s wicked cool that you got yourself a farm. What’s that like? What do you have on your farm?
It’s a rewarding opportunity to be able to live and work the farm. It is a type of work that allows you to remember where you came from, takes your mind away from other pressures, and connects you to animals and the land. I run more or less 50 heads of cattle. I have Brahman cows and a Simmental bull from which I am creating a ‘Simbrah’ herd for beef production. The workload can be heavy but once it is done right and you respect your animals, it pays off.
3. The kids look like they’re having a blast. Do you involve them with the farm work?
We don’t pressure our kids to do anything they don’t want to. We coax and persuade sometimes, but we believe that there is no point forcing a young mind into something it doesn’t want to actively be a part of. That being said, the kids have been working with the cattle since they were toddlers and to see a one year old girl feed a 1,000 kg bull hay is a beautiful sight.
4. You’ve got some decent stamps on your passport. Share some tales of your journey across the borders.
Not for public consumption.
5. Life sometimes sneaks up and surprises us when we least expect it. What’s your definition of an amazing moment?
Good question. Despite trying to be optimistic, life can get the better of you and I think we need to challenge the buggery out of that. To do this I think that I look to the simple things to amaze me. Nature is the solution, as it is everywhere. It’s easy to draw astonishment and amazement from it, and sometimes needs a cognitive mind to direct it to that line of thinking, but once you can focus on the activities of an insect or the swaying of a tree and concentrate on it, it’s hard to not be amazed by it at all, and what it is a part of.
6. You mentioned to us that you did a little bit of soul-searching during your travels, which is why you decided to get into environmental engineering. Talk to us about that.
I didn’t feel like I had matured enough to go straight into a professional field. I decided to take time to work, travel, and meet people. I took a break from hospitality to travel, and ponder my future. After I aged a bit, I figured it was staring at me the whole time, to understand how things work, especially nature, therefore; environmental engineering.
7. We’re talking about life, passion and amazing moments. What wakes you up and gets you out of the bed every morning?
Realistically it is my responsibilities that get me out of bed every morning. I’d like to say I jump out of bed and take the day by the horns but modern life is pretty full on and if you don’t just get stuck in, you will fall behind. Once you add responsibilities like kids, wife, wife’s business, farm, study, exercise, and work, you have no choice but to get out of bed early, put in, and go hard.
8. What’s next on your to-do list?
I dream of running a bigger property, so I’d like to keep improving our current place and manage our finances so I can acquire more property to run more cattle.
9. We can see there’s more going with you than you let on. What are your other passions?
The Sheppards, 2015
Little boy Sheppard feeding the cattle
They actually have a peacock living in their compound too.