FARM LIFE: Dick Howard on his property at Swan Creek.
FARM LIFE: Dick Howard on his property at Swan Creek. Jonno Colfs

A dream of a life on the farm


DICK Howard's dreams of a farmer's life have taken a back seat to his business over the years, but the passion is still there.

On his well-established property at Swan Creek, just outside of Warwick, Mr Howard grows a bit of lucerne and would like to concentrate on growing fat lambs, but the busy-ness of his business, Dick Howard Pumps, won't allow it right at the moment.

"That's the plan,” he said.

"But we're supplying a few larger customers and the business needs to take the front seat right now.

"The pump business is a seven-day job; if people run out of water you've got to go.

"But we work pretty hard on the farm as well.”

Born outside of Toowoomba, Mr Howard grew up on his father's farm at Postman's Ridge.

"Dad was a mixed farmer, he did all things farmers would do back in those days,” he said.

"Dairy, pigs, grain, hay; I absolutely loved the life growing up and I wanted to do it myself.

"I wanted to be a skilled farmer, Dad was and I could see how you needed to do it, to do it right (to) go away and study and then go and put that into practice.”

After finishing school at Toowoomba Grammar, Mr Howard headed off to the University of Queensland and gained a Bachelor's Degree in Agriculture, majoring in engineering.

"Unfortunately, I didn't get the life straight away; there was a gap of about 30 years,” Mr Howard said.

"And I'm still not 100% a farmer, more playing farming, but we're getting there.”

After a year share farming in Wandoan, Mr Howard started working for Southern Cross Machinery.

"I'd worked part time for them while I was at school and they told me if I ever needed work to come and see them, so I did,” he said.

"I started as a water bore driller around the Darling Downs, until they discovered I had an engineering degree, I'd never told them.

"So that meant a move into technical design and sales and they sent me to Warwick in 1966.”

Mr Howard said he spent three years with the company before a stint on oil rigs all over the country.

"I worked on rigs in East Timor and Bass Strait, but most of the time was spent on desert rigs in Central Australia,” he said.

"In 1973 I returned to Warwick and started Howard Pump Company, which grew really quickly.

"It became a very versatile business, starting out in pumps but expanding to fibreglass tanks, swimming pools, earthmoving and drilling over the years.

"At one point I had more staff than the town council, but not quite as many as John Dee.”

Mr Howard said he loved where he lived.

"I chose to stay in this area, despite offers to move away,” he said.

"Warwick is a great town.

"I'd like to see more industry here, more jobs - how do you expect people to stay around if there aren't any jobs.”

Mr Howard said during the 1976 floods he stood

on the corner of Albion St and Fitzroy St and surveyed the damage and the reach

of the floodwaters at the time.

"Understanding water, I realised some of the issues Warwick faces when it floods,” he said.

"The present and future authorities need to learn from the mistakes made

in the past and move to rectify them.

"Any further building on the floodplain is stupid, stop putting things in the way of the floodwaters.

"We need to start moving things out of the way, so the floodwaters keep on flowing through.

"It comes down to fundamental engineering and it's all ignored.

"And when changes are made, do them properly, don't do them on the cheap.”

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