A simple invention of a pivoting post-hole shovel has saved many hours of laborious work for Kiewa Valley dairy farmer Stephen Quast.
Mr Quast, of Dederang, is among the entrants in the Henty Agri-Innovations Awards with his labour saving device for digging post holes.
The shovel features a handle which allows the blade to tilt 90 degrees, enabling the operator to trim the hole and scrape the bottom.
The shovel allows rocks and mud to be easily removed from the hole.
Mr Quast invented the shovel more than 15 years ago and has used it regularly on his farm.
“It has saved me a lot of hours over the years – there are still many fence posts concreted or rammed in so it is useful,’’ he said.
“I’ve dug hundreds of holes with it over the years – I made the metal version over 15 years ago and has proven to be quite robust.’’
Stephen and his wife Lynda milk 80 Normande cows on their Dederang farm.
The French breed is known for its protein and high presence of kappa casein B making the milk ideal for cheese.
Stephen also drives buses while Lynda makes fetta cheese and soap from her goat herd, runs alpacas, produces honey and makes her own bread.
Mr Quast was disappointed to find the farm inventors award had been cancelled at Henty last year after intending to enter the shovel.
He made the original version while helping his father with fencing jobs.
“I got frustrated with the shovelling and thought about putting a pivot head on a shovel,’’ he said
“I made the first version and used it for many years, and later made a lighter model.
“The only similar thing on the market has two handles and users a pincer action.’’
Stephen worked at Kiewa Valley Engineering as a teenager and has maintained a life long interest in engineering.
Sheds on the Quast farm are bulging at the seams with scrap metal and spare parts waiting to be turned into another handy item.
“I see potential in things – if I wasn’t so busy farming I would be making a lot more stuff,’’ Mr Quast said.
Stephen and his sons Karl and Daniel have made a tipping tray for their ute, added a tailgate to the early silage wrapping machines and bale grabs for the tractor among many projects.
His sons Karl and Daniel have picked up the family interest in all things mechanical.
“Dad is always doing something creative and taught me how to work with hand tools and fix motors,’’ Karl said.
“You don’t go to Henty with Dad as it means going into the tool tents for three hours and half a dozen trips back to the car with things he has bought.
“One year, we got a bag trolley to push around all the stuff he had bought.’’
Mr Quast conceded one year he returned to Henty the next day with a ute to pick up goods he had bought at the field days and couldn’t fit in the car.
He has even worked at Henty as a representative for an organic fertiliser company.
“I’m always interested in the machinery – how things are made and can never go past the inventors section,’’ he said.
“The only way to see if my invention is a good idea is to put it out there.’’