The luscious smell of slow-cooked lamb shanks permeates the house as sheep graziers Jan Glasser and Richard Crowther take a break from mustering for a rest and a bite to eat.

The Glasser Crowthers have raised Dorper sheep on their Glen Iris property outside Oakey for nearly eight years. “Jan’s brother had a bunch of sheep he needed to get rid of,” Richard said with a laugh. “I was brought up on a dairy farm, then beef before I joined the Navy, and I always wanted to get back to the land.”

The couple purchased a property without any real plans for it, and had started growing millet and other seeds for bird feed before the Dorper opportunity arrived. “I rather liked the look of them,” said Jan, “and we thought, why not?” Learning that Dorpers do not have to be shorn like other breeds worked in their favour, and pretty soon the sheep arrived.

Jan and Richard’s first foray into sheep management was a bit rocky. “When we first got them we had no clue that they really have more goat like behaviour,” Jan said with a rueful grin. “We were forever hunting them.”

Richard adds, “We had electric fencing, but they soon realised they could get under if they went quick. I used to think sheep were stupid animals, but it’s amazing, they have memories and they’re pretty smart.”

New fencing got things back on track. “Once we got the fences sorted, it was much better,” Jan said. “They’re good breeders and good mothers and it didn’t take us long to breed up our ewes.”

The pair started out with 14 Dorper ewes and one ram and now run more than 200 which they sell at the Warwick Sheep and Lamb Sales.
A while back they transitioned from only selling sheep to selling grass-fed lamb and lamb sausages throughout the Toowoomba region via community farmers markets and free monthly deliveries.

Clients purchase whole or half carcasses and can choose from lamb and rosemary sausages and lamb and caramelised onion. Down the track they may start selling individual cuts along with carcasses and sausages.

When they are not running sheep, Richard is an Airbus aerospacial vehicle technician and does helicopter maintenance at the Oakey Army Base, while Jan works in administration for Queensland Health. As much as they enjoy their work, they both loving coming home, watching sunsets and storms from seats on their verandah, entertaining children and grandchildren, and caring for their sheep and gardens.

Although they may have started out as sheep novices, Jan and Richard are now old hands. They treasure the mothers they have had from the beginning, picking them out from the herd and rattling off their quirks and proclivities as if they are family members.

Jan and Richard are assisted in their endeavours by Ruby, the Kelpie. She is a spunky thing who lives to please and is never happier than when out mustering.

Raising Dorpers may not be the life the couple had planned, but both say they would not change anything.