This inspirational farmer's fantastic Fuso
INSPIRATIONAL farmer Rob Cook has bought a Fuso Heavy truck and dog for the family cattle operations in southeast Queensland.
The former rodeo champion was left a quadriplegic after a helicopter crash on a Northern Territory station in 2008 and was told he
could not return to life on the land.
Rob is unable to feed himself, with just enough strength in his upper arm to operate a joystick controller, but, with a mixture of determination, support from family and friends and technology, he proved his doctors wrong.
He and wife Sarah operate three cattle properties and have just opened their own butchery in Bundaberg, serving their own quality meat.
Rob had been paying a fortune for subcontractors to move cattle between properties, which seemed a waste given Sarah was happy to do it and had a multi-combination licence.
Rob's diesel fitter mates told him Fusos were solid and reliable so he started researching the large Heavy models online.
He found a new rigid cattle truck specification Fuso Heavy at Westco Trucks in Mackay, Queensland, and snapped it up.
Rob then had Moore Trailers, near Toowoomba, build a custom dog trailer that suited their needs.
"Because the truck has rear airbags, we just built an A-frame at the same height as the truck, so you can dump the airbags and drive out from under the stock crate, making it easy and versatile for shifting equipment between farms,” Rob said.
Running without the trailer, operations manager Matt Orgill can help move machinery and feed, including 10tonne batches of molasses lick, while Sarah takes over when the jobs require the use of the dog trailer.
She has a non-synchro manual licence and has used them on properties before, but the Fuso Heavy has an automated 12speed transmission, which means there is one less job for the driver.
He was forced to change the way he farmed and has adopted smarter and leaner techniques.
Using everything from electro-hydraulic farm gates, Bluetooth positioning sensors, voice recognition software, telemetry and good old cattle dogs, Rob is able to do much of the work from his electric wheelchair.
Sarah is at Rob's side for many of the active parts of operations and drives him between stations in a customised 4x4 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van.
Rob can traverse some of the paddocks with his off-road electric wheelchair but is having a special ATV modified so he can go further.
He manages much of the family business and uses voice automation computer technology to get things done.
Sarah pushed Rob to use computer technology, despite initial frustrations, and he is glad she did.
Rob had no interest in computer technology when he lived on their family cattle station in the Territory; but changed his mind after realising what it would be like as a quadriplegic with none of the technological aids he uses today.