Timing is everything, when it comes to investing in agriculture, as many buyers and sellers of property have learned over the years - often to their cost.
When former Test cricketer Peter Taylor and his wife Julie decided to buy and expand the Nullamanna feedlot near Inverell in 2016 as an extension of their existing Glen Eden farming operation at Gurley, it all made sense.
As well as effectively doubling the size of the existing business, it would represent a move into vertical integration, enabling fodders produced at Glen Eden to be value-added through the feedlot.
The Taylors even thought of taking the vertical integration a step further, and buying a cattle breeding property to supply the feeder livestock.
Fortunately - as things turned out - they didn't.
Instead, the north was plunged into its worst drought in recorded history, and far from providing a reliable fodder source, Glen Eden has failed to harvest a crop for three years.
Drought notwithstanding, the feedlot has continued to perform profitably.
Reluctantly, the Taylors have decided to let it go while they ride out the drought on their Gurley home property.
Nullamanna Station, its feedlot and the nearby Koolabah farming block are now being marketed as an aggregation by Bob Jamieson Agencies of Inverell, with expressions of interest closing September 20.
Bob Jamieson, who has been closely involved in supplying cattle to the feedlot and arranging markets, says the operation would ideally suit an established farming family with cattle breeding interests.
On offer is the 1872 hectare Nullamanna Station plus the nearby Koolabah of 335ha - a total land area of 2207ha.
The EU-accredited 3000-head Nullamanna feedlot, plus working plant are also being offered as part of the package.
On current local farmland values alone, the aggregation would stack up at well over $10 million, to which must be added the value of feedlot infrastructure and buildings.
Situated 23 kilometres north-east of Inverell, Nullamanna is the homestead portion of the original 30,000-acre Nullamanna run taken up in 1839 (along with Bukkulla) by George Wyndham.
Before being bought by the Taylors in 2016, Nullamanna was owned for nearly 50 years by the Lane family.
Brothers Peter and Mark Lane established a 1000-head feedlot in 2006 to supply domestic markets.
After taking over from the Lanes (but with Peter Lane staying on as manager), Mr Taylor trebled the size of the feedlot and secured EU accreditation.
It now turns off 9000 head of 120-day cattle a year.
Peter Lane is winding down towards semi-retirement, but Bob Jamieson said a replacement was on the way in the person of Gavin O'Neil, from the Welcannah Feedlot at Moree.
Nullamanna and Koolabah between them have 800ha of black and red basalt cultivation country, 175ha of which is established lucerne, the balance native pasture with a long topdressing history.
Average rainfall is 750mm and despite the drought (and unlike some northern feedlots) Nullamanna is securely watered.
Nullamanna boasts 39 dams and reticulation from three bores.
Currently operated by five permanent staff plus casuals when needed, the properties come with three homes.
There is also extensive shedding and silos, silage pits, two sets of cattle yards and a four-stand shearing shed.
By PETER AUSTIN.