The biggest disappointment in Ken Karsten's long and fruitful life was the lack of recognition from the country for his outstanding contribution to the livestock industry as well as his impact of service to the Weethalle district.
He felt deserved of an award in the annual Australia Day Honours List, but despite the best efforts of his supporters in the sheep and pig industries, and the Weethalle community, it was not forthcoming.
He also joked that he would have liked to live long enough to receive the letter from King Charles congratulating on him reaching 100 years, but he unfortunately died before he reached that anniversary.
Kenneth Gordon Karsten, who was born 24 December, 1925 at Temora, passed away peacefully on the 23 December, 2022, just five hours short of this 97th birthday.
The eldest and only son of John Henry 'Harry' Karsten and Ethel Janet 'Ellie' Karsten (nee Splatt), Ken had lived his entire life at Weethalle on the family property Kiawarra which had been drawn in a land ballot by his father in 1924, from Euratha Station.
Ken had a sister Hilary.
Travelling from Victoria, John Henry Karsten arrived at his property in a wagon with meagre belongings and lived in a tent, while he proceeded to clear the 532ha (1314 acre) farm with bullock and horse teams.
Ken started his education 1932 walking to and from the Weethalle Public School, and in 1939 he commenced his secondary education at the Yanco Agricultural High School, Leeton.
But with the advent of the Second World War on the 29 September, 1939 rationing was introduced which created some hardship for very many families across the country.
Because they were tough years, Ken left Yanco and came home to work on Kiawarra in 1940, where, at the age of 14 years, he was driving a ten horse team assisting his father with the farming.
He also helped with the last of ring-barking and clearing of the trees on the property.
Two years later, Ken would ride his bike to and from the local wool sheds becoming a very proficient shearer, with blades and machines, and learning the essential traits of a profitable Merino sheep.
That was the start of Ken's lifetime desire and passion for all things agricultural and his ability to not only breed but also to be able to judge all types of livestock, and whether it was pigs, dogs, turkeys, sheep, horses, cattle or poultry, Ken could just pick their desirable traits.
Kiawarra had a Clydesdale stud and Ken bred a colt that won first prize at a Sydney Royal Show and Kiawarra won the prestigious The Land Clydesdale Cup 1945. Ken's standing amongst the Australian Clydesdale breeders was such that he judged the breed at Melbourne Royal, Adelaide Royal, Canberra Royal and Castle Hill shows.
In 1940 Ken commenced breeding pigs at Kiawarra and he registered the Kiawarra Berkshire stud in 1946.
In 1945 Ken married Sadie Merle Shaw, a school teacher who had arrived in Weethalle from Grenfell - a trip which she remembered took three days on the train.
It was a marriage that would last 69 years until Merle died in 2014.
They had three children - Colin was born in 1945, Helen in 1948 and Jeff in 1962.
In 1959, Ken's father John was tragically drowned when he was pushed into one of the farm's dams by a horse, and when he took over running the farm Ken became effectively known as Ken Cast Iron for his ability to work - and alongside that driven work ethic, Ken's success was rooted in his ability, early in his career, to talk with bank managers.
In the 50's the last of the Clydesdale horses were put out to pasture and Ken brought his first tractor, a Lanz bulldog signalling the start of mechanisation on Kiawarra, which has evolved to include GPS auto steer, 500 hp tractors, spray rigs, broad acre tillage and huge harvesting equipment.
The operation on Kiawarra today is a long way from when Ken drove the horse drawn ground drive headers, bagging the wheat before the bullock and horse teams carted the bagged grain to the rail head.
Ken learnt to shear with blades and by machine in 1942 and shore all around the district riding his pushbike to and from work.
This work enabled him to recognise the best traits in sheep.
But it was his show career which Ken was most proud off, and why he thought he should be recognised with an Australian honour.
He exhibited Berkshire pigs at Melbourne Royal Show for 25 years winning numerous junior championships , champion sows and grand champion boars and was the first in Australia to breed and win a championship prefix achieved by a pig called Kiawarra climaX.
Ken showed pigs at Sydney Royal show from 1959 to 1980 winning numerous grand champions in the boar and sow classes, and he also showed pigs at Adelaide Royal for a number of years winning various awards.
Ken was recognised as one of the most successful pig breeders and judges in Australia, where he judged at every Royal show including Tasmania.
The Kiawarra Merino stud was registered in 1961 after Ken purchased 134 ewes in lamb and 2 rams from the Wonga stud, Jerilderie, bred by Tom Culley.
Tom Culley, was one of the greatest sheep breeders in Australia and he convinced Ken to register his Merino stud. That started a life long friendship and mutual respect for each other, cemented when Jeff Karsten went to jackaroo on Wonga bringing home to Kiawarra a wealth of knowledge in sheep breeding and selection.
Ken became a very successful Merino sheep breeder and judge known Australian wide and the rams he bred had a loyal following in NSW, Queensland, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australian. He also classed many of his clients flocks, improving their size and quality.
Kiawarra was the second Merino stud in Australia to hold on-property ram sales in 1978 and it became an annual fixture for the next 35 years.
The Merino stud also had a proud show record, winning championships at all the local shows and the Riverina Merino Field Days when Ken paraded the grand champion ram 1984. That ram also won supreme grand champion ram at both Melbourne and Sydney Royal Shows in 1984.
Ken was a life member of the Weethalle Show Society and has the sheep pavilion named in his honour.
He attended his first show in 1935, exhibiting a dog and a chook - he couldn't recall what happened to the chook, but he did take his dog home.
For the next 75 years, Ken entered his Clydesdales, pigs, turkeys, sheep and wool at the Weethalle Show, where donated seating and time, man power and materials to upgrade the sheep pavilion, and provided his dozer to form the trotting track and clear the area for the sheep dog trials.
Community service was important for Ken - local fire captain for 17 years and awarded a NSW Fire Brigade long service medal for recognition of 60 years service: captain of the Weethalle Rifle Club from the time of its inception to the time it ceased and helping beautify Weethalle with dozer work and tree planting.
Kiawarra Merino stud was the major sponsor of the Weethalle Roos rugby league team for many years.
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Starting with his father's land, Ken amassed 20,000 acres, during his lifetime, running 4,000 Merino ewes, 100 Shorthorn cows and cropping 5,000 acres.
He has seen floods and monster dust storms from years of droughts. He has seen 29 Prime Ministers and lived through the Great Depression, World Wars and seen the booms and busts of the world.
Matt Goodwin went to Kiawarra as Ken's first jackaroo in 1979 and he maintained his friendship until the day before he died when he took Ken for a drive around Kiawarra, looking at the sale rams and the cattle and his mind still sharp as a whip.
Kenneth Gordon Karsten will be remembered as one of the leading stockman of the 20th century, and a man who achieved in his lifetime, what many would have taken two or three lives to accomplish.
Pre-deceased by his wife Merle, his sons Jeff in 1994 aged 32 and Colin in 1998 aged 53, he is survived by Jeff's partner Robyn, their son Alex and daughter Caitlin, and his daughter Helen Mohr.
Knowing that Alex is the fourth generation on Kiawarra, and that he and Mel have two children, Levi and Evie, gave Ken a purpose and desire to keep living, conversant that one day there might be the fifth generation of the Karsten family on Kiawarra.
As Matt Goodwin drove him around Kiawarra one last time Ken remarked - "I'd like to be able to bring my old man back to see what I have achieved "
- Stephen Burns, Matt Goodwin