I've only missed two sales in living memory and that's when I was overseas in 1967/68.
Benambra grazier Richard Faithfull, Gibsons, remembers attending the annual Mountain Calf Sales at Benambra with his father as a five-or-six year-old.
"The calves weren't as good back then and it was a pretty daunting experience for a young fella like me," Mr Faithfull said.
He and his wife, Anne, will offer 150 Hereford mixed-sex weaners on March 4 at Benambra's annual mountain calf sale.
"I've only missed two sales in living memory and that's when I was overseas in 1967/68," Mr Faithfull, a Vietnam veteran, said.
The May/June drop 10-month-old European Union accredited calves have presented well despite the threat of fire and drought, a common theme for breeders selling calves across the region in March.
"The fire came extremely close to us at Beloka where the cattle are," Mr Faithfull said.
"It was very close but we had a good neighbour with a bulldozer who kept it away thankfully."
The Faithfull's herd consists of Sugarloaf, Mawarra and Karoonda bloodlines with their Black Baldy calves set to be sold a day earlier at the black Omeo.
"From all reports, these cattle should sell really well and we could have potentially one of the best sales in history," Mr Faithfull said.
"It hasn't been too tough for these cattle this season because we've been getting rain every now and then and they've always been grass-fed, they've never been fed hay."
Mr Faithfull was born in Omeo and worked at Cobungra Station for some 30 years, starting as a 15-year-old farmhand working his way up to manager, and took over his in-law's farm, Gibsons, about 30 years ago.
"We hope the steer portion will average about 300 kilograms and the heifers could be between 270-280 kilos but we're not too sure at this stage," he said.
"We expect the weights to be about the same as last year, they won't be any lighter, but they could be a fraction heavier because of the good season we've had."
Good interest by potential buyers
About 1700 Hereford and Hereford Shorthorn-cross cattle will feature at Benambra's calf sale on March 4, almost three months after fire first threatened the region.
Elders Omeo livestock manager David Hill said despite a lower yarding across the calf sales, he had received strong interest from potential local and interstate buyers.
"This is the 80th weaner sale of the mountain calf sales and it's probably going to be biggest attended sales even through the Ensay sale was because of the interest and tradition," Mr Hill said.
"We expect the tops of the calves to be around the 400 kilo mark but a majority of cattle will range between 280-320kg."
Newcomen, Nunniong, Karoonda and Mawarra bloodlines will feature in the sale while most of the calves are June/July drop.
"Traditionally we'd yard 8000-9000 cattle across these four sales and with Ensay being called off and the fires going through the area around Christmas, the whole series has been flip-sided because if we had of been burnt out, these sales might not have run," Mr Hill said.
"A lot of these cattle are EU accredited and are in the Never Ever program and a majority of cattle have had all their health protocols so it should be a strong sale."
Trusted breeders to lead calf sale
Prominent lines to feature in the sale include 150 Hereford calves vendor bred by Vince and Di Pendergast, Benambra and 100 Hereford mixed sex weaners by BK Seivers, Benambra.
RK and SK Cornall, Benambra, will sell 100 Hereford steers as will Beloka Pastoral, which will sell 100 Hereford mixed sex calves.
Benambra's calf sale will start at 11am followed by the second Hereford and Hereford Shorthorn-cross sale at Omeo starting from 1pm.