Les Ost leads a blessed life in Mt Sylvia
IN AN incredible feat, Mt Sylvia's Les Ost only began to ease off working as a farmer at 80-something though says he's "still a farmer, I'm just not farming as much now.”
Sitting at his kitchen table next to Doris, his wife of 56 years with a big grin on his face, 90-year-old Les said still being able to live in the family house on the family farm was an extremely satisfying feeling.
"I'm a very lucky man,” he said.
"We still have some cattle here but our son helps out occasionally now.
"But I still love getting stuck into the vegetable garden ... there's nothing better than picking fresh vegies and putting it on the table.”
Les's parents were originally dairy farmers and "lived off a cream cheque” but in 1936 the family gave it away and decided to try their hand at heavy produce.
The family dug their own well that supplied the water for them to irrigate crops and they took to growing sorghum, pumpkins, potatoes and corn and they also ran beef cattle.
One day in the late 1950s, 16-year-old Doris Schulz from Ropely came to the farm to help Les pick potatoes.
"It must have been love at first sight,” Les chuckled.
"She was a very hard worker and she always jokes that that's why I decided I wanted to marry her.
"I had already met her once because my brother Henry had married her older sister Ruby. But I only had a real chance to talk to her at her brother's 21st birthday party.”
Les recalled meeting Doris's rather large family for the first time.
"I went over there and it was a little overwhelming ... they only had eight girls and seven boys in the family,” he chuckled.
"The families were much bigger back then, but a large family was a happy family.”
It was years of courting, including nights at the movies and live shows in Toowoomba, before the couple announced their engagement.
Les said the movies were on monthly at the Caffey Hall, where they would pay two and six (25 cents) for two movies and cartoons.
"I remember when pots of beers were only 18 cents. Those were the days,” he said.
Les and Doris were married on June, 24 1961 in Ropely.
"I remember being a little nervous and the minister could see it in my face,” he said.
"He reassured me that Doris wouldn't be much longer and that she would eventually turn up.”
Les said the secret to a long and happy marriage was communication and having faith in one another.
"We've always got along well, me and my wife and I helped her whenever I could,” he said.
"She is very good to me.”
Over the years the Osts went on to have five children, two girls and three boys.
"I loved being a dad and playing with my kids,” he said.
"We are very proud of all of our children and grandchildren,” he said.
Les held one hand up and began to tell the story of how he lost part of his finger.
"When I was 21 I left Mt Sylvia to work in Ipswich in the woollen mill,” he said.
"We worked with big cogs and little ones, well one night I got my finger stuck in between the cogs.
"They had to cut it off about an inch to get it out and they never gave me any painkillers at all.”
Les has Polish heritage and was the youngest of six boys and five girls.
Born on September 22, 1927, he went to school at Mt Sylvia School until he was 12 years-old. When Les was a boy the Ost family would occasionally host a dance in their barn.
"Someone would scout out the best barns in the area,” he said.
"The least amount of corn or hay stored in them the better. The barn would be cleaned and that would be the spot for the next local dance.”
After the war broke out one of Les's brothers joined the army and another went to work on the shipyards. Les recalled how each family was allowed to have one son to stay home and help look after the farm.
"We couldn't get up to mischief when I was young, there was always too much to do,” he said.
"Farming, that's all we knew really, others got to work under a roof while we were out in the muck trying to harvest crops.
"It was tough sometimes but I have had a blessed life.”
Les was once a keen sportsman and played anything he could from cricket to table tennis.
"I love playing cards now, canasta is my game of choice,” he said.
"I used to be a keen fisherman too.
"We used to catch so many jewfish and eels out of our creek at the front of the property.
"They made for a great meal.”