The collection of a lifetime goes under the hammer

Kent Muller’s collection of rabbit traps is by far his largest. The use of steel jaw traps is banned in Victoria, but old traps are repurposed as rustic decorations and collectibles. Photo by Daneka Hill

Life has come full circle for Kent Muller.

The Molyullah farmer has spent more than five decades combing through sales and collecting antiques – and now it’s time for his own sale.

“I collected everything, really. Bottles, keys, axes,” the 82-year-old said.

“I have about 300 rabbit traps and over 140 different types.”

Mr Muller said he hoarded so many traps because they would be bundled together at sales and sold as one lot.

“I may have only wanted one in particular, but I’d have to take them all to get that one,” he said.

“At my sale, we separated them.”

Along with the collections, Mr. Muller also salvaged antique farm equipment that he remembers his father, Fred Muller, working on.

This includes Furphy water carts, old wool presses, horse drawn rakes and plows.

Fred’s original gear was sold in an offset sale.

Everything left the hands of the family – all but one – a stationary hay baler that Mr. Muller found years later.

“I guess that would be the most sentimental item in the sale,” the sheep and cattle rancher said of the hay baler.

“I remember running to help tie the wires. They used to pull it behind the horses, and later we used a Gray Fergie.

Kent Muller with the stationary hay baler. It is the only piece in the collection that belonged to his father, Fred Muller. Photo by Daneka Hill

“We bought it in 1953 from a farmer around the corner. We used it for years, then someone bought it at my dad’s junkyard. They left it in their yard and I would go there and try to redeem it.

“We used to jam logs in the wheels when we were going down to make it slide and slow down.”

The Cliffs and Bunting stationary hay baler/baler. The machine would have been dragged into place next to a haystack or hay would have been swept to it and forked into it. Photo by Kevin Hick Real Estate

The wooden divider would have been knocked down to separate the pressed hay. Two men would then push metal ties through and secure them with pliers to hold the newly created ball together. Photo by Daneka Hill

The two Furphy water carts do not belong to his father, but Mr Muller recalls his father using one to haul water for 12 months during the 1944 drought.

“Every day he walked eight kilometers to fill it up and bring water to the troughs,” Mr Muller said.

“I was born in Yarrawonga. After the 1944 drought, my father moved us to Tatong. He said he didn’t want to carry any more water.

Two Furphy water carts in the sale. “I remember my dad carrying water for 12 months all at once.” After suffering from the drought, Mr. Muller’s father moved his family to Tatong. Photo by Daneka Hill

The family milked cows and worked sheep in Tatong before coming to Molyullah and starting in Lucerne.

It was Mr. Muller’s father-in-law who got him into the beef business, but he always kept the mutton and hay jobs, even after health problems forced him to Benalla.

“I’ve had five cuts in dryland paddocks this year. I can only remember one other year where we made five cuts,” Muller said of his Molyullah property on Ryans Creek.

“Someone asked me why I hadn’t retired, but I always came here to feed the cattle and cut the alfalfa. I had a contractor who baled it for me and I carted it around.

True to form, hundreds of bales of alfalfa hay and silage are offered at Mr. Muller’s sale.

A horse-drawn rake. “We used to use one like this on the farm, but it was sold at my dad’s clearance sale. You would rake the hay and collect it later. Photo by Daneka Hill

Mr. Muller is well known in the district for his love of hay, especially to feed his cattle year round.

“People laughed at me for feeding the cattle in the spring, but when I sold the oxen they would talk about their weight and I would say ‘not heavy enough’.

“You have to keep them big all the time because the market might take off and the moment you got them heavy the market went down.

“I had Hereford Simmental cattle that weighed 800kg when they were 13 months old…when I got a Simmental bull I never looked back.”

A few old milk pails. Mr Muller used to milk for neighbors when he was younger and remembers once going to the New Year’s dance in Tatong. “We didn’t go to bed. We left to milk the cows and went to press the hay. Photo by Daneka Hill

Mr Muller recently made the decision to sell his cattle and empty the sheds after he was admitted to hospital.

“I hope everything is to the satisfaction of the buyers. I couldn’t be there to put things out, but I had a few good men helping me.

“Fortunately, we sold the cattle when we did. We sold them at the right time.

The dispersal of the herd is said to have benefited from some of the highest cattle prices in Australian history.

A riding mower. “When we were young, we used to mow with something like that,” Muller said. “A friend knew I was interested in these machines, so he gave me this one.” Photo by Daneka Hill

The property itself will be leased to Mr. Muller’s son who farms locally.

Now based in Benalla full-time, Mr Muller is trying to make peace with retirement.

“A while ago someone said ‘why don’t you retire?’ Well, my dad retired and died in 18 months. I have seen other farmers do the same thing. But you have to deal with it, I guess.

Mr. Muller’s offset sale is completely online and managed by Kevin Hicks Real Estate. Auctions will begin to close at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, August 9.

The family’s Holden Kingswood car. “It was new when we got it,” Muller said. Once his late wife Helen lost control of the vehicle as she drove along a paddock ridge. “She called me on another ridge to ask me how long I would be. The next minute, she shot with the youngest girl and a puppy on her back and ran through a three-barbed wire fence. Fortunately, the ground was wet enough to block the car before they reached the roadblock. We had to walk for miles to get home. Photo by Daneka Hill

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