TOM Griffin never set out to go fencing, but two unexpected events changed the course of his working life.
Mr Griffin now owns and operates Raywood Fencing at Raywood, north of Bendigo. His wife Brooke handles the administrative side of the business in between caring for their daughters, Matilda, 4, and Ruby, three months.
Mr Griffin, 32, grew up on a farm in central Victoria.
"My father was raised in Baynton, but I'd always been on the farm at Raywood," he said.
"The family owned a couple of thousand acres (about 800ha)."
Sheep were the financial backbone - mostly for wool from the Merino flock - but wheat as well.
'I started fencing after the Black Saturday fires went through.
"There was more family land at Redesdale I had leased while I was working in the mine at Costerfield, near Heathcote," Mr Griffin said.
"The mine closed suddenly during the financial crunch and, with the leased land burnt, I thought there'd be heaps of fencing to do."
He bought some basic gear and jumped in:
"I knew all the basics because you spend your life doing maintenance at home.
"I had my own fencing damage from the fire, so I did that, then did the neighbours' blocks and it kept going."
Mr Griffin said there was plenty of work after the fires, both in Redesdale and Kinglake.
"The volunteers at Redesdale did a lot of the cleaning up, then the farmers got skilled people to do the fencing, so they had good quality," he said.
"It wasn't hard work - everything was gone and it was bare dirt. I was in Redesdale for six months and Kinglake for four."
After that finished, Mr Griffin erected Colorbond fences, building his name through word of mouth.
"I'm now booked up until January," he said.
"We don't mind travelling and mostly do rural fencing now - wire and pine and concrete posts, star pickets, gates and yards for cattle, sheep and small horse properties. I've got the bobcat and do a bit of earthworks, but I don't chase it because it's mostly small jobs.
"It's easier to make your wage on fencing."
Mr Griffin's work varies from an hour here and there on minor repairs or hanging gates to jobs that keep him occupied for months at a time.
"I've had jobs lasting a month, but others are only a day or two, or less," he said.
"Next week, though, I'm starting to move a shearing shed and, once that starts, I suspect I'll get a couple of months' work out of it.
"Every job is different. Everyone wants a different style of fence and no two jobs are the same."
Mr Griffin's equipment these days comprises a Toyota 4SDK8 bobcat, a Lyco post driver, a ute, a trailer and one old truck.
"I've put a hand-held air driver in the trailer for installing star pickets and that's one of my main tools now," he said.
Mr Griffin said he was guided by customer wishes on selecting materials: "When you go to quote, you ask the person whether they want an imported product or a good-quality brand name. You do what the customer wants."