Lake City couple home for Christmas

Tuesday, January 7, 2014
The Winfords bring home Austrailian boomerangs as Christmas gifts for family members. (Photo provided/Nan Snider)

Kenneth and Marie Winford of Warren Australia returned to their former home in Lake City to celebrate Christmas with family and friends.

Kenneth Winford was working at Southland Gin in Lake City last year when he had saw a flyer about the need for experienced ginners to work for Auscott Cotton Gin in Australia. He applied for the job and soon found his way to Warren.

Earlier this year Winford settled into a small house on a 9,000-acre farm, owned by Simon and Rachel Cant, at the edge of the Australian outback near Warren. Mrs. Winford quit her job at Medic One Ambulance in Jonesboro and joined her husband there in June.

"There are four houses, sheds and bunkhouses on the farm," Mr. Winford said. "Marie and I just love it there. We like the people and see it not only as a great business opportunity but as a mission also. People there are hungry for the word of God, and we hope to establish a Power Club and sports camp for children at the farm. We are already meeting weekly each Tuesday. There are few established churches in our area, so having workers and a meeting place close to home is very important. We hold Bible study, sing and fellowship with area families and their children there. We hope to hold our first weekend camp for children in February when we get back. We are deeply committed to this effort and see great potential for growth."

The Winford's children have both visited them in Australia and admit the place makes them feel right at home. The family consists of daughter Kandace Cook and husband Justin, and daughter Kolton, and son Kevin Winford, wife Shelby and grandchildren, Shanley, Natalie and Grant.

Warren, Australia, is a small town of 2,200 people, about 25 miles from the Winford's farm home. The larger town of Sidney is seven hours away.

"In many ways Warren reminds me of living in Lake City," Mrs. Winford said. "It has a small town atmosphere and the people are so friendly. We are quickly building relationships with people we have met and who live close by or work with Kenneth. With gasoline at $7.20 a gallon, we don't make long trips very often. We buy produce locally, which usually consists of pumpkins, beetroots, sweet potatoes and spinach. People in Australia even put a slice of pumpkin on a hamburger. One good thing is that there are no mosquitoes in Australia."

"I love my job at Auscott and most of the people I have met have been on the job," Mr. Winford said. "Cotton is the major crop at Warren, and the growing season is from April to September, with harvest in October and November. They get about five or six bales of cotton an acre. I work seven days on then off for three then seven on and off for four. It is a planned rotation. Auscott has five cotton gins in Australia. We hope to apply for dual residency soon, with Auscott sponsoring us."

Water to the Winford home comes by canals. They have only had one half inch of rain since July, so most of the trees and vegetation grows near the canals. The electrical bill comes out every three months and usually runs around $1,000. Internet access is very limited and pre-paid cell phone service is used for communication.

The Winfords will return to Australia on Jan. 8.

"We are very happy there," Mr. Winford said. "I came to Australia as a worker and have found a mission."

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