Saturday, 27 August 2011

Snakes Alive!

The landscape is just so beautiful at the moment with the yellow canola flower up against the rich green barley and wheat. Unfortunately I saw the my first snake of the season today, yikes! I can deal with the abundance of flies and the mouse plague but the snakes really get to me. I'm not a fan! This particular snake was crossing the road as I was driving along, it was quite large actually. We haven't had one inside the yard for 12 months or so, hopefully we continue along this pattern. It's a real worry when the kids want to play outside, you really need to be there the whole time.

The Ungarra Silos, our closest town 20km away, although there are no shops, just a Primary School, Sports Club, Bowling Club, Town Hall and Church.

I love this view as I drive into Ungarra along Baldissera Road

Thursday, 18 August 2011

2011 Season

It's just so pretty around our farm at the moment with the canola starting to flower.

We've had about 25mm of rain in the last couple of days so that will really get the crop going, it was in need of a drink.

In our dry land broad acre cropping area, we don't irrigate, we rely on the weather. No rain, no crop.

 We reap about 3000 tonne of barley each year of several different varieties.

We are in no way organic, we use chemicals, that's just the way it is. 

The Barley crop can be attacked by red legged earth mite, lucerne flea and occasionally 'cut worm'. If we couldn't control these pests, half the crop wouldn't be worth reaping.


 Our cropping operation isn't very big compared to others, we crop just under 4000 acres each year and have merino sheep for wool within our pasture/crop rotation plans.

 We reap about 500 tonne of Canola each year.

The Canola crop contends with red legged earth mite, lucerne flea, blue oatmite, snails and occasionally the diamond back moth.

At this present time, we cannot grow a deliverable and descent yielding crop without chemicals.
 It does confuse me when the green groups get so aggressive in their rejection of Genetically Modified crops. I realise testing needs to be done to determine any long lasting ill-effects, but surely, being able to reduce our chemical use and maintain or grow our yields would be a good thing?
 In basic terms, the Canola plant produces flowers and little pods grow up the stems that contain tiny little black Canola seeds. They look a lot like really skinny bean pods. The flowers die off and the pods mature. The little black canola seeds are full of oil. Our best delivery for oil content was 49% oil last year. We get paid extra money for each percentage over the base rate of 42% oil.
So with the news reporting a yield growth of 20% is required in the next 15 years - I wonder how we are going to achieve this if some green groups continue to sabotage CSIRO testing of GM crops? Do they want the world to starve?

I honestly don't know what they want from farmers? 

Well, actually I do - but it's just not reality!!!

Sunday, 14 August 2011


 The boys have been crutching sheep this past week. For those who don't know what that is, it's shearing off the wool from around the backside of the sheep. Cleaning the yucky bits up before full shearing starts in a little over a week.
 Crutching also helps clean up any poop and urine left behind that the blow flies find so attractive!!
 My husband and his brother in the crutching shed. Their father will still crutch sheep if need be, he is now 74 years old.

 Max the work dog in the sheep yards helping to push up the ewes and lambs into the pens for drafting. (The lambs are now old enough to separate from their mothers)
 Max is a 2 year old Kelpie and doubles as our pet dog. He's not a bad sheep dog either.
 Pushing the sheep into the pens, they then run single file though the drafting race
 My brother in law standing at the end of the drafting race. As the sheep run through, he switches the gate from one side to the other to separate the ewes from the lambs
Our son Ben, loves to watch all the goings on with the sheep. he is nearly 3 and already his pretend play sees him crutching imaginary sheep!!

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Farm Wedding

We’d been together nearly 8 years and already had 2 children when my husband and I finally got married in October 2010. I had my heart set on a farm wedding from early on but working out the logistics of feeding over 100 people, 50km from town facilities, was a concern in the beginning.

The first time I suggested to my husband that we ‘deck out’ the machinery shed for the reception, his reaction was
 “What about my machinery”?

“Errr, surely it can go outside for a few days”?!! I replied.

What a carry on! Grumble, grumble about his precious machinery sitting out in the elements for a few days! Needless to say, I ignored the whinging and carried on with my plans for the shed reception. The plan all fell into place when the local netball club agreed to cater for the wedding and we sorted out a plan for feeding our large group of guests in our remote location.

 My plans further improved when I was introduced to Marie Walladge from Fairytale Weddings at Wudinna, about 150km away from our place. Her website had plenty of great photos of her wedding decorations and she had already decorated a couple of farm sheds in the past. Our machinery shed is 100m x 40m so was going to need a huge amount of decorations to ‘pretty’ it up for a reception. After several months of ideas, quotes and the like, I had decided on what the reception would look like although I still wondered how she would pull it off. The base of the shed was dirt so my husband covered it with crusher fines and rolled it with some big tyred equipment to flatten it down, and then sprayed it with water to help create a good floor base, it worked a treat but was only done a couple of days before the wedding so it held it’s compact condition.
The site for the ceremony needed some work also! Basically, I had chosen a spot on the farm, up on a hill and under some large gum trees, it was a beautiful spot. The future husband couldn’t see the point in choosing a special ceremony spot; particularly that it required the cutting of a fence and some minor earthworks to cater for some elderly guests and 2 wheelchairs! But, this was MY wedding, I am the BRIDE, I’m only doing this once, I WANT MY OWN WAY OR ELSE! 
I had moments of the crazy ‘bride to be’ but didn’t morph into a full blown Bridezilla, which I’m proud of. I kept the costs down as low as possible and purchased my dress on-line from Dress of your Dreams in Sydney.
Even our photographer, Kerri Cliff from Fresh Eyre Photography, Kimba, was under $1000 for the whole day and a full photo album at the end. It was an almost 2 hour drive for her to attend our farm; she arrived in the morning and didn’t leave until it was dark. She bought along her friend Lisa to help with the photos of our children. Lisa just happened to be their Play group teacher, so she was a godsend in getting happy snaps of the kids.

The Eyre United Netball Club catered for nibbles, main meal and dessert. We set up a small marquee and mobile fridge at the side of the reception shed for the girls to prepare the food. They had pre-cooked roast meats the previous day, enabling them to reheat them in large webbers on the day. There were little cups of calamari and other yummy things for nibbles. The main meal was the roast meats, vegetable bakes and salads. It was a great meal and we had many comments about the large amount of food available.

Many guests said it was the best meal they had ever had at a wedding and that they actually had enough to eat, unlike the ‘meal for pigeons’ you often get at a fancy venue. The desserts were all made by local members of the Netball Club, so were a fantastic array of home made desserts, including a favourite of my Mum’s, Brandy Snaps. The cost was $30 per head for the adults and the kids were free (of which there were probably 25)! Mark from the local Football Club looked after the bar for us. We had organised several ice filled eskies for the alcohol and soft drinks and everyone seemed happy to get up and organise their own drink. The music for the evening was pre programmed into an Ipod and played on a stereo we set up.

The shed looked amazing; it just didn’t look like a shed. My husband had hooked up some wires for Marie to attach her curtain/tule materials and fairy lights. The tables and chairs were simple but classy. I had wanted a runner of hessian also but this had been eaten by Mice beforehand so we had to go without. I hired the table settings from Adelaide and had fake flowers in glass bowls with white gravel in the bottoms. A local friend of mine, Lyn, had made me 50 pink leadlight butterflies on metal sticks which I stuck into the floral arrangements for our female guests to take home as a memento.

We borrowed kids table and chairs from the local school and set up a kid’s area with craft supplies to entertain them. As most of my family and friends had travelled some distances, many had their children with them, which I had encouraged. We take our children everywhere, apart from family members, there is no such thing as ‘child care’ in our area. Some came with camper trailers, caravans and the like and found this much easier to camp the night. It was great as we got to catch up with those friends again the next day, all camped just up from our house.

I must send a huge thankyou to my local community for helping us with our special day. Many locals helped by bringing out ice, eskies, hay bales, webbers and organising craft activities for the kids. We couldn’t have done it without their help.

I loved our wedding, it was great. It was fairly stress free, the mice didn't eat anything else, the snakes didn't show up and the flies weren't too bad either. The only bummer was my new husband fell sick early in the evening and wandered off to bed. I 'partied on' for him and rolled down the hill to our house every hour or so to check on him. My mother looked after our 2 year old son for most of the evening and our 4 year old daughter had a blast running around with all the other kids. I hope everyone had a good time and enjoyed our wedding. Overall, a great celebration of my beautiful husband and kids, a great wedding, great friends, great fun and laughs, a day I will treasure for ever.

So if you're planning a Farm Wedding, it can be done and it can be great fun and stress free.