Thursday, March 7, 2013

Water leaks - fun in the mud

I needed to go barefoot to get close enough to fix the leak.

Sunday, July 15, 2012


 Relaxing after a hard days work

 Working Hard

 Loading the Air Seeder

 Jetstream Seed and Super Grouper

 The Seeding Rig

In the Mirror

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Still Harvesting

Well slowly but surely we're working our way through harvest. The weather really hasn't been kind to us this year, with more rain in December I recon, than the spring growing season, so we haven't really been able to get a good run of solid reaping.

We must have had a few good days in there somewhere though, because we have been able to reap all of our barley, basically all of the canola and a fair chunk of the wheat too. The yields have been down a little, but the quality has been up. The wheat for instance, well we don't just deliver wheat. There are a range of grades you can get for the wheat depending on the quality. For your standard bread wheat you can get :

  • H1 (H stands for hard, the higher the protein the higher the grade)
  • H2
  • APW1 (Australian Premium White - which is probably the benchmark grade)
  • ASW1 (Australian Standard White)
  • AGP1 (General Purpose)
  • FED1 (Basically feed wheat)

All but 1 or 2 loads of wheat have achieved a H2 grade and, needless to say, the higher the grade, the higher the price for the wheat.

Now for Durum Wheat (used for making pasta)... um, perhaps I'll cover that one next time.

Happy Harvesting!!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

On again Off again harvest

The weather has been a little "trying" for us farmers over the past week or so. To deliver grain to the local receival ports the moisture content in the grain has to be down to a certain level (13.5% to be exact), well the "inclement weather of late has made it quite difficult to get down to to that level and so harvest grinds to a halt. This week it's been a bit like half a day reaping, then showers... coupla days later, half a day reaping again, then showers.
Today has been the exception. We made a start mid-morning and were able to reap wheat all day, and it looks as if the good weather is going to stay with us for a few days now, so it will be full steam ahead.
The new CR9070 harvesting some Espada wheat
The CR9070 has a Honeybee 40' fixed draper front.
While the CR9070 has been busy on the wheat, the older TR88 harvester has been used to reap field peas. This has been with mixed success as well. With pea reaping in this area comes snails. They can contaminate the pea sample, but they also smash up as they go through the header with the result being a layer of "snail guts" that coat the inside of the grain elevators and bubble up auger. It combines with the dust that also goes along with pea harvesting and sets hard like concrete. Eventually it builds up so much that it jams the machine if it's not regularly cleaned out. Depending on how bad the snails are the clean out may need to be done every boxfull (that is about 3 or 4 tonne - the capacity of the grain tank in the header) or just once per day.
The other day we discovered that there is one section of the grain elevator that we couldn't access to clean out, and over the years it had been building up and building up, until the elevator would no longer operate. It meant that we had to actually get out the angle grinder and cut out a panel on the elevator to make an access door so it could be cleaned out. The header hasn't been used since then, but now the whole clean grain path operated a whole lot easier.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


It has been a while since I've written, and since then so much has happened. Our canola has been windrowed, the peas have been dessicated, the pastures have been spray topped, the wool has been sold, equipment has been prepared for harvest and harvest has started.

Actually you could probably say that it has more than started. All the windrowed canola has been harvested. Yields are down a little bit this year, due to early snail and mice damage, but the oil content has been quite good, so that'll gives us a good oil bonus.

We've pulled the pea plucker out as well and pulled into a few paddocks of peas. Once again, yields down a little, but quality pretty good (besides all the snails in the sample which landed the peas in the cleaning segregation at the local receival site).

We used the New Holland TR88 for reaping the windrowed canola and peas, but you may remember a while back I mentioned a brand new combine harvester was due to be delivered (think I may have even included a song to go with it). Well the brand new New Holland CR9070 has now been delivered, and just the other day we pulled her into the first paddock of barley.. and here is some video footage of that very event (if it works).

That was a coupla days ago, and since then we've also reapt a paddock of wheat with her... and then next morning... it rained. So we've basically been waiting for the moisture to come down to meet receival standards before we could do any more. That will probably be tomorrow I'd say.. as long as we don't have morning showers again.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

It's been a quiet coupla weeks

Every now and then we get a little bit of a quiet time on the farm, believe it or not. As it happened, once shearing had finished, we could take it easy for a bit. It was an added bonus that it was also school holidays, so I have been able to spend some quality time with the family, and doing a few odd jobs around the house.
The weather has been quite favorable for us too over the past couple of weeks. We have had enough rain to freshen the crops right up, and also some lovely warm days to keep them growing (as well as enjoy ourselves). And just to top it off, it is raining again now! At this time of year, when the heads are all filling, rain is just like gold falling from heaven. Plenty of moisture is needed for the heads to fill properly, giving us nice plump grains, rather then small shrivelled grains (or screenings) which lower the quality of our grain (and hence the price) of our grain considerably.
There is a little of spraying still to be done. As the peas are podding up we need to ensure the grubs don't get to them, so insecticides need to go over them. I'm part way through the grub spraying now, and plan to finish off as soon as the rain eases.
We are also starting to prepare for the upcoming harvest (now just under a month away). There is a bit to do to get all the harvesting equipment ready to go. Vehicle servicing etc. and at the moment I'm in the process of getting the alternator on the old D-series Ford truck fixed up, so she'll be all ready to be used as a fuel carrier.
Well I'd better get back to it.. The rains are easing.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Shearings all done now

shearing's all done and dusted now.  The sheep are back out the paddock and the wool is all baled up ready to go.  The next job on the agenda was to sort all the ewes to select the ones we want to send to the off-shears market. So it's been an extreemly busy weekend (which the cook was not happy about mind you) getting sheep in, draughting them off, mouthing the old ewes, checking the wool and body quality of the young ewes and separating them all off into mobs.  We separate them according to what ewes we want to hang onto for breeding, and the ones we dont - they go to the sale. The sheep were loaded on the truck yesterday and are up for sale at the off-shears as we speak. We also had a couple of young ewes that had some black wool in their fleece, making them inelligable for sale, and also undesireable for breeding, but not a prooblem for eating.  So yesterday afternoons job was to kill and hang those 2 (it is quite a common thing for sheep farmers to kill their own animals to provide meat for their families).  This mornings job was to cut them down and then take them in and do the butchery thing cutting Them up and packing them in the freezer. i wouldn't normally go into so much detail here, but I know that you'd have a bit of a chuckle when I tell ya that I also tried to cut my finger off with the meat saw in the process. Luckily just a bit of a scratch.. and no extra roast fingers in with the loin chops tonight!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

After a busy weekend moving sheep around getting organised for our September shearing, which included draughting a couple of mobs to separate the older wethers from the hoggets, we made a start with shearing on Monday. It didn't take the boys long to whip through the 200 or so hoggets, and within a couple of days they'd taken care of the wethers and ewes as well. So every thing is running very smoothly at this stage. I've probably mentioned before that sheep need to be dry to be shorn, well so far we haven't lost a single day shearing due to wet sheep.
Now I know you would be wondering how things are going as far as rainfall is concerned, as things were looking very dry before this week. Well you'll be happy to know that we have had a little bit of rain. The forecast was for around 30mm of rain to fall for the week, so we are/were quite hopeful. So far we have received around 13mm for the week. So we're still hopeful for more, which is still much needed.
I'd better get back to the shearing shed now, where there is plenty of work still to do.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

It's still nice and warm

It's another warm and windy day today, we've had a couple of hot north winds in the last week, which has really put the water stress on already dry crops. Apparently there is rain forecast for early next week, so we're really looking forward to that. It really is like our income falling from the sky.  The current job on the farm is to get the sheep organised for our September shearing. You'll remember we did our first lot of shearing in July, well this is the rest of the sheep, including rams and lambs. So in the next  few days we'll be moving mobs around so they're close handy to the shearing shed for a start on Monday.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Is the glass half empty.. or half full?

An interesting title I know, but it's one way to describe the way the season is shaping up right at this moment. See we are right at the cross roads at the moment. The potential is there for a good season - the glass is half full, because we've had a relatively good start, a few snail and mice issues, but excellent opening rains. Things are drying out very quickly now though, and crops are showing signs of water stress - the glass is half empty.
So things are getting desperate for rain right now, and a decent drop would turn everything around and put us back on track for good season. But unfortunately I don't see those good rains on the horizon. It's hard out spraying the water stressed crops and listening to the radio, and constantly hearing how the weather is just getting better and better. But for us, at this stage, it's just getting worse and worse. I've had to stop listening to the radio and put some more uplifting music on so I can focus on what could be - the glass is half full, rather than be reminded of how it is - the glass is half empty.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Still Spraying

It hasn't taken long for the nice rains we've had in the last coupla weeks to dry up, and now the dust has returned. I'm still keeping myself quite busy on the boom spray, but as I have been raising dust as I go. The crops are hanging in there... but... more rain will be needed very soon. I still have faith that we will have a good season this year so I've still been pushing on with spraying out the liquid N fertilizer. That just gives the crops that little bit extra it might need, and should hopefully increase yields and protein for us. I had a b-doulbe load of this EasyN delivered just the other day - that's around 28thousand litres of the stuff. Within 24hrs I had sprayed basically all of that out. In other farming news, we are expecting the delivery of a brand new combine harvester shortly. A New Holland CR9070 with 40ft honeybee draper front. So to get prepared to use this machine I attended a header school for a coupla days last week. Yes they do teach us farmers how to use the new equipment (that way maybe they wont have to repair as many of them).

Here is a little tune that may be appropriate for the occasion.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Not quite so dry now

Well finally we've had a little bit of rain. About 15 to 20mm in the last coupla days. I know that's not the records breaking amounts that other parts of the state have been experiencing, but it's enough to keep our crops going for now. And, to be honest, it's nice to see a few puddles around the place again, rather than the dusty roads.
Our pastures have been eaten out pretty much completely. We've held over probably a few too many sheep instead of selling them off quickly. (and I may have planted just a few too many acres down to crop - but ya get that). A nice rain, and some warmer weather that should be coming our way soon should start to kick that along again. In the meantime we keep up the handfeeding of sheep.. giving them grain to eat every second day or so.
As far as the spraying program goes, it was full speed ahead with the rye grass spraying in cereal crops - I was using a chemical called Decision. That came to a sudden halt when the alternator in the tractor packed up and had to be sent away for repairs. It's now back and will go back in the tractor shortly, and I'll be straight back into it again.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

It's a bit dry

Spraying crops has been the order of the day for me over the past week or so now that the crops are starting to come along nicely. But with the crops growing well, the weeds also grow well too, and the crops also need some nutrition as they grow.
Rye grass is the first weed that I need to take care of, particularly in the rapidly growing canola crops. A Leopard, Platinum brew, with a splash of spraying oil and ammonium sulphate and insecticide should take care of that nicely.
Do the words "Urea Ammonium Nitrate" mean anything to you? No, I didn't think so. Urea Ammonium Nitrate, or UAN as we know it, is a liquid fertilizer that is sprayed onto growing crops. It's the easiest way that I've found to provide all the Nitrogen that the crops require. The canola and wheat drink it up, at 100 litres per hectare. And the barley got a taste at 75 litres per hectare. I use streaming nozzles (red quintastream), which, as the name suggests, sprays the UAN out in streams down to the ground so the N (nitrogen) is taken into the plant via the roots, rather than in a "mist" to the leaves.
Now another thing about using UAN is that it is more effective if the soil is a little damp... well at least not dry. This surely wouldn't be a problem at the moment now would it? What with all the record breaking rainfall we've been having in the last week or so.. Well actually... I've heard our, very reliable, television weather presenter, Mr Ragless, telling us all about the record breaking rainfall we've been having across the state, but as for Southern Yorke Peninsula, we have barely had a drop. Only a few mm since the start of August. But Mr Ragless never mentioned that for some reason. So yes, it's getting a little dry round these parts. It's a good thing we're still running on sub-soil moisture to keep the crops growing, but we will need some rainfall soon or things will start going downhill.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Just a progress update really

Now that the shearing is completed, I've made sure to clear the shearing shed out as quickly as possible. I had the carrier come in a few days later and take all the wool bales off to the wool stores in Adelaide, ready for sale. And then the local wool buyer come round to collect all the odds and sods that didn't fit in with the main lines of wool. It was necessary to clear the wool out as soon as possible as we have quite a bad mouse plaque here at the moment. They were quite plentiful in the shearing shed, and they will eat through just about anything, including wool bales, if they think they may find something to eat in there. They potentially could do a lot of damage very quickly. So the wool was moved out at the earliest convenience. Mice also do a lot of damage out in the paddocks, with the young crops trying to get a foothold in the cool conditions, the mice have done a fair bit of damage in some paddocks, to the point where I'll have to re-sow some crops. It's also time to start looking at the crops to see what weeds are also coming up in them, and planning a spraying program to try and keep them under control. The first up is grass sprays in out canola crops. Grass sprays remove rye grass and other grasses as well as volunteer cereals (wheat or barley) that may also germinate. The weather has been quite dry since seeding, with only a few quite minimal rainfall events. We are lucky in that we have had some quite heavy falls earlier in the year, so the sub-soil moisture levels are really quite high, so, at this stage, it should still be all good.