This week on the farm

Baby Plover.

By Judy Barnet, Ag Columnist

I’m a bit restless as I sit and write this. In fact, this restlessness started a couple of days ago when the weather bureau warned us of the impending weather event. I listen to Lee for Breakfast on the wireless as well as in the car when heading off to feed the critters, and with so much talk leading up to the event and continually checking the BOM website I have been quite distracted. I must admit, heading off to a first aid course in Warwick on Wednesday I was a bit nervous I mightn’t get home, however, luckily the rain did not start until around 7pm on Wednesday night. Richie is away for a week or so (I can’t see him being able to get home anytime soon) so CJ and I have done plenty of preparation moving gear to higher ground this week. We have also caught and crutched a few more flystruck sheep.

After a very restless night, I awoke this morning and looked out the window to see a raging torrent coming down the creek. The rain gauge held 53mm but the rain had not been hard. There was very little runoff on the driveway so I was thankful for that. I took Dora down to the water before doing the feeding this morning and we saw the pelican family parked up, sheltering in a small backwater away from the rapids. I can’t imagine they will go far for a couple of days. We also found a baby plover and got a photo. Mum was hovering nearby. I am not sure if this was the same chick I had seen a couple of days earlier, about 100m away.

The pontoon where I used to sit with Zorro was quite a long way from the water. I haven’t had the heart to go near it since Zorro died but this afternoon I noticed the water had crept up to it. I wouldn’t be surprised if it floats away in the next 24 hours!

After feeding calves this morning that couldn’t have cared less about the rain in their nice dry shed, CJ and I went out and moved a bit more gear to higher ground in preparation for a big day of rain today. So far the rain has not eventuated. In fact, at 4.30 pm the sun is trying to peep through and that’s not a bad thing. No one wants a major flood event. I feel for those that live close to the river – we are lucky our house is perched safely up on the hill.

The different breeds of sheep tend to stick to their own groups. English Leicester and Shropshires hang together though – more to the point they hang around the house and sheds. Every accessible shed, carport and garage is crowded with these sheep at the moment. Even when I start up the quad bike they are reluctant to get out of my way.

In preparation for (hopefully) shearing this coming Monday I needed to move last years wool out of the shed. The year before we had a really good clip – Gary Brennand classed the wool into different breeds, we didn’t have too much burr or seed and I thought I would get a reasonable price. I was disappointed to receive so little that it didn’t anywhere near cover the cost of shearing or the new wool packs I had brought so last year I just left it in the bags.

I decided the only thing to do with it was use it as mulch on the garden, so the bags were dragged out and CJ got busy laying weed mat then putting the wool on top. As it doesn’t look aesthetically pleasing it really needs straw or some other mulch put on top. I trialled a bit a couple of years ago around the roses and it seems to retain the moisture. This year’s wool will not be much chop due to burrs, seed, and also the wool is very tender. I hope that changing to July shearing next year might fix the latter problem and have toyed with the idea of putting coats on the English Leicesters to keep the wool clean. I haven’t been able to find anyone that sells them in Australia though. I contacted a lady in the USA and she advised me she has several Australian customers. Go figure!

The guinea fowl have been laying like mad and I have been meaning to gather up the eggs and incubate some but the currawongs have been hanging around lately and beaten me to all the eggs. They even got all the duck eggs when the duck got off the nest to get a feed.

Spotlight on Dorset Horn sheep

My limited experience with this breed has found them to be good natured, easy lambing and good doers.

Crossed with the Southdown sire they produce magnificent prime lambs and can lamb three times in two years.

This can give you as many as five to six lambs in two years.

• The only British breed that breeds at anytime of year

• Australia’s Poll Dorset breed was developed from the Dorset Horn

• Both ewes and rams have horns

• Excellent maternal characteristics and milkers

• Fifteen breeders in Australia: 8 in NSW, 5 in Vic, 1 in Qld, 1 in WA, for a total of approximately 400 breeding ewes in 2020.

• Three of the 15 studs were established in 1930, 1931 and 1948 and are still going strong.