Rural Notebook | Remember the rabbit battles of the past?

PLAGUE PROPORTIONS: The sight of a work crew digging rabbit warrens was quite common in the 1950s.
PLAGUE PROPORTIONS: The sight of a work crew digging rabbit warrens was quite common in the 1950s.

LAST week’s major dust storm was a reminder that we live in one of earth’s driest countries that comprises huge inland deserts that evolved over countless years.

Major droughts have occurred regularly with history telling of a terrible drought in the late 1880s that was probably made worse by a rabbit plague that denuded vast areas of the inland.

Members of my dad’s generation were experts in rabbit trapping and preparing skins and carcasses for sale.

The modern backhoes and excavators would have been a godsend to the teams who dug many thousands of rabbit warrens by hand with mattock and shovel.

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Changing times

RURAL media carried a recent story of livestock production on Flinders Island and the gradual change from sheep to cattle enterprises.

Much of the change came about when the footrot vaccine Footvax ceased production and flock owners experienced too many foot problems in their flocks to stay in the sheep business.

A younger generation of farmers is not prepared to tackle constant sheepwork and I have seen their parents struggle through lots of tough times as wool, sheep and lamb prices undulated.

Following the collapse of the wool market in the early 1990s, wool producers were seen as “fibre peasants“ and just when strong moral support was desperately needed, someone dug up Johne’s disease.

A majority of Flinders Island farmers now run beef cattle as their primary income source.

Staff changes

RATEPAYERS of Central Tablelands Local Land Services will be disappointed to hear that three long-term staffers have ceased their employment at the entity.

Paul Medway was a long-term ranger and biosecurity officer whose advice and opinions were often sought and always valued.

Kathy Tonkin was an excellent point of contact by phone, SMS or in person to the many ratepayers who needed support and a professional opinion.

Neville Collins’ local knowledge of the land and its people was invaluable to the board and LLS system and his many years of work as a ranger and biosecurity officer will be difficult to replace.

As a former LHPA chairman, I offer a real thank you to these three valued staffers. I know that many ratepayers appreciated their work and their friendship over years of service.

Lapping it up

MANY thanks to the Bathurst councillors who agreed to name the Manning Aquatic Centre in recognition of the great management skills of John and Nina Manning and their family as they operated the swimming centre over many years.

Generations of our community will never forget the Manning family.

Position vacant

A job application notice for a full-time position on a leading stud property lists the following qualities that would be essential:

  • Must be absolutely punctual and reliable.
  • Must demonstrate stock handling ability with both cattle and sheep.
  • Must be a good communicator and a good listener.
  • Must have good working dogs but also the ability to work stock without dogs.
  • Must be able to work with a team or on their own.

There are a number of young rural workers who could fit each of these requirements and there are plenty who would not.

GREEN TINGE: This local brassica crop is patchy but a godsend for stock fodder.

GREEN TINGE: This local brassica crop is patchy but a godsend for stock fodder.

Send ’er down

STORMY rain ranged up to 50mm-plus across our district late last week with the heaviest falls around Kelso and Neville.

The 50mm close to Newbridge caused the Georges Plains Creek to break its banks where the creek is almost clogged with sand near the bridge in the village.

The stream that entered the Vale Creek caused a muddy “fresh” in the Macquarie River at Bathurst.

Some parts of our district seem to be in a drought recovery mode while many other sections look as if they haven’t recovered from the early 1980s drought.

This spring and early summer has really been a case of having to spend money to make money and most producers just don’t have much left in the piggy bank after months of hand-feeding their livestock.

Live on air 

STATE government directives that require councils to live-stream their meetings could give viewers a look at the public workings of local government.

In the composition of some councils there has been a disruptive voice at times and mayors or presidents have experienced difficulty in limiting repetitive statements from these members.

With meetings are live-streamed, quite a few prospective councillors could decide that they would rather read a good book than listen to really monotonous talking.

A former board chairman once stated “they like the sound of their own voices”.

Wool report

THE wool market took a big lift this week with all wool types gaining good ground.

Superfine merino wools saw rises of around 25c/kg, the fine wools around 60c/kg and the medium to broad merinos gained from 100-120c/kg.

The crossbred wools also gained around 90c/kg.

The northern market indicator finished the week on 1898c/kg, up 78c/kg.

Unfortunately, this rise could be short-lived as buyers are now saying they are having trouble getting the same price levels for sales next week.

In this volatile environment, it is a week-to-week proposition.

Sales next week will see 36,447 bales on offer nationwide.

Mark Horsburgh, TWG Landmark

Laugh lines

SOME strange signs that have been reported to me:

  • In China: Are you an adult that can’t read? If so, we can help.
  • In a Swiss cafe: Our wines leave you nothing to hope for.
  • And another: Special cocktails for ladies with nuts.
  • Donkey rides in Thailand: Would you like to ride on your own ass? (Thanks Wishbone.)

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WHEN Eve first saw her reflection in a pond, she sought out Adam and accused him of infidelity.

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AS she looks at her farmer husband she probably thinks he is a poor fish, but he is the nearest to the big one that got away.