Rural Notebook | We have to be careful not to spark concerns

BALE TALE: Lots of round bales from a cereal crop at Sallys Flat may be a once-in-a-lifetime sight.

BALE TALE: Lots of round bales from a cereal crop at Sallys Flat may be a once-in-a-lifetime sight.

EVERY one of us must accept that the risk of bushfire is with us as annual grasses have ripened and dried off rapidly.

We should not use slashers between the hours of 8.30am and 8pm on dry summer days and the prospect of using these implements by headlights will be the order of the day.

While we mention hourly timetables, most agents and business contractors have an unwritten law: never phone a client before 7am or after 9pm.

Clients should never phone agents outside of those hours and never, ever phone your agent on a Sunday. They have a right to live a family life also.

LONG JOURNEY: A mob of big-framed Merino ewes from Western Australia: $40 per head freight for a 72-hour ride across the Nullarbor.

LONG JOURNEY: A mob of big-framed Merino ewes from Western Australia: $40 per head freight for a 72-hour ride across the Nullarbor.

Lend a hand

BATHURST Merino Association members are reminded of the wether trial shearing at Cow Flat tomorrow with a 7.30am start.

Helpers are still required and details are available from Kirby McPhee.


Damara dreaming

A SNAPSHOT of country life in the late 2020s:

On a family station in our Far West, owners have bought several thousand Damara ewes and intend to breed restocker animals from them. At a quoted $120 each, as opposed to Dorpers or Merinos at $300 per head, the Damaras are as tough as Blundstones, breed like rabbits and look like sheep from the Bible, but they weigh and dress well and don't need many cost inputs.

Other producers have happily bought West Australian sheep and plan to breed replacement flocks in NSW. Cattle for trading or restocking are also incurring big costs, but beef prospects remain solid and most properties are carrying an abundance of cattle feed.

View from above

DRONE technology is changing the work patterns of many landholders as a properly programmed machine will check pumps and troughs, fence lines and livestock.

Combined with closed circuit cameras, a drone can identify feral pest animals and straying stock.

A glance through real estate marketing journals shows us some brilliant advertising photos of sale properties as infrastructure and boundary fence lines are clearly outlined.

Urban properties are often shown at their best when filmed from above, with vacant blocks looking really tempting when their siting and their neighbours are in clear vision.

From the west

REPORTS tell of 1.5 million sheep that eastern states have brought from seriously drought-affected areas in Western Australia.

A lot of these sheep, mainly ewes, have been brought into our district and quite a few have been resold by online trading.

Every sheep has been ferried across the Nullarbor by heavy transport and would have had several stops en route for feed and water.

Most of the mobs seem to have arrived in good store condition and are relishing the "all you can eat" conditions that they have found.

Only 12 months ago, convoys of donated hay were crossing the Nullarbor to help landholders in NSW keep their livestock alive.

Grain harvest gains

DAILY reports of the great grain harvest that is happening at present are making us proud to be Aussies.

This is being hailed as a once-in-a-lifetime harvest with Graincorp receiving 360,000 tonnes of grain in one working day during last week.

The predicted La Nina wet spring has held off at this stage and harvesting conditions have been ideal for the last two weeks.

A numbers game

A READER tells me that his family are doing the sums on a large scale grazing property in the Southern Highlands: 10,000 dry sheep equivalents, good housing and infrastructure at a real estate cost of around $7 million; an interest rate of around three per cent variable and an outlay of basic machinery and plant for, say, $250,000.

Then we come to the cost of livestock for probably $2 million and we wonder how many of the family members would be able to sleep at night.

Values for most facets of livestock grazing are really positive at present, but several good seasons will be needed to consolidate and a return to drought feeding in the future would be heartbreaking.

I hope this family's dreams come true and that one day they'll say "weren't those great days".

Think about it

A FEW topical notes:

  • White muscle disease in calves and lambs is causing problems in some areas. When selenium deficiency showed up in the early 1970s, we saw a lot of white muscle problems in the Vittoria area, often as Merino lambs had just healed up from mark and mulesing. These were great sub clover years also.
  • Is it my imagination or have sales of The Sun Herald and The Sydney Morning Herald fallen away? Many newsagents seem to only carry a few copies of each and stacks of Daily Telegraphs and Sunday Telegraphs.
  • As Australia gets back to business, it's obvious that reputation is everything. Whether business owner, employer or academic, we must be always on time, do what we say we will and treat everyone in the same way.
  • Face masks are optional and seldom worn in our country towns. An old mate says: "If I wore a black face mask into our small local shop, the young attendant would give me the till."

Laugh lines

A WISE husband said: "You came from dust and will return to dust. That's why I don't dust. It could be someone I know."


A FAITHFUL wife said: "Marriages are made in Heaven, but so are thunder and lightning."