Sunday, 30 September 2012

Dry spring

Well it has been three weeks since my last blog and in that time we have had no rain up until the last couple of days where we have had 4.5 mm. I can't but help recall a saying that my father in Law told me a few years ago 
" Rain in September is money in the bank!!"
So at 18mm all up for September its less than perfect  
The annual horses hay being cut, this time taken from a particularly bromey part of the paddock. We usually need around 800 small bales, so it is usually a huge guessing game for how much to cut. We usually ask the help of a few friends to bring them all in with payment in Scotch cans!!
 The kids waving to our friend Danny whilst he was spreading snail bait by plane on the Canola.
At the moment our growing season rainfall is way down on last years, and I dont think we have to worry about record yields. The crops are still quite green and the rain over the weekend will definetly freshen them up. The last few weeks have been spent monitoring crops for grubs, aphids and snails. We found some rust in the Commander barley, but at this stage we are still keeping an eye on it as we do not want to spray fungicide again if we dont have to. The Fleet barley in the same paddock has a lot less disease and also looks lusher and denser . Depending on yields we may ditch the Commander in favour of the fleet as I reckon it may be far more suitable for our sandy country.
Obvious visual differences with the growth regulator
 We also in this paddock trialled a growth regulator for the first time called 'Moddus' by Syngenta. We sprayed this on half the paddock over both the Commander and Fleet at a rate of 400ml per Ha at growth stage 39. It is meant to stop the losses we have with head retention, by shortening the stem in between the nodes which in turn thickens the stem making it stronger and less likely to shed its head in the wind. What worries me about it is although there are still as many tillers the lack of height in the plant does not help as far as competing out the weeds.
 If you look half way up this image you can see distinctly in the crop the line where the regulator was sprayed in the foreground. 
We found grubs in the peas on Friday so they will also be getting insecticide (Karate) sprayed on them tomorrow. The hills are starting to go off already and walking out there the other day I noticed the dreaded Namoi vetch is rearing its ugly head in them again. Hopefully spray topping it before harvest will stop most of the vetch setting seed and also help us control any grass weeds that were late germinating.
 Namoi vetch
One weed I don't think we will ever eradicate on our home block.
 I was looking back over my blog posts  today and realised quite how much a family affair this farm really is. Hardly anything happens on this place without the kids being part of it.  We are both lucky that we can share jobs and also see our kids during the day while we are working. Not many kids get to see their dads at lunchtime and wander down the sheds to say hello when they want to, have rides in the machinery and actually realise and understand what their parents do for a living.
This is generally a fairly quiet time on the farm, so the last week we spent in the Adelaide hills staying in a friends gorgeous little cottage/granny flat. We  took the kids for a week long swimming course in Adelaide and caught up with family.
One very happy couple, that know how to party!!
We also went to a wedding on Saturday for friends of ours Francesca and Micheal who had their reception out at Gumview Farm at Paskeville. Which is owned by our great friends Wade and Nicole Harris who operate a free range egg farm from the property. What an amazing wedding and superb location. I had to laugh at all the bridesmaids who ditched their heels right after the speeches and put their polka dot gumboots on for the dancing afterwards.  I just had to add a picture to finish with, of one of the signs around the venue,  absolute classic!!!

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Spring is in the air

The crops are looking great, the kids and I have been going for walks with the dogs and checking out their progress nearly everyday. We have organised for our Canola to have snail bait applied by aeroplane, but at this stage we are waiting for another rain, to get them off the stalks and moving around.  In the last 2 weeks we have had 16.5mm of rain over five days which was much needed.  Even more needed was a bit of sunshine, which has come at last. The wheat is starting to run up to head and the peas and canola have been flowering for a while. The barley is starting to come to life again as seemed to be so slow growing throughout our colder than normal winter.
Twilight peas flowering
The kids just love playing in the Canola at this time of year, although I am  starting to be a bit wary of snakes starting to come out of hibernation. The amount of noise they make they should be fine though.

The area above is in the same paddock as the shot below. You can really see quite clearly the impact that the weeds have on the wheat early on as far as growth goes. The shot below is a good example of the early vigour the wheat has when it is not competing for moisture and nutrients with the weeds. On this paddock we put a mixture of Crusader, LVE MCPA 570, Lontrel and wetter. As you can see by the weeds dying it did the job on the tares and broad leafs but unfortunately only suppressed the brome grass. There was a mixture of brome grass, bifora, turnip, Tares, bedstraw and volunteer peas in this paddock. Unfortunately though because of the Brome we will not grow our regular barley here next year. Instead we will either grow Canola or look into growing the immi tolerant Scope barley.
This weekend Ben was in his element when 14 local dirt bike riding farmers got together and organised a ride over to the Clare Valley, this photo was taken before they all left, they came by and picked him up. All the partners and kids drove over and we met them all in Clare for lunch at the pub. We had about 26 kids the majority of them ranging from 2-6 years.

We passed the boys on the way to Clare so we stopped and took some shots of them riding through the side of the road track, the kids were so excited as they have never seen what Dad does for fun, as unfortunately it is not a spectator sport.
We may potentially cut some wheaten hay this week, and have masses of yard tidying up to do. We have been tidying up tree's as the Pepper and Pine trees around the yard (of which there are hundreds) look really scrappy unless they are trimmed, so we may have to have a bonfire before the surrounding paddocks get to dry. The Kids and I have been planting more gum trees. We were given 100 last week so it is a slow process when they both want to help plant every one. It will be testament to the hardiness of gums if they survive, as some of them were getting  yanked out their tubes, with half the roots left behind by the kids. 
We have our YP-AG crop field day this Wednesday, so hopefully  I can organise someone to take the kids as it is very beneficial if both Ben and I can get along and see whats new and get a few idea's.
Anyway here's hoping for a few weeks of sunshine and not to many northerlies