Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Matthew at Harvey Ag

Matthew will be going into year eleven next year, and he thinks he would like to go to Agricultural College. On Sunday he went to the Harvey Ag school and along with about a dozen other kids had a "try out" to see if they liked the school. They stayed Sunday and Monday nights in the boarding house. The two days were pretty busy by the sound of what Matt has been telling us. The first morning he had to get up at 5.30am to help milk the cows, which was a good start! He brought home a bread board made out of pine wood that he made in woodwork, and a holder for screwdrivers that he made in metalwork. And best of all, the food was good.

Matthew in his cubicle in the boarding house

As you can see from the photo, the accommodation is pretty basic. And it won't be having any updates, because the school has been given $25 million to relocate to the site of the new farm at Wokalup (was the old Wokalup Agricultural research station). Unfortunately Matthew will be too early to take advantage of the new facilities next year, but in four years time it should be a really first-rate facility.

Roger went and picked Matthew up from Harvey this afternoon, and now he is at the farm for a couple of weeks. We'll have to find a few jobs for him!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Thou shall not Trespass...

This is what I saw in our front paddock when I took the girls to the school bus on Friday morning.
We do not drive like that through a germinating crop!
I still have no idea who left the tracks, but I don't like the idea of someone trespassing on our farm.
The tracks go down our driveway, then veer off into the paddock towards a closed gate where they turn around and go back out again on the front drive.
I don't think any legitimate visitor would have driven like that....

Wattle Creek

We have had a lot of rain since my last post. The ground must be well and truly wet, which is great for the crops and for the pasture. It has been raining again today, and there are violent storms forecast throughout the south-west of Western Australia this evening.

These photos are from our other farm called Wattle Creek. It is about 30kms from our home farm, and I haven't been there for a long time. Roger usually goes over in the ute, so the whole family can't go. Sometimes one or two children go with him, but I always have to stay home to look after kids, so I can't go with him.
Last week, however, we welcomed a French girl into our home through the helpXchange program. Anaïs is staying with us for a few weeks, until her boyfriend arrives in Australia and they will travel together. It means that the kids get to practise their french with a real french speaker, which is good.
It also means that I can get out more often, which is good for me! And it meant that I went to Wattle Creek for the first time since we've been back from France (5 months!)

In these photos you can see the water in the creek, and a re-diversion that Roger had built to redress the problem caused by the creek finding a new route which took it through the paddock, eroding land and washing away fences. In the top photo Roger is standing on a bank in front of some of the washed out area caused when the creek changed its path.
You may notice that the grass is green in the paddock, but there is not enough bulk yet for the ewes to thrive on it (especially not since they are about to drop lambs) so the sheep feeder is behind the ute.

Roger and a new section of fence.

Roger looking at the creek, back on its original course.

Wattle Creek.

Ute and sheep feeder.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Finished Seeding

Roger finished seeding last night at about 8 o'clock. He finished up with a paddock of peas and oats for a fodder crop which will be for the lambs when they are weaned later in the year (they're not born yet!)
While he was working yesterday the rest of us went out to the paddock and had a picnic with him for lunch. Sophie and Bonnie made the picnic while I was out feeding sheep, so we had plenty of goodies to eat.
After our picnic lunch the kids played in their bush "house" in the paddock, and took turns doing a lap on the tractor with Dad. I burnt up some piles that Roger had pushed up when he was cleaning up the paddock before cropping. One of the piles I lit caught onto a standing but nearly dead tree, which made for some interesting photography. I photographed it as the sun went down, and then again when I took Sophie and Bonnie out to ride with Dad after dinner.

An early lamb

Our ewes are not meant to be lambing yet, but here is evidence that a ram must have jumped a fence and got in early.

Thursday, June 11, 2009


Cropping is always a busy time on the farm. We do not plant much crop - just enough to make hay and harvest grain for our livestock to eat over the summer, and some for seed for the following year. Roger is sowing oats at the moment, and will plant some peas over the weekend.
First he has sprayed the grass in the paddocks to minimise weeds in the crops. I haven't photographed him spraying as I haven't been in th right place at the right time.
This year Roger has to do all the tractor driving himself. In the old days his father used to be able to come to the farm and help out at busy times, but he passed away in 2005. After that we had a part-time worker who would do some tractor driving, but this year it is only Roger.
Some farmers who plant a lot of crop manage to keep their tractors going 24 hours a day, with drivers working in shifts. I used to enjoy tractor driving at night time on my family farm at Pingrup when I was farming in my twenties.
These days I get to snuggle up in bed (often with a pint-sized bed-warmer) while Daddy is out working late. Last night I was so sound asleep that I didn't hear him come in just before midnight.
Sometimes one or other of the kids gets to have a ride in the tractor, which is good fun, and sometimes rewarding if they can find a chocolate bar in his lunch box while he is not looking.

It was dark when I went out to pick up Bonnie from her shift with Dad on the tractor.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Burning Up


Burning up fallen logs.

Before cropping there is usually some cleaning up to do in the paddocks. And it usually involves some sort of fire. We only had to burn a little bit of stubble this year, where the remnants would block the combine. Other than that it has been burning up fallen trees, branches and remnant stumps. On the weekends it is a family affair and the kids can help set up the fires, although sometimes they prefer to play away from the fire, or stay in the vehicle.
We have to wait to light fires until after the first rains, or when the weather cools down and becomes damp enough during the night to avoid any risk of the fire spreading and becoming a danger. In our shire the fire restrictions were lifted in the middle of May. For a few weeks before that fires were allowed if a permit was given and there were strict conditions concerning the safety precautions to be taken.

Odette collecting bits of wood to add to a fire.

Odette and Bonnie burning out a stump.

Stubble burning...

The fire unit on hand.

Roger hosing down the area around a piezometer.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Farm Day

Farm Day is organised by a group of people in Victoria, with the aim of strengthening the relationships between country and city people. It has been going for a few years, but this is the first time we have hosted a city family for Farm Day.
On the weekend of May 30/31 Tracey and Ray Goddard and their four girls aged 15, 13, 10 and 8 came to visit our farm. We took them to feed some sheep, where they learnt what oats and lupins are, and Emma-Lee took some grains home in her pocket. We had a barbecue lunch (with farm sausages and steak) before looking around the farmyard, and then we went out to the paddock and lit some fires. As the sun set we waited for our damper to cook on the fire. The kids cooked some marshmallows and we had a few drinks while enjoying the sunset (except those who were bitten by mosquitoes didn't enjoy it so much).

Filling up the sheep feeder

Hugh with the city girls in the paddock.

Roger put the crate on the back of the ute so we could all travel safely around the farm

The girls built a little shelter in the bush out of sticks

City lovers in the country...

The Goddards stayed the night with us, and in the morning Kiara opened her presents because it was her eighth birthday. We had a big breakfast with porridge and toast and eggs, before going to watch some sheepdog trials at Nan Lloyd's place. After lunch the rain held off (unfortunately0 and despite a bit of drizzle we had a walk in the bush. After yet another cup of tea/coffee it was time for us to bid farewell to our city visitors.
I hope they learnt a little bit about country life, although I wouldn't be surprised if they went home with the idea that farming people light a lot of fires and spend most of their time drinking and eating!

Feeding Sheep

At the end of May we were feeding sheep, while waiting for pasture to grow after the first rains for the season.