Saturday, 28 December 2013

Red Sky

Had a really hot day a couple of weeks ago. Apparently the tractor gauge said the outside temperature was 48 degrees! I took the kids into town, closer to the beach, to avoid the day.

We have had 48 before but it's certainly not very year, we generally get a day or two of 46 degrees each summer though.

 This was the sunset the evening before.

We vacated on Christmas Day too. It was 42 in the shade at the farm, but much more enjoyable closer to the coast.

Friday, 27 December 2013

Harvest is draggin' the chain!

OMG! We are still reaping Barley and we won't finish until a couple of days after New Years.

You would think this is a good complaint; that we have a huge crop; but no, it's just an average crop but we've had several weather interruptions.

Thunder storms this year have meant several breaks of several days to a week where we couldn't reap. When you deliver grain to the silo's, it must be a certain moisture level (which varies for each grain/legume), so when we have rain, we can't reap the crop until it's dry enough.

Our Barley yield this harvest has been very good, but the quality of the grain has not, we've been delivering Feed 2 and Feed 3 (F2 & F3), but the price hasn't been much lower than the Feed 1 grade, so it's not all bad.

Dust coming up over the hill. This is how I know where hubby is working, from the dust

Windrowed Barley on the ground takes longer to dry out after rain than standing crop
 Header box is almost full, you can see the gold coloured grain up on top
Always make sure you stand on the right side of the wind, otherwise you will be covered in grain dust, which is quite itchy, especially Buloke Barley - that's some itchy shit!!!
The 'pick up' is attached to the front of the header. It's like a conveyor belt that picks up the rows of Barley and feeds them into the header.
 If you look closely, you'll see 'Farmer 5' in the cab with Dad
 'Farmer 5' learning his '3 points of contact' while disembarking
 'Farmer 5' has had enough for today, lunchbox is empty too
Hubby nearly stepped on this snake when he got out of the header. Luckily Farmer 5 was not there then. It swiftly met with a shovel and went to greener pastures.

Friday, 6 December 2013

No Power, No Shower!

My pet hate when the electricity goes off is the fact I can't have a shower. Our house runs on rain water so without power for the pump, we have to endure the dreaded 'pommy shower'.

After some very active lightening storms early this week, we saw ourselves without electricity for 19 hours. Which was better than the predicted outage time of 25 hours so thank you to those techies who got it fixed.

Due to the almost non-existent mobile phone service here, I dig out 'the old faithful' to keep contact with the outside world. Although, in our closest town, they didn't have power or telephone because the phone lines need repairs and when it rains the land lines don't work properly! Really great when I wanted to contact the primary school where my children were.

We have thought about getting a generator, but really, our power is never out too long and we have a car fridge and thump-er pack to put fridge items in to stop them from spoiling. It's just he shower thing that gets on my wick.

In October we visited some relatives on Glen Station at Cue. They had an impressive power setup with solar panels and battery packs.


We thoroughly enjoyed our visit with Kerry & Morrie Seivwright and would love to have stayed longer. 

Stunning Scenery
I could have sat up here all day with a deckie and a scotch, it was truly beautiful and peaceful. My poor photography skills don't do it justice.

Cattle have replaced sheep due to the wild dog problem

RYAN family decendants

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

2013 Harvest - Canola

Just finished reaping Canola for 2013
 Header with 'pickup' on front
 Full box of Canola on board (see grey stuff at top of header)
 Auger dispatched to transfer Canola into Chase Bin

Farmer boy exiting the header after
a ride with dad.
 Grandpa on the steps - he still likes a daily ride in the machinery, even at 76
 Off again to reap another row, chaff coming out the back
Last Header load being transferred into the truck for delivery to the silos.
Now onto the Barley

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Roo's Loose in the Top Paddock!

Our local primary school recently requested a larger school bus to cater for some extra students.

The bus drivers are a local husband and wife team and do a great job of the bus run, of which, the duration is about 1 hour and 15 minutes ever morning and afternoon.

When they found out what type of bus the Education Department had allocated us, they refused to take delivery of it.

Apparently these buses have a automatic sliding door that will only open when the bus in on level ground!!! Hardly appropriate for rural roads, let alone dirt roads!!!

The sliding door also allows dust to get into the bus, so you can imagine what a mess that would make, especially during Harvest when the dirt roads turn to a fine powdery bull dust. Lovely!!!!

So, to the SA Education Department I would say - "Darling, in case you haven't ventured past Gepps Cross in your lifetime, many country school bus routes are on horse and cart style bitumen or dirt roads. There are no bus shelters to protect passengers from the rain, there is no sign to say 'bus stop', there is no set aside area to protect your polished shoes from the mud in winter, there is no pretty signage spelling out the bus timetable. Perhaps you should get out more before making decisions that are clearly made from a citycentric mind!"


  "Off you go now dear, back to the drawing board!"

Sunday, 3 November 2013

New Windrower

We have a new Windrower this year.

The windrower cuts the Canola and lays it neatly in rows for it to dry out before it is harvested. Some states and countries call this exercise 'swathing' but here in SA we call it windrowing.

We cut the Canola a few weeks ago and then left it to dry out

Looking back behind the windrower

Paddock in front of our house

Auto steer computer with all the fingerprints on the touch screen

The little black 'fingers' position the Canola into the cutter bar, its cut and then is propelled by conveyor belts into a neat row underneath the windrowing tractor

Neat and tidy

Left to dry in the rows. The Canola are little black seeds inside the skinny bean looking pods.

Dry pod with Canola seeds inside

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Housework Attire

We've had some good spring rains this year which has been great for our crops. But, there is always a catch!


We have an abundance of those small 'drunk' flies this year. You know the one's that float around in a daze, get behind your glasses and get stuck! Far Out!

They stick fast to the wet

The appropriate headwear is a must.

Otherwise they try to infiltrate any orifice they can find!

At least we haven't had many maggot spewin' blowies so far- touch wood! But I'm sure they'll arrive in their own good time.

Friday, 1 November 2013

Apparently Tourists Are More Important Than Farmers!

We recently had a wonderful family holiday to Western Australia, it was great. But I couldn't help noticing that while we were doing the 'tourist/rubber neck' thing, that mobile phone coverage was - well - pretty darn good!

So this is our view crossing the Nullarbor. It's a beautiful place, not barren nothingness like some people waffle on about.

While crossing the Nullarbor my trusty Nokia 6120 had FULL mobile coverage! Go figure!!!

And the majority of the southern areas of WA also had good mobile coverage, it was great, I didn't know myself. We even had quick internet courtesy of a prepaid dongle thingy and the great mobile service.

Trouble is - now I really know what some of us are missing out on!

I came to the conclusion that tourists are obviously more important to Australian society than farmers.

So I looked up some stats:

Tourism is 5.3% of Australia's GDP

Agriculture contributes 3% of Australia's GDP

While there is not a great deal of difference in these figures, there seems to be a huge gap in the equity of services delivered and sustained in rural areas, especially those that don't attract the tourist dollar.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

I'd LOVE a Smartphone! - But, perhaps we'd need mobile phone service first? Do ya think??!!!

The continuing saga of lack of mobile service is an ever present thorn in my side!

At our house on the farm, (most of the time) we can receive text messages if we leave our phones sitting on the window sill of the back room of the house! 

I think maybe the clothesline in the background is acting as an aerial and that's why in this part of the house we have a level of signal. 

I can often hold a call on the mobile if I leave the phone in this window sill and talk to the caller on loudspeaker - hardly professional! 

The old faithful Nokia 6120 is our phone of choice. It's not even a country rated phone but does a much better job than Telstra's 'country rated' bricks!

Both our phones are old and in a derelict state and we need to upgrade - but to what? How on earth do you work out which mobile phone aerial to buy, some are illegal, some are not. Telstra offer one for $700, but if it's only as good as their country rated phones, they can keep it! Whatever you buy, will it even work? Who do you believe when trying to optimise the access your farming business has to digital technology?

Everyone calls the mobile these days, it's just become second nature for 'others', they always bypass the landline supplied and go straight to the mobile number. If we have the mobiles on 'vibrate', when someone calls, they fall out of the window sill onto the floor and immediately lose service (hence the blutack in the photo holding the phone in place!).

I don't like to whinge about what may seem a miniscule issue, but rural people are being left behind in the technology stakes. They are already behind before we even start. Over the 10 years I have lived here on the farm, I have been astounded at the lack of computer skills within my district. In a wealthy country like Australia, it's an absolute tragedy!

We recently swapped from our standard Satellite Internet to the NBN Satellite. While it's quite a bit cheaper and we have more download available to us, overall it's not any quicker than what we had previously! We still get 'rebuffering' when trying to watch Ag Machinery videos on uTube and listening to music on ITunes. Are we being led up the garden path here? Will it be quicker one day? How long will we have to wait?

For a 9 month period last year and early this year, we had trouble with our local landline exchange. We had 17 days over the 9 months where we had no landline, it was up/down/up/down. Some of my neighbours don't get any level of mobile signal so we had to resort to email contact via satellite internet to confer that all our phones were down again! So there I was, speaking to Telstra on loudspeaker in the window sill trying again and again to report the fault, repeating myself each time. 
When I tried to report my neighbours landline numbers that were also out, the Telstra person said "well they'll have to ring and report it themselves'! 
Well lady, they fu**in would if they could!!! 

After screaming like a banshee several times over that 9 month period, Telstra finally enabled their crew's to fix the fault. None of this stress was necessary, but the lack of understanding from Telstra phone operators only exacerbated the situation.

What do I want to see from our governments:
  • Bring back the Liberal's Black Spot Program for mobile service
  • Enlist the skills and expertise of a company able to communicate with farmers (and other rural folk), to advise and supply aerials and other advice on the best way for that particular family to have optimal access to technology
  • Install a rebate for expensive Landline plans for those without access to any mobile service
  • Actually start digital education, on mass, in rural/remote areas, not the closest town 2 hours away, localised lessons in layman's language
  • Don't waste money on yet 'another study', the need is there in truckloads, accept it, stop procrastinating and do something about it
 Put that in yer pipe and smoke it Kev!

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

$50k Gamble on Weather Forecast

We've had some lovely rain in the last few weeks, and as we are dryland farmers (we don't irrigate) it's been perfect for our crops, it's the best start to a season that I can remember (which is only the past 10 years!). Last year we didn't even manage 300mm for the year, hopefully this year will be better.

I thought I'd explain some of the reasons farmers watch the weather forecast so intently at certain times of the year.

We wanted to spread Urea (fertiliser) on the Canola and the Barley. In order for the Urea to do its job, it needs several millimeters of rain (preferably 10) to wash it into the soil after the granules are spread, otherwise it goes through a process called volitization, which basically means it evaporates.

You might wonder 'whats the big deal?' - Well for us (a small farm of 6000 acres) it would be $50k worth of Urea down the tube! Gone! Wasted!

Luckily for us, the predicted rain did eventuate, although the boys did have to pull an 'all nighter' to get Urea spread in time. 

Grain farming is an expensive game, it is gambling. To purchase a Header (Harvester) in Australia with no 'trade in', you're looking at around $650k! (Depending on exhange rates etc). 

With the rain comes the mud!

Our roads have held up well over this last period. But the wetter they get, the mudder they become. 

It's sometimes like 'running the gauntlet' on dirt roads. You just hang on and ride with it if you start to slide. 

But, our roads are nothing compared to the dirt roads in the northern areas of Australia. Ours are great compared to that.
Needless to say, we don't wash the car very often during rain events, it's a waste of time until the roads dry out a bit.