It seems like an eternity since my last column, and like everyone in the area, we have barely been able to stop and catch our breath.
A long, challenging harvest is now way behind us, and an equally frustrating sowing season is almost completed. Heavy and wet stubble loads, summer weeds, volunteer cereals, mice, an early break and a late harvest season, have meant that all farmers in the district have been run ragged for well over six months.
The research farm has the added issue of using our allocation of waste water. We normally begin reducing water levels in late December, but because of the late harvest, this did not commence in earnest until early February. As we need to have levels down to a manageable level by the end of March at the latest, it has made things a bit tricky to say the least!
This is all behind us now. Trials are nearly all sown, and generally looking well. As on all farms, mice have been a major issue, and despite frequent baiting by technical staff, the damage is there for all to see. Hopefully, with winter upon us, the worst of the plague is over, and we can look forward to a productive season.
Given a three-year rotation, and the fact that some of our irrigation bays are too steep for trials to receive an even spread of water, our site is once again at near capacity in terms of area sown to research trials. This is a very pleasing outcome, as we are here to provide land for research purposes, not as a commercial enterprise. The fact that both private enterprise and internal government researchers continue to use our facility says to me that we are heading in the right direction. However, we are always looking to improve our operation to ensure researchers and projects achieve their desired outcomes. As farmers know, every year is different, and the challenges are many and varied as a consequence. Hopefully, for all this year we can have a relatively smooth run up to and including harvest.
On the home front, the kids have been enjoying school holidays. An interesting time for all parents who are trying to juggle work as well as keeping our ‘little darlings’ occupied. Jonty celebrated his eighth birthday on the weekend and we convinced him to whittle down the party goers from the 20+ last year to a more manageable level! Both are very busy with their gymnastics, having just completed a local competition at Natimuk. Kassidy also attends ‘kick up the Artz’ on Fridays, with Jonty attending Ikido on Thursdays. With three days of gymnastics thrown in, the parents are more tired than the kids by the weekend!
Here’s hoping the year pans out well and those elusive spring rains arrive when they are needed.