Thursday, December 30, 2010

What To Do With All This Grain?

A grain "sausage" just getting started
Almost finished - 75m
A completed "sausage" of wheat

Long before our harvest started Farmer Phil was wondering how he was going to deliver or store all the grain we expected to harvest. We only have one truck which holds about 27T, but when the header is stripping over 30T of grain every hour, the poor old truck and driver would be run ragged trying to keep up.

We decided to buy a bagging machine. This machine puts the grain into a big plastic sausage-shaped bag so that it can be stored for short periods on farm. Once harvest is finished Farmer Phil will then have the job of carting the grain out of the bags and into the grain receival site nearby.

A "sausage" of wheat is 75m long and holds 250T of grain. We bought 12 bags, and we think we'll use them all this harvest.

Bogged Again!!!

Thought I'd better give you an update on what's been happening over the last week or so. We had a breakdown with the header last night so I'm making the most of a morning at home to get some catching up done - make sure the garden is getting watered properly with hot weather expected over the next few days, clean the pool, catch up on washing sheets and towels etc. All jobs which are put on the back-burner while I'm busy.

We had a very quiet Christmas day with just our family having breakfast and lunch together. We then went to Farmer Phil's parents for dinner. Our kids are old enough now that they don't get out of bed at some ridiculously early hour to inspect what's under the Christmas tree, so we had a lovely sleep in until 8.30am Christmas morning!

It was straight back to harvesting on Boxing Day though, so no rest for the wicked really! The header got bogged one night - photos below. Then the next morning the chaser bin got bogged.

Harvest has been very frustrating to say the least and we've still got about 2,500ac of wheat to go!! We 're getting excellent yields of over 5T/Ha and it's top grade quality, so we can't complain really. It would be nice to get finished sooner rather than later - we have postponed our 2 weeks holiday to later in January to give us time to finish up.

The header all forlorn and stuck!

Flopped down on it's front wheels.

Mud up to the ladders.

This is how we pulled it out - chains and cable attached to the front axle and the big tractor to pull!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Oh To Be a Cat!!

This is how I found Squirt this afternoon - absolutely oblivious to anyone or anything!! Farmer Phil always says he wants to be reincarnated as a cat and live at our house!

The Aussie Farmer!

You may have seen this on the news over the last few days but I thought it very worthy to be included on my blog! It's such a great example of Aussie farmer ingenuity - in the face of disaster (meaning floods and crop devastation), the Aussie farmer can still see the lighter side of life!! Hope you enjoy it as much as we have here!

Friday, December 17, 2010

It Should Feel Like Christmas.....

.....but it just doesn't at the moment while we're still harvesting! With all the droughts we've had over the last 10 years, our harvests have been so dismal that they've been finished at the beginning of December! This year is very different which is fantastic because that means we've got some grain to harvest, but Christmas has been put on the back-burner for the moment.

Emma and I at least put up the Christmas tree last week when I've normally got it up by the 1st of December. I've still got some presents to buy and they're the ones for the hard people who have everything and I can't think of anything at all to get them!! I've been surfing the net late at night when I come in off the header looking for ideas, but have been drawing blanks! HELP!!

Button Bouquet

I made this quick and easy gift the other day for a very good water skiing friend who has done many good deeds for us when we're busy with farm work. Today she's bringing Ryan and Emma back from Port Macquarie to Sydney after another water ski training camp this week. I'll drive to Sydney tonight to pick them up.

The button bouquet is so easy to make - just thread buttons onto florists wire, twist the wires together and make into a posy with a ribbon!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Harvest Happenings!

The ute and chaser bin had a bit of a bingle today with the poor old ute coming off second best! She's off to the smash repairers tomorrow to have a new door fitted, but the other damage will have to wait until after harvest to be fixed. She's been a great ute for the 10 years we've had her so we want to get her fixed up like new.

We've got about 200ac of canola still to harvest out of the 1 200ac sown - it's been very slow and frustrating. When the windrowing contractor came to windrow the canola, he had a difficult time getting it through his machine because it was laid over in places due to getting so much rain on it through the Spring. This has meant that we can only go between 2-6km/h because the windrows are so uneven and lumpy. The positive from the canola is that it has yielded way above our expectations and it's oil content has been excellent.

We're looking forward to be finally getting into the wheat crops to see how they've faired after all the rain we've had lately. We've heard some horror stories from farmers in our area about their grain being downgraded and the price/T being not very good, but we'll just have to wait and see how ours goes. At least harvesting the wheat should be much quicker than the canola - fingers crossed!!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Busy Times!

The last few weeks of the school term have been very busy for our Emma. Firstly she had a 6 day excursion to Tasmania which she enjoyed immensely having never been there before. Year 9 got to sleep on the Spirit of Tasmania ferry on the way over and back which was an experience for them all. They visited historic Port Arthur, a Tasmanian Devil conservation park, the Cadbury Chocolate Factory which was a huge favourite, Beaconsfield Goldmine and lots of other typical touristy stuff in Tassie.

Emma was back to school for 2 days when her and the choir went to Sydney to participate in the 2010 School Spectacular "Colour My World" shows. They had a few days of rehearsals first which was full on apparently. This was the first time that YAHS had participated in School Spec so it was a thrill for everyone.

Ryan and Emma then had a week of water ski training camp with Ryan and Sarah Green from Greenski. The weather was cold, windy and raining but the kids didn't complain and got some quality training in with Ryan who is Australian champion and Sarah who is an international tournament winner.

With the flood crisis happening all over NSW Speech Day at YAHS was up in the air for a while before it was decided to go ahead with the day. Many parents had withdrawn their kids from school early because of flooding and road closures around their home towns. Speech Day is normally held at the beautiful Roxy Theatre in Leeton but it was moved to the school hall when only half of the student body was still at school for the last week. Emma and the choir sang "This Is Who I Am" by Vanessa Amarosi but there was half the choir members absent. The drum corp suffered the same fate with most of them missing too. Anyway, the choir did a great job and a successful Speech Day was held under great adversity.

Ag n Chat Christmas Party

Last night we hosted a hastily organised Christmas party for my ag n chat group including husbands. On Wednesday/Thursday we had another 50mm of rain so that brought harvesting to a grinding halt again!

I sent out a quick email Thursday night and asked anyone who could come Friday night was most welcome. We had a really nice night after a tough few weeks of trying to harvest. It's great to see our farmer husbands get together and let their hair down for a few hours before having to worry about harvesting again.

The sun has been shining yesterday and this morning so Farmer Phil is hopeful of starting up the header this afternoon. We have a week of fine weather coming so we need to get stuck in!

PS - as you can see my beautiful Australian hardwood deck still hasn't come to fruition so we laid down some good old Aussie blue tarps instead which worked a treat!

Saturday, December 4, 2010


Farmer Phil is on the header tonight trying to get a paddock of canola harvested. Ryan, who is 16 is driving the tractor and chaser bin helping out. This is what happens when we get unwanted rain at harvest time!

Ryan was driving the chaser bin which had about 25T of canola onboard and was on his way to empty it into a field bin when it flopped down into a wet spot on the track.

I received a call for help to bring a couple of shovels to dig the mud away from the bogged wheel.

Farmer Phil and Daniel on the shovels. Once the canola was emptied out of the bin and the mud shovelled away, the tractor walked the bin out easily. But we still lost an hour and a half of precious harvesting time.

This is the bog mark left in the track!

Rain, Rain Go Away!!!

Canola windrows which are yielding 3T/Ha which is excellent. The oil content of the canola seed is averaging 44% which is above the required benchmark of 42%, so we're happy about that too.

Canola ready to be harvested - note the very green weeds growing at the edge of the crop. Our next big job after harvest will be spraying to kill all the weeds growing after such a wet Spring.

A beautiful crop of wheat to be harvested - please let the rain stay away so we can get it in the silos! If we get any more rain on our wheat then it's quality (and therefore $/T) will be downgraded, but it will still yield very well which is something!

Our 2010 harvest has been very frustrating to say the least!! We started to harvest the canola on November 24th. We got to 4pm on November 27th and put the header in the shed. We have only just pulled the header into the paddock again today - 7 days later!!! We have only harvested about 300ac so far with another 4 200ac to go. We are booked to go on our annual holiday to Renmark, SA on January 2nd, but we don't like our chances of getting there on time.

We have measured 60mm of rain for the week with more rain predicted for next week. All we ask is that it stays dry for the duration of our harvest - about one month, that's all!!

There are a lot of farmers from other areas who are a lot worse off for rain than us and their harvest has been completely ruined. We had the potential for our best harvest in 10 years!

Farmer Phil is getting a bit stressed out about the whole situation. On the up side we've managed to get some more paving done around the pool in our down time.

The Murrumbidgee River is in flood danger again with some suburbs of Wagga Wagga being evacuated today because the river is expected to peak at a massive 10m by Monday with major flooding!

Present Sewing

Last Saturday Emma's singing teacher Cathy and husband Jon welcomed their first child Isabella into the world. During the week I quickly made up this simple floor quilt as a gift for them. I've had the fabrics for a few years and didn't know what to do with them - I couldn't bear to cut up the beautiful Kaffe Fassett floral so I just cut it in half!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Blog Books

A few weeks ago I received my blog books from Blog2Print. I'm really happy the way they both turned out and their high quality of paper and printing. I started writing "The Farmers Wife" in September 2008 so I had the books printed in years. I'll get 2010 printed early next year as a permanent record of our life on the farm. My sister Lisa had her blog printed as well - you can look at hers here.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Monday, October 25, 2010

Pool Paving

Farmer Phil and I finally started paving around the pool today. It's going to be a long time before we finish the 77m or so, but it will be well worth it in the end!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Ag n Chat Visits an Olive Farm

This morning our Ag n Chat monthly meeting was at Riverina Olive Grove where Gerard and Vici have added an interesting aspect to their farm business. They built an olive processing plant on site which processes olives from all over the Riverina for smaller growers.

They have also branched out into producing a range of natural organic skin care products called Olive by Langlois. We tested the products which smelt and felt amazing. We all left with a small goody bag for us to try. They are an internet based company but they also have products in retail outlets. Just look at their website for more info.

Here is the processing plant with Vici explaining how olives are cold pressed to extract the oil. It was a very interesting morning at a farm which is right on our doorstep and which we didn't really know anything about! Vici explained the differences between virgin and extra virgin olive oil, the smell that good olive oil should have, and how long olive oil will last in the pantry.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Flooding Photos

I've just been surfing the net looking for info and photos of the flooding in our region and found a few. I hope the photographers don't mind me using them to show you all what I was talking about in my last post!

A ute trying to negotiate a roundabout in Lockhart yesterday.

The supermarket at Lockhart.

The main street of Lockhart yesterday. The insurance assessors will be busy for a while!

The main street through Holbrook yesterday.

This photo is of our friends Mick and Felicity's farm between Mangoplah and Yerong Creek yesterday. They're lucky that their house is on a hill otherwise they would've been washed away!

Wild Weather!

Yesterday and last night we had some very wild weather for our area. South of Wagga Wagga registered over 100mm of rain for the day with some flash flooding. We only measured 40mm, but boy did it make it wet around here. We live on a hill and our driveway provided us with some fun trying to drive up to the house!

Ryan and Emma phoned me to tell me that the school wasn't sure if their bus could get them home because of the rain and flooding. The school bus that heads to Lockhart was cancelled due to flooding so the kids have to stay at school for the weekend! Ryan and Emma's bus was half an hour late getting in, but they said the roads were okay.

Farmer Phil went to a pre-harvest meeting at Oaklands which is a small town south west of Wagga. As he was driving there in the morning he said he had to slow right down as it was so hard to see through the driving rain.

After the meeting he visited our good friends Andrew and Michelle at Culcairn where they had experienced the 100mm of rain for the day. Their crop paddocks were covered in half a metre of water with just the wheat and canola heads poking out above the water! They were busy trying to move sheep to higher ground. By the time Farmer Phil tried to leave the roads north were all blocked by flooding so he had to stay the night at Andrew and Michelle's. He's currently on his way home now and has seen marks on the house walls at Uranquinty where the flood water has been 1 metre up the walls!
Billabong Creek at Culcairn has broken it's banks and they are expecting the town to be flooded today! The Murrumbidgee River at Wagga Wagga is expected to peak (8.4m) again today with some flooding in the area.

It's freezing cold (6 degrees as I'm writing this at 9.30am!) and blowing an absolute gale here today, so I think it might be a nice day to stay warm and dry inside the house!!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Ski School

Last week Farmer Phil, Ryan, Emma and myself went to water ski school at Colombo Creek for a junior development training camp. Farmer Phil drove the boats for the week while I cooked for the camp of 25 people.

The weather was a bit fresh for the second half of the week so the kids sit around a fire bucket to warm up after they've skied.

Here are the kids at the end of the week with the coaches Cap, Josh and the legend himself Brett Wing. Below is a small bio on Brett and his amazing achievements. Ryan and Emma learned a lot from Brett's coaching and we found him to be a very humble man.

"Brett Wing began his barefoot water skiing career at the age of eight, when he passed the test conducted by the Australian Barefoot Water Ski Club. After finishing third in the first national title he contested, in 1969, he was never again defeated in state, national or world overall championships.
When he retired from active competition in the late 90s, he had amassed 14 overall national titles and 69 national gold medals. From 1978 until 1982 he established a procession of world records. His barefoot speed world record of 152.8 kph, set in 1979, still stands in Australia.
In 1978 he won the overall world championship in Canberra, after winning gold medals in the slalom and start method and setting world records for tricks, slalom and start method. He defended that title successfully in San Francisco in 1980, winning gold medals for tricks, slalom, jump and start method and setting world records in all four events. Again he defended the world title in Acapulco, Mexico, in 1982, taking gold medals for start method and tricks.
He was overall champion at world Group 3 (South-East Asia) titles in 1975, 1977 and 1981, and retired undefeated as Australian overall barefoot water champion after winning the title every year from 1976 to 1982. At the USA International Masters titles, he was overall champion with gold medals for tricks, slalom and jump in 1979, 1980, 1981 and 1982.
Brett is a highly regarded coach and show skier. Brett has worked to change the attitude toward bare footing from a ski show stunt into a competitive sport, and helped to create the active international competition that we know today.
In 1996, he was inducted into the International Water Ski Federation Hall of Fame - Asian Australasian Region. In 1997 Brett was selected by American Water Ski Hall of Fame as one of the ten greatest skiers in water skiing history."

Monday, September 20, 2010

Friday, September 17, 2010

Ag n Chat Overnighter

Last Wednesday and Thursday saw 7 Ag n Chat ladies embark on an overnight trip taking in the sights of Narrandera, Hay, and Deniliquin. Our first stop was Lavande Aromatiques at Narrandera to hear about Joanne's passion for lavender.

The gardens smelt absolutely amazing with all the lavender plants there.

"Wyreema " Kelpie Stud was our next stop to visit Gordie McMaster and his dogs. The stud was established in 1882 and is the oldest stud of it's kind in the world.

This is Seanie, Gordon's best dog and one of the top sire's in Australia. We watched Seanie work and he showed us just how intelligent he is - it was amazing to watch!

The homes of Gordie's dogs - under the shade of ancient pepper trees - perfect!!
Gordie ready to show us a demonstration of his beautiful, intelligent dogs.

Our next stop was Shear Outback at Hay to take a look at the history of shearing in Australia. I think these sheep are fake??!!

Blade shear and hand piece display at Shear Outback.

Kim, Jan, Me, Wendy, Carol, and Barb at the famous Peppin Merino at Wanganella, near Deniliquin - Anne is taking the photo.

We were very lucky to visit North Tuppal shearing shed where a recent re-enactment of the famous Tom Roberts painting "Shearing of the Rams" took place. The manager of the property, Bernard showed us around and gave us the history of this famous shed.

The catching pens behind the board.

This is the 72 stand board measuring a staggering 88 metres long!

Bernard, the manager giving us some history around one of the wool tables.

This is the massive wool room with the original Humble woolpress.