The Farmer’s Conundrum

I think I have mentioned before that we have a small irrigation licence that we initially used to grow cotton until both prices and a reduced allocation, as a result of water sharing plans, dropped below a level that was profitable.

Lucerne before its cut

Lucerne before its cut

With the ongoing drought and subsequent loss of income from lack of crops and reduced cattle numbers, Jeff and the boys decided to try their hand at growing Lucerne. The first block eventually established itself and provided a reasonable return, so a second block was planted. They are now working hard to ensure that good quality hay is produced, that a market is available for their produce and that they can supplement our income by making good use of a valuable natural resource that we are lucky to have.

21-1-2015 - Sun shining hay making

Sun shining hay making

As with all things there are risks and with hay making one is a short window of opportunity to cut, rake and bale, with conditions having to be cool and dry. Hence much is done at night and the proverb “make hay while the sun shines” was clearly not penned by an Aussie or by anyone with knowledge of our summers!

Also, as the saying goes, farmers are never happy. As we welcomed the New Year the second block of Lucerne was ready to make its debut in our new venture so celebrations were curtailed to ensure a successful start. My brief summation of why we are often hard to please follows:

  • No rain, in any useful quantity, for almost twelve months
  • Finished baling 1,250 small bales of first-cut Lucerne hay at 4 am
  • Scheduled start time of 5:30 am (first light) to load said bales and shed before predicted showers late morning
  • Murphy’s Law; rain starts 5 am and delivers 11 mm.
21-1-2015 - Baled Lucerne ready to be loaded

Baled Lucerne ready to be loaded

Mini SWOT* like analysis of the situation ensued to allay Mother’s concerns and appease the workforce including our neighbour and mate, Patrick who had climbed out of his own bed early to lend a hand and was now trying to catch up on some sleep on our futon.

Cons:
Once baled any rain causes weather damage i.e. mould growth
Internal moisture – possibility of fire if not dried out properly before stacking
Reduction in income.

Pros:
Good for everything else on the farm – albeit miniscule
Greened up the lawn (helpful to Mother’s ability to promote positive attitude)
Not too damaging for us and just east of here upwards of 40 mm – so perhaps Huey (rain God) taking notes
First cut – not as good in quality as later cuts will be i.e. not such a large price cut because of weather damage
Lastly, Josh had wound the pressure up on the baler meaning tighter bales – i.e. hopefully less water penetration.

Conclusion:
Positives out-way negatives and although farmers’ of the household still not overjoyed the “eternal optimism” (now termed “resilience”) has partly been restored 🙂 Mother happy also!

*SWOT = Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats not to be confused with SWAT.

Who wants a work out?

Who wants a work out?

L - R Patrick, Josh and Marc

L – R Patrick, Josh and Marc

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