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  • Writer's pictureWayne

Excess cloud juice

My apologies everyone for the pause in keeping up with the blog entries. It has been a hectic time with many "potential" things about to happen I was hoping to share a little of when they came to fruition. As is the usual case, things take much longer than expected and I waited too long for them to happen, hence the three month delay on these blogs. I am still waiting on some of the larger changes I hope are coming for the benefit of all Caluka shareholders, so I will leave those news things aside for now and update you on what has been happening in the paddocks.

Starting with rainfall. Jan-18.5mm, Feb-33.5mm, Mar-36.5mm, Apr-107.5mm, May-184mm, and as of today 18th June, we have received 67mm with too much more forecast in the next 10-days. So 447mm so far! We might be called Lake Caluka for awhile. It's wet. Even the stones will probably start seeping water soon. And it is forecast to get much wetter starting tomorrow.

We have moved through summer without any lack of feed and we are continuing to make sure there is roughage at all times available for each mob. There was no point in fertilising because we did not need the extra feed and did not have enough sheep. Then as it started getting wetter and colder, the pastures needed fertilising to boost the protein content, and help the feed production cope with the wet and the cold that was coming. We are forecast for a wet year, and it is on track for that.

Unfortunately finance arrangements were not finalised in time to get the fertiliser on when it was needed, but thankfully we received some short term bridging finance to enable us to apply some fertiliser at the end of May 2021. The pastures are picking up nicely now, though we have a few issues.

Waterlogging means low nitrogen in the grasses and we will need to do multiple doses of nitrogen over the coming months to keep the protein and growth up. And on our deep white sand areas, these have stopped growing with the iron deficiency. I can fix those with sprays of iron sulphate and will do soon. This is mainly for the kikuyu at the moment which is the most susceptible to low iron out of all the pasture species we currently have growing. Ryegrass is no where near as affected but it still needs a helping hand in those areas.

Mobs are still lambing with the next batch of marking happening very soon. Rams are continuing to be put into the ewes to keep the lamb production line going all year. In some mobs, that has meant rams in to mate with any dry ewes. In others, the rams have gone in within weeks of the last lambs being dropped.

Even though we have tree shelter areas for the lambing ewes, with the constant wet and cold weather, we have lost more lambs than we expected. In one mob, almost all the dead lambs have been found in the trees in shelter and not out in the open paddocks. Those conditions are of course out of our control unless we only lambed in summer - which of course has its own issues. We will continue to lamb all year but having the majority lambing from late March to October (our winter and spring months).

We are growing two new mobs where they have only been joined with our elite ram we call Cassius. There is a photo of him below. We are mates now 😁. He will come to me for a rub down and will follow me to the next paddock of girls. This developed when we put him in with our "pet" ewes that we have living around us. He has a lovely temperament, unless you are a dog, and then it is war. I hope he does that to foxes. His lambs are lovely and we will continue to keep his genetics growing through all of our ewes as much as possible.

So, even though it is later than it should have been, we are now cranking the pastures up as quickly as we can with the aim to get as many sheep onto the farm as possible this year and catch up from the delays we had last year. I wanted to be at ~5,000 ewes plus lambs on our 185ha by now. With the culling of ewes to keep the cashflow going, we went down to ~2,600 ewes, but we are on our way back up now as quickly as we can. All ewe lambs are being kept, no more older ewes will be culled for awhile, and we hope to run at least 4,000 trade sheep through the property by the end of the year. More if we can. I would like to have no anchors holding back the pasture production for the rest of the year. Watch this space.

Cassius our elite ram (centre) in with our pet lambs we have saved.
The creek crossing is a tad flooded. This was 31st May 2021. Since then we have received several more large dollops of rain to keep it flooded. Even though the culvert is holding, there is no access for the sheep to that back paddock while it is flooded.

This is Alpha paddock a few days after grazing. Even where you can't see water, it is oozing water.

Another part of Alpha paddock a few days after grazing.

Alpha paddock a few days after grazing.

From a distance, the paddocks can look brown and grey, however this is one of those paddocks a day after sheep were removed. Alot of the dry grass is pieces of kikuyu the sheep have broken off. See the next photo for a close up.

A close up of the broken pieces of kikuyu the sheep leave behind. This is taken one day after the sheep were removed.

Our dog Caleb (a rough coat Collie) in the enclosed yard (where we live and the pet sheep are) looking out across the paddocks.

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