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  • Writer's pictureWayne

Here comes the stress

The rain tap has turned off for the past few weeks, and we have had some hottish days. Moisture stress is showing up in the sand seam that we have on one side of the property. As you can see away from that sand seam, the pastures are still roaring along and are not moisture stressed, yet.

In the old Google satellite photo below, up is north. In the south-western end of the farm that is circled in yellow, you can see a sand seam. This is the first place on the farm to go dry because it is deep white sand with minimal nutrient and water holding capacity. There is a permanent fix, which is to mix in 400+ tonnes/ha of clay and turn it into a loam. That will remain on the "one day" wish list for now. There are bigger priorities at the moment.

There is an industry wide stress too at the moment in the sheep industry across Australia. Despite very high demand and prices overseas, it is nigh on impossible for small farmers like us to get a time slot in an abattoir to process our wethers and culls. This will be a temporary hiccup as the demand for meat continues to rise with the world's population rising, prices are high outside of Australia, and sheep farmers in Australia continue to switch to the hairsheep types like we are producing. And we are selecting more and more very fertile ewes that can produce lambs at any time of the year, and twice in 12 months. We have ~1,000 available for sale right now, and ~4,000 per year starting in 2024.

It is barleygrass and bromegrass head emergence time, grasses we do not want in our pastures. We only have a one nozzle sprayer on the back of the side-by-side vehicle (Can-Am) that can spray about a 3m width, and with that we are patching out as many of the bromegrass and barleygrass areas as we can. We use propaquizafop which is weak on ryegrass, and most of our ryegrass is resistant to it anyway, but it is strong on brome and barleygrass. Ideally we will have a proper boomsprayer one day, but that's on the wish list too at the moment.

We have 10 more days of lambing left and the rams are going back in with the girls at the end of October. We are keeping as many of the ewes pregnant as we can, even if they have lambs at foot.

And a final reminder that we are having a free to attend field day on Friday 27th October 2023 at 2pm on the farm for shareholders and anyone who is interested in having a look at what we are doing. Food and drinks will be available but for catering purposes, please email us at if you are coming.

Above: An old Google map of Caluka Farms before we took possession. The yellow circle shows a deep white sand seam that is the first area to dry out.

Here is the sand seam on 16th October 2023 showing the pasture dying off after only a few weeks without rain, but as you will see in the photos from other areas in the paddock, those areas are not moisture stressed yet.

This photo was taken about 30m north of the sand seam. No moisture stress here.

This is about the middle of the paddock (Papa) and about 50m south of the sand seam. Nice feed for ~1100 Cleanskin ewes and their lambs coming in here the day after this photo was taken.

Mike paddock 16th Oct 2023 a day before ~1300 Woollie ewes and their lambs come in for a week. It's a nice balance of clover and grasses now in this paddock (it used to be very non-wetting).

And to finish off the photos, an accidental snap of a swallow in flight while I was admiring the beautiful morning fog a few days ago.

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