Farmers getting their hopes up with the first sign of a winter break

EYE TO EYE: Were these young Angus bulls just looking or were they having impure thoughts?
EYE TO EYE: Were these young Angus bulls just looking or were they having impure thoughts?

THE first sign of a possible early winter break is showing up as springs that are usually reliable indicators have started to run nicely and are gradually filling sand holes in creeks and gullies with fresh, clear water.

Last weekend’s snow and scattered rainfalls gave a nice lift to some areas and a brush-off to most of us.

There are reports of several producers who have been feeding big mobs of cattle and sheep for about 18 months that have long since run out of stored fodder and are feeding at a cost of $1000 per day at present.

Drought strategy

A WIDE range of opinions seems to have come from drought strategy meetings that have been held across our region.

Some advice has been given on an income tax position that may be reached by producers who virtually destocked on the first cloudless day and have received two years’ income in one year. Farm Management Deposits may be invaluable to some.

At the other end of the scale would be the farmers’ wives who regularly contact Lifeline as they are in an awful situation with $17 ewes being sold as well as $180 skinny cows, and the prospect of very big bills for bought-in stock feed looming large.

Lending an ear

OUR political leaders must be careful that their advice doesn’t sound a bit like “get on with it” as sometimes a good yarn and a listening ear from a politician can be valuable support.

Shooters, Fishers and Farmers members and supporters are already discussing the types of drought measures that they would support and, of course, many farmers are listening intently.

As an aside, how many times did you hear Treasurer Scott Morrison say the words “drought” or “agriculture” as he outlined his budget? Zero, or maybe once.

Words of wisdom

MANY thanks to local TWG wool expert Mark Horsburgh who contributes his valued wool market report to this column every Thursday.

Mark’s report and opinions are greatly appreciated by his readers.

Sheepish numbers

PROGRESSIVE merino breeders would be interested to see the Parkdale SRS ewes that were shorn by competition shearers at the recent Dubbo and Wellington shows.

These young ewes probably cut about 3.5kg of 19 micron wool at six months growth, probably 65mm staple length.

The videos of the shearing can be watched by googling Parkdale SRS Poll Merino Stud and following the links.

The ewes look like peas in a pod – not one wrinkle and very white wool.

Six-monthly shearing is certainly not for everyone as it doubles shearing costs per year, but it also can have many advantages and probably 10 per cent more wool.

COLD COMFORT: These freshly shorn ewes were sheltered in a tree lot in arctic conditions when a farmer’s drone found them.

COLD COMFORT: These freshly shorn ewes were sheltered in a tree lot in arctic conditions when a farmer’s drone found them.

Winter is coming

DURING budget week we noticed the PM and Treasurer looking snug in black, woollen overcoats and these coats are obvious on Bathurst streets as the first real burst of winter arrives.

Brushed cotton apparel shows us many wonderful colours and styles but when temperatures really fall, the worsted overcoats are in a class of their own.

Our leaders certainly look like ambassadors for wool in their new coats.

Points of interest

A GROUP of Bathurst men asked me questions on the future of many forms of agriculture in the Central Tablelands and a few dot points might cause some comment:

  • The cost/price squeeze will probably continue and every rural enterprise will be affected.
  • Dealers cattle and backgrounders will look for some very good opportunities and will still destock at the first hint of a drying season.
  • Crossbred ewes for prime lamb production are easier on pastures and fodder crops as many lambs are sold before six months of age.
  • Self-replacing merino flocks are hard on your country and grazing of them is a high risk category at present and inputs are now costly.
  • High cost of land, stock, inputs and mandatory charges are a cause of concern.
  • If climate change is real or if this is a 40-year dry cycle, much thought must be given to a strategic plan for the future of family farming.

Hit and myth

THIS may not be an urban myth.

Four adults who were together on a farmlet near Cow Flat, 15km south of Bathurst, assure me that they saw a big black feline padding along the Vale Creek in early dusk.

They described it “much too big  for a cat; perhaps a black panther”

 I’m told that most of the group were in a fair to good viewing condition.

Wool report

IT was an excellent week for the wool market as prices for  merino wool lifted strongly, continuing the momentum from the previous week.

All sale centres recorded strong gains on both days of selling.

Crossbred wools were firm with some ups and downs in all centres.

The northern market indicator finished the week on 1940 c/kg which is the highest it has been for the past 12 months.

The northern market indicator is running around 900c/kg above the 10-year average.

Sales next week in Sydney, Melbourne and Fremantle will see 37,496 bales on offer.

Mark Horsburgh, TWG Landmark

Laugh lines

GEORGE was at the chemist’s counter and produced a little brown bottle and a spoon.

“Would you taste this please?” he asked politely, and the chemist obliged by taking a sip.

“That was awful,” he grimaced.

George was pleased and queried: “Not a bit sweet? That’s great news. The doctor told me to get you to test my urine for sugar.”

***

A LADY friend tells me that she intends to age gracefully and keep having facelifts until her ears meet at the back of her head.

Meanwhile, my grandson tells me that I’m now 70 plus GST – and he’s right.