Well for summer in Gippsland I would have to say it’s been very unseasonal in the East. I believe it has been the coldest January on record for a long time! Sure we have had the odd scorcher almost reaching 40 degrees C, but some East Coast lows have kept temperatures down and really replenished the moisture and the place is looking greener than people are used to. This has hampered hay sales and so our 136 round bales we cut last year still remain in the paddock.
This month James and I have been split between the old farm and the new. I blogged earlier about our adventures with drenching, vaccinating and trimming the cattle hooves and dealing with the sheep and alpaca. Not much else has gone on there so I will fill you in on what’s been going on at the new patch.
The new place is thriving with weeds and that is probably an understatement. Our biggest foes are thistles, blackberries and bracken. We also have a type sheeps burr, which I am led to believe is a native weed. At any rate it is annoying to say the least as the burrs get caught in your clothing and become a pain to get out. Deva is not a fan!
I have started the colossal task of spraying the thistles and blackberries, using a chemical called Conquerer. This is a generic version of Grazon, after its patent ran out, and a product we are finding very effective on the blackberries. I have a 15L backpack spray unit which I load up with a mixture of Conquerer, Deluge 1000 (a wetting agent), some pink dye and water. Then off I go kitted out with safety goggles, a protective mask and gloves and a pair of sturdy hiking boots for the hills. I quite enjoy walking so this is a good task for me to do. This month I have sprayed out 115L and so far have only made a very small dent!
Summer is the perfect time to spray blackberries as they are actively growing. They appear to die off in a few weeks after being sprayed, which is better than the thistles. They are taking much longer to wilt and die off.
James prefers the heavier work and has begun clearing mirror bush and overgrown, low hanging Cyprus limbs from the garden and farm lane. A mixture of chainsaw, axe and wood chipper were the tools of trade. It’s amazing how a huge mirror bush branch can be reduced to almost nothing in that machine!
As well as all of this we have also been busy at work starting to renovate one of the cottages. It is a hundred year old weatherboard lodge that isn’t particularly anything special, but it should scrub up well (literally) and make us a comfortable home until we build a newer place. It looks like it has 20 plus years of grime on the walls, but a dose of Selly’s sugar soap works wonders!
This last weekend we have thrown all our efforts into re-flooring one of the rooms. This is partly because it needs doing and partly so we can get a bed in. At the moment we are camping here in swags and James snores -and I don’t get much sleep!
We were nervous about pulling up the floor. We knew it was rotten, but couldn’t see what condition the joists or stumps were in. Thankfully both were fine and it turned out that pinhole borers had selectively targeted the Baltic pine flooring that had been used, but the hardwood structural timber was left untouched. We have now laid down some 22mm particle board ready to fit a click-together flooring over the top.
On the cards for February is to continue re flooring, cleaning and paint the cottage interior and continue weed spraying. Hopefully our old farm will sell and we can move the stock to the new place! We also have some social events to attend – a gathering of some of the Australian Highland Cattle Association members and I have an exciting appointment in the UK!
We will keep you posted on our farm developments.