Farming




RIDING ON THE SHEEP'S BACK


Our property name was “Glenvue”, situated two k’s from town
 On it sat a timber house, at first a little run down
The acreage spread out to the north over hills many did admire
View from one-tree hill around, landscape painters did inspire

With plenty rain gets good results from soil that’s rich and black
Harvest hay at end of spring to get one through the slack
Fat lambs were bred and wool was grown, wethers primed for the boat
Not all years produce good results, must be careful not to gloat

Annual income never certain, returns depicted by the market
Presentation is the key and hope for top price is the target
Making good decisions always the aim, bad ones lead to strife
This job is what you make of it and you got to like the life

Now jobs to do well most were clear
Some get seen to often, whilst others once a year
There are always things to fix, maybe fence or gate or a leaking pipe
So find the gear and buy the fittings always check to see which type

Lambs get marked and mulsed as well, a crew attend to help us out
Plus a timely drench for all concerned, there are always worms about
There were many things to look out for, flies footrot white-eye and lice
So many things you need to know to avoid the cost of veterinary advice

High humidity in summer months brings trouble without fail
So round them up to do the work, clean around the eyes and tail
That should keep them through okay, until it’s time to shear
Mustering, draughting, checking numbers, it becomes a busy time of year

Remove the belly and up the neck, fill the comb with each blow
Wool peeled off in rapid fire, gives a fleece as white as snow
Once the wool has been removed another coat begins to grow
Managing paddocks and rotating flocks can get quite involved you know

Wool gets sorted and sold on site, baled and stamped triple A
Once it all gets trucked off farm, then it’s time to collect some pay
No weekly cheque with this here job, money only comes from sale of goods
You learn to budget through the year, trying hard to balance the books

Working dogs are treated well, worth their weight in gold
You teach and train the best you knew - for discipline a scold
Pesky rabbits come and go, disease sees numbers in decline
Whilst wily foxes are never welcome, particularly at lambing time

Butcher a sheep to fill the freezer you can’t beat grass fed meat
Free range chooks and home grown vegies, always something fresh to eat
It’s a lifestyle you either like or don’t, do a good job or simply leave
Country air is fresh and clean, that I do believe

© Daryl Barnes 2016 
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THE OLD LADIES GOATS


I know an old lady – who lives with her goats
She takes good care – of her animals she boasts
Has a favourite new buck – of which she now gloats
He gets fed a mixture – of lucerne wheat and oats

‘Aleka’ is his name – and has a pedigree grand
He was one out of five – all bred from this ‘Dam’
She held a near record – of milk litres per stand
Now you see why – he’s the pride of her land

Several does are available – and Aleka happily breeds
They keep him satisfied – and fulfil all his needs
Together they do roam – eating leaves weeds and seeds
Reducing the need – for those extra hand feeds

When it comes time to milk – each doe’s easily led
And stands in a bail – inside the goat shed
On the female’s right flank – the old lady rests her head
And whilst filling the pail – very little gets said

There are vetinary bills – and wire fences to mend
Many jobs on the farm – the old lady must attend
Gets money from sales – saves a little bit to spend
On an annual holiday – so she don’t go round the bend

Anglo Nubians are for milk – with their big floppy ears
Angoras for mohair – which she bi-annually shears
The old lady day-dreams – of farming a herd of Red Deer
She heard they are less work – and you don’t have to shear

 © Daryl Barnes 2016
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INSIDE A SHEARING SHED

 
Tucked away on the side of a hill – stands a majestic stone homestead
Not far away other buildings sat – one a multi-stand shearing shed
Annually it would spring to life – when the team arrived on site
One dozen workers to accommodate – from daybreak until night

 
Now let me take you on a tour – and show you round inside
If you have never been in one – then come on for the ride
This industry with history proud – has changed little over time
A shearing team were super fit – mostly men all in their prime

 
So slide the roller door ajar – for an unpleasant greeting smell
Once inside you’ll soon forget – and will no longer dwell
Conditions can be hot in summer – the worker’s must endure
We could not appreciate it – on a half-hour woolshed tour

 
Sheep got dragged from a holding pen – through a well oiled swinging door
Out on the board is where they’re shorn – referred to as the dancing-floor
Once the fleece has been removed – down a chute the sheep will drop
Nearby sat a large faced clock – it told the team when to start and stop

 
The wool room had a sorting table – and one electric driven press
Wool packs hung not far away – for belly wool and leftover mess
The bulk was classed and stored away – in bins along one wall
Spare room was used to store pressed bales – prior to the tray-truck call

 
Preparations got carried out – sometime the day before
With a kelpie or a collie dog – sheep moved onto the grated floor
Carefully pens were each filled – sheep evenly were spread
So overnight could find a space – where it could rest its head

 
One year on since the shearing last – some animals knew the drill
Fleece removed with little pain – good shearers had the skill
The sheep and dogs and people too – all knew what role they play
When daylight breaks the following morn – the shearing will get under way


© Daryl Barnes 2016
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Curse that Bloody Rain

 
Throughout the Pioneer Valley there’s a wealth of fertile land
So farmers there grow cane, three meters high can stand
Mostly reliable and resilient is the juicy sugarcane
Although this year it’s suffering, it’s forgotten how to rain
 
Sure there’s irrigation, where restrictions are in place
And we have a population, one thirsty human race
The water plan we have in place will soon be under strain
Unless the weather patterns change to bring us lots of rain
 
Our river brings any run-off down to greet a concrete wall
A dry spillway warmed by the sun, no river-flush, no waterfall
And all the valleys dams, low levels they do remain
A poor wet-season catch this time, because we missed cyclonic rain
 
This sugar crop needs a watchful eye to keep disease at bay
There’s orange rust and black spot, ignore them and you’ll pay
And when a season gets too wet this partly gets the blame
Which can’t be said for this time round, we missed good soaking rain
 
The income farmers do receive for most, their only crop
Depends on markets around the world, a trend that will not stop
So grow more tons on every hectare for a greater financial gain
And then pray for kinder weather that produces substantial rain
 
There’s work ongoing in the mills, the off-season jobs get done
And the diesel locomotives, get fine tuned and then test-run
But when the calendar says it’s June, it’s harvest time again
Good planning by the working crew, pity they forgot to plan for rain
 
In all our minds there is a fear once crushing’s under way
A La Nina event could arrive, and grey skies will come and stay
This has happened all before and some are still feeling the pain
So if we get a winter wet, then we’ll be cursing that bloody rain
 
 
 
© Daryl Barnes 2016
 
 
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TO BREED LIKE A RABBIT

There’s a saying that goes – to breed like a rabbit
In most circumstances – this is not a good habit
If you applied this to humans – our numbers would be out of control
And we’d be forced to inhabit – our deserts south and north pole

If rabbits had the freedom – to do as they pleased
They would be everywhere – be in all corners squeezed
We’d be feeding on rabbit – have it bulk stored and freezed
Until problems developed – when we’d see outbreaks of diseased

The introduction of rabbits – is where the problem started
Escaping through the boundary – they easily outsmarted
And as they say in the classics – the rest is now history
The damage they delivered – never came as a mystery

So to control rabbit numbers – we found us a cure
Whilst it’s a terrible fate – that the rabbit must endure
Something had to be done – ‘it had become a disgrace
After being imported to our land – in the very first place

They soon populated the country – over areas significant and vast
But when I was growing up – the plague years had well passed
Whilst numbers were then down – you could see plenty running around
On our farm there were rabbits – often out of sight underground

Now we had a Whippet dog – that enjoyed a good chase
If it picked up a scent – then away it would race
But a tight wire fence – could bring the Whippet undone
And could return with a limp – and maybe unable to run

Find a burrow that was fresh – the chance of a catch would be high
Set a rusty metal trap – at the entrance nearby
Or send in a ferret – then wait by the net
If a rabbit was inside – not for much longer you could bet

There was a knack to the job – of removing the fur skin
Use a sharp pointy knife – with a short blade that was thin
Then stretch it over a wire peg – let it dry out in the sun
Remove the gut from the carcass – a good wash then it’s done

Then it was over to our Mum – to make good of this pest
With vegies from the garden – her casseroles were the best
We would live off the land – in those days where we could
And our Mum could prepare – and make anything taste good


© Daryl Barnes 2016


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SLUGS & GRUBS & CATERPILLARS 

– and those bloody goats




 With bended back the man did toil

Till the sun went down he turned the soil

Dry horse and goat manure, both evenly were spread
Then orderly it was turned providing the perfect garden bed


A noisy flock of pink Galahs, they almost filled the sky

He raised his head to look and wiped the corner of one eye
He then surveyed the clouds above as they drifted slowly by
Within there's not a drop of rain, gee this country is very dry

No time now to be distracted, there’s an important task at hand
Growing vegies for the dinner table is a tough ask in this fickle land
One year the rain doesn’t stop and the next it won't come at all
The weather’s always in conversation whether at the pub or local hall

To produce a good veggie patch you need to know what's what
Like how much animal poo to use so the roots don’t burn and rot
Good timing can either make or break, good luck too plays a role
A harvest planned for Christmas is generally the goal

Good growing conditions need one more thing and that is water supply
A supply you can rely on, one that won't run dry
The house dam needs to be filled up as none is waiting underground
Good rainfall run-off annually to make water flow over ground

So very soon, new shoots appear, almost overnight arrive
And with a bit of ‘Lady Luck’ they may just all survive
Again he looks to the skies above praying for rain to make them grow
And provide him with a bumper crop and reason for him to crow

But, slugs and grubs and caterpillars just to name a few
Grasshopper’s earwig’s beetles too, all arrive now for a chew
The carrots cabbage corn and peas, for them they’ve found a treat
Tomatoes celery and zucchini and especially the silver beet


Then when someone left the gate ajar, this really made him mad
The goats got into his veggie patch and one mighty feast they had
And with the dam now almost dry it was enough to make him cry
So much pain for little gain, so the man began to ponder, why oh why oh why


But that’s the way of life he's chose, so next year he’ll buck the trend
Providing that Mother Nature, will next time be his friend



© Daryl Barnes 2016
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FIFTEEN HUNDRED BALES PER DAY


The school year was now complete – for me at Casterton High
Now six long weeks of holidays – then give year twelve a try

For Stuart, Ian and me – we chose work instead of play
An opportunity we accepted – one of carting bales of hay
Evenly spread in paddocks lay – and waited to be addressed
Were twenty seven thousand bales – that all looked neatly pressed

They belonged to Mr Learmonth – who owned Barama Station
He offered us a chance to make – some money during our vacation
So a caravan was towed to site – for our accommodation
This was kindly provided by – a very close relation

Whilst no-one held a driving licence – we each could safely drive
Brian’s faith in us was high – so to confirm his trust, we’d strive
There was Pete and Sandra Smith – who lived and worked the farm
Pete was ever ready – whilst Sandra had the charm

Pete’s the farm mechanic – Sandra made water bottle ice
They were warm and welcoming – very friendly and both nice
Supplied to cart the hay for us – from paddock to each stack
Were two old Bedford trucks – with timber trays at the back

Dodgy brakes and a faulty clutch – a missing window winder
A whining diff and gearbox noise – a broken windscreen wiper
But both trucks they started regular – open choke and pump the pedal
Whilst the steering wheel vibrated – engines ran smooth when idle

A wheel-driven hay bale loader – a petrol-driven shed stacker
Maintenance on equipment high – all hardly worth a cracker
But we persevered and managed – with patience being the key
And a sense of humour was a plus – that I could guarantee


Working in the elements – was mostly good but could be bad
With pesky tiny bush flies – some days would drive us mad
Burr and seed got everywhere – soon filled up both our socks
Add heat and wind to straw and dust – it could end up in our jocks


The nylon twine on every bale – caused gloves to soon wear through
It felt like a kind of cutting tool – on both palms and fingers too
Blistered areas were padded up – what else was there to do
And as days went by the sheds got filled – and the work we toughened to


We each took a turn behind the wheel – to rotate the working load
Narrow gateways creeks and hills – sometimes a gravel road
If bales fell from a loaded truck – the driver would say ‘twas poorly stacked
Sometimes bales were long and loose – often a challenge that’s a fact


A daylight start and on dusk we’d end – with a siesta round midday
Each truck we’d fit one fifty on – tried for ten of these per day
A shower of rain or heavy dew – would try to slow us down
And problems with equipment – would also cause a frown


Four cents per bale divide by three – that’s what we got for pay
We were young and fit and keen – and worked hard every day
It was a task that we did meet – eighteen days we’d stay
At the Barrama Pastoral Company – there was no time to play
*
With my pockets full of money – time for another year of school
Education was the focus – I knew that was the rule
But when that year was over – we were invited once again
To cart hay back at Barrama – of this, I did not complain


Ten thousand bales of hay to cart – numbers well down this time
A changing of the times had came – with new machinery design
Hay in rolls were now the go – that took up fifteen of the small
Made less work for us three boys – but this didn’t bother us at all


© Daryl Barnes 2016
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