An attempt to spread the word of Agriculture through my own experiences. Inspired by Advocates for Agriculture and their story on ABC's Landline on the 14th August 2011. Might take me a while to get this page up to scratch, but it should be fun trying.
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Tuesday, 6 August 2013
Mustered, Pickles and Jams
So a fair bit has happened
in the last few months. We got to meet the (former) Minister for Agriculture.
We saw the (former) Prime Minister in the flesh. And it looks like we might be
the former owners of a once thriving export depot, which while is not what we
had planned, it is what it is and we move on.
Meanwhile, some serious
work has been done to get our type of sheep in to local processors. Now I could
write a thousand words on this, but here is the short version. Yes, the ones
that make the grade are worthwhile, but the eighty per cent that don’t still
need a home to go to. It is a lot of work for less return overall and no matter
what we are still stuck with the older sheep. So this is where this particular
After an initial trial
into processors, much discussion and more to the point, no ship orders for
damaras, we arranged a booking for light ram lambs to an abattoir for mid-August.To be frank, the price was shit, as a light
lamb weighs not much (the clue is in the name) and when you’re paid by the
kilo, there is not much you can do about it. But cashflow is king in any
business, and things need to keep ticking along. So three weeks ago we started
I haven’t yet explained
how the muster process works out here at Gabyon. That’s a tale for another day, but it involves
an aeroplane, four motorbikes, two sheep dogs, portable sheep yards, a semi-trailer
and some (cough) swearing. It’s not easy, but if you’re working towards
something, its good fun. We see the mob of sheep in a paddock we haven’t seen
since last muster, we see the lambs, and we see the weaners. It makes a nice
change from driving around not seeing a bloody thing for six months or more.
So we mustered. Then we
get a phone call a week into it. There’s a ship order out. They’re taking all
the things, including damara’s. AND they can take the older rams. Hallelujah,
about bloody time, pull out all the stops people we need to get some sheep
rounded up and get them gone NOW. Needless to say we felt heartened, after 18
months of nearly nothing we had a good order to work towards.
However, this put us in a
pickle. We’d arranged a delivery of light lambs to an abattoir, which coincidently
was roughly the same delivery date as the ship order. There wasn’t much to think
about though. The ship would take all ram lambs, and all rams up to white tag,
whereas the abattoir would only take light lambs. Bugger the meatworks, we need
to move sheep off the place and money into the account ASAP.
A week and a half later, which
was yesterday, with some five hundred rams lambs and rams in the yards, on VERY
expensive feed, we get a call. “Job’s off. They’ve cancelled the order. My
guess is they can’t get ESCAS approval.”Now it’s probably a good thing we live so far from Perth, otherwise one
or two of us would be up on murder charges and I’d be writing this from a
holding cell somewhere.
So now we are in a jam.
We have a holding paddock full of sheep too old forthe domestic processors, with no idea if any
ship order is going to be forthcoming for them, and last I heard the next available
kill space is Christmas, with this year’s new drop of lambs about to be ready
for sale. Sheep need to eat, and either we let them go again into the main
paddocks, after three weeks of work and expense, and hope they stay away from the
ewes which we don’t want mated to them, or we try to find some way of feeding
them, which will be nigh on impossible with the dry season in the Northern Ag
zone all but exhausting any spare hay supplies.
You all may or may not be
aware we’ve started a station stay. Perhaps a few of the do gooding brigade who
so adamantly campaigned against our trade would like to come visit and witness
firsthand the mess they have made. Hell, they can even take a ram home with
them. Strangely, that’s only not allowed if you’re an Arab in the Middle East. Try
explaining that one to the two French backpackers helping. They think we’re
nuts enough with vegemite, giant jumping rats and running birds who don’t fly.
When we explain we now have to control what another country does with an animal
we’ve sold them, they think we’re mad. Strangely enough, so did the two German
girls, the Taiwanese girl, the German guy and the Austrian girl who have all
graced us with their presence. There’s a lesson there somewhere. I hope whoever
is in charge in the near future wakes up to this, or it’s going to be a bloody