Today we loaded up the bus and left Toowoomba. We had a half an hour bus ride to our first visit at a cropping farm. The Black's run a 4,000 acre cropping operation outside Dalby. Brothers Jim and Laurie and Jim's son Peter ran the farm. They were impressively technologically advanced with their farming equipment and management practices. On the 4,000 acres they grow barley, wheat, and chickpeas in the winter months, and summer months grow cotton and sorghum. Jim and Laurie's great grandparents settled in the area from Northern Ireland and through generations haven grown the farm and passed it through the family. The farm started as traditional and conventional tillage operations, and then they realized how the tillage was negatively affecting the land. They then switched to a no till system and later implemented controlled traffic on their fields. Controlled traffic is when they drive all of their equipment on the same wheel tracks. Recently they started using strip tillage. They have done a great job of keeping up with all of the new technologies that have taken over the agricultural world. Peter told us about some difficulties with controlled traffic farming such as not being able to use duals on tractors and their grain cart having to be modified to stay in the same wheel tracks while driving beside the harvester. They had an interesting spray system which had the ability to broadcast spray an entire field and/or spot spray with infrared technology. The spot sprayer was 40 meters when folded out and known as a weed seeker. Each nozzle had an eye on it that gave in the capability to pick up larger weeds and only spray on that plant. This saved greatly on spray that is used. The Black family was very friendly and were great to visit with!
For lunch we stopped at The Woolshed at Jondaryan built in 1859. The property is now a museum with a cafe, animal nursery, (we got to pet a young kangaroo) and machinery displays. The centerpiece of the museum is the oldest original operating Woolshed of its era. Lunch was very authentic including damper, a bread, corned beef and a large salad with shredded beat and carrot on top.
The next stop was at Rick and Alice Greenup's Santa Gertrudis ranch. They run about 6,100 head of Santa Gertrudis and commercial cattle on 70,000 acres of land. For those that may not know a Santa Gertrudis is 5/8 Shorthorn and 3/8 Brahman. Each year they sell about 300-400 bulls and sell limited females because they are currently in a growing stage of their operation. We were able to see around 40 of his breeding females that had their calves weaned early due to the severe drought that Australia has been suffering. Along with seeing the cattle we were able to see some of Rick's horses. He had two mares tied up that were sisters and both quite successful. In Australia they have a sport called camp drafting, which Rick showed us some of. It is really similar to cutting in the US but it is timed. Along with cutting the cow out of the herd you have to run the cow through a figure 8 pattern and through two poles to mark the end of the ride. This all has to be done within 40 seconds. One of the horses Rick showed us was a very successful camp drafting horse and he has been offered $80,000 for her, but has kept her instead and has been breeding her with the hopes to create more champions like her. They sell only a few horses a year, however.
Then, we headed toward our farm stays. Three of us went to this sweet old widow, Carolyn Harris's, house and the other ten, Julie, and Bill went to Ken and Carolyn Passchendaele's. The ten there had to hand milk a few squirts from their one milk cow before we could have any adult beverages; everyone succeeded. Carolyn Harris and her trio came to the Passchendael's for supper. We had a great time hanging out, talking, and eating on the veranda. There were lots of appetizers and we had steaks for supper besides; nobody went to bed hungry!
Brooke, Kali and Claire