Monday, April 30, 2012

An April Update

Autumn is usually a nice time of year, cool but not cold and plenty of sunshine.
But not this year, The 'big wet' has continued on from summer.
In fact, all of Australia is officially drought-free for the first time in more than a decade from today.
At least everything is growing well.
Good grass cover in the paddocks is still maintaining my 16 cattle. I will have to select 8 or so to go to market over the next month so I don't have the pressure of winter feeding. All the bulls except the smallest will definitely be on the truck as well as a couple of older cows. I know this is not very farmer like, but sometimes it's a difficult choice.
Pasture weeds, mainly native tussock, are being kept under control by a manual spray program. I need to attack the bracken too but with the powered sprayer. Will have to wait until things get dried on the creek flats before I can do that. Getting the machinery bogged is not a pleasant thought. The window of spray opportunity closes by the end of May as the plants 'shut down' for winter and don't absorb the chemical.
We have the best display of flowers ever in the garden. I know I have shown these off before but one of my father's hybrid hibiscus has been absolutely covered in luminous blooms this year.

We decided not to pick the Cabernet Sauvignon this year. By the middle of April the bunches had begun to shrivel and the Baume reading was not much past 11.0. So no 2012 vintage at all from this little vineyard.
That's ok as we have plenty of wine left over from last year.
I watched a rural program on TV the other day and saw that many commercial vineyards and especially those with table grapes had had a bad year in New South Wales, many with severely reduced or abandoned crops, so don't feel so bad.
We will do some remedial work on the trellises this winter by increasing the height to allow better shoot (more leaves) growth.
Other than that, not much excitement in the neighbourhood.
The Kings Highway that winds its way over the mountains between us and Canberra (the Australian Capital) was cut again due to a big landslide. This was once a regular occurrence until they put in slip prevention measures but all the rain we have had caused another big one.
The road was closed for a week which has affected local businesses considerably as Canberra people are a major tourist group and it was Australian Capital Territory school holidays.
The alternative routes added another 3 to 4 hours to the usual 2 hours to the coast.
It took almost a week to clear the blockage.
And luckily no one was caught in the slide despite it being a busy road.

We are getting ready for all the winter chores. Stirling is heading south from the Central Coast to help us out.
Jobs include collecting and stacking fallen wood for burn off as a bushfire prevention task, cutting up firewood from decent fallen wood, repairing the cattle yards, race and ramp, cleaning out the stables for the winter hay delivery.
And then there is the continual job of fence repair. Why do trees always fall over fences and not the other way? Part of the butter side down of falling bread puzzle (although Mythbusters did 'bust' that myth)
Decommissioning the vegetable garden is also on the agenda. Yes, we have finally given up! Gail 'up the back' is supplying us with great salad, herbs and vegetables so we defer to her greater horticultural skills.
Stirls, I and the co driver may also indulge in a little good food and wine consumption during his visit.
It won't be too long until the vine pruning has to be done but I usually wait until late in the season to do that as it delays shooting and encourages the grapes to ripen a little later.
Busy days ahead.

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