Thursday, May 30, 2019

Sioux Falls Sculpture Walk / Part 1

Every time we come to Sioux Falls we do ‘the walk’. It never disappoints.
This year was the 16th time the event has taken place.
Started in 2004, SculptureWalk is the largest and most recognized annual exhibit of public art sculptures in the USA. This year there are 59 works spread around the city with the main concentration along Phillips Ave.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Fagen Fighters WWII Museum / Granite Falls, Minnesota

Fagen Fighters WWII Museum is home to a pristine collection of fully operational, active aircraft and memorabilia from World War II. It is situated at Granite Falls Municipal Airport a few miles out of the city. If you like old military aircraft and a history of their use during WW11, this is the place to spend a few hours at. A beautifully organised and kept museum.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Selling Cattle

In the old days selling a few excess cattle by a hobby farmer was quite easy.
You found out the date of the local sale, called up a livestock transporter who delivered the cattle to the sale yard the day before and in a week or two you would get a cheque in the mail.
Then the regulators stepped in.
Each rural property over a certain size (it varies according to district) pays a levy to a government entity which delivers the frontline animal health service in the state, safeguarding agricultural production from the biosecurity risks posed by disease and pests. They also manage travelling stock reserves, stock movement and identification and assist with drought relief. In fact the levy was waived this year because of the drought conditions.
The levy is charged on a two-tier basis, involving a general rate paid by all landholders and a supplementary animal health rate for those with stock.
Each property is issued with a Property Identification Code (PIC).
Some time ago, regulations called for ear tags, later electronic versions, identifying the property of origin of the animal via the PIC to be attached to each one.
Any movement, whether it be to a sale yard or just down the road for pasture agistment, has to be accompanied by official paperwork.

This enables disease control and traceability of stock consigned for human consumption.
It is known as the NLIS or National Livestock Identification Scheme.
Ok…..a bit of a task for the hobby farmer but not too onerous a one.
But now the MLA, Meat and Livestock Australia, has appeared on the scene.
Their mission is “to foster the long-term prosperity of the Australian red meat and livestock industry by investing in research and marketing activities.”
They want all red meat producers to be accredited to a Livestock Production Assurance program (LPA) which is an independently audited, on‐farm assurance program covering food safety, animal welfare and biosecurity. It provides evidence of livestock history and on-farm practices when transferring livestock through the value chain.
This involves seven study modules and an open book on line ‘exam’ (100% pass rate required) plus, of course, an application fee.
Producers can opt out of this step but it is made clear animals may not be accepted for sale or be subjected to lower than market prices if a vendor decides to do so.
So after a some delay and more than a little procrastination, I decided to go ahead with the process.
With so many long hours in aircraft during May/June it will be an opportune time to do the module work.
With the way climate change is developing, it may be necessary to reduce my small herd one day and the less hassle doing this the better.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Apples 🍎

Autumn is apple season and our supermarket has about 8 varieties to choose from.
The apple tree originated in Central Asia, where its wild ancestor, Malus sieversii, is still found today. Apples have been grown for thousands of years in Asia and Europe and were taken to the new world by colonists and immigrants
There are more than 7,500 known cultivars of apples, resulting in a range of desired characteristics. Different cultivars are bred for various tastes and use, including cooking, eating raw and cider production.
Worldwide production of apples in 2017 was 83 million tonnes, with China accounting for nearly 50% of the total.
Australia produces around 300,000 tonnes a year with 75% going to the fresh market. The remainder is used for juicing and processing. Only a minimal amount is exported and just under 1000 tonnes are imported from New Zealand.

Australians on average eat around 8kg/year.
All states produce the fruit and because of the varying climate zones across the country the fresh apple season lasts from late January to late May.
Many varieties of the fruit are suitable for cold storage so apples are available all year.
The top five most popular apples in Australia are: Granny Smith, Red Delicious, Cripps Pink marketed as Pink Lady®, Fuji and Gala.
 A few old favourites are still available including Golden Delicious, Jonagold, Braeburn and Sundowner™. Some of the new apples emerging onto supermarket shelves that taste and look great include Jazz™, Bravo™, Kalei, Eve™, Modi™, Envy™, and Kanzi™ and Greenstar™.
I like Jazz™.
This is a cross between Royal Gala and Braeburn. It was developed in New Zealand.
The original cross was made in 1985 on trees at Goddard Lane, Havelock North, Hawkes Bay and was launched commercially in April 2004.

It is hard and crisp but juicy. It reminds me of the Jonathan which we used to grow in our backyard as a child. We used to get these in our supermarket but they seem to have fallen out of favour these days.
The co driver likes Pink Lady® ie. Cripps Pink.
This apple was originally bred by John Cripps at the Western Australia Department of Agriculture by crossing the Australian apple Lady Williams with a Golden Delicious.
It has a sweet-tart flavour and a firm, crisp flesh.

It also cold stores for a long time without quality deterioration.
The green Granny Smith is popular world wide and originated in suburban Sydney, Australia in 1868. It is named after Maria Ann Smith, who propagated the cultivar from a chance seedling. The tree is thought to be a hybrid of Malus sylvestris, the European wild apple, with the North American apple Malus pumila as the polleniser.

To wax or not to wax, that is the question.
For a long time apples were waxed at the packing shed as washing the fruit during processing removed the natural waxy barrier. It was thought that this barrier improved the shelf life of the apples as well as making them look more appealing (pun not intended).
According to our industry representative body, APAL, "apples with wax may last longer at certain times of year or in certain climatic conditions or retail conditions, but it won't have a significant impact."
Our two major supermarkets say that the vast majority of customers (70%) want a natural product.
So since 2016 waxed apples have been phased out. They do look a bit different ie.dull not shiny, but there is definitely no discernible taste difference.
On a personal note I really dislike those small adhesive stickers the put on the individual fruit.
A quick trawl around the Internet showed I am not the only one. Here is an example.
So apart from being difficult to remove, they are yet just another piece of plastic ready to pollute our environment.
So to keep the doctor away, eat an apple a day (and keep your vaccinations up to date!).

Monday, May 06, 2019

Our 2019 USA Trip / Part 1

A few days before our departure overseas, we drove up to Sydney, parked at the airport, then took the short one hour flight with QANTAS to Port Macquarie to visit with our friend Stirls.
A few days later we returned and booked into our hotel just across from the international terminal.
We had a reasonable dinner in the terminal before hitting the sack to get ready for an early morning rise and check in.
Next morning the formalities were very quick so we had time for a quiet breakfast before boarding.

The flight from Sydney to Houston was uneventful and arrived an hour early.
Economy class was 100% full so we didn’t have the luxury of stretching out.
I read, did a little study for my Cattle Production Accreditation (don't ask!), caught up with four movies, ate some reasonable airline food and only slept for a little while.
After immigration and customs, which took nearly two hours, we handed over our bags at transfer and headed through security and found our gate for the New York flight. IAH is a huge airport with many terminals. A lot of walking if you can’t find the Skyway train.....which we couldn’t.

It is always a bemusing contrast between airport security in Australia and the USA where the former is efficient and thorough but laid back. I think the TSA should understand they are not herding animals. But after all these years of being "barked at" that is a forlorn hope.
Arrived on time in Newark where our car was waiting to take us into Manhattan and our hotel.
So 10,000 miles and 26 hours of travel later we were ready to relax.
Did that mean bed?
A short walk down the street to the City Winery for a light supper and a few glasses of wine.
Now another USA adventure begins.

Thursday, May 02, 2019

Port Macquarie/ Part 2

Day 3 of the trip was quilt shop day.
There were two in the area. The co driver was very impressed with the one in town, the other was out in the countryside, small and just ok. Minimal purchases made!
On the way back ‘home’, we stopped at NSW National Parks’s Sea Acres Rain Forest.
Here they have preserved a large tract of the original coastal sub tropical forest, 76ha, with access to part of it via a 1.3km board walk.

Here were some fascinating plants like the strangling fig, cabbage palms, bungalow palms and very tall trees of great age.

We didn’t see any wildlife but the area is well known for koalas, brush turkeys and reptiles such as pythons, monitor lizards and water dragons.
It was a couple of hours of interest for this lapsed horticulturalist.
We had a quiet afternoon, a nice seafood dinner and early to bed.
Next morning our flight to Sydney was delayed nearly two hours but we eventually made it to the airport hotel just after lunch.
It was time to psych ourselves up for the long trip to the USA the next morning.

Wednesday, May 01, 2019

Port Macquarie / Part 1

Just after dawn departure from home saw us at Sydney airport around 10am.
We parked the car at the international terminal and caught the train to domestic.
We had time for an early lunch, passable Mexican, before catching our little plane north an hour to Port Macquarie. We had one heck of a tail wind and were there barely before the flight attendants had time to serve and clean up the lunch time snack.
Stirl’s house renovations are finished and it looks great. The co driver was very impressed with the three seasons room. Nope, sorry, not happening down south.
Out to dinner at a lovely Japanese restaurant after drinks at the Beach House pub by the river.
‘Port’ is a much bigger town than Ulladulla and has a plethora of restaurants, bars, cafes and entertainment opportunities in comparison.

Next morning after coffee we headed for the Koala Hospital. Here they look after animals that have been injured by domestic dog attacks, car accidents and diseases initiated by chamlydia which is affecting the marsupials Australia wide. It is not the same strain that affects humans.
They do great work here treating between 50 and 100 at a time and releasing a big percentage back into the wild once they are well again.
On the same grounds is Roto house. Built by surveyor John Flynn in 1891, this 11 room weatherboard house constructed from local red mahogany was occupied by his family right up until 1979. It's still lovingly maintained by the National Parks and Wildlife Service to this day.

Travelling further south we drove up North Brother mountain outside Laurieton which gives you a wonderful view, south and north of the beaches, lakes and mountains in the area.

Then it was a great long lunch at the Sandbar Café before heading ‘home’ for an R&R afternoon.