Friday, 2 July 2010

Maybe size does matter.....

Theory 1

It pains me to say it but size is important afterall! In the Outback its generally seen that 10,000 ewes per man is the rule of thumb. Dirk Stevens near Broken Hill managed 12,000 on 3 properties over at least a 400km radius (and he was still sane and very amusing). With 10,000 a couple of bikes, a “ute”, maybe an old tractor and a grader (for the tracks) might be the sum of the plant and machinery. Admittedly lambing is seen as the one time you need to stay away from stock (thanks to the tradition of natural selection - there was an incredulous reaction to UK sheep farmers being so interventionist and making lambing a self-perpetuating problem)! No drenching or vaccines are usually required and mustering of each mob only takes place three to four times a year. All this said there has to be a lesson learnt here!

Theory 2

“What’s to be, is within me”. My first visit was to Tony and Meredith Thomson near Bourke. Tony had amazing vision and was working on really radical stuff on his sheep. He was absolutely brilliant but the one time I thought he might lose patience with me was when I mentioned that the system needed to change in the UK. I got the impression throughout this first week, that whinging about the system is probably the biggest social faux pas you can fall into - first rule of first generation farming club: its up to you and no one else!

Theory 3

Adapt and Innovate. The rise of the wool shedding meat sheep and the fall of the Merino was a real trend I saw. Poly-oestrus lambing (twice per year - heaven forbid) made 100% lambings into 180%. The harvesting of feral goats at tiny cost kept families. All these were intuitive farmers making the most of what their available resources and climate could offer.

Theory 4

Never take things seriously. Joe Baty the Brumbie Runner would sack musterers if they weren’t funny. It was not only good to have a laugh - it was compulsory.

Theory 5

“How do you eat an elephant - one forkful at a time”. Set your goal, work out the tiny steps needed and start “eating”. Apologies to my many animal welfare activist followers for this analogy.

Theory 6

“Always look forward, if you look back you’ll trip up”. When you take a hit don’t dwell on it, dust yourself down, probably mutter something related to XXXX it and go again.

Theory 7

Its all about heart. I thought that was a given for me, but it hasn’t been tested as much as those that live in this corner of the world.

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