This month, our Adelaide Hills Farmcast spans topics from goats to Salvation Jane to horse racing.
To be more specific about horse racing, we shine a spotlight on turf preparation at the Oakbank Racing Club, with Pods taking some time to talk with Oakbank CEO, Shane Collins, about what it takes to get the track ready for summer racing.
I also sit down with the lovely Megan Miller. Megan has several breeds of goats including dairy goats and miniature goats. One of the things I love about goats is they have a tendency to eat unusual things – including Salvation Jane, despite it being moderately toxic to them!
We’ll cover that, plus your summer preparations in the Almanac so lets stop kidding around and get started!
00:00 Adelaide Hills Farmcast December Edition
01:32 Adelaide Hills Farm Almanac / Farm Calendar
Water Security For Summer
- If you’re planning to go away over the summer, please ensure you have someone available to check your stock water and monitor for any unusual activity. We hear far too many stories, including a friend of ours recently, who have had their animals stolen and house and sheds ransacked. It’s an awful situation to be in but you can reduce the chances of it happening to you if you have someone to take on caretaker duties. You could work in with your neighbour or have someone to stay for the time you are away. Early detection of problems with your irrigation can prevent harm to your animals and even if the person keeping an eye on your property can’t fix irrigation problems, they can call someone who can.
- There are a number of remote water level sensors on the market and if this is the direction you want to go down please do your research. Some are better than others. We have been very impressed by the Water Rat sold by Farmco.
- It is by far THE EASIEST water sensor to set up, you literally just pop it in the trough! It recently won Gold in the product design category of the Australian Good Design Awards earlier this year and other than the absolute simplicity of the design, the other magnificent feature is that you simply pick it up when you move stock out of one paddock and take it with you and drop it in the trough in the next paddock. It’s a subscription product however you do get a 30 day free trial. And what better time of year to give it a go. I think the Water Rat has a lot of potential and if you give it a go, please let me know!
Mosquitos And Encephalitis
- I don’t know what the official record will say, but I don’t think we’ve had a Spring at all! It’s still wet under foot and you can see runoff seeping out of hills and flowing down roadsides all over the hills. The Bureau of Meteorology is telling us that it will be a wet summer and Pirsa and the Department of Health have highlighted the increased risk of contracting Japanese Encephalitis.
- The main high risk areas will be around the flood plains as the storm water runs through the Murray River and out to the mouth, however increased levels of pooled water on properties together with hot summer weather will mean there is a real risk for all property owners.
- Encephalitis is rare and in most cases if you contract it the symptoms will be mild. Sadly that wasn’t to be for my Dad, who contracted Encephalitis seven years ago. He’s still with us however he can no longer farm, drive a vehicle, his fine motor are greatly impaired and he has short term memory loss. I always say that outwardly it looks like dementia, but it is so much more.
- Unfortunately due to the scarcity of the vaccine, vaccinations are only available to people who live in identified high risk areas. However, if you reduce the opportunities for mosquitoes you’re half way there. The other really important thing to do, particularly in rural areas is to remove any water-holding containers where mosquitoes may breed. So, old feed troughs, watering cans, clogged gutters, unused garden pots etcetera.
- I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, it truly ruins lives, so please, do what you can to reduce the risk of contracting the virus. SA Health have some good information on their website so I’ll put the link in the show notes.
Fire Season Crucial Insight
- Hopefully you have taken up the opportunity to upgrade your farm fire units following the incentive scheme run by the CFS. Farm Fire fighting units are an important early response to fire events and the CFS is really pushing to get as many of them on the ground as possible.
- The other thing we’ve done is install a sprinkler system on our roof, powered by a petrol driven fire fighter pump. We also have a Rain Aid valve on our tanks which means if the water level gets too low, it automatically switches to mains water. This is really important if you consider the likelihood of needing significant water in case of fire only to find that there is very little left.
- And we check and do a service on our system regularly.
- Pods taught me how to run the fire fighting system last year and I recorded my lesson and published it on the socials. Here is the link to my fire fighting system training. It’s a handy guide for those of us who are not super familiar with irrigation pumps etcetera.
- Salvation Jane – that old chestnut! We recently went out to a property that was completely covered in 3 foot high Salvation Jane. It was appalling and just so sad to see. There is no quick fix for Salvation Jane – I repeat, NO. QUICK. FIX.
- Salvation Jane can be sprayed over a number of years but it has to be at the right time.
- I took a few photos of the area including a MONSTER of a plant that had a stem about 15cm wide! The plants need to be in their growth stage.
- The seeds can lay dormant in the soil for around 20 years. Like I said, no quick fix. The best thing to do is to keep on top of it and treat small outbreaks when they occur. We covered Salvation Jane in a blog post several years ago and the information is still relevant today. Here’s a link to an updated Salvation Jane factsheet from Pirsa.
10:25 Farmcast Interview: Pods and Shane Collins, CEO of the Oakbank Racing Club
In this interview, Pods chats with CEO of the Oakbank Racing Club, Shane Collins about what it takes to prepare the track for summer race meetings.
And he recorded this interview on the track itself!
21:01 Farmcast Interview: Belle talks with Megan Miller
The episode closes with my interview with Megan Miller.
Megan has several breeds of goats including dairy goats and miniature goats. They are all adorable, incredibly friendly and affectionate and they really do make good pets!
Megan talks to us about what you need to keep in mind if you’re keen to have goats on your property and she covers off on some of the common myths.