Category Archives: 2011

November 2011

‘Paurol Park’, a one hundred acre grazing property on Seven Mile Road, Nar Nar Goon was the venue for the final farm visit for 2011. Carol Smith enjoys not only her WOF membership but the diversity of animals she breeds, raises on this lush farm and shows.  She is assisted in this enterprise by her family and is clearly kept very busy.  Throughout the year there is always an animal about to deliver youngsters, so holidays are a rarity.

Limousin X vealers with Red Angus and Charolais lines, Australian miniature goats, Great Dane dogs and Appaloosa horses are the focus of the property.  Carol explained the breeding principles she pursues with her harlequined dogs, her spotted horses and her scaled down goats.  Colour and temperament are among her key goals, with showing of the horses and dogs being part of successful marketing.

There was a final surprise. No-one expected a sleepy pet snake to be included in the display!  Carol brought him out and explained what she had learned about the management of such reptiles.

All animals endeared themselves to the WOF visitors, most of whom had to contend with local flooding and torrential rains to be part of this fascinating visit.

Women of all ages are welcome to join Women on Farms. The key criterion is an interest in farming and farming women, you do not have to be a farmer to participate.  The 2012 calendar of events includes the annual state wide gathering, this time at Buchan, as well as the popular Bendigo Wool and Sheep Show in July.  For more details contact secretary, Jenny Stephenson on 9700 0282 or visit the website at www.womenonfarms.org for the monthly program.

For enquiries about this article, contact: Mary Hughes, Ph. 03 5628 4195.

 

October 2011

Farmers meet many challenges, we know it! A good balance of optimism and opportunity is often needed to get through the hard times presented by nature and unstable markets.

September’s farm visit provided proof of these observations. At Pakenham Upper WOF members inspected two enterprises focussed on apple and pear production. The Harding orchard markets whole fruit, mainly apple and pear varieties. Not far away at Bellevue Orchards the Russo family produces fruit juices under the ‘Summer Snow’ label. Both properties showed evidence of careful planning, tidy tree management and considerable investment in machinery and shedding to produce the end result.

The ‘Summer Snow’ concept was explained as an opportunity which grew out of adversity. When a summer hail storm ripped most of the apple harvest from the trees some years ago, this weather calamity led to the idea to juice the damaged fruit in order to retrieve some value. Thus, from this 1998 disaster has grown a successful fruit juicing activity right on farm. Crushing, juicing, filtering and bottling of the fruit, in various blends and without additives, results in a high end consumer product sold mainly through fruit shops and farmers markets. With eight different juices, including apple and pear, tangy apple and lemon and refreshing Royal Gala, the Russo family tempted WOF members to taste and purchase a fresh beverage based entirely on locally grown fruit.

At the Harding orchard, WOF members had contact with the whole fruit, noting the equipment required to handle a large fruit harvest with maximum efficiency. Again, tasting and opportunity to purchase added to the understanding of the apple industry. What sweeter experience of spring than to walk among apple trees with their pink and white blossom full of perfume and bees, then to drink and eat the naturally sweet end products?

Women of all ages are welcome to join Women on Farms. The key criterion is an interest in farming and farming women, you do not have to be a farmer to participate.

Our Tuesday 8th November activity is a farm visit to a Nar Nar Goon property with Limousin X vealers, Australian miniature goats, Great Dane dogs and Appaloosa horses. For more details contact our secretary, Jenny Stephenson on 9700 0282 or visit the website at www.womenonfarms.org for the monthly program.

For enquiries about this article, contact: Mary Hughes, Ph. 03 5628 4195.

September 2011

For our September activity, Women on Farms West Gippsland, was enlightened by a most informative day at Chisholm Institute’s Cranbourne campus. Here, the very informative staff made all feel  welcome.

After an introductory presentation in the auditorium, there was a tour of the campus library, classrooms, nursery and plant propagation department, and landscaping area (focus of one of the most popular courses taught).

The glass house covering 1500sq metres intensively grows vegetables in a controlled environment.  Computerised, the facility operates 24/7, 365 days a year, using the latest technology to monitor carbon dioxide, temperature, pH levels, light, drainage and nutrients.  The Institute concentrates on growing tomatoes, eggplant and capsicum, which are sold to wholesale and farm gate markets.  The tomato crop is planted in July and grown through to June the next year. There is a capacity to produce 30 tonnes of tomatoes, with plants to 12 metres high!

Also of great interest was the newly constructed Centre for Sustainable Water Management.  The Department of Health requires all water treatment plant operators to be fully qualified, therefore the primary purpose of the Centre is to train students in water management. Not only does Chisholm provide such training on water treatment, recycling and efficient water usage, but also on laying pipes for drainage.  Another benefit of this operation is water for the irrigation of the Institute’s crops.

The day at Chisholm was completed with a tour around the little known campus wetlands.  This was planted out by students in 2003/2004 and consists of a sequence of 4 ponds through which waste  water filters to render  it re-usable.

Women of all ages are welcome to join Women on Farms. The key criterion is an interest in farming and farming women, you do not have to be a farmer to participate.  Our  Tuesday 4th October activity is a farm visit to ‘Seven Oaks’ historic property at Pakenham.  For more details contact our secretary, Jenny Stephenson on 9700 0282 or visit our web site at www.womenonfarms.org for the 2011 monthly program.

For enquiries about this article, contact: Mary Hughes, Ph. 03 5628 4195.

August 2011

A lovely early spring day saw forty two of our members meeting for our August activity at Dr Stephen Cole’s property, ‘Balla Balla’ on the Baxter Tooradin Road, Pearcedale. The Pearcedale countryside was looking its best, having come out of a wet winter. Daffodils were out in bloom waving in the breeze. To the south of the farmland and across the bay French Island could be seen in the distance.

Stephen runs a Red Poll cattle stud as well as his professional practice as a veterinary surgeon, specialising in animal dentistry. We were all enthralled when Stephen told us of his dental work at the Melbourne and Werribee Zoos. At the time of Stephen starting his veterinary studies he remembered that no more than one lecture was dedicated to dental work in animals. After becoming interested in the dental side of veterinary practice he found it necessary to pursue specific study in America.

On the property, the paddock rotation of the cattle every month has the heifers in good condition ready for breeding or sale. Stephen has carried out many improvements over the years, one being dividing the farm into smaller paddocks for these rotations to be effective.

Since his buying ‘Balla Balla’, reported to mean ‘muddy’, Stephen has also carried out research on the property and the homestead. Much of this information was gained from people driving up to the front door wishing to share their memories of days gone by. We all found this history most interesting, especially as it was illustrated by a picture presentation Stephen put together for us.

The homestead was first built in 1840 with extensions, including a separate building for the kitchen, in 1854 and 1875. All the buildings were joined together in 1920 giving the present day homestead. This is a delightful two storey home with old style character and charm. Women of all ages are welcome to join Women on Farms. The key criterion is an interest in farming and farming women, you do not have to be a farmer to participate.

Our next meeting, Tuesday 6th September, will be a visit to Chisholm Institute of TAFE, Cranbourne. For more details contact our secretary, Jenny Stephenson on 9700 0282 or visit our web site at www.womenonfarms.org for the 2011 monthly program.

For enquiries about this article, contact: Mary Hughes, Ph. 03 5628 4195.

July 2011

Cattle are the dominant livestock on West Gippsland farms. Perhaps the change of scenery – to sheep and their fleeces – might explain the popularity of the July activity. The Australian Sheep and Wool show at Bendigo proved to be well worth the four hour bus trip for those WOF members keen to get away for the day.

This annual sheep event has been showcasing Australia’s top wool growers and prime lamb producers for decades. The show has expanded to attract thousands of fans of woollen fashion, food and fibre. It was also obvious that this show provides the opportunity for studs to market their stock. With the return of good seasons and viable pastures, there was an evidently strong interest from purchasers and farmers keen to re-build herds with new blood.

Many pavilions were overflowing with displays of craft activities and items made from wool and blends. Other buildings housed a wide range of sheep breeds, fleece competitions and shearing equipment.

While wool tended to be the dominant focus, meat sheep and dual purpose varieties were well represented. For the craft-oriented, there was interest in the coloured breeds, as well as in fleeces from possum, alpaca and rabbit.

On the arena and in wonderful sunshine, sheep dog trials took place all day, with a notably pleasing number of women handlers working their kelpies and border collies.

The feature sheep for the 2011 show was the Dorper breed. It is reputedly a fast growing, meat producing sheep particularly known for the ability to adapt and survive in a variety of climatic and grazing conditions. The Dorper was originally bred from the more arid regions of South Africa in the 1930s. Initially imported into Australia in the mid 1990s, its suitability to most climatic conditions has seen the Dorper develop into one of the largest meat sheep breeds in Australia today. The Dorper breeds are low maintenance and easy care, are non- selective grazers and can thrive in harsh conditions.

Women of all ages are welcome to join Women on Farms. The key criterion is an interest in farming and farming women, you do not have to be a farmer to participate.

Our Tuesday 6th September activity will be a visit to Chisholm Institute of TAFE, Cranbourne. For more details contact our secretary, Jenny Stephenson on 9700 0282 or visit our web site at www.womenonfarms.org for the 2011 monthly program.

For enquiries about this article, contact: Mary Hughes, Ph. 03 5628 4195.

June 2011

Farming women love to swap notes and keep up to date with the goings on in others’ lives and enterprises. For this reason, the calendar of events now includes an occasional monthly meeting designed just for catching up. In June, on what might have been the coldest day of the year to date, women gathered at a member’s property at Neerim. It was an ideal day for gathering warmly indoors, out of the mud, the gumboots and the icy weather.

The scenic uplands in this region of West Gippsland provide expansive views of rolling dairy hills, with the more distant Strzelecki Ranges. The day’s activities provided opportunities to learn more about Arabian horses and endurance riding, as well as a walk through the local historic cemetery. Headstones which are clear enough to be read indicate the importance of settlers’ names in geographic features. For example: Hamono, McDougal and McCullough are district road names which link back to earlier farming families. A few WOF members also found links to distant relatives who had been interred at Neerim.

Women of all ages are welcome to join Women on Farms. The key criterion is an interest in farming and farming women – you do not have to be a farmer to participate. Our next group activity will be a day’s adventure to the sheep and wool show in Bendigo on 15 July. This will entail a very early bus departure for those interested in attending. Phone the Secretary for more details – Jenny Stephenson 9 700 0282 or, for information about the 2011 calendar of activities look at the website www.womenonfarms.org

For enquiries about this report, contact: Mary Hughes, Ph. 03 5628 4195.

May 2011

Farms, especially modern dairy farms, cannot function smoothly without a reliable power supply.  With this important fact in mind, the May visit was organised to Powerworks at Morwell.

What a fascinating experience this was.  Many members had not previously experienced the enormity of everything to do with the generation of electricity.  Starting with an information session and video in the education centre, the inspection of the plant reminded us of the vast expanses of brown coal – lignite – in Victoria.  We learned of the extent of this brown coal deposit, the reminder of ancient forests which covered Victoria from Ballan in the west through to Cann River.  At Morwell, the coal seams are the deepest and the most easily recovered.

In addition to the size of the coal deposits, the machinery used to dredge the coal, the expansive open cut mines, the conveyor systems and the related building infrastructure were all impressive.  Two guides took the WOF group into the building housing the boilers and turbines.  Here, we noted that the temperature of the steam generated reaches over 500 deg.C.

Powerworks staff were keen to promote our appreciation of the company’s efforts to make power generation cleaner and less damaging to the environment.

Following this site tour, we took the opportunity to travel to adjacent Callignee South.  Here we travelled through what were burnt  forests and farmland, now re-generating after the 2009 bushfires.  Significantly, we visited a newly constructed home, built where the fires totally destroyed the former buildings.  Fire retardant  materials and fire resistant building design were among the features explained to us by the relieved property owner.  In this case, the new home is now complete but it was evident from the story told that the trauma of the fatal day is not far from the minds of such residents.

Women of all ages are welcome to join Women on Farms. The key criterion is an interest in farming and farming women – you do not have to be a farmer to participate. Our next  visit will be on Tuesday 7 June to the picturesque Neerim uplands.  Phone the Secretary for more details – Jenny Stephenson 9 700 0282  or, for information about the 2011 calendar of activities look at the website www.womenonfarms.org
For enquiries about this article, contact: Mary Hughes, Ph. 03 5628 4195.

 

April 2011

Caravan eggs!  On a sublime autumn day the WOFWG visit to a unique family farm at Ellinbank provided some fresh concepts and valuable reminders.

Healthy hens lay organic eggs in old caravans parked strategically around dairy paddocks.  Cattle choose which minerals they want from a smorgasbord array.  Maremma dogs cheerfully live with and shepherd their allocated vans of hens.  Dung beetles ensure the rich soil stays that way.  In short, the Wallace family oversees a fascinating  enterprise.

Wendy and Peter, with Toby and Ashley, their sons, run this certified organic dairy farm, complemented by a free range egg business.  Both activities are carefully integrated so that the hens benefit from edibles in the cow manure and the pastures gain from the poultry’s contribution.

Further, due to the organic farming certification and the holistic values of the farmers themselves, artificial chemicals and fertilisers are not used.  In the dairy, for example, the medicine cupboard for the cows contained treatments such as tincture of garlic, cider vinegar, colloidal silver and various homeopathic remedies.

This farm provides both diversity and integration, but the foundation for the success of the activities is respect for the soil itself.  Further, wherever possible natural approaches are taken to animal ailments and nutritional needs.  For example, the diet of the laying hens is based on what the cattle eat and what grubs and bugs are unearthed from manure pats. These approaches are based on the fundamental values practised by this busy farming family.

WOF members enjoyed  an informative farm walk around this picturesque and hilly property, a contrast to the flood prone flats of Cohuna, where WOF had been the previous week to the annual state wide gathering.

Women of all ages are welcome to join Women on Farms. The key criterion is an interest in farming and farming women – you do not have to be a farmer to participate. Our next  visit will be on Tuesday 3 May to Powerworks at Morwell. 5 April – Ellinbank.  Phone the Secretary for more details – Jenny Stephenson 9 700 0282  or, for information about the 2011 calendar of activities look at the website www.womenonfarms.org
For enquiries about this article, contact: Mary Hughes, Ph. 03 5628 4195.

March 2011

“Gheringa Farm” in the low hills of Pakenham was the picturesque setting for our March farm visit, the first for 2011.

Its proud owner, Jane Greenman, gave an insight into riding, horse equipment and life with large horses. Jane is a licensed racehorse trainer, a qualified judge and dressage instructor. Her specialities with horses are nutrition and genetics. This is obvious, as she has raised, not only the tallest horse in the world – Luscombe Nodram (“Noddy”) but also “Nash” a Suffolk Punch, standing 18.1hh

Noddy is a Shire breed of horse. He stands 20.2hh, a grey gelding who has appeared all over the world in newspapers, magazines and TV shows. His favourite food is liquorice! He is currently managed by a commercial entertainment company but along with Nash is also being prepared for the Sydney Royal Easter Show.

Shire horses are originally from England They are a powerful build, used for pulling heavy loads and carrying knights in armour. They usually grow between 17.2hh – 18.2hh and can be coloured black, brown, or grey. There are currently less than 2,000 in the world.

Nash, as a Suffolk Punch gelding, is mainly used for farm work and special exhibitions. He has also appeared in newspapers and TV programs in Australia.

Suffolk Punch also come from England. They are strong and powerful for pulling, have a quiet temperament, are hard working, and loyal. They are mainly used for farm work and riding, growing to 17 hh.-18 hh. and are varying shades of chestnut. There are less than 300 in the world today (7 in Australia).

Jane kindly invited WOF members to inspect her charming home. It bears witness to her enthusiastic, interesting life and travels. We were all thoroughly absorbed and thankful that Jane shared a small part of her life and knowledge with us.

Women of all ages are welcome to join Women on Farms. The key criterion is an interest in farming and farming women – you do not have to be a farmer to participate. Our next farm visit will be on Tuesday 5 April – Certified organic dairy farm/free range hens – Ellinbank. Phone the Secretary for more details – Jenny Stephenson 9 700 0282 or, for information about the 2011 calendar of activities look at the website www.womenonfarms.org

For enquiries about this article, contact: Mary Hughes, Ph. 03 5628 4195.