A new Co-op, new colours, and a new spin
Greetings from Millpost, where the rain continues to come at just the right time. One of the (very few) perks of catastrophic global heating is that our milder winters now can allow significant pasture growth if soil moisture is adequate. We've still had plenty of frosts, but a lot of the C3 grasses are still growing slowly, and we should have a bumper spring if the rain keeps coming. Many of the sheep are in full wool (more on that later), and they have had so much clover they are full of beans.
We've had some lovely feedback on our new colours - plum and bottle green - so thanks to everyone for that. Choosing new colours is always a fraught process, but we think they go really well with the others. If you haven't checked them out yet you can see them here: https://www.millpostmerino.com/shop - they're top of the pile...
We have more wool sailing to New Zealand as I write, and if we can make the scouring window we are hoping to, we should have it back here in late spring. We'll be doing a lot of undyed yarn this time, as well as top ups on colours we are already running short on, and hopefully a few surprises as well. We are slowly getting better at negotiating customs and quarantine. It has been quite a journey, and there's always more to learn, but eschewing the use of brokers has allowed us to develop a useful new skill, and saved us a bit of cash. Our ewes are entering their final trimester, and the older ones in full wool will be shorn in August. Picking a shearing time is all about compromise, and we are by no means settled on August. It is closer to lambing than we would like, especially for the twinners, so we have to manage them very carefully in the weeks after shearing to ensure they have excellent pasture and shelter, and can be brought in under cover if the weather turns really nasty. Ensuring shearing is as low stress on the ewes as possible is essential - which in this case means minimal time off feed. Shearing in early winter would be ideal if it didn't mean the sheep going through the whole of winter with next to no wool, and shearing after lambing (as we do with our maiden ewes) means that they are lambing in full wool, which can make it harder for them to get back to their feet in a weakened post lambing state. August shearing has been excellent the last couple of years, with very low ewe mortality at lambing, but we wait and see. The rain we've had means that soil moisture is excellent, and conditions are ideal for planting deciduous trees and sowing acorns. We are hoping to take the opportunity to empty the nursery in the next few weeks, and fill in all the gaps in our plantings from the drought and the kangaroo browsing. Tree planting is so much more satisfying when the shovel just slides into the soil! The archaeologists continue to visit every week, furthering our understanding of the deep time history of Millpost, and the district. It helps reinforce how the white occupation of Australia is really a tiny blip in time, which makes the havoc we have wreaked since we arrived even more depressing. More and more grinding stones and potential grooves are turning up as they walk the ridges and creeks, and we are sure there are many more buried under the post settlement alluvium. Pictured below is a grinding stone of some description - more to come on it in the future hopefully!
Finally, I (Harry) have recently had the opportunity to visit some very impressive local grazing properties as part of our involvement in a new farmer owned cooperative called Land to Market (https://landtomarket.com.au/). Following on from my completion of a Diploma of Holistic Management last year, I've been doing some training to become a land base (farm) monitor for Land to Market. The co-op is linked to the Savory Institute (https://savory.global), and aims to link regenerative farmers and graziers, processors, retailers, and the public. It uses Ecological Outcomes Verification (EOV) to track trends in environmental markers, and provide buyers with assurances that regenerative agriculture is truly regenerative. EOV certification is unusual in that it is outcome based, rather than process based. Accreditation is based on results, there is no prescriptive method - how you get there is up to you. My role as a monitor will involve carrying out short term and long term EOV monitoring on farms across the region, and helping to provide other graziers and farmers with feedback and data on how their management decisions are reflected in the health of the land. We are really glad to be part of such a cutting edge movement, and we're sure it will keep us on our toes, and make sure we make decisions that keep improving the health of our soils and ecosystems, and it can only lead to better wool too.
Harry Watson - 3/08/20