We can now add "bumper spring" to the 2020 sagas of drought, heatwaves, bushfire and pandemic. La Nina has been called and it certainly feels like it, every week brings cloud and more rain, up to 60mm forecast this weekend. It's not just here. Harry and I drove to Wellington 10 days ago and it was green and lush the whole way. Three metre tall roadside thistles were a common sight.
The buoyant seasonal conditions were matched by a big jump in Glenwood ram prices, up on average about $1000 per head on last years sale to over $3000. All our first and second tier choices were way beyond our budget. We ended up scrambling to grab three cheaper rams at the end of the sale. However, they will help take our flock in the new direction, soft rolling skin, long staple, better fertility and no mulesing. As Max Stewart said, it's not just about the wool, it's the whole animal.
The bumper spring has allowed us to cycle the whole flock on introduced pasture and only a portion of that. All the native grasslands are being rested and starting to take off. The wildflower display is historic. It started with Early Nancys, they were everywhere in numbers we've never seen. Then came swathes of Billy Buttons, Bulbine Lilys, Dharaban or Yam Daisies (above left), Orchids (above right), Violets and more. There have even been sightings of Swainson Mountain Pea and Clematis. The introduced Jersey Toadflax with its tall slender purple snapdragon flowers and the exquisite Red Bursaria contribute to the splendour. Our St Johns Wart problem is also near flowering, but we have had a heartening development. Many of the plants are being attacked by a beetle (pictured below), hopefully this biological control will be a solution to keeping its numbers down.
Now the trees are chiming in with a fresh flush of Spring growth. The only blip was a snap frost on the 28th of September which zapped the buds on our little Persimmon tree and it still sulks. Elsewhere Oaks have put on a surge of new growth.
The ewes are fat and their lambs growing apace. we have 200 ewes to shear in the next fortnight and hundreds of lambs to mark. All of this weather permitting.
I've just invited Aunty Matilda to come and stay in the hut at the Big Dam. Unfortunately she has had a fall and will be recovering for a while. When I told her about the wildflower display she asked for some photos and said "If the wildflowers are good everything is going to be alright"!
David Watson 25/10/2020