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Friday, August 23, 2013

Fireweed and Thistle

Around our valley Fireweed  (Senecio madagascariensis) seems to be more prominent than usual. Conditions seem just right for it with the end of Winter approaching grass cover is greatly reduced. Many properties have probably held onto a few extra stock numbers as prices were not that good resulting in over grazing. This lack of  shading out suits Fireweed.

The strategy over the river has been to slash or whipper snip the plants as soon as the cattle are out of the paddock. This does seem to have some effect on minimising the spread.

3-4 years ago there was a biggish infestation of thistle in a number of river paddocks. The approach then was to chip out the thistle after each grazing before harrowing and before it flowered. Since the cattle pass through each paddock every 3-4 weeks this program proved effective and now very little thistle is noticed and the follow up chipping is quite speedy.

This is seems to be one of the benefits of cell grazing. That is each paddock is a small work unit and in our case about one hectare. A manageable amount of ground to attend to daily whether harrowing, slashing or whipper snipping. Harrowing takes less than an hour while slashing or whipper snipping closer to two. The choice between the tractor and the brush cutter is based on whether there is enough vegetation.

The bees have settled in and we'll continue feeding for a little longer to ensure they get a good start.

The Mandarin wine is going nowhere. Fermentation has not started. There is a suspicion that the must is a little too acid. Although pH was measured and adjusted the Titratable Acid has not been measured. pH measures the strength while TA measures the amount. It maybe time to acquire a TA test kit to get a better understanding of what is going on.

Over the river only 8/25 cows are left to calve and the irrigator is working furiously but going backwards as the westerly wind has been ferocious. Jean was getting her safety helmet and visor blown off her head as she whipper snipped the Fireweed.

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