Planning for disaster while dodging a bullet

Today’s blossoming of the very first daffodil reminded me we’re on the cusp of Spring – our 12 weeks of make or break on the farm.

Only yesterday, a banker asked me how the outlook was on farm. Anxious is the answer.

The feed pinch
The big dry has sent grain futures soaring, signalling that we’re in for exorbitant grain prices by Christmas.

Meanwhile, it’s been very hard to grow grass and the dry subsoils provide little moisture in reserve for what the Bureau is predicting will be a drier-than-normal Spring.

While we’ve invested heavily in a small amount of irrigation infrastructure, the dam is still well below full and we have no access to the aquifer.

At the same time, high quality hay suitable for the milkers is in very short supply, so I’ve been trying to lock in feed this harvest before it becomes too tight to mention.

The money pinch
Most dairy products are either traded internationally in US dollars or sold to domestic customers at a rate linked to international commodity prices.

This means that as the Australian dollar rises against the US dollar, the value of our milk falls. And rise it has, reaching 80 cents for the first time in two years.

Green shoots bring hope
On the other side of the ledger, there’s been cause for hope this morning.

Despite the exchange rate fears, the processor we supply, Fonterra, lifted its price for milk from $5.30kgMS to $5.50kgMS (from roughly 40.5 cents per litre to about 42 cents).

Second, I found a heap of worms slithering across the track in a bid to avoid the saturated soil. Yes, saturated! For the first time this winter, we finally have soft top soils.

Better late than never. Let’s hope the rain keeps coming and we don’t need to feed the cows massive amounts of grain to get through another drought.


5 thoughts on “Planning for disaster while dodging a bullet

  1. I can relate to your current anxiety, as we live on a small property in a rural area, and our small dam is only half full. We are so much more aware of the impact of the weather now that we have moved from the City, and every drop of rain is welcomed. Although we carry no stock I am grateful for your posts, as I have great respect for the source of our food, and the people who nourish the raw products. Of course your income also depends on the weather as a significant factor, and ours depends on the vagaries of contracting our consultancy services to the government – equally unpredictable, and at present we are experiencing real financial hardship through loss of regular contracts. I admire your ability to look for the positives, and still live through the hardships and family tragedies that continue to bear heavily on us. At 82 I am truly grateful for my life, and like you, decided to be a survivor rather than a victim a long time ago.
    For someone with a City background I love your frank, well written informative posts about the reality of authentic rural life (we are really only playing), and feel that you are providing a real service to people who read your blog. Thank you very much for keeping us in touch.
    I am sure that you will understand that this is a personal thank you to you, and not for re-posting.


  2. Pingback: There’s a spring back in my step | The Milk Maid Marian

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