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Wednesday, 27 November 2013

No waste.

After the wheat harvest there's the wheat straw, seemingly useless stuff there is a huge market for it. In itself it has very little nutritional value, but it is used to bulk high energy cattle feed, keeps the bovine digestion healthy. Mushroom growers use it to grow mushrooms on, after it has been composted, people who have horses uses it as bedding in stables, the list just goes on and on.

Click to enlarge.


Baled wheat straw.

Herons just love the short wheat stubble, lots of insects and mice.
All neat and tidy, ready to be collected.
Close up.
A knot tied by a machine.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Minimal tillage.

The farm I live on is a minimal tillage farm, absolutely no ploughing is done.

Click to enlarge.

Above is the piece of equipment that does the tilling, the circular blade in front rips the soil, (as you can see by it's size not very deeply).

All planting, reaping and bailing is done by contractors, this equipment is extremely expensive and it would not be logical for a farmer to buy his own and it only gets use a few times a year. Contractors make full use of the equipment by working all over the country planting and reaping different crops, in different season, all through the year.

The state of the art tractor that pulls the tilling equipment, air condition, stereo radio system, semi automatic gear change, power steering, etc., etc.. (Even sissy's can be farmers now a days). The contractors name, "Clan Muir Contracting", is written on the tractors side window. The owner of the business is Hamish Muir, the Scots are very well represented in SA. I'd better take back that remark about sissy's, Hamish, a big brawny South African Scot, is definitely no sissy.

Straight as a dye. Every row has to be perfectly spaced as the planter has to place the seed right in the very narrow slit ripped by the tiller. The tiller rips six rows at a time, each group of six has to be placed exactly the same distance from the last six, the reason for this is that the planter only plants four rows at a time. How is this achieved? GPS of course, the tractor driver connects to the GPS satellite, which plots each row exactly. Apart from starting the tractor, putting it in gear the drivers work is done, all the tilling and planting is done on auto pilot, the driver sits back and relaxes.  

This field has already been planted with maize, the remains of last seasons maize crop and this winters wheat stubble, can still be seen lying on the surface. With minimum tillage all the humus producing plant remains, remain on the surface where it protects the soil and breaks down in a natural way. With traditional ploughing the soil is turned over which exposes the soil microbes to the suns UV rays, destroying them.

A field of soya beans planted with minimum tillage.

Early morning.

Got up before sunrise on Sunday morning to see if I could get some good shots of the sun coming up. As I was about to open the gate to go out of the farm yard into the field I saw three Mountain Reedbuck, standing in the newly harvested wheat field, quite close and undisturbed by my sudden arrival. Looking around I saw three more, in total six one of them a ram and one young one.

Mother and child.

I had my four dogs and one of my landlords dogs with me but they were so busy with their noses down sniffing all the night scents that they were unaware of the antelope. This gave me lots of time to take photos.

They were as interested in me as I was of them, with every click of the camera shutter  their ears twitched. It was almost as if they were posing for me.

Only after about 20 minutes when it was much lighter did the dogs become aware of the Reedbuck, and the chase was on. The antelope easily outpaced the dogs, but they had fun and came back after about 10 minutes with happy grins on their face.

The sunrise? well that was a bit of a let down.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

After the storm.

We had a tremendous build up to a storm yesterday which amounted to.. "All sound and  fury which signified nothing". The sky turned pitch black, the wind blew, lightning flashed and thunder crashed around us. As fast as it started it ended, leaving a beautiful rainbow and an unimaginable quality of light.

Click to enlarge.