Springwood Farm

Walnuts, Berries, Beef and Farm Stay

Farm News

Winter 2016 

We have just had the coldest day in August in some 50 years. Not pouring with rain, just overcast and cold. Just the sort of day to stay indoors in front of the fire or, in my case, sitting in front of the computer doing my annual tax return.

We sold most of our steers in July and have just a handful of smaller ones who are doing very well on the hay and quite a bit if grass we still have on the paddocks.

The walnuts are dormant at this time of year but the trees are having company. There is a solitary wallaby who seems to taken up permanent residency in the walnut paddock along with a variable number of kangaroos who come in from the adjacent forest late each afternoon. Our guests in the cottage love to see them. You can't get close but they are a delight to watch from a distance.

Guests continue to book the old farm cottage. the 5 star reviews we received (from our guests, posted on Stayz) certainly  hasn't hurt at all. (All bookings are via Stayz since we don't have credit card facilities). If you are interested in staying in the old farm house (dating from 1890s) and spending some time in a rural paradise, all the details are here.


Spring 2016 

The warmth of Spring isn't really with us yet and we are needing to keep our log fire going. We have plenty of fallen wood on the property - it is just a matter of chainsawing it up and then splitting it. I quite enjoy getting out each day and splitting enough wood for the fire for that night. There is that old saying about he who chops wood get warm twice!

While there are floods in some parts of Victoria at the moment, we have only had moderate rain. Also, being within a kilometre or so of the top of the local catchment, it would need to be extraordinary rain for our creeks to flow over the road. However, we live in extraordinary times. It has only been in the last decade that tropical moisture has regularly crossed the continent from the Indian Ocean to inundate the south east of Australia in Spring. 

Autumn 2016 

The walnut harvest came early with a much bigger harvest than last year. Nut quality is very high so get in early if you want to obtain larger quantities. 

Summer rainfall was "average" but, because there were extended dry spells with limited periods of good rainfall, it felt more like a dry summer. We still have substantial green feed for our cattle but, lower down towards Warragul, paddocks look very bare and much drier than ours. Being slightly understocked helps.

Spring 2015 

Spring is with us and the steers are up to their ankles in new grass. This still does not stop them from wanting to move to a new paddock when they have hardly made any impression on the grass in their current paddock! They are like little kids who become bored easily.

The weather is warming up. We even had a day in the high thirties centigrade. Temperature records seem to be falling just about every year. It is shaping up to be a drier than usual Spring (good for the walnuts) but we have to consider what we do about feed for the cattle. Normally we don't cut much silage, relying on continuing green feed from our (un-irrigated ) paddocks to keep the cattle through Summer. However, this year, we are thinking we will need a lot more silage and less hay.

Winter 2015 

Winter is well and truly with us. We have been having a run of 13 C days but with very few frosts. So far, it has been relatively dry with much lower than usual rainfall in June. Looks like the Bureau of Meteorology is right about this being an El Nino year. 

This not to imply that there is any sort of water shortage. Our tanks are overflowing and the ground is very soft and moist. If anything, this region is better in lower rainfall years, especially since we have access to enough irrigation water to augment the moisture levels under our trees during any really hot and dry spells in Summer. We travelled through outback Queensland a few years ago and it was terrible even then. Two years on, it must be horrendous.

Autumn 2015 

Summer is certainly over and the misty mornings of Autumn are upon us. We have all of our walnuts in with most of the best nuts packaged for sale in-shell. Our crop is about 50% up on last year's. However, due to the unusually mild and humid January, walnut blight continued to a problem long after the normal spraying period. If we had continued to spray into January, we would have had twice the crop of last year.

Walnut blight is a bacterial disease that attacked the nuts but can be controlled relatively easily with Bordeaux mixture (basically activated copper). Most Australian soils are deficient in copper so it can also be considered as a fertiliser at the same time!  

Summer 2014/2015 

With a reasonably dry Spring (really I mean not a soggy Spring), Summer so far has been reasonably mild. We have not needed to run the irrigation on the walnut trees as yet, although we did run some nitrogen fertiliser through the drip lines to give the walnut trees a selective boost (hopefully). However, like a lot of things in agriculture, it is hard to know if it really a good thing and whether it really makes any significant difference.

It is always possible to do soil tests but experience from soil testing does not produce great confidence as to their scientific accuracy. (The last one we had done they even got the soil type wrong! Clay loam soil that we have is certainly easy to differentiate from sandy loam that our last soil test told us we had.....)

Anyway, the grass has been growing well, the steers are fat and happy, the berries on our blueberry bushes are larger than we have had before, the walnut trees are looking great, and we should have a lot more nuts this year. Certainly can't complain.