FARMER FOCUS: Summer finally arrives for Rob Warburton

Its hot, dry and dusty which is great as there are no flies trying to crawl up your nose. Summer is finally here and we are in a record hot spell.

You know it’s going to be a hot day when the sheep are parked under a tree by 7am and the dog refuses to hop on the back of the ute.

There haven’t been many days in the past month that have dipped below 35c and plenty that have been above 40c. With little or no rain for the past two months and everything dried to a crisp, it’s been necessary to wipe the dust off everything before using it.

Forget about washing the car, before you finish it’s covered in dust again. If you drive up the road you have to wait 30 seconds before opening the door, otherwise the ute fills with dust. In these temperatures wearing sunscreen is a must – but it’s also great for attracting yet more dust.

Having a shower each night, you have to hose out your eyes, nose and ears otherwise they block up. Your hair needs washing, too, otherwise it looks like a longhaired dog that’s rolled in the mud.

There are some advantages to the heat, but none to the dust. The hot temperatures kill everything except the native trees, which is good as it provides a natural break for disease and pests. After a long hot summer there is a good chance we won’t have to spray for rust. For the sheep, the heat kills worms on the pasture so the sheep don’t require drenching.

Having said all this, I love the long hot summers we get in our part of the world. I love the fact we live outside at this time of year, barbecue most nights and either play tennis or swim until dark. There has to be some reward for putting up with all that dust.

Rob Warburton farms 3,000ha with his wife Jen and two daughters in Kojonup, below Perth in Western Australia. Cropping includes wheat, barley and oilseed rape. Wildflower seed is grown for retail. Merino sheep are reared for wool and meat.

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