Farmer Focus: Earth-moving contractor solves tree problem

In last month’s column, I remarked on how dry we were. Well, we are now the opposite of dry and that change came a few days early.

We have a row of shelter trees along our southern boundary that are a bit of a nuisance to trim and, as a result of that and a bit of my own slackness, I let them get too tall for the high-reach rotary machine our contractor uses to top trees.

A solution was found in an earth-moving contractor with a 35t excavator with a shear grab on it that could take the tops off and bring them to the ground in a controlled manner.

See also: How an arable farmer benefited from planting apple trees

It’s a fascinating machine to watch, as it was fully remote-controlled, with the operator standing well back to get a clear view of the top of the treeline.

We have been holding off fencing the narrow grass lane at the base of the tree row that our irrigator cart walks up and down to give room for this project and then had to wait for the potatoes in the adjacent field to be dug to give more room to work.

So, with the tree tops neatly lined up, my task was to bunch them together with our excavator and chain them. Then one of our guys could tow them half a kilometre up the track to a grass field, where we could heap and burn them.

One more day was required, but no, winter has arrived, the last 100m of tops are laughing at me, the wheat is not planted after the spuds and the tractors look to remain in the shed for some weeks to come.

Winter forage cropping is going well, albeit with lamb numbers back a wee bit due to market uncertainty. This year we will peak at about 8,500 fattening lambs alongside our 1,000 breeding ewes.

So, with 12 break fences to shift each morning we are busy being sheep farmers for a few months.