Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Fire fighting AGAIN & the Hennesey Probe

Life on the George Island group is still busy, busy, busy.  Since arriving back on George Island we have finished shearing the ewes.  One island down two to go.
On the 5th we went over to Barren and started shearing on there.  We have about 100 left to shear on there.  We left George at about 6:30 for Barren.  We have to take pretty much everything with us for shearing so it takes a while to get organised.  Yesterday we took over 2 motorbikes, a portable generator, a press lid, bale bags, wood to fix some of the gratings, a snack to last all day and even a radio.  Christopher and Shaun left straight away to gather in the ewes and lambs.  I cleaned the shearing shed while they were away as all the little birds roost in there and the floor was covered in bird droppings and feathers.  The men were away about an hour gathering then we drafted the lambs of from the ewes and put the first 100 in the shearing shed. After a quick sandwich we started shearing eventually getting back to George at 6:40pm,  We would have got more shorn but both shear motors refused to work.  This required them both having a bit of TLC which held us up for a good hour.  It was pleasing to find that there were 300 lambs still alive and thriving.  This is 1 more then we actually lamb marked this is because we had about 3 escapees on lamb marking day that were still running around with long tails.  It was blowing about 35 knots when we left Barren to come home.  We all got soaked going out to Theo in the dingy.  The lambs on Barren are enormous and ready to go to the abattoir now.  They are booked to go in next week.
The 6th seen Christopher and Shaun fire fighting again as the very windy weather broke the fire out on George Island.  They spent all day fire fighting.
The 7th saw them back on Barren shearing, without me.  An even windier morning saw me get out of bed, look out the window and say "is it going to get any worse then this".  Christopher's non committal reply was its not going to get any better.  Fortunately they only had 100 sheep left to shear and then press up the wool.  They were home by 5:30 only to find the fire had blown sparks into a previously unlit area approx. 50 metres away from the main area.  Two hours later after more hard firefighting they came in for the night.
So it hasn't been the best couple of days.  The day deteriorated even more with the arrival of our old season lamb results.  Christopher had been quite apprehensive about this because in previous years all animals have been graded visually.  This year a Hennesey probe has been introduced, this is of course very accurate and measures the depth of fat at the 12th rib.  Good you might think!!!!  Now I have seen Christopher two years ago so despondent about the condition of his old season lamb that he has actually held them back for a month to gain condition.   This year he was all singing all dancing with comments such as "I think they are probably the best we have ever sent".  Well no Christopher according to the Hennesey probe they are by far the worst you have ever sent.  To understand what I am saying you need to know that a grade 2 is acceptable but a grade 3L, 3H is preferable and brings in the most money.  In 2009 we sent 30.7% grade 2 and 60.2% grade 3L,3H.  In 2010 frustratingly I have only saved the cover page and the paper copies are in Stanley. I am certain the results were similar however or we would remember them for sure. In 2011 we sent 27% grade 2 and 70% grade 3L, 3H.  In 2012, our all singing, all dancing old season lamb went grade 2, 85.4% and grade 3, 11%!!!!  It has been a dry season and the abattoir reckon the animals are just not as good because of it. It is true that the season has been dry and Christopher himself was concerned about it early in the season but by the time him and Shaun shore them in November he was already confident that they were in good condition.  The other suggestion was that maybe the visual graders had been generous in there grading over the years.  This is possible and in our view probably the correct answer.  Oh well just another trying day in the life of farming.
To finish on a lighter note.  Christopher pressed up a bale of wool on Barren and went to put the cap on.  He turned to Shaun and said damn the bag has went down inside the box.  No Christopher you forgot to put a bag in.
The 8th saw me, Shaun and Tanya dropped of at Speedwell to start shearing a flock of ewes.  Christopher then went over to Flores Harbour to collect a drum of petrol that we purchased from our nearest neighbour, North Arm farm.  The management on the farm are the best and always help.  This is the third drum of petrol that we have used firefighting and it is turning into quite a pricey turnout.  Eileen the managers wife also went to the store and collected up some groceries for him.  Christopher has sweets, I hope he doesn't eat them all before I see him again.  This is the first time I have stayed in the house on Speedwell by myself and I was a little apprehensive.  Shaun and Tanya are up the green but they are not close, its not like having a next store neighbour and there are no lights across the green.  I was quite prepared for my night/nights by myself as I now have a tele in the bedroom.  The plan was if I was nervous I could put the tele on.  Best plans never work.  The umpteenth thunder and lightening storm of the summer.  Yet another lightening strike, no tele, no radio and Shaun has no telephone so I cant ring him if I get scared.  Oh well going to be a tired, grumpy individual by the time Christopher comes up.


  1. Hello, You appear to be leadig a very productive life on the Falkland Islands. What happens to your wool? Is it exported or is there a local industry to process it?

    Yesterday I wrote an article on the Future of Falkland Islands in my blog at Your views and of other Falklanders would be valuable on the contents and suggestions of this post. Please do check. Best Wishes.

  2. Sounds like a really busy time you guys have out/down there!

    1. Hi Gary,
      Nice to hear from you. Yep pretty busy. Well no very busy but should start easing us by the end of March.