Beneath the haze from bushfires across the ditch, Mark Guscott reflects on the omens for his Carterton farm.

Season’s Greetings from a hazy smoke-filled Wairarapa. It’s a bit hard to comprehend the scale of the Aussie bushfires.

There are some disturbing scenes coming out from our mates over the ditch and all we can really do is hope they get some rain soon.

Poor buggers. They need the rain more than another test match win against us. Unfortunately, there’s a much higher likelihood of another test match loss for us than rain for them.

I’d prefer the last test match get rained off than put up with another five (more likely four) days of listening to the Aussie cricket commentators go on and on about how good they are. It’s been so disappointing this cricket series. Hopefully it’ll be better against the Indians.

I’m avoiding watching the cricket by cleaning out my office. It’s a rare occurrence when this happens. The bin is filling up fast with glossy brochures of the latest silver bullet that’ll make my farm somehow better.

The claims made by these brochures never cease to amaze me. Farming would be so easy if every grass species grew at the rate advertised. We’re not all on Waikato or Canterbury dairy land. Sub clover work aside, there’s a real lack of research and decent products tailor-made for dryland hill country. I remain hopeful in my search for a silver bullet or two to make farming easy and highly profitable.

All these glossy brochures have got me thinking the actual cost benefit of feed crops. They’re a common sight everywhere. They’re commonly used for getting stock through a dry summer or the depths of winter. It’s easy to spend a lot of money and time doing it and then send the stock for processing for the same value as they were when they went on to the crop.

It’s very easy to justify the cost at the time of planting but it’s a bit difficult to quantify as it’s rare for all the animals to grow at the “label” rate. Might just be easier to sell everything when it gets dry and go to the beach.

Another rare occurrence happened a couple of weeks before Christmas. It was one that I never in a million years thought I would do. We bought a pony for my daughter.

I still can’t believe it. I’ve always been first in line to mock people who have “given in” and bought one. I’m copping it now, believe me. I’ve had so many offers of cheap horse floats, usually followed by abuse of some sort! My usual answer whenever the horse chat came up was to buy another motorbike, but once we got to three kids and three motorbikes, I couldn’t do that anymore.

I’ll give my daughter Annabelle credit though. She’s been up there cleaning up horse shit and all the other things that need to be done with animals without any complaining. She’s even trying to sell the horse shit to gardeners. Genius business idea. Must take after her mother.

We’re just on the point of harvesting our turf grass, the Chewings fescue I’ve mentioned previously. It’s not looking like a bumper crop so might just be one to chalk up to experience. Most of the crops look really good at the moment, hopefully they are good on the day of harvest as that’s when it counts.

It’s been such a dream run with stock prices for the last year or so, I’m starting to think it might go on forever. Quick, sell now, I’ve just jinxed it. Good luck for the rest of the summer.