Agriculture on the Fleurieu 1912 to 1918

Agriculture on the Fleurieu

These are extracts taken from Vol. XVI – August 1912 to Jul, 1913 edition of the Journal of Agriculture of S.A., issued in May 1913. I have extracted only items that relate directly to Fleurieu Peninsula locations.

Reports of Bureau Meetings

Morphett Vale, 15 April 1913
(Average annual rainfall, 22 1/2 in.)

PRESENT – Messrs. A.C. Pocock (chair), F.W. Crittenden, A. Connole, T. and A. Anderson, J. and E. Perry, H.V. Sprigg, T. Higgins, and E.E. Hunt (Hon. Sec.).

THE HANDY MAN OF THE FARM – In a paper under the this title Mr. A. Anderson discussed the question as to whether it would pay to keep on the farm what was generally known as the “handy man,” in view of the present high rates of wages prevailing. the farm of about 600 acres usually required two teams, and the farmer looked after the lines which were generally considered most important, to the frequent neglect of those smaller lines which yielded a very good profit in return for due attention. On a farm of the area mentioned about three-quarters of the time of one man could be well spent in attending to repairs of machinery, implements, harness, gates, etc. Then there would be less likelihood of the machinery having to be rushed to the blacksmith’s for some minor repair just before it was required for use. Painting would take up a good deal of his time. Trollies should receive a good coating of paint at least once in two years, and the woodwork of all machinery and implements should be similarly treated. Iron-work also should not be neglected in this regard. It would be found profitable to have all harness carefully oiled at frequent intervals. On the majority of farms there would be plenty of work in the direction of making and repairing gates and attending to fences. Where there were a number of horses kept a handsome return would be secured by giving attention to stable manure, which was so frequently allowed to waste. Care of the stables, haystacks, and yards, and many other matters of the like nature, could be attended to by an intelligent farm hand. As a general rule the man in charge of a team had not the necessary time to devote to these matters, and whilst it was always advisable to leave to competent tradesmen those particular undertakings which required the attention of the skilled man, it would well repay the average farmer with a fairly large area to keep a handy man on the place. Members generally agreed with the ideas expressed by the writer of the paper.


Strathalbyn, 22 April 1913
(Average annual rainfal, 19 1/4 in.)

PRESENT – Messrs. J.W.C. Fischer, J.P. (Chair) and M.G. Rankine, J.C. Heinjus, A. Beviss, R. Cockburn, W. Knight, J.R. Rankine (Hon. Sec.)

PLANTING AND CULTIVATING ORCHARDS – In a paper on this subject, Mr. W. Squires said that land for fruit-growing should be well cleared of all timber during the winter months. Before it had an opportunity to dry is should be ploughed to the depth of 6in., the plough being followed by a good subsoiling. During the summer the should should be left rough. The trees should be planted 20ft. apart in round holes about 3 1/2 ft. across and 2ft. deep. Lime and bone-dust should be added to the soil. Early planting was preferable, and the trees should be pruned hard every three years. Export varieties of apples were best, those producing coloured apples being put on the high ground. Old trees should be spur pruned and have the undergrowth taken away. Bordeaux mixture was recommended for fungus diseases. For codlin moth arsenate of lead, mixed with water at a rate of 1lb of lead to 20gals., water recommended when the petals fell, followed again by a further spraying a fortnight later. In discussing the subject, Mr. W. Dyer said it was not wise to put in the trees deeper than the land was broken up with the plough. Mr. Hawke recommended the planting of some of the best varieties of cherries and Japanese plums in addition to apples.

Inman Valley, 14 May 1913

PRESENT:- Messrs. J.R. Russell (chair), J.W. Crompton, G. and A. McCoy, H.J. Jagger, H.J and M.J. Meyer, F.J. and J.G. Barrett, H.J. Dennis, H. Gray, E.A. Scarfe, H.I. Martin, V.G. Tugwell, and H.M. Parsons (Hon. Sec.)

DESTRUCTION OF RABBITS – This subject was dealt with in the interesting paper my Mr. G. McCoy, from which the following is taken:-“It has been computed that in one season a single pair of rabbits and their progeny can multiply to the number of from 120 to 160. Just think what that means in a country like this wehre there is everything a rabbit wants – abundance of various foods, good water in plenty, and, above all, the natural shelter of such an animal. The disastrous work of the little beasts is evident all round us, and it is only by combined efforts that we will be able to keep them down. If this is not done it will not be many years before such a thing as a well grassed paddock will be a novelty. Nearly every landholder in the district could easily muster 600 rabbits if it were possible to net them on his grassland during the night. If 6 rabbits eat as much as one sheep that means the he is being robbed of grass that would feed 100 sheep. Some, no doubt, have not got this number, but the majority have more, according to the size of their holdings, and they are robbed in proportion. The ground gets as bare as a billiard table, and the thistle seeds take root thus providing them with more shelter and hiding places. There are 10 methods of dealing with the pest – the most effective being (1) netting them out; (2) poisoning; (3) fumigating; (4) trapping; (5) closing the burrows; (6) shooting; (7) destruction by means of dogs; (8) ferrets; (9) digging them out; and (10) starving. When netting, get the best 35in x 1 1/4in x 18 gauge. This will last for years and can be put up for £24 per mile. Gum posts, 72yds. apart, with iron standards, 1 1/4in. x 1/4in., 6 yards apart, one No. 8 wire to hold the netting up will be required, and 4in. of the the netting should be buried. I find this effective for sheep, rabbits, and quiet cattle. One and a half inch netting is the usual thing, but I have often seen young rabbits go through this…. [this entry is quite lengthy and I won’t publish it all here, but it goes on in detail about how the farmers of the day could prepare and employ methods of ridding their farms of the rabbit pest.]

Meadows, 20 May 1913

PRESENT:- Messrs. T.B. Brooks (Chair); W.J. Stone, F.W. Vickery, B. Usher, H.A. Kleemann, J. Stone, H.L. Ellis, W.H. Bertram (Hon. Sec), and two visitors.

NATIVE TIMBER – This subject was dealt with in a paper by Mr. J. Stone, who drew attention to the fact that a great deal of timber was being destroyed. The Government should offer some inducement to landholders to preserve the young timber growing on their land, and mentioned the following native trees as being useful – (1) The red gum was valuable for railway sleepers, fencing post and a fairly durable timber and good fuel. (2) The cedar of jarrah gum, which, in addition to possessing the qualities of the red gum, was said to be suitable for timber, the manufacture of flooring joists, and other building purposes. (3) The blue gum, valuable as sawn timber for building purposes and as fuel and fencing posts. (4) Pink gum, which made excellent fencing posts unaffected by white ants. (5) Stringy bark; extensively used for fencing and when burning, as it burnt very slowly. the mountain gum varied in quality, the more durable kids being good for fencing posts, strainers, etc., deck bearers, or bridges, and also for house fuel. Peppermint was a heavy timber not extensively used, but good for fencing. fuel etc. it is generally found in comparatively low altitudes. The sheoak had been used for bullock yokes, axe and pick handles, and rails for fencing; in addition in some instances for the manufacture of furniture. It is also good fuel. Blackwood was very heavy when green, but when dry it became much lighter. It was used for bullock yokes, dray poles and beds, and also for furniture. During later years this variety of timber had suffered considerably through the mistletoe. Mallee was chiefly valuable for fuel. The manna gum varied in quality. In the autumn the branches shed bark and produced manna in some seasons, which had the appearance of crumbs of white bread. The wood was occasionally used as fuel, but was not of the best quality. The white or sugar gum was not durable, and the white ants were very destructive to it. Honeysuckle was not of much value, except that the wood was useful for skid blocks and, when well seasoned, for fuel where a slow fire was desired. The cherry tree was more ornamental than useful. Its wood was very brittle, and it yielded a fruit used for cooking purposes. The swamp ti-tree was very tough, and was frequently used for thatching. The silver wattle was of little value as timber, as it soon perished. In some seasons the gathering of the gum was payable. The mistletoe, as in the case of the blackwood, did it a considerable amount of damage. In discussing the subject, the Chairman recommended landholders to plant trees on the north boundaries of their holdings to provide shade and shelter. Members generally considered that a considerable amount of valuable timber had been thoughtlessly destroyed in the past, and that something should be done by the State to educate landholders in this regard, and encourage them in the planting of of native timber.
[It seems our forebears had the right idea, but as the native timbers don’t make good paper, and pine trees were cheaper and easier to grow, much of our valued native timber was not replaced. Nor did the Government do much to encourage the replanting of trees until perhaps 60 years later. It is also a pity that these gentlemen who attended this meeting, didn’t pass their findings on to their children, or instil in their children the need for conservation of the native plants.]

Morphett Vale, 20 May
(Average rainfall, 22 1/2in.)

PRESENT – Messrs, H.V. Sprigg (Chair), A. Connole, T. and A. Anderson, L.F. Christie, T. Higgins, W. Goldsmith, H. O’Sullivan, J. and E. Perry, F. Rosenburg, A.C. Pocock, and E.E. Hunt (Hon. Sec.)

PIGS – Mr. J. Perry read a short paper, in which he said it was essential when keeping pigs that good breeding sows should be secured. He favoured the progeny of the Berkshire crossed with a Yorkshire boar. If cared for, these would develop into good porkers, and at eight or nine weeks old should return about 30s. per head. They should be encouraged to feed when young. At two weeks old, if provided with a small amount of milk in a flat dish, they could in all probability be induced to feed. When a month old the boar pigs should be castrated; a sharp knife or razor being used, and this being carefully wifed after the operation had been performed on each animal. Ruptured animals should not be emasculated, but at the age of 10 weeks could be killed as porkers. Plenty of bedding should be provided in the sties, which should be kept warm, but not close, as fresh air was essential. Members discussed the paper at considerable length. Mr. Pocock thought crushed peas fed night and morning with a mid-day meal of crushed wheat, constituted the quickest fattening ration.

Inquiry Department
[These are letters received by the Department from farmers in the area with inquiries about different aspects of farming.]

“J.F.W.,” Macclesfield, inquires the cause and cure of warts which have rapidly covered the lip and nostril of a mare, and have also attacked a colt.
Reply:- The real cause of such a growth of warts is unknown, but prickly forage is a contributing factor. Wiping the warts daily for a few days with vinegar or castor oil is usually sufficient to bring about their disappearance; if it does not, painting them daily with a little tincture of thuya will do also.

“G.H.,” Page’s Flat, wants a cure for bullocks running on burnt yacka country which have gone blind in both eyes.
Reply:- This affection is very common on such country, burnt or other wise. The real cause has not been definitely settled, but the yacka must apparently bear a share of the blame. The following treatment is sometimes found to do good:- First take two or three quarts of blood from the neck vein; then give Empsom salts, 1lb; flowers of sulphur, 1oz; ground ginger 1/4oz.; all dissolved in a quart of warm beer. Blow a tiny pinch of calome into each eye every three or four days for three occasions. After the scouring of the drench has passed off give daily in the food for a fortnight a teaspoonful of Copper’s sheep dip, one part, and common salt, eight parts.

“T.E.D.F.,” Kingscote, has a mare whose hind fetlock clicks as if the bone were slipping into place. He asks for treatment.
Reply:- The symptoms are too meagre to be able to tell the real cause of the click, which, however, most probably arises from a weakness of the ligaments which support the joint. Bathing in the sea for an hour or two daily would be the best remedy, but if this cannot be carried out, well rubbing the joint with 1oz. tincture of arnica mixed with a pint of methylated spirit. about 1/2 oz., being used at a time, will help. If a bandage is used it would do more good if several thicknesses of cotton wool were wound round the joint before applying the bandage as tightly as possible.