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TAS Country : August 19th 2010
Friday, August 20, 2010 Tasmanian Country 5 News LIFE ON THE LAND: Mary Dudgeon on her York Plains property and, below, in the barn with granddaughter Jocelyn. Pictures: JENNIFER CRAWLEY Born and bred countrywoman Mary Dudgeon, 77, still lambs her own flock of pure Suffolk ewes, reports Jennifer Crawley I got the best percentage last year. It was sheer luck really.' Mary just loves her little lambs MARY Dudgeon has lived all her life on her 365ha York Plains property. The mother of six and grandmother of 19 has lambed the same flock for 40 years. There are 80 ewes lambing this year and newborn lambs are on the veran- dah, in the nursery and in front of the fire in the kitchen. ''If they need reviving, I'll bring them by the fire,'' Mary said. ''Some ewes haven't got the maternal instinct.'' Mary uses pens and sheds to separ- ate the lambing ewes from the rest of the mob. ''There is a lot of moving involved when the ewes are lambing,'' she said. Son Roger runs 1100 cross-bred ewes and 400 Merino sheep and grows oats and rape to fatten the lambs on the property hidden away in a wide, undulating valley. There is a friendly rivalry between mother and son when it comes to their flocks. ''I got the best percentage last year,'' Mary said. ''It was sheer luck really.'' The Dudgeons have timed their lambing perfectly with Mary's ewes lambing a month ahead of Roger's. ''I help Roger out at lambing time because I like doing it,'' Mary said. Mary started her flock of Suffolks with her husband David in 1970. Mary and David lived in a small two- bedroom home on the property where they had six children. David built a new bigger house but Mary wasn't too keen to move because she thought it was too big --- ''a bit like City Hall'' she said. ''We were very happy in that little house.'' David died 17 years ago but Mary is surrounded by family including grand- daughter Jocelyn, 15, who has helped with the lambing since she was little. ''I like children,'' Mary said. ''I love the school holidays. I have a lot of them here, they bring their ponies.'' Mary and Jocelyn keep track on ewes and their lambs by marking them with different colours. Jocelyn is cre- ative with the marking pen, marking a mother and her twins with red love hearts. The ewes about to give birth are placed in a small paddock close to the house, ''So I can mother the ewes up,'' Mary said In extreme cases Mary or Roger will skinadeadlambandtieitontoalamb that needs fostering. ''We don't do it that often,'' Mary said. ''If the dead lamb still has afterbirth on it we just roll the lamb in it and the ewe usually takes it. The mother smells the skin. If she doesn't take it in the first half of the day, it's not going to happen. It usually only hap- pens with the crossbreds. We wouldn't do it more than four or five times a year.'' Crossbred ewes with big teats and big udders are milked. The milk is frozen and used for foster or pet lambs. ''I can't bear to see them dying,'' Mary said. In wet weather her kitchen is full of lambs and, when Roger is away, Mary takes on the full mob without too much trouble. She looks after lambs through the night, puts the mothers in a pen and checks on them before going to bed. She said the mob is quiet around her and doesn't act up when she is there by herself. ''They associate Roger with crutch- ing and drenching --- with me it's different,'' she said. Roger Dudgeon has been through three or four droughts. He said he kept his flock going through the last drought by feeding them. ''You can't buy sheep when the drought ends,'' Roger said. ''The one lesson I have learnt is you have to have sheep at the end.'' Roger bought young sheep during the drought then sold them as store lambs for $40 --- ''exactly what I paid to feed the ewes,'' Roger said. The worst thing about droughts is watching the paddocks blow, he said. ''To see an acre of dirt blow is a horrific sight,'' he said. A group of buyers came to the farm a while back to look at rams and ewes for breeding in western China. There was one ewe Mary did not want to see go. ''I wanted to keep her because of her pedigree,'' she said. Mary learnt that the sheep were headed for a life indoors in pens. ''They would never see the sky again or run on grass,'' she said. ''Everytime IlookatthateweIknowshehashada happier life here. I don't think I could do it again.'' Mary has imported sheep from New Zealand and South America and has learnt what to keep and what not to keep in her flock of beautifully con- ditioned Suffolks. Patsy the sheepdog is no longer interested in rounding up the sheep but hangs close to Mary on her rounds. ''Patsy used to be able to pick one out from the mob when you asked her. She's a fantastic sheepdog, amazing, but she's getting old like me,'' Mary said. ''I enjoy being on the land, this is my home.'' Beekeepers keen to mind their business From Page 3 Award-winning Heritage Honey producer Peter Norris said Tas- manian beekeepers were paying far more for leases than their mainland counterparts. Mr Norris said the beekeeping community had been trying to negotiate a long-term lease agree- ment with Forestry for sometime. ''You can only trade your site if you sell your bees on the site,'' Mr Norris said. ''We want to be able to trade our leases without selling our hives. ''At the moment they can give us a month's notice and we are out.'' Award-winning Blue Hills Honey producer Nicola Charles has 23 of her 25 sites on Forestry land. Her annual licence fee will increase from $4600 to $16100 if the fees to go up. Mrs Charles said the price rise was ''ludicrous'. ''For the life of me I can't understand what they are on about,'' Mrs Charles said. ''Beekeeping is a passive indus- try, we don't do any harm. Mrs Charles said beekeepers will have little choice but to pass on the increase to their pollination costs --- what they charge pro- ducers to pollinate hives. ''They have to look after the pollination industry otherwise there will be no no fruit or pome industry,'' she said. ''Beekeepers don't have more bottom line to shave off.'' Mr Bourke said the pollination industry in Australia was already under threat. ''We can't get enough hives in Australia to pollinate,'' he said. ''If we get the Varroa mite in our country it will decimate the feral, or wild honeybee population, which we depend on to pollinate our crops.'' TASMANIAN ALKALOIDS Value Adding in Tasmania 2027824-100716 Germinating poppy crops can be at risk. Watch out for slugs, snails, earthmites and springtails. Take appropriate action if required. Your Field Officer can advise. .
August 12th 2010
August 26th 2010