For the March Western Landcare Youth Network workshop we were invited to Pine Point Station, south of Broken Hill, with program mentor and landholder Marilyn Harvy. The workshop was based on a day in the life of a land manager with Youth Network participants getting a feel for the many jobs and considerations that go into maintaining land including fencing, water runs, weed management and yard work.
We started the day with a conversation around stocking rates with photos of Pine Point from before the current dry season to demonstrate how drastically the environment can change and how important it is to have your finger on the pulse and be ready to make critical and tough decisions when necessary. Then we were off to meet Sarah Carey and Tony Andrews, local fencing contractors installing new boundary fences around the property. Often agricultural practice is one that is taught from generation to generation. fencers were able to show how creativity, technology and innovation can improve the way that we work on the land and that there is always on opportunity for the new gen to bring their creativity and ideas to agriculture and not just accept things as they are just because that’s how they always have been.
Then it was off to check the damns and do a water run, looking at troughs Marilyn brought up many things that need to be considered like regular cleaning, leakages and cracks and also thinking of your waters as a complete system rather than individually. The participants had a go at cleaning out a trough before the real work began.
Mesquite eradication was part of the 2017 program so it was only fair that this year’s intake had a turn at handling this weed. Splitting into groups everyone had a job, GPS marking of each plant that would be poisoned for monitoring, cutting or sawing the trunks or stems of the mesquite and with the help of supervisors painting on the Access and diesel poison to kill the root system. It was hot, dry and dusty and mesquite is an unforgiving weed covered in spikes but this did not deter anyone from giving it a go.
Final lesson for the day was yard work. Working together the participants practised working with small groups of sheep to move them in straight lines, to create figure of 8 patterns and other drafting exercises. By group consensus this was the favourite activity of the day.
Huge thanks to Marilyn Harvy for putting together such an interesting and diverse workshop and hosting us all and also thanks to Mary Camilleri from Western Local Land Services for attending on the day and assisting with supervision.