Wa­ter­logged af­ter rain

Albany Advertiser - - NEWS - Cally Dupe

The adage “when it rains it pours” is ring­ing true at the Davy fam­ily’s Well­stead farm af­ter more than 180mm of rain­fall fell in just two weeks.

Rob and Carolyn planned to shear the bulk of their 14,000 sheep last week but plans ground to a halt when the rain put three-quar­ters of the farm un­der wa­ter.

Most of the cou­ple’s 5500ha of farm­land is south-west of Well­stead and has be­come sod­den, with wheat and canola crops heav­ily wa­ter­logged.

In­stead of send­ing wool to mar­ket late last week, Mr Davy spent hours guid­ing a flock of 2000 ewes out of a flooded pad­dock and onto higher ground.

“I took them on a de­tour route through a few dif­fer­ent pad­docks and streams of wa­ter,” he said.

“The main road we would usu­ally use was about a me­tre un­der wa­ter and we needed them closer to the shed for shear­ing.

“We were a week into shear­ing and had done 3000 sheep but then the weather came.”

Well­stead has recorded one of the State’s high­est rain­fall to­tals for the year to date (746mm), just a shower away from its 2016 rain­fall to­tal of 778mm.

Nearby ar­eas Many­peaks (681mm), Gaird­ner (431mm), South Stir­ling (499mm) and Bre­mer Bay (483mm) have all recorded less.

It’s a stark con­trast to the north­ern grain belt where some farm­ers have started to spray out crops af­ter low grow­ing sea­son rain.

Up to 8km of the Davy prop­erty’s ar­te­rial dirt roads have flooded and many that have dried out now fea­ture cav­ernous holes.

Mr Davy said the full ex­tent of crop dam­age was not yet known but yields could be halved by the wa­ter dam­age. Af­ter bog­ging the farm’s mo­tor­bike last week, Mr Davy said it made sense to “wait it out” in­stead of risk­ing driv­ing a boom spray on pad­docks.

“Our crops have just strug­gled all year, the sheep have strug­gled from just be­ing too wet,” he said.

“Nor­mally we fin­ish har­vest well be­fore Christ­mas, but I would be in­cred­i­bly sur­prised if we fin­ished be­fore Christ­mas this year.”

The cou­ple have ten­ta­tive plans to start swathing canola in two weeks, but Mr Davy said it de­pended on whether the weather held off.

“It’s not so much the dam­age on the farm — we can’t get through or onto pad­docks,” Mr Davy said.

“We are hop­ing that in the month be­fore har­vest we will be able to re­pair the roads so we can get the header through the farm. But we might only have to worry about half as much grain this year.”

The main road into Well­stead, South Coast High­way, was still flooded and closed to the west of the town this week.

Pic­ture: Cally Dupe

Rob Davy in a flooded pad­dock at Well­stead.

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