A visit last week to the farm where I grew up in rural Western Australia brought back early farming memories. “Menota” was bought by my paternal grandfather at about the time of the second world war. My father bought the farm from his father, and expanded with more land in the 1970s by buying a neighbouring farm. I farmed with my father for six years from 1986 until 1992, when the farm was sold and my parents embarked on a new phase of their lives. Last week I took two of my children to visit the old farm, which is now just a small part of a larger farming enterprise, and the houses are uninhabited.
My family farming story started at Menota, and I was glad to be able to take my children to see where I grew up. But I don’t have a farm album to keep for my children and my children’s children. An Australian Farm Album is a snapshot of a farm at a moment in time. A farm album from when my grandfather started farming would show photos of the land being worked by simple machines pulled by horses. There would be photos of stooks of sheaves of oats in paddocks, ready to be thrashed into chaff for horse feed. Landscape photos would show much more vegetation than now, as clearing the land of mallee trees was a major undertaking in the early farming days. If my father had a farm album from his early farming days it would have photos of sinking dams, of plowing the soil with disc plows towed behind an open chamberlain tractor, and of the many workers who were employed to do the hard labour required to run a farm in the 1960s, before bulk grain and fertiliser handling was introduced. They would be carrying bags of grain or fertiliser, or carting loads of small square hay bales to be stacked in a hayshed. A farm album from when I left the farm in 1992 would include photographs of a large four wheel drive tractor pulling an airseeder, crop spraying, a big air-conditioned harvester putting grain into field bins and large round bales of hay. No farm stays the same, so making a photographic record of the farm by allowing us to create your own Australian Farm Album is a very worthwhile investment.
Pingrup is in the Shire of Kent in the Great Southern Region of Western Australia, and is situated at the southern end of a band of salt lakes which extends down from the Wheatbelt. Photographing this area with a drone shows the extent of the salt lakes. Aerial photographs show the abundance of salt lakes. Visitors are always fascinated by the pink lakes. The pink colour is beta carotene, created by micro-organism living in the extremely saline waters of the lakes. Other lakes in the area turn different colours – blue, green or yellow at certain types of the year, which I presume is due to the presence of different microorganisms .
From the aerial photos you can see that there are no square paddocks in between the lakes, but with GPS guidance the harvest lines in these photos are very different from the patterns that would have been left when I was harvesting thirty years ago.