Everywhere I look at the moment there is fireweed, on the side of the road, in paddocks, in people’s backyard.img_1009

But what is fireweed? The botanical name for fireweed is Senecio madagascariensis and if you didn’t know any better it could just be overlooked as a normal weed with a pretty yellow flower, something like a dandelion. It is a small weed that grows to 50cm in height and in dry or harsh conditions it will often only reach 20cm. The leaves are bright green, narrow and about 2-7cm long. The flower is small (1-2cm in diameter), yellow, has 13 petals and found in clusters at the end of each branch. Each plant can have anywhere up to 200 flowers.

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bull-sale-4blogRecently I took a trip to Capella in the Central Highlands of Queensland to visit family that have a cattle property there. It is really nice to get back to the country lifestyle and being surrounded by cattle, chickens, dogs and wide open spaces.

While I was there we went to my first bull sale in Clermont. I have shown cattle before and have a bit of an idea on what makes a good bull but it was very interesting to read to catalogue, look at the bulls, go through the data that is given on each bull and then see what they sold for.

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Image courtesy of http://www.thesun.co.uk

Image courtesy of http://www.thesun.co.uk

We are constantly hearing reports on the news about global warming and climate change. We know that pollutants from cars, mining and factories contribute to this, but did you know that cow’s actually affect global warming too?

The agricultural industry emits methane gases and nitrous oxide which generates up to 20% of all Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Australia. Cattle and other ruminant animals, like sheep and goats, are responsible for over 70% of the agricultural industry emissions, with animal excreta and nitrogen based fertilisers making up the remaining 30%.

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A SEVERE CATTLE TICK INFESTATION. IMAGE FROM HTTP://WWW.NT.GOV.AU

A severe cattle tick infestation.
Image courtesy of  http://www.nt.gov.au

There is always a lot of talk about ticks and the effect they have on dogs and cats, but did you know that ticks can also have a detrimental effect on cattle.

The tick that is of most concern to cattle in Australia is the Cattle Tick (Rhipicephalus microplus previously known as Boophilus microplus).  Cattle ticks can be found year round in tropical or subtropical areas like the north of Western Australia, Northern Territory, Queensland and occasionally New South Wales.

The cattle tick is responsible for transmitting the potentially fatal disease Tick Fever or sometimes called Red Water.  Tick fever occurs when one of three blood borne parasites, Babesia bovis, which is the most common accounting for over 80% of cases, Babesia bigemina or Anaplasma marginale are transmitted to cattle through the bite of an infected cattle tick.  Once cattle are infected these organisms cause red cell destruction and attack various organs which can have severe symptoms and may even result in death.

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IMG_2397Last week we packed up the car and ventured off to the Central Queensland town of Capella.  Capella is a small country town in the Central Highlands of Queensland.  It is a rural town full of good old country hospitality, in the heart of the coal mining and agricultural district.  For a small town Capella has quite a lot to offer.  There is a beautiful aquatic centre with heated swimming pools, bbq’s, mini golf, cafe and much more.  There is an amazing cultural centre where many events, including concerts, are held.  With many other things to explore in Capella, like the Pioneer Village, Capella Parklands and Capella Peak Range it really is a great place to stop and spend a day or more.

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Photo sourced from http://cattle-cow-bovine.information-and-facts.com/importance-of-cows-in-india/

A “Sacred” cow that has been decorated for a Hindu Festival.

Over the Christmas break a conversation amongst family and friends touched on Hinduism and the worship of cows.  My own curiosity led me to want to find out a little bit more on why and how the cow was worshipped in the Hindu religion.  After finding it interesting, I thought I might share with you a little bit of the information that I found out. Hinduism is one of the oldest living religions and is practiced by the majority of people in India and Nepal, making it the third largest religion practiced today.

In Hinduism all living creatures are considered as sacred and the cow is the animal used to symbolise this respect for all creatures.  Hindus do not “worship” the cow, however they respect, honour and adore the cow.  The cow is considered a symbol of life, grace and abundance and is not to be killed.  The cow is a gentle, ever giving creature and according to some Hindu scriptures is the mother of all creatures.  The cow is adored and worshipped because they are so generous in what they give to humans and they take so little.

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cow_with_flies_4blogArghh Flies!!!!  This is a very common phrase coming from my mum at this time of year.

Mum always says that the worst thing about summer isn’t the heat or humidity, it’s the horrible annoying flies.  The flies are everywhere!! They are buzzing around you, in your face, they fly up your nose and in your mouth.  They are around the stables, the feed, the horses, the dogs and the paddocks.  They seem to be everywhere at this time of year, and they drive me and my mum crazy.

They upset the horses too.  Even the calmest horse can be aggravated by flies causing them to be more nervous and harder to work or handle.  You see the horses stomping their feet, swishing their tails and rubbing their heads, just trying to get rid of them.  The flies that are most commonly a problem around horses during the summer months are the “biting flies”.  This includes the Stable Fly, March Fly, Midgies (or Sand Flies) and Mosquitoes.  These flies are a common nuisance for horses as they can inflict quite a painful bite which can then develop into a welt and become itchy.  These biting flies do not transmit diseases (except for Mosquitoes) but secondary problems from the flies hanging around can develop.  A very common problem caused by the presence of flies is sore, runny, inflamed and gunky eyes.

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Rides, showbags, animals, strawberry ice-creams, dagwood dogs, fireworks and more.  Thats right its Ekka time in Brisbane.

Yesterday was the first day of the 2012 Ekka and I decided to go with my family.  Walking around amongst the cattle reminded me of many years ago when I was in high school and a part of the Agricultural Show Team.  We use to show our sheep and cattle at local agricultural shows and the biggest show of all was the Ekka .  A couple of times I was a part of the team that took the cattle to the Ekka or RNA Show.  We would stay with the cattle throughout the show, for usually about 7 nights, sleeping in lofts amongst the lanes of cattle.  It was amazing, we had so much fun and we would learn a lot from the more experienced cattle farmers that were also there.  We would spend  our days with the cattle, preparing them for their judging, feeding, grooming and walking them.  We were always around, and answering questions from the public except when we would occasionally disappear to watch one of the few calves be born.

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The centuries-old practice of using livestock guardian dogs to protect livestock from predators is well known. In general, livestock guardian dogs make wonderful family pets and capable home protectors. The three most important traits to look for in a livestock guardian dog are trustworthiness, attentiveness and aggressiveness. This is because the dog owner must be able to trust the livestock guardian dog not to cause any harm to the livestock, to be constantly aware of where the livestock is located and be naturally aggressive against any, and all potential predators.

It’s important to note that livestock guardian dogs are not a herding dog or a pet, but rather a full-time member of the flock. Guardian dogs protect livestock by patrolling the pasture, confronting predators, barking, scent-marking and discouraging potential predators. The guardian dog must consider itself a member of the flock to insure that it feels a strong bond to the flock, which will bring out its strongest protective instincts.

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