Observing Vines

Admiring the magnificence

Though I have lived in Perth for the past 5 years, this is the first time I visited the local vineyards. Somehow, travelling all the way up here in the Summer heat, battling with flies and shit holding a toddler or baby wasn't an appealing thought. Since I have moved nearer to the region, distance isn't a deterring factor anymore. There seems to be a (thankfully) noticeable dip in bush flies infestation for the last couple of Summer. Has there been a change of wind direction carrying the flies elsewhere, or did the introduction of dung beetles successfully reduce fly reproduction? Whatever it is, I'm not complaining.

This Summer is the best of the 6 Summers I have experienced in terms of lowest number of heatwaves we have to cope with. At this stage, we are almost through with 2/3 of Summer without really breaking up a sweat. Well, too much of a sweat, as compared to the previous Summers I dread to recall. The condition makes it pretty fine for walking through vineyards, especially so if it is done in the early morning when it is actually nice and cool. 

I want to enjoy these while they last. Agriculture and farming are becoming such difficult industries to do well that many are operating at losses. Many businesses are dying out year by year. Gone were the days where the least educated people farm. To survive as a farmer today, you have to be the among the most intelligent and knowledgeable. Not to mention the wisest of them all. You have to read the weather better than a meteorologist, balance the book faster than an accountant, identify profit and loss more accurately than a business consultant, interpret macroeconomics better than an economist, read international relations better than politicians .... because .... none of the above are affected by conditions in their respective fields as much as a farmer.

The Russia-Ukraine dispute for example, surprised the global dairy market by escalating into a trade war, where Russia imposed import bans on Western dairy products. It has a direct impact on Australian dairy farmers, as European milk flooded into markets where Australia was a significant player at that otherwise would have gone into Russia. Astute farmers will always be watching global trends and international relations among the major powerhouses of the world. They do not have a choice as their livelihood depends on it. Local politics and lowballing major local retailers are also what a farmer has to be watchful for. As a farmer, you'd wish you can say, "I'm just a simple farm. I grow stuff and make money." Quite the opposite in fact. 

There has been reports going around that only 15% of grapes growers in Australia are profitable. That is an alarming statistics, if figures are accurate. I imagine a minority of them prefer to tell the taxman about their losses for obvious reasons but 15% is depressingly low, even factoring statistical inaccuracies. 

unwanted grapes
They say the oldest profession is prostitution but they couldn't be more wrong. There has to be a farmer before the first prostitute was born. Despite farming being a dying trade due to the perpetual increase of operating cost and corporations pricing them out on the other end, food production will always be in constant demand, though it may not be in the traditional form we are used to. A day may come where food prices are so high, households producing a percentage of their consumption will become a necessity. It doesn't hurt to start practicing.

1 comment:

  1. You should try talking to anyone of grandparents age especially within Australia. They will tell you that a lot of people grew stuff in their backyard and kept some chooks, ask them the reasons why.