Countdown! Blog 136: MORE HISTORY – look what Corrina found…

Hi all, Corrina here. While we are having a bit of an historical moment, here is an excerpt that I found in the 1863 SA Register… quite fascinating!

The South Australian Register, Thursday, January 8, 1863 page 3, Column (d) available on film in the South Australian State Library AGRICULTURE

(From our Special Correspondent) Mr WILLIAM OLIVER’S FARM, WHITE HILL, MCLAREN VALE.

Ruth and Archibald Oliver

Mr OLIVER farms seven sections (560 acres) of land. On this he grows 200 acres of wheat yearly. He has farmed his present occupation for 16 years, growing wheat year after year in succession until he found the crops getting shorter and smaller and the land getting very dirty. Since this has happened he has made it a practice to de-pasture the foul land for two years successively – the second year with sheep – so as to allow no seeds to ripen. For the wheat crop both fallowing and ploughing and sowing immediately have been tried: but Mr OLIVER thinks the best plan is to fallow in August and September, to scarify several times during the summer whenever any weeds make their appearance, and sow at the usual time in the beginning of May.

The rust has done very LITTLE damage on the farm this season. In Craig’s wheat there is scarcely any perceptible. On Mr OLIVER’s farm the folding last year gave fully one third more wheat; but the tops of the ears were cut by hot winds, or the increase would have been double. This bears out my theory, that he puts too much manure – at all events, for the first crop; although for a second one the strength of the manure being partially exhausted, it would no doubt be all right. An orchard and vineyard of one acre were planted a number of year since.

The vines are very flourishing and productive. Whilst there, my attention was drawn to the way in which ants had been destroying the cherries. An attempt had been made to stop them by tying a rag dipped in linseed oil round the stem of the trees. This had proved effectual as long as the oil kept moist; but as it gradually dried, the ants were just beginning to pester the cherries again, until stopped by a second application of the oil. An additional four acres of vines were planted three years since; the land trenched with the plough; the vines planted eight feet each way, with a roadway left for horses to turn on whilst cultivating between the rows.

The grubs here, as elsewhere, have been very destructive; but the vacancies have been filled up each year, and the failures are now few compared to what they were at first. Mr OLIVER has one section of land – used for grazing – on the Onkaparinga, on which there is permanent surface water, where the sheep are generally watered; but for the use of his horses and cattle kept at home, he has excavated a pond in a low place near the house, into which the surface water from two small hollows in one of the cultivated sections flows.

The earth thrown out for a depth of three feet has been made into an embankment at the lower side, the water, when the pond is full, being sent round both ends of the embankment, and not allowed to fall over it; this keeps the embankment from being driven away. The water remained in this pond last year very nearly to the close of the dry season; but it is intended to deepen the cutting sufficiently to secure enough to last through the summer.

A waste pipe from the tank at the house also carries any surplus water into the pond. The house and farm offices are very complete; the house being large and commodious even with only one storey; but the whole space that it covers has been excavated so that there is as much room below as above, used partly for domestic purposes and partly as a cellar; the roof is of slate, with a verandah on three sides covered with corrugated iron.

The water is collected by pipes (210 feet in length) into a tank, the dimensions of which are 17x12x12 feet. This large tank gets quite filled with a moderate rainfall, and occasionally some of the water overflows and is conducted into the pond as before mentioned.

The supply is quite equal to the requirements of the house for domestic uses, in addition to which it is occasionally used both for pigs and horses. In addition to his farm Mr OLIVER has a run in the Port Lincoln District, where one or two of his sons generally reside.