When there’s a shower of rain, the phone “backs off a bit” for Howie Muller.
But as soon as the sun comes out and the wind blows, he says his phone rings red hot again.
In 30-odd years of making hay, Mr Muller reckons he hasn’t seen the “frightening” number of loads he’s carted for clients this year.
As luck – and mother nature – would have it, the 41.5mm of rain that bucketed down at his property this week was right in the midst of hay-making.
He’s baled about 2500 big squares and there’s still about 3000 to go, Mr Muller said on Thurday.
He “bit the bullet” early on crops he didn’t think would make it and decided to take the risk out of the yield side of things on his 3200-acre (plus another 800 acres on lease) property, ‘Alma Park’.
That decision has more than paid off, according to Mr Muller who said given the demand for hay the price per hectare was looking “pretty good”.
With canola, wheat, triticale and a bit of barley being baled, he expects to be delivering flat out for some time to come.
“There has been a huge demand for hay for a long time,” Mr Muller said.
“We have one client at Cooma who normally takes about five or six loads a year and he’s taken three to four times more this year.
“We’ve delivered 13 single and five B-double loads of hay to him.
“We’ve sent some up north but we’ve mainly been heading east to Canberra and Braidwood.”
Mr Muller said he was fielding three or four calls a day from guys who were baling hay that had never done so before and didn’t know where they could sell it.
Even then, he predicts people will still be scratching to find hay by mid next year.
He said the recent rain had brought a welcome reprieve for those carrying stock and would provide a boost to some later crops.
“The guys with stock are a bit smiley – that green tinge will buy them another two to three weeks,” he said.
“This area is really quite lucky to have what we’ve had.”
Mr Muller reflected that one of the “hardest droughts we’ve seen” had brought mixed blessings to the country’s farmers.
“On one hand what we’re producing will be worth a lot of money – it’s just hard on those buying it,” he said.
When the going gets tough … the tough get going
Murk Schoen knows planning for what they could control this season will pay off for the family’s mixed farm operation at Corowa.
The third generation farmer at the 1600-hectare property, ‘Killeneen’, said despite a tough year rainfall-wise things were looking positive.
Mr Schoen managed to get 95 per cent of their hay in the shed before last weekend’s downpour and the 36mm that fell on parts of the property would benefit their dryland lucerne and livestock programs.
“We’ll have a harvest – the barley is okay, the canola is a bit behind the eight-ball and what wheat is not frost-affected is half-okay,” he said.
He expects prices to stay strong.
They are currently running 1400 ewes and finishing 1500 lambs as well as 200 Angus cows.
“Anyone who has put in a solid effort to controlling what can be controlled will be getting well paid for it,” Mr Schoen said.
“There are record prices for fat lambs and beef is not far off being the same.”