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Farming at Bellarine. 1874.

Leader (Melbourne, Vic. : 1862 - 1918, 1935), Saturday 17 January 1874, page 6


From our Travelling Reporter.

This old farming district is situated on the peninsula that juts out into Port Phillip Bay to the eastward of Geelong. Taking a superior metal road that runs past the Botanical Gardens, the small postal township of is reached in about six round which, there are some well-managed farms, notably that of Mr. Davey. As the soil on this farm is of a sort that is injured by treading, the ploughing is done by the horse walking both in the furrow one ahead of the other. The lands are ploughed eight feet in breadth, so that the harrow and drill horses are able to walk in the split furrows. The land is liberally dressed with a compost of shells, lime, guano, and stable manure, thoroughly incorporated together. Two ploughings are always given before sowing, which is done with a cut drill, and a system of fallow and rotation of crops is observed. In the rotation, peas as a rule always precede cereals, with the best effect. The wheat on this farm, just harvested, it is estimated will yield not less than thirty-five bushels to the acre. The road for the next ten miles runs through timbered sandy country, the most of which was formerly cultivated, but is now occupied by such holders as the Messrs. Curlewis, Cuthbert, Trethowen, and others, who by buying several contiguous farms have secured good large-sized blocks, on which they keep sheep. Sixteen miles from Geelong, Drysdale, the principal village of the district, is reached. Round this village lies the best land, that which occupies the north-east bight of the Heads, well-known as the Bellarine Hills. The change in the character of the soil from which has been passed through since leaving

Moolap is very striking. . It is a volcanic loam of unlimited depth, and extraordinary fertility, and famous especially for its onion-growing capabilities, twenty tons to the acre having been produced in. places. About a mile and a half further on than the township lies Murradoc farm, in the occupation of Mr. J. F. Levien, M.P. This farm is 640 acres in extent, about a third of which is laid down in clover and rye grass, upon which sheep and cattle are fattened for the market, this practice having been substituted .for dairying, which latterly, has not paid. The carrying capabilities of this pasture are on the whole good, but vary much with the season. Last year, for instance, which was moist, it was almost impossible to overstock, stock having been kept in some of the paddocks. For, months at the rate of about fifteen sheep to the acre. This ' year has been dry, arid about two sheep to the acre although, it has been found as much as the pasture will stand and fatten. Mr. Levien cultivates altogether about 400 acres, seventy of which' is yearly devoted to the production of garden seeds, including onion, carrot, lettuce, canary, and other varieties. This is found a most remunerative industry, a good market? Being found in the other colonies, as well as in Victoria. Cabbage seed is the only variety that cannot he raised on the farm, the cause being the blight. The rest of the cultivation embraces forty acres wheat, from which 25 bushels per acre has just been thrashed; forty acres Cape barley, yielding 30 bushels; and 25 English barley, 15 bushels; this latter crop having suffered from the caterpillars. -About 100 acres peas will yield about 30 bushels all through, and 50 acres potatoes, and 20 of onions, are looking well, but will not be as heavy a crop as was promised before the late hot weather set in. The rest of the cultivated land is occupied by. sugar-beet and mangel, from which up till lately an extensive business has been carried on in the fattening of pigs for the market, but latterly this trade has been interfered with by importations of fat pigs from the Hunter, N.S.W., where they are on maize produced there in large quantities; Mr. Levien prepares his land for the garden seeds by a summer fallow liberally dressed before sowing with Flat Island guano and stable manure, and as a fresh portion of the farm is thus treated every year it is kept clean and in good condition for the other crops that follow. Although as much weeding as possible is done by the horse-hoe, still a large quantity has to be performed by hand, which involves the keeping of an average of about thirty hands throughout the year, the busiest season being the spring when most weeding has to be done. A large proportion of the hands kept for this work are boys. All the root crops on the farm as well as the crops of seeds are beautifying clean, being absolutely free from weeds. The onions will yield about 5 tons to the acre this year; Last year the average for the district was 10 tons, but this year the average will not exceed 6 on account of the dry weather that c' set in about the beginning of December. The onions are pulled by hand and packed away in bags, outside, like potatoes, being protected from the rain by thatch. Down from Mr. Levien's farm towards Portarlington the land partakes more of the character of a sandy loam, the soil, as is peculiar to the district, being most fertile on the tops of the hills. In this direction amongst the farms that attract attention from their neat and trim appearance is that of Mr. Sutherland. The English and Cape barley crops on this farm just harvested have thrashed 40 bushels to the acre, from land that last year produced potatoes at the rate per acre of 12 tons. The potato crop this year looks fair, as also does a well-tilled five-acre patch of onions. . Mr. Sutherland combines with his agricultural operations dairying to a considerable extent. Near this farm Mr. George Henderson holds about 700 acres, the most of which he devotes to raising fat cattle for the market and to breeding horses. His breed of draught stock is favourably known in the district. There are about eighty acres cultivated altogether on this of acres wheat and

This farm, consisting of fifty acres wheat and barley, which have yielded respectively 20 and 35 bushels per acre, and the remainder, contains peas, potatoes, and onions, look very well. Here, as is the rule throughout the district, wheat, barley, or oats are made to follow peas, after which any cereal crop does; well. Near here is the farm of Mr. Edwin Collins, one of the best conducted establishments in the district. This farm has been devoted for the last few years entirely to dairying purposes, a large quantity of cheese being annually manufactured of such superior quality that- the supply cannot meet the Geelong demand alone. The farm is subdivided into small paddocks by hedges, and is nearly all sown down with rye grass and clover. Every three years a portion of the pasture is broken up and fallowed, when it is copiously dressed with bone dust and guano and-re-sown. The reason for this is that in dry seasons the bed of herbage becomes thin, but by the method adopted by Mr. Collins he has been able during the driest year to keep his stock in splendid condition and produce a large quantity of superior cheese, which is understood to be paying him well. The supply of labor here during the year has kept pace with the demand, the wages for binders being 5s. per day, and general farm hands during harvest 20 3. per week. In the winter the rates are from 12s. to 18s. per week, good ploughmen commanding the latter figure. A selection of the newest and most improved implements and machinery are to be found on the homestead of every farm throughout this district. Robertson, Henderson, and Nicholson, are each well represented among the reapers. A handy thrashing machine with straw elevator attached, and driven by a small steam engine, is a favorite in the district. It gets through a lot of work and does not require such a crowd of bands as the larger steamers. The manufacturers are Humble and Co.; of Geelong. A new scarifier with cutting blades, and a drag harrow, both implements by Woods, of Geelong, are also coming largely into use, and are highly spoken of. The general impression received by a drive through Bellarine is that there is not so much farming being done as there was a few years ago, but what is being done is better and conducted more systematically. The fencing is a great drawback to the appearance of the district, being as a rule old and rickety. This is their result in a great, measure of the land being held by the occupiers as tenants, who do not, receive sufficient encouragement, from their landlords to warrant much outlay in the way of improvements. "More liberality in this respect and hi others towards the tenant would be ultimately advantageous to the owners, of the land, and all concerned.