Amandus was not the sort of man to sit back and take things easy. He took risks and was on the lookout for any improvements to be made. This is shown in his farming activities.
In summary he left Germany for Australia, arriving in 1863, at age 20. I would not be very keen on travelling on a sailing ship halfway around the world today. At some stage he had to learn English as a second language. After marrying and working on the railway from Bathurst to Orange he uprooted his family, with ten children at the time, and moved to Orara.
He did not have much money; the land was sub-tropical rainforest and there was very little infrastructure in the Coffs Harbour area. Their first house was nearly washed away in a flood. It was six years before the jetty was built and seven years before Mary Ann had a trip away from the farm. By around that time, in 1893, three more children were born with little or no access to a doctor let alone hospital.
Eventually dairy farming was taken up and they prospered but Amandus, by then in his late fifties and with a large family to help, was on the lookout for better ways of farming. Upper Orara can have severe frosts inhibiting the pasture growth and there were many tree stumps remaining so –
ENSILAGE [ensilage is the process of creating silage by partly fermenting green fodder]
Upper Orara farmers have been demonstrating the value of ensilage. Mr. Hoschke has prepared a silo of green maize, which has turned out first-class, and is much relished by his dairy cows. The stock prefer it to rye, and a stack of ensilage makes a good standby for the winter, when other descriptions of fodder are generally scarce. Green maize thus preserved ranks high as a feed for cows and tends to raise the butter producing quality of the milk.
APA citation – ENSILAGE. (1901, August 10). Clarence and Richmond Examiner (Grafton, NSW : 1889 – 1915), p. 3. Retrieved May 16, 2020, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article61288060
The article above mentioned growing a winter crop of grass such as rye grass. The article below, also, points out the need for winter feed. There is a description of how the farmers either used a silo or built an above ground structure to hold their silage until needed. The drawback with these methods is that once opened it all needs be used up.
Ensilage Making on the Orara
A correspondent writes : Notwithstanding the fact that a great deal has been written and many illustrations have been given about the practical utility of saving fodder for winter use in such dry seasons as the present, very little of the advice has been followed on these Northern rivers, chiefly from the fact that as a rule these rivers enjoy a magnificent climate and an abundant rainfall. But the last three seasons have been on the dry side, the last and present being record dry seasons so far as the Orara district is concerned. This has caused farmers to think seriously about some better way of utilising and conserving fodder for winter use, with the result that those who have tried ensilage making have been successful.
Amongst those farmers of the Upper Orara who made ensilage last season were Messrs. A. Hoschke, A. Kerr, and N. Watkin, all of whom cut maize with the cob in the milk stage and weighted it with slabs, earth and stones. The system they adopted was the surface stack or silo, 8 posts in the ground, 12 or 15 feet out of ground, logs or heavy slabs on the ground, raised about a foot above, surround the surface, 15 or 20 feet long and 10 or 12 feet wide, will hold a splendid lot of feed, which in their case proved very acceptable and “cut out sweet,” and was relished by the cows in the latter end of winter and early spring. These stacks in each case were covered with iron.
This season quite a number of farmers have made ensilage, especially of the late plantings of maize, which would in some cases have been extremely light. But by being cut and saved in this very inexpensive manner will give a pretty good return. Several farmers this season have put down pit silos, of which I will report later on.
But my chief reason for writing this article at the present time is to point out that for those farmers who have not made any ensilage in the regulation style, taking into consideration the very ominous outlook of the present winter, is that one or two farmers here are pulling their maize on the green side about a fortnight before the usual time, and cutting the stalks down and leaving them a ‘day to dry,’ and then patting them into surface stack, shed or barn, and weighting them down according to circumstances, and although cornstalks at that stage are not as a rule much valued by the average farmer, according to scientific agriculture (see late “T. and C. Journal”) they contain more nourishment at that stage than any other. But the point is that these cornstalks are a visible supply of fodder, and it may be well into spring before we get anything as good. I understand this is a common practice amongst American farmers.
APA citation – Ensilage Making on the Orara. (1902, March 25). Clarence and Richmond Examiner (Grafton, NSW: 1889 – 1915), p. 2. Retrieved May 16, 2020, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article61386452
The trick to successfully making silage is to get the moisture right. These days the grass is cut, allowed to partially dry and then baled as in the photo. The advantage of this is that bales can be used a needed rather than all the silage having to be used at once when a pit of it is opened.
Note in the excerpt from an article below that Amandus is trialling wheat, oats and rye as a winter crop. To this day rye grass is grown for winter feed to be used as well as the silage. The silage could also be kept for a dry summer.
On Mr. Wilson’s farm, variety trials of maize are being carried out. Potato trials, on the same farm and on Mr. Allard’s, at Brookland, will be conducted next spring. The plots are at present sown with grey field peas, portion of which will be used for green manuring. On Mr. Hoschke’s farm, Upper Orara, plots of wheat, oats, and rye have been laid down, facing the main road. Similar plots have been put down on Mr. Faviel’s farm at Bonville.
APA citation – FARMERS’ EXPERIMENTS. (1913, May 15). The Daily Telegraph (Sydney, NSW : 1883 – 1930), p. 6. Retrieved April 11, 2023, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article240051207
The other innovation was to assist in removing tree stumps. When the land was cleared there were both dead trees, as can be seen in photos of the time, and stumps in the ground. Amandus liked the idea of finding a better way of removing them. Orara farmers used this method in the 1960’s and 70’s (explosive being available before the days of terrorists) as it was cheaper than a bulldozer and left the soil less prone to erosion.
Land Clearing [excerpt]
There was a good muster of residents at the farm of Mr. Hoschke, senr., at Upper Orara to witness a demonstration by the expert on Friday last. The exhibition was very successful, nearly 100 persons, including some ladies, being present and the general opinion expressed was that the explosive proved all that claimed for it. There is no doubt that in the near future the up-to-date farmer’s plant will not be complete without a kit of blasting necessaries.
Mr. Hoschke generously entertained the visitors at lunch, and altogether a very pleasant day was passed.
Another demonstration was given at Mr. T. Sherwood’s farm, Nana Glen, on Wednesday, 28th inst. Although the weather was not all that could be desired, a very practical exhibition was given, showing how, at a very small cost, a stump that would take a good day’s work to remove by hand, could be thrown clean out of the ground and shattered in a very few minutes. The experimenter also did the same with a tree measuring 30in. through at the butt. General satisfaction was expressed on all sides at the results.
APA citation – Land Clearing. (1912, August 31). Coffs Harbour Advocate (NSW : 1907 – 1942; 1946 – 1954), p. 2. Retrieved May 5, 2023, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article195078142