Suddenly, while I was still coughing and wheezing from the flu, spring arrived on the hills around us. It seemed as if every type of wattle and fruit tree began to flower simultaneously, even while the mornings remained so cold and frosty I couldn’t step outside without going into a coughing fit.
Best of all, though, the golden lights of the wattles on the hills show up all the places where I’ve been planting trees (Georgia’s Patch, the Cutting and more and more places each year.
And in the distance, in the steep and really rocky places, the places where wattles have held on despite all the challenges against them. Golden days.
They look so innocent.
But my, they have big teeth.
And lots of them.
I’m currently not feeling very friendly towards kangaroos.
When trees attack they often do so without warning.
A few months ago, a massive old eucalypt (I thought possibly a Blakely’s red gum, but my identification skills are poor – or maybe a very large Red Box (eucalyptus polyanthemos ) in the crop paddock near the house suddenly turned into a crushing giant squid-shaped thing, demolishing fences and flattening my hopes of helping it live into another century. Continue reading
Despite the dry ground and heavy frosts, 2017’s winter planting season has gone really well. I’m down to a couple of weekends planting extra plots to use up 100 leftover plants.
Increasing the number of regular helpers has made a great difference, as has Matthew’s reliability and skill as my outstanding Chief Planting Assistant. Continue reading
I love work.
I can watch it all day.
For several days this year I’ve had an extra farm assistant in the form of backpacker Emil, who’s been doing things that I’ve managed to avoid for months, but know are necessary. Continue reading
I’ve been looking out for Rakali for a while now, ever since my wonderful assistant Matt found a yabby claw out on the creek bank while we were doing water testing at Lizard Crossing. I was told that water-rats (or rakali) like to take their food out onto the bank to eat.
Unfortunately, the first one I saw was dead. So was the second one.
Sometimes everything just seems to go right. This last weekend was one of those.
We finally had a planting location where we could use the ripper. This is my big project for this year – a big windbreak on Adnamira which will connect a gully with the existing ridgetop windbreak.
We have some beautiful beetles here, and some that annoy me by eating trees that I would like to have survive, but I’d never paid much attention to the little black beetles that crawl around on the ground.
Then in March we had a visit from Kip Will from UC Berkeley who was interested in carabid ground beetles. (Not rabid, as I thought when he first said it.) To check out what we have, we set up pit traps (plastic beer cups buried in the dirt) at various locations in the Box Gum woodland, helped by Fabian and Martta.
When I was a child I loved to play around the “magical” twisted trunk of a huge weeping willow (salix babylonica) in a gully behind the house on Adnamira. It was a little off-putting, however, when I traipsed down the paddock one day with my adventure Barbie dolls, to find a whole nest of baby black snakes all writhing under the roots just where I’d planned to set up camp. Nevertheless, I still have a fondness for weeping willows, from a bit more distance. Continue reading
Ever since I went to the Friends of Grasslands workshop in 2014 I’ve been itching to try my hand at revegetating native grasses, rather than only trees and shrubs.
Of course, that’s not all that easy to do. Sue McIntyre has some good suggestions, but we are mostly forced to deal with weeds where we can, and hope that native grasses and forbs can do all right on their own.
On both farms, my parents made a big effort to “improve” the pasture with introduced grasses such as phalaris, clovers, and lucerne, which increase the carrying capacity for sheep (you hope), but need fertilizer and water to survive. During the “Millenium Drought” from 2001-2008, it was the native grasses that kept at least some coverage on the bare hills because of their ability to withstand lack of water. Continue reading
The problem with Australian summers is you don’t know which you’re going to have: a nice day on the river, dinner with friends, or an invasion of flames.
It’s the time of year to see reptiles out and about on the roads again. Bearded dragons (pogona barbata) do threatening push-ups as they try to frighten off approaching cars. Or they lie as flat as possible like this one is doing, before scuttling quickly away.
This is the time of year for walking in gardens, when they’re often at their most beautiful. They’re also the most work if you want to choose a particular look, rather than just take what comes.
Out on the hills, “what comes” is pretty good right now. Continue reading
My goal this year was to:
- Check and do some replanting if necessary on last year’s plots on Adnamira and Carkella. My guess was 50 to 80 because I knew some of them had had a hard time with the dry weather.
- plant 30 trees/shrubs in tiny triangles on Adnamira
- 30 trees/shrubs in a small connection plot in the Tank Paddock behind the homestead
- 60 trees/shrubs in a rocky knoll connection plot in the dam paddock on Esdale
- 500 trees/shrubs in a windbreak on Esdale (funded by Local Land Services)
- TOTAL – 670 approx
What actually happened: Continue reading
I’ve started adding some tiny triangles to my collection of revegetation plots over our hills. Continue reading
All those months waiting for rain in the autumn, and now we have too much. Continue reading
The Big Wilt has finally come. Every year when the frosts arrive, the summer plants die back and make way for the ones that can take the cold.
This year we waited a long time for the changeover. In some ways it was a vindication of my messy, lazy style of vegetable gardening, the one where I keep sticking in new things, but don’t pull out the old ones until after they’ve gone to seed and died. Continue reading
There’s a look that weeds tend to have: often spiky like a thistle,;definitely fast growing; pretty flowers perhaps; obviously not delicious to sheep (so still in existence in a paddock);and setting lots of seed for example. Continue reading
Even in the dark I can tell when the river has started to flood. I love to hear the normal soft rushing sound at night, a little like distant traffic. This is more. It’s a freeway roar that means big standing waves crashing against the rocks. Big water on the move is magnificent.
Whole islands disappear, leaving just a set of scrambling waves, rushing to get past. Continue reading