All those months waiting for rain in the autumn, and now we have too much.
While the hills are green and the ground is perfect for planting, this year’s fences are delayed because vehicles that try to get up with loads of concrete and posts are in grave danger of getting bogged. Or sliding off into a gully.
So that means I can’t plant my main areas for this year because the sheep are not excluded, and would find my young seedlings much too tasty.
In the meantime, we’ve been checking over last year’s plantings and filling in gaps and places where things didn’t thrive.
In several cases, they didn’t thrive because what seemed like solid ground has now turned into a set of little swimming pools. Where the seedlings died, we either replaced them on higher ground, or mounded up the better soil nearby to ensure that the roots are not waterlogged again. That’s a definite disadvantage of planting when conditions are dry, not knowing what the soil will do in the wet.
Mostly I’ve been pretty cautious about driving around in the paddocks. Unfortunately last week’s success getting across the low ground at Carkella left me boasting to Matthew Kent (planting assistant and CIT student extraordinaire) about how useful the four-wheel-drive course I did in 2012 has been.
And then, oops. In three seconds my situation went from a quick transfer of some timber from one storage building to another before an afternoon of planting, into four hours of frustration.
Underneath a thin skin of short grass, the soil was like chocolate pudding. Luckily we were carrying mattocks and trowels, and the store-shed had a pile of old corrugated iron to jam under the wheels. But it was quickly clear that we could neither go forward nor back without some extra force.
After a hike to the top of the valley and a phone call, I was very glad to see Mitch Leonard coming to the rescue.
Except, unfortunately, he was just as deceived by the green skin of the paddock and was promptly bogged too. So now we had two vehicles stuck. We also had an audience of Leonie, the two kids, me and Matthew wandering the paddock looking at bugs and beetles (some of us).Meanwhile Mitch continued his rescuing by searching for mobile phone reception first on the woolshed roof (the nice sturdy one he rebuilt after a storm ripped the old one off), then a fence post, and finally up on the peak behind the woolshed.
And then we were rescued again, by Andrew Leonard and his aged Nissan (pulling out two Toyotas, oh, the shame).
And then, with Mitch’s winch, extra chains and some steadier ground, we were finally out of the mud, leaving a horrible mess behind.
Perhaps I’ll come back and plant some trees in these great big holes we’ve dug.