Having a river in your backyard is a lovely idea, not always so pleasant in reality, as fences and dead animals go swirling past in a flood, or when you find out that a city upstream is putting something in the water that shouldn’t be there.
Waterwatch has been a great way to find out what actually is swimming or floating under the river’s surface. Previously we could only guess, but now I know the phosphate, nitrate and dissolved oxygen levels, turbidity, electrical conductivity and ph.During the first year I was collecting data it rained a lot, the river levels were high and the readings were very clean. Since last year however, the river has been mostly low, and the nitrate levels are generally off the charts high. Continue reading
Amazingly, we’re done with our main project for 2018!
After the bitter weather on our big planting a few weeks ago, I was worried we’d never get our whole Glossy Black Cockatoo project finished. Thankfully, Darren Menachemson and a wonderful crew from ThinkPlace plus a Greening Australia “Adopt a Plot” team came to our rescue. Continue reading
After months of flu last year, I was very excited when Ben Hanrahan from Greening Australia offered help with planting our new Glossy Black Cockatoo area on the steep gully behind the house.
It’s been a dry year so far, with only scattered amounts of rain making the soil just moist enough for planting. Mostly we’ve had sunny days and warm temperatures.
We’d ripped and fenced and prepared for the arrival of the mystery volunteers. Ben didn’t say who they were, just that there were lots of them. But as we waited for the buses to arrive, the sunny morning began to sour. Matthew ran around putting rocks on each coir mat to keep them from flying away. The piles of pink corflute covers heaved and flapped against the heavy weights we’d put on them.
Looking at the surging clouds, Craig, Ben and Matt began digging some “demonstration” holes, to shorten the planting process.
Then the rain came down, just as the two big buses arrived. Continue reading
It’s an embarrassment that when I see litter in our paddocks. That’s because it’s usually my own: one of my tree guards that has blown off and landed in the creek, or among the ti-tree, or strung up against a barbed-wire fence.
But collecting them again is the easy part. The problem is what to do with the hundreds of covers that stay on, doing their job, and then need to be recycled? Continue reading
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. Continue reading
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’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
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
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
A few old trees make all the difference when you’re doing a bird survey. The bare, newly planted paddocks on Carkella and Adnamira were limited to a few species, mainly parrots (galahs,red-rumps, rosellas) and a small family of magpies.
Red-rumped parrot photo by Leo from iNaturalist.org
The Great Aerial Ocean above our heads, for me, is a reminder that we all live on the one planet. Only a thin band of atmosphere comes between us and the inhospitable vastness of space. Continue reading
Our lovely neighbour Cathy Campbell has a new project. It’s called “Managing Mange in the Mullion” (that’s the title of the Facebook group also) and involves counting wombats, working out how many of them are affected by sarcoptic mange and treating them using “burrow flaps” that deliver a dose of medicine automatically at the entry to their underground lairs. Continue reading