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’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
It’s that time of year again, when we happily send some young trees out naked into the winter.
The ones that seem large enough have their wildlife and frost resistant covers removed, so that we can recycle them for this year’s plantings. That’s hundreds of covers to be jerked up, flattened and carried back to the truck, then transported to our overcrowded garage for storage. Continue reading
Extreme tree planting
Seed collecting is a new art for me. It requires timing, observation and knowledge of what you’re looking for. Mostly I’m nervous that I’ll just take the seeds off a plant and waste them by not planting them in time. Continue reading
Brazil’s coastal rainforest could hardly be more distant from a sheep farm in New South Wales. Yet I found visiting it both inspirational and helpful for my own plans.
The rainforest plant life is nothing like our dry eucalypts and grasses. While there are a few ancient relatives of Australian plants, most of the vegetation looks as if it’s been ordered from a hothouse catalogue – heliconias, bromeliads, philodendrons, orchids and more. Continue reading
Tree planting doesn’t always go as planned.
In 2011, before we actually moved back to Australia, I spoke to Graham Fifield at Greening Australia about being part of their WOPR (Whole Paddock Rehabilitation) program. That program is designed to revegetate an area of 10 hectares or more, using bands of trees and shrubs directly seeded on the contours. It uses existing paddocks, so doesn’t require the extra fencing that most tree-planting needs. After five years, the grazing animals are allowed back in, so it’s not taken out of production permanently.
Direct seeding equipment 2012.
I was interested in trying direct seeding, partly because the way I plant tube-stock trees (with deep drilled holes, plastic covers, mulch, heavy watering, fertilizer, more mulch) is pretty labour-intensive. If seeding worked, it could be an easy way out. I was feeling a little overwhelmed at the (643 hectare) size of the entire farm rehabilitation project, so doing 10 hectares at once seemed like it would be a big step forward. I counted my tree seedlings in the thousands well before they were germinated. Continue reading