allocasuarina verticillata

DONE, BUT DUSTY

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.

The lovely ThinkPlacers turned up on a foggy morning and chose the highest ridge to plant.

frozen water buckets

We had to chase out a family of kangaroos that were still confused by the new fences.   We also had to crack the ice on the frozen water buckets we’d stashed ahead of time.  Brrrr.

They (the people, not the kangaroos) were a great team, both careful and fast.  We had the assistance of mascots in the form of dogs and toddlers, which always adds to the entertainment.

By the time we called a halt, they’d got 170 more allocasuarinas into the ground among the rocky ridges.   It’s going to look extraordinarily different when they all grow.looking uphillPlanting definitely moves more quickly where we’re able to put rip-lines in ahead of time, and because they’d come back so promptly, the soil still had just enough moisture.

The Greening Australia Adopt A Plot trio arrived a few days later, and polished off the hollow in the middle of the site.  They were even faster, getting 130 in 3 hours.  These included some extra eucalyptus blakelyi, dives, and a variety of shrubs that I added because I thought they would do better than the allocasuarinas in the heavy soil in the hollow.

The big issue is still the dryness of the ground.  The hills look quite green from a distance, but a lot of it is rosettes of Patterson’s Curse covering bare ground.  It’s hard to remember that the hollow is often wet and water trickles down the gully after heavy rain.  The fencers found that when they drilled for posts, the ground moisture was gone after 30 centimetres, and below that was bone dry.  We gave each plant as much water as we could, hoping for the best.    Last time we planted in dry ground, we lost some to the dryness, and some to having planted in places we didn’t realize were actually boggy.

This plot is pretty important as I’ve been working making links to it over the past four years – something that I hope will make it a really effective and productive area, for many types of wildlife including the Glossy Black Cockatoos.  sequence of planting

Matthew and covers

I’m hoping for some rain tomorrow to help settle these new plants into place, and to settle the unseasonal dust.

Thank you again to everyone that helped make this possible.

 

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UNTHINKABLE WEATHER

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.  cockatoo 2 thinkplace team arrivalThe lovely volunteers from ThinkPlace were instantly soaked despite raincoats and plastic ponchos, but gamely set about transporting food and drinks up to the verandah of the house.  All concept of having lunch out in the paddock was abandoned, but the crew was lively and willing to give some planting a go.

Ben explained the Glossy Black Cockatoo program, where allocasuarina verticillata (drooping sheoak) that have gone missing from the landscape are being replanted to allow these small black cockatoos to move around the landscape again.   I gave a short explanation of what we’re trying to do at Esdale and Adnamira, including encouraging biodiversity and resilience in the landscape while still maintaining a productive sheep farm.

cockatoo 2 blakely box gumI also really want to protect and preserve the big remnant trees we do have, some of which could be up to five hundred years old.  They desperately need understorey plants that will protect the birds that then eat the insects that destroy the trees.   One of our most beautiful Blakely’s red gum trees is in the area we were planting.

Having cowered under shelter through what we hoped was the worst of the weather, we all headed up to the gully for planting demonstrations (almost drowned out by the flapping noise of plastic ponchos), and then let the volunteers loose.  The rain returned, with more wind, covers flying across the hill and having to be chased down, mattocks swinging energetically as more holes were dug, each plant gently separated from it’s tube, planted and protected.

I took to making covers, keeping my foot on the pile while shoving stakes through the holes.  They wrestled in the gusts, occasionally flying back to spreadeagle against the fence.   Usually, that’s the easy job.

When the sleet began, the amazing crew was already two thirds of the way across the hillside.  I worried that if we went on, we’d lose people to hypothermia, but they had their heads down and fought up the other side of the gully toward the fence.

After another twenty minutes or so, Ben decided things were getting too dangerous, and we went back to the house to eat the lunch (out of the rain).    At that point most people were chilled and willingly headed back to the buses to go home, but a small crew went back and finished the last dozen when the rain let up slightly.

cockatoo 2 after thinkplace planting 1

I was frankly amazed that we got 240 trees planted on steep, rocky ground under those circumstances.   Thank you ThinkPlace (and Greening Australia) for dealing so well with our unthinkable weather.   cockatoo 2 after thinkplace planting 3 sunny

 

THE GREEN ARMY INVADES

I was quite cautious when the idea of a “Green Army” was proposed.  It seemed like a political stunt.  And the cost of the payslips was going to be subtracted from Landcare, a community organization I admire a great deal.

Who was this Army going to attack?  The trees?  Us?

Who was going to join up?  Willing people? Or grumpy teenagers who’d rather be playing video games, only moving when they were driven along with pitchforks?

rocksAnd how would they feel about planting in rocks?

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A SNACK BAR FOR GLOSSY BLACK COCKATOOS

Last weekend we planted in two different directions at once.  Craig watering Adnamira dam areaAndrew Henjak hammering stakes Adnamira dam plantation

We finished the final small tree lots that are part of the chain of connections across the Murrumbidgee river for small birds. That makes nine tree lots for connectivity only, plus two extra areas, a shelter paddock that used to be a calf-feeding area, and a decorative one that will have an avenue of white trunked eucalyptus mannifera at the entry to Adnamira .  The two extras will act as bird stepping stones as well. Continue reading