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Another hot dawn breaks

Another hot dawn breaks

While the sun still has some sting left in it, we’ve now completed our first official summer working with the block. When we settled the contract in late November, we began drafting a phased plan for actions to take over the 2012/13 period and beyond. We intended the first year (at least) to be primarily a process of observing and auditing the property, learning what we can about what is here, what has been and what is possible.

Golden afternoon light on the big red gum and the hills beyond

Golden afternoon light on the big red gum and the hills beyond

Four months on, we’ve ticked off a few of our goals and have created some new ones. Here are some highlights:

  • Sharing the property with friends and family
  • Camping on the block a couple of times, watching sunrise, sunset and stars
  • Contacting and meeting up with local permaculturalists and other regenerative farmers in the area
  • Witnessing the landscape begin to regenerate with saplings germinating
  • DIY soil and water quality testing and finding that things are better than expected
  • Consulting with the local Natural Resources Management Board and discovering bands of native pasture and other plants clinging on
  • Starting sector mapping for prevailing weather patterns and other site conditions
  • Mapping drainage lines, mapping resources, mapping slopes, mapping soils and completing two-and-a-half drafts for a property plan
  • Meeting like-minded neighbours and getting excited by the possibility of working as a collaborative community
  • Gathering local native seed and propagating over 150 plants for targeted revegetation in winter
  • Conducting weed control on woody invasives
  • Drafting a calendar of seasonal farm tasks
  • Close encounters with roos, quails and other creatures
  • Asher overcoming his terror of the ocean to frolic at Second Valley beach
  • Cleaning up some areas of dumped rubbish, starting the removal of scrap metal, repurposing trash to make tools and tree guards
Pete, Shani and Arlo brave the block for a weekend of camping

Pete, Shani and Arlo brave the elements for a weekend of camping

Hot western sun

Hot western sun

Kangaroos seek shelter from the morning heat

Kangaroos seek shelter from the morning heat

Asher hangs out at mission control

Asher hangs out at mission control

Stars rise above the hills to the south east

Stars rise above the hills to the south east

Morning calm on the dam

Morning calm on the dam

A damselfly suns itself

A damselfly soaks up the sun

Moon and a dusty sky

Moon and a dusty sky

Testing soil

Testing soil

A Spotted Harrier (Circus assimilis) guards a freshly killed quail (27/1/13).

A Spotted Harrier (Circus assimilis) guards a freshly killed quail

Night fall

Nightfall

In his book You Can Farm, Joel Salatin regularly emphasises how steep the learning curve is for aspiring farmers and our experience is no exception. In addition to our voracious reading on practical skills from bushfire planning to fencing we’ve also seen how resilient landscapes can be and how willing they are to start regenerating in the right conditions. We’ve learnt that seeking out local knowledge and expertise is essential and that the best person for the job may not be found on the internet. We’ve learnt that plastic persists long after its usefulness has ended. We’ve learnt that it’s possible to make some tools and pick up the others for at a better price and quality than the local big-box store can offer. We’ve also learnt that everything gets pretty crispy by the end of February and that winter is to be looked forward to for the possibilities that rain and cool bring.

Asher and Arlo live it up in their play tent in the creekbed

Asher and Arlo live it up in their play tent in the creekbed

The big red gum

The big red gum

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