A ‘Grand Design’ it isn’t, but the Yarnauwi farm shed has seen enough delays to make even Kevin McCloud blush. After 14 months, our simple 4-bay equipment shed is finally done. Ordered in January 2016, with the shed company suggesting an initial completion date of June 2016, this modest structure was beset with delays ranging in scale from an apocalyptic winter through to urban tradies that couldn’t quite stomach the prospect of venturing beyond suburbia.
Before Yarnauwi, we never really appreciated winter. Now, through the long dry season, we find ourselves yearning for a chill edge to the wind, the moisture in the grass, and skies of dark clouds. We’ve tried to plan our year to mimic the lives of so many of the organisms that occupy our landscape: in the hot, dry times, we go into maintenance mode, watching and waiting for the first rains before we spring into action again. With the greening of the landscape, it’s all on: tree-planting has begun, shed sites are levelled, the grass grows. In winter, the kangaroos converge in clans numbering hundreds, displaced from the pasture, they lounge among the seedlings in the reveg areas while we look on nervously.
You can view a printable version of this Annual Report here.
We’re now three years into the Yarnauwi project. With all of our major water and fencing infrastructure in place, 2015 was a year of consolidating and refining our planting and grazing systems, and continuing to restore habitat while also developing income streams. Once again, we thank you for your support this year, whether that’s been planting trees, purchasing meat, hauling junk, offering advice or just being generally encouraging! We feel enormously privileged to have such a supportive community of family, friends and neighbours contributing to the restoration and development of this patch of ground. Continue reading
We’ve tried to structure our farm year so that summer is a time of dormancy, maintaining the property, but avoiding too many big jobs in the heat. With an historic heatwave across southeastern Australia, and four consecutive days over 40 degrees for South Australia, we thought we’d make an exception to construct another shelter for our long-suffering sheep.
After months of chipping away at this latest linocut in spare moments sprinkled throughout family life, I’m pleased to announce it finished! “Fear the deer, etc.” was begun earlier this year in the lead-up to the 2015 tree planting season and depicts the view looking west from Yarnauwi, with a selection of local birds eagerly awaiting the maturation of our and our neighbours’ revegetation efforts! In the meantime, they perch in the antlers of a red deer skull, one of the many voracious herbivores in the neighbourhood that present challenges for raising seedlings.
The birds shown are, on the left, a tawny frogmouth, a family of which we’ve spotted 500 or so metres from our back boundary, but our property still lacks the habitat to tempt them closer, a black-faced cuckoo-shrike (aka. shufflewing, due to its habit of shuffling its wings upon landing), common in nearby woodland but still only a passing visitor to Yarnauwi, and the Australasian Pipit, an enthusiastic resident of the farm.
Special thanks to Jess S, patron of the arts, for donating part of her stash of lino for the creation of this particular piece! Thanks again to our community of friends and neighbours who continue to contribute to the broader effort of restoring habitat on our property and beyond!
Over the last couple of years we’ve assembled an impressive collection of woven polypropylene sacks. Typically used as bags for stock feed or pasture seed, in the spirit of Plastic-Free July, I thought it was time to put these single-use plastics to use and upcycle them into a patchwork, water-proof picnic blanket.
We’re great fans of temporary. Not aiming for permanence tends to mean that ideas can be trialled inexpensively, can be easily changed and that learning from failure can be quick and low-impact. In that spirit, as we develop the sheep enterprise of the farm, we’ve tried to keep things low-key. For yards, we use locally-made portable panels, but when working closely with sheep, we found the mesh sides problematic due to the ease with which horns or feet can become entangled. In more established circumstances, yards would have a working race for such a purpose, but the cost of a manufactured race can be steep. It was time to get out the tools and make our own.
We’re in our third season of tree planting at Yarnauwi now, working to revegetate sections of the property for habitat, shelter and timber. We’ve planted about 1,000 plants a year, from groundcovers to future woodland giants. Once they were guarded from marauding roos, we’ve necessarily had a philosophy of leaving the plants to survive without too much intervention. Even in a dry year such as 2014, we had a modest 60ish percent survival rate, but with El Niño tipped to recur in 2015, we’ve tried to further refine our approach to give our trees an improved chance of survival. Of course, there are absolutely no guarantees it will work, or will work for everything, but it’s worth a shot.
This year, we’ve also planted our first, experimental, woodlot of river oaks (Casuarina cunninghamiana) in an awkward corner of the farm. The paddock was too small and inaccessible to deep rip, so we began by marking contours with a bunyip water level, an essential DIY tool for measuring and marking slope (see Brad Lancaster’s guide to bunyip construction and usage here). Continue reading
Now that we have a new entry to the property, it was time to knock together a sign announcing the property’s name. In August 2014, we were granted the name Yarnauwi by Kaurna Warra Pintyanthi, a property name that both describes the landscape (“bald (hills) water”), and references the traditional meeting ground Yarnauwingga just beyond the back fence.
In the spirit of our intentions for the property, the sign is entirely constructed from materials salvaged from around the farm: a surviving piece of corrugated iron and timbers seasoned in the mud and sun of the gully floors. The text and logo are stencilled with spray-paint. The rather wonky nature of the timbers made it tricky to hang, but we’re reasonably confident it’s level-ish. Give it a honk next time you’re passing!
When our livestock are moved into the next paddock, or the trough needs a clean, the contents, up to 450 litres of water, are dumped into the pasture. While we’ve tended to hold a ‘survival-of-the-fittest’ mentality for our tree planting, we couldn’t help but feel that this water could be better directed on nearby seedlings. So, a little while ago, we whipped up our first attempt at a stock trough water diverter that would do just this. Continue reading