Whilst we escaped to Sweden for the long wet winter our baby plants were left to fend for themselves. We often heard from family and friends that we had a lucky escape, that the rain and cold weather had settled in. Finally we returned and couldn’t wait to get down to the farm to see how our baby pants were faring in their new home.
We have had so much rain that we had to leave the car behind and go out on the four wheeler. Even then we parked just across the creek and walked rather than sink the bike and walk a few kilometres back to the house.
Here are a few of our brave plants, they look so tiny, especially when we look across the creek and river towards the plants that we planted just over three years! They are so tall, you really do forget that once they too were the size of our new plant offspring. We are sure they are looking forward to some warmer weather. Not that we have had any yet!
Our friends gathered around us and joined in the fun as 23,000 seedlings arrived earlier in the week. That was over two months ago now. Time has flown and the seedlings have grown. However here, belatedly; we take a peek at that first long weekend in June and the days that followed. Larissa and Dave ready and firing away!
Our thanks to Larissa, Carol, Hayley, Dave, Mark, Paul and eventually my son Tom who graciously assisted in planting our little seedlings into their new home on the eastern side of the creek and river. We proved the ground and placed them down, closing the soil around them so that they may thrive. We lucked out with the weather, the rain and cold cold forecast did not arrive. The food was abundant and the days flowed by. Happy days and nights indeed.
And so it began and we thought it would never end. Potty Putkis and stampers, feeding tubes and basket and basket went out all day long. However plenty of laughs and good food saw us down and dirty and ploughing through.
We both collapsed once the weekend was done with still quite a few thousand to be planted once our friends had gone. Over the days that followed Jorn, myself and naturally Jezabelle continued to plant. We were really glad when the job was finally done. Reporting to follow then in a moment we were gone! Thank you SWCC for the funds we received, and the land thanks you even more.
The major component of our funding for the 25th Anniversary Land Grant (ALG) was that we undertook to fence both remnant vegetation and link existing projects via fenced off corridors to Cockatoo Creek and the Tone River. Today we strained the final piece of fencing in the jigsaw, twitched the remaining wire and put up the gates to allow both fire and general farm access when needed (pest control!)
This has been challenging with the terrain at times high and very rocky through to vehicle sinking lowlands after the rain and a lot of fun at the same time, it is simply wonderful to see how all the land now connects down to the creek and river. Providing a safe haven for our native fauna and increased regeneration of native species. Yes removal of imported pests on a needs basis….. be gone bridal creeper, cape tulip, South African Rush, rabbits and foxes……. Am sure there are more however that will do for now.
The final piece was connecting the 25th ALG corridor from our pristine bushland down to the creek – this bushland actually has two corridors at either end through to the water. The original work was down under a South West Catchments Council grant three years in 2013. The side we have connected with is the western side that was not re-planted. That said the natural regeneration is fantastic – it is amazing what happens when the sheep cannot come and feed freely.
It was a loverly sunny day plus we are about 3.5kms from the house so I brought along a picnic for us to have at lunch time.
Just over twelve kilometres of mounds have been created along the western side of Cockatoo Creek. We had some challenges as the mounder needed some repair work. A big thank you to Mark for his excellent machining work – turning rutted parts into smooth operating bliss.
All assembled and ready to go in the SAME tractor and Jorn swung into action….. after several significant downpours of rain. Steady as we go as Sharon got bogged several times in the Colin’s 4WD ute…. (delivering hot soup for lunch) with her not so well chosen boggy farm track choice not the ute…. Delaying the mounding just a little! It is fascinating to watch the landscape change before your eyes so the dog and I decided to stay a while and check out the progress. oh and take a walk down by the creek – cannot believe how healed and amazing it is today compared to three years when it was s sad and bleak place.
Two long and full days work to work to turn the landscape into the mounds ready for the plants in June. Once planted both sides of Cockatoo will have had a significant amount of regeneration and land given back to nature. The health of the creek has simply skyrocketed since our first regeneration projects three years ago. The beginning of the Tone River has not had it so good in many passing moons. Jezabelle as usual was on the job supervising Jorn to ensure he kept them close and coming!
Many people use the fabulous mounder that Forestry Products Commission kindly loan us to use. Not everyone treats it well. Once again the mighty mounder needed a little professional tender loving care. Rather than work in until it broke we decided a trip to city to have the rutted parts made smooth again would be in order.
Mark Evans the exceptional machinist did an amazing job at Micron in Malaga. The old mounder is now smooth and sweet and ready to go. Below is Jorn, Mark in the middle and my wonderful Dad who introduced Jorn to Mark!
Sometimes I feel as if the song “doing it again” should be our mantra. Here we are three years later heading out of the farm gate on our way to picking up the same Forestry Products Commission mounder from one of their properties in Moodiarup. With the goddess Jezabelle in the back of truck on the sleep bed we headed out from Bellalee hoping to be able to load it onto the truck. The farm it was located in was some distance from Bellalee thus we did not have any friends nearby that we could call on to assist us.
However the good old fashioned farm network where one person know another who knows another led us to Rob Hewton. Rob generously said he was happy to help us out luckily for us his dad was visiting from town; they actually took the tractor over to the FPC property and left it there for us.
Jorn’s eyes almost popped out of his head when he spotted the near new John Deere tractor just gleaming waiting for him. He had a great time testing it out and changing all the settings – as Jorn does to any machine he jumps into. It made loading the hefty ripper and mounder a breeze. He was expecting something a little older and not as heavy duty.
With the equipment tied down we headed over to Rob’s property just around the corner (about 3kms away) to see if he was home and to say thanks. Rob generously said he and dad would collect the tractor later. Very handy as I do not have a truck licence, not to mention Colin’s old faithful truck has a few nifty tricks to change the gears.
We luckily have time on our side with this project as once again the Ripper and Mounder needs a little tender loving care work done on it. You may recall it broke down several times last outing. With the luxury of time Jorn dismantled the “broken bits” and we shall take it to the city to have a gift of new bearings and a smoothing out of the nicks of usage.
Once again a big shout out to the Collie Foresty Products Commission for the loan of the equipment, to Morton Neilson who located it for us and asked FPC on our behalf and to Rob Hewton for the generous use of his John Deere tractor. Not to mention our neighbour Colin Ednie-Brown for the use of “old faithful” the truck.
We decided last Saturday to make a quick 2 day visit to visit Bellalee for a farm tour with one our lease farmers. However the tour did not take place BUT the rain came tumbling down. Whilst for many it meant to loss of dry feed for animals for us it gave an opportunity to fence!
We stayed for five days and finished fencing of a little over 6 kilometres of our 25th ALG project requirements. Due to the rain I was unable to put in many of the photo monitor points as we hid in Jorns van when it was really heavy….. One area – site two – did get marked as on the last morning the rain stopped. Jorn has never been a fan of the rain however the thought of fencing in 40+ heat is also not inspiring.
The photos of this corridor show how we are using these corridors to link vegetation zones with existing projects that are located around Cockatoo Creek and the Tone River.
Whilst we we were we sort to eradicate a rabbit warren using the prescribed means in order to protect the native species of our area.
Gratitude to Tegan from Birdlife Australia who took time out of her busy schedule to visit us this morning here at Bellalee. Tegan spent several hours with us investigating sites on the farm where we have seen the Forest Red Tailed and Carnaby’s Cockatoo’s. We spent some delightful time wandering through remnant vegetation that has ben fenced for our many regeneration projects here at Bellalee.
We now know how to check hollows to see if anyone is home and have had a lesson of “which cockatoo is this” by checking the markings on nuts they enjoy for feed on.
Western Australia is the only place in the world we you can see Carnaby’s Black Cockatoo. They were once numerous across the Wheatbelt and Great Southern area which is where we are. The species has been in decline since the 1950’s and in some place have become extinct. Did you know that they mate for life?
We are lucky as we have the main species of Black Cockatoo all cruising around here locally. We see this as an added dimension to the regeneration work we are doing here at Bellalee. Mark you diary – April 3rd, 2016 and look out for workshops on how you can contribute to helping these beautiful birds.
It is magic having black-cockatoos on our property! Next years Great Cocky Count is scheduled for Sunday, 3rd April 2016. Are we on board, Birdlife Australia would love to set up some count sites in the Kojonup – Orchid Valley – Tonebridge area, so as April approaches, we are asking you all to please do keep an eye one where you see the birds going to roost in the evening and let Birdlife Australia know, and they’ll set it up as a registered site. Information is available at http://www.birdlife.org.au or email Birdlife Australia at firstname.lastname@example.org – Tegan is the Cockies in Crisis Project Manager.
Birdlife Australia are trying to expand the count for next year to include all three species of black-cocky found in the southwest – and around Orchid Valley you have the potential to get Baudin’s, Carnaby’s and Forest Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo – so please spread the word and keep your eyes out!
Because it is possible to get all three species in our area, it is going to be really interesting to know what trees the birds are breeding in (are they competing with each other or do they use slightly different hollow types? – and are they managing to raise chicks successfully?). We are looking forward to Tegan from Birdlife Australia coming out to Bellalee to run a check out some of the trees in your remnant vegetation, and see what’s going on. She will show us the way we survey for breeding birds, and they have a tree hollow camera we can use to look into any occupied hollows we find!
If you’re interested in coming on board let us know! These photos of three Forest Red-tailed cockatoos were taken a few weeks back whilst we were fencing Kayla’s Woodland a recent Southern Dirt Project at the farm.
Yes everyone knows don’t they that the real business in done in the corridors, not the main house! Thus it is that we move onto the 25th Landcare Anniversary Grant. This grant allows us to connect our existing regeneration areas together into seamless corridors all heading towards the water systems on the property.
We are simply delighted that we have been afforded the opportunity to work with multiple authorities since we have started our regeneration projects on Bellalee. Once upon a time Jorn passed a comment that Bellalee, down by the river used to look beautiful back in the early 1970’s. Our initial two regeneration projects have fired on all cylinders with an 80% strike rate and plenty of natural regeneration to boost the sites assets. We are very proud to see projects on the Atlas Of Living Australia. With the work we will undertake with the 25th ALG we will connect remnant vegetation from differing parts of the farm and create seamless corridors down to the Creek and River. These corridors will provide regenerated amazing pathways for fauna to be able to move and flora to spill out from down to the river.
We are delighted to have spotted not only the red tailed Black Cockatoo on the property in Kayla’s Woodland (that will be be linked by one of the corridors to the River) but also the rarer white tailed Carnaby’s cockatoo. What a delight to hear them call. They are nesting in the woodland and we are simply delighted that they call Orchid Valley home.
The photo is of Jorn using Christie the superstar star picket rammer and Colin looking for a spot to put a strainer post. This is rocky country and one of the first of the areas to be fenced under the project.