Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad


That Meatloaf song was all I could think about as we swung into action on our latest project venture. We have three areas of remnant vegetation to fence and at the end of our allotted time, two are a done deal!

Marilyn the post rammer set to work, followed by Christie who makes quick work of donging in the Jio Star posts. Usually we roll the wire out at the same time we install the star posts – however we did not know how we would go time wise so we were patient and waited!

All set the following morning we arose early and ready to roll out the Waratah Stocklock which we are using for the first time after meeting the Waratah team at a recent Dowerin Field Day. Jorn is hooked and loves it. Our fencing system works and we work well together. Naturally I can fix the wire to the posts quicker than Jorn can tie off, I make sure I go extra fast if I think it is touch and go…. just a bit competitive.

We thought we would be done, however the rock underneath thwarted us albeit briefly! And at the end of the day two out of three ain’t bad. The Strainer posts are in situ on the last site so we are on the homeward stretch for next time we are down at Bellalee. Plus we have time up our sleeve as the completion date is not until June.

As usual we could not do any of this work with the assistance of our neighbours generosity with his equipment – tractors, utes and a great sense of humour. A big shout out to the great people at Waratah Fencing who are a proud Australian brand that has been around for over 130 years.

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Remnant Wonders

Some things just keep on going. We are truly lucky people! As you all know we are passionate about the environment and the regeneration works we have undertaken here at the farm in Orchid Valley. We often joke the soon the entire place will be turned back to nature!

We have been we lucky recipients in a new round of environmental project funding by the South West Catchments Council (SWCC).  We will be fencing  three remnant vegetation areas on the farm. This is the third project we have undertaken with SWCC. We are delighted to be working with them once again.

One of the areas to be fenced is a favourite haunt for the Carnaby Cockatoos – they are often spotted socialising in the afternoons. I spot them flying over the house and like to go up and watch them.

To get the project underway more fencing supplies have been ordered and picked up – this time from Elders in Kojonup. A shout out to Waratah who assisted us with the quote. We were actually in Sweden when we applied for the grant. We had met the people from Waratah at the Dowerin Field Day in 2015 and they passed over their business cards telling us to give them call as they loved what we were doing on the farm with the regeneration work.

Pictured here is Paula helping Jorn load the supplies onto Colin’s truck. Yes we are still using all of our friends equipment!

Corridors of Power – 25th ALG

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.

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Colour My World

Our beautiful seedlings are now just over two years of age. We took and extensive walk through the sites this week during a break from our current round of fencing projects. It is always uplifting to walk amount the rows of plants seeing howIMG_1714-0 they are faring.

They are doing so well, we estimate we have an 80% strike rate which is phenomenal. Plus the dormant seed bank has started to really kick in and a great mix of local flora has popped up in around the the sites, especially along the river banks. The entire area is looking vibrant and healthy. The former water logged areas are now stabilizing with a thick matting of native Sandfire and native grasses  spreading ins between the rows giving the whole area a lush wealthy feel. We look out a former head of Landcare for a walking tour and he could not believe how much work had been done and how good the projects looked after such a short time.

Early spring has seen soIMG_1710-0me of the plants bloom, so we though we would share a little of the colour that has come to life here in both the SWCC and NRM project sites on the western side of the Tone River and Cockatoo Creek.

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Ridgey didge we need a light sabre errr life saver

“You do know where it is don’t you”, said Jorn as I happily announced we had been successful in obtaining funding from Southern Dirt for more re-generation work. “Yes, Land for Wildlife site 5”, says I, not really knowing where it was. Okay, over there as I clearly point to the map of the farm. Not really knowing exactly where, you know over there…

Apparently it is rocky ridge country, blink of eye lashes, and this means? River views? Location location in real estate parlance. Good Internet connection potential? Certainly none down at the house.

“How are we going to IMG_2022get the posts in”, clearly I think Jorn is having a lend of me, I am after all country born but lived most of my life as a city girl, I bring a smile and enthusiasm however very little practical knowledge….. I am good at the paper work and writing submissions for grants (apparently). My answer clearly, we do it the way we always do, with the Donnybrook donger Jorn made back in early 1980’s. Here is Jorn out one of the areas to be fenced under the 25th Anniversary Landcare project. Easy, flat, no rocks. We apparently need a little more that old faithful.

As luck and a few telephone calls would have it we have found our saviour in the form of Orchid Valley fencing contractor Kim Sanders. Over we went to visit with some test poles in hand. We use former electricity poles, a bit more work as we have to cut them to size however cheaper than commercially available poles and quicker than finding wood to use from the farm.

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Kim has opted in to rescue us! All we need is a little patience (something that I do not possess). Kim is in demand,very, very busy. However he along with his hydraulic post rammer and tractor are spot on for the task to ram the strainer posts into the very rocky ridges that is “Kayla’s Woodland”. (And yes there are views.)

Action plan implemented! The poles aka strainer posts, are all laid out ready to go. We just need to wait for a window of opportunity for the light sabre!

We could never have undertaken any of the work we have done without the unfailing generosity of friends and neighbours. Bellalee has been leased since the year 2000, thus the majority of the equipment used is begged and borrowed. We feel very blessed to have been able undertake this work.

Bridal Creeper and South African Reed given their exit orders

IMG_1095Six months ago we added Bridal Creeper to the list of weeds to eradicate/control at the farm. Kayla Ringrose from Southern Dirt was a fabulous teacher on the various ways to control Bridal Creeper. Six months later I walked through the areas we are targeting to check out the progress. (Keep in mind here this is a seven year programme!). Along the creek line luckily there was only one small patch, however not so lucky in other areas. Once again of I went, spray pack on my back on a murderous spree with the prescribed dosage of weed killer for the problem. Delighted to see very little re-growth after the long summer. Kayla stressed diligence was needed! The Bridal creeper here is in one of the areas soon to be fenced under our 25th Anniversary Landcare agreement.

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Spiny Rush is in an increasing problem in the local area. It can be found along drainage lines and low lying areas. Spiny Rush favours areas where its tolerance to salt allows it to out compete other plants and dominate. Choking waterways and providing harbour for foxes and rabbits, we have been working to control spiny rush before it can form into dense infestations. It can be easily confused with native rushes however once you get you eye it in it is easy to spot. Yes I spent a few days mattock in hand digging up spiny rush, section by section.

Like the Bridal Creeper this is a long term project to rid Bellalee of the invading pest!

Christmas came early for Bellalee

December 18th almost 300 community groups and individuals across Australia received a wonderful Christmas present. An email that let us know will we share in $5 million to enable communities to take practical action as part of the Australian Government’s National Landcare Programme. Yes we were one of the privileged successful individuals given the go ahead.

We are still pinching ourselves. This funding will allow us to neatly finish most of the regeneration recommendations we received in our original Land For Wildlife Report. That report marked the official start of this journey.

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Empties!

Eventually we ran out of plants – they were planted!  It was almost and anti-climax when we didn’t have to return to the shearing shed to load more plants onto the trailer. On our return to Perth, we dropped into the Blyth Tree Farm in Katanning to return the trays to Steve.

Just some of the empty trays stacked up outside the shearing shed.

Just some of the empty trays stacked up outside the shearing shed.

Jezabel the dogess is in the background making sure all the trays are returned

Jezabel the dogess is in the background making sure all the trays are returned

Carol and Wanda the camper pleased that the work is complete!

Carol and Wanda the camper pleased that the work is complete!