WCC Planting the Dream

We are delighted to be working with the Warren Catchments Council planting the dream of regenerated waterways here on Bellalee. We have been very fortunate to discover that another 10000 site appropriate native seedlings will be planted here around a creek soon to be fenced. This is very important fringe vegetation.

Fringing vegetation plays an important role in the maintenance of a biologically balanced and healthy waterway. It provides a wide range of functions that are essential for supporting plant and animal life and for maintaining the quality of the environment. These functions include: flood control; bankline stabilisation; sediment, nutrient and pollutant filtering and, most importantly, the provision of food, shelter and breeding habitats for a wide range of organisms.

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We Found the Ripper and Mounder – Waiting…… 

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.

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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.

Great Koji Cocky Count

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 tegan.douglas@birdlife.org.au – 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.

 

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!

Return visit, only took 25 years!

Anna with a glass of champagne waiting for yet another glorious Western Australian sunset overlooking City Beach.

Anna Ringborg last visited the farm 25 years ago when Jörns parents were still farming there. It was fabulous to show her around. Here is Anna at the coast (we didn’t have one of here at the farm…..). Anna travels DownUnder most summers, she is a renowned equestrian specialist who fell in love with our long hot summers and the Indian Ocean many moons ago.  besides it is winter and sooooo cold in Sweden whilst she is here.  Yes it was raining (something she was not used to seeing here) when we embarked on the farm tour with Anna.                   Above is a photo in the driveway looking back. Great to see the older trees in the background with our babies in the foreground. This is our own personal little regeneration area.   A great shot by Anna looking at Cockatoo Creek. There is a lot of water there for this time of the year. Plus we have noticed that the trees and bushes around the creek and river are looking healthier.

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Yes the dogess Jezabelle supervising the farm tour, unusually from the back seat of the van. She prefers the front seat….. naturally …. and a beautiful tree I call the sentinel as it overlook sees our regeneration projects on the farm. The tree is truly majestic and a powerful presence helping our dreams for the farm   IMG_2036 IMG_2037

Jorn looking busy!

Looking back towards the road this is the driveway into the property.

yes she is heavy…. and unwilling

no the plant has not died – it lives on!

out for a walk in the countryside!

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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Bridal Creeper on Death Row! Hope So.

We have begun to fightback with the information and expertise gained from Kayla Ringrose from Southern Dirt inDSC00740 Kojonup.   We are using a combination approach with both the recommended chemical application away from the waterways and spore water near the Tone River, Cockatoo Creek and Muir’s Brook (waterways on the property).

Bridal creeper has the relatively unusual ability to invade undisturbed native bushland. Dispersal of seeds by native birds enables it to reach remote and inaccessible places. Once established, the stems and foliage smother native seedlings and understorey plants, and the aggressive tuberous root system forms dense, impenetrable mats, inhibiting the establishment of native trees and shrubs. Underground tuber reserves enable the plant to survive unfavourable conditions for many years, while fragments of underground rhizomes can be spread inadvertently in soil or mulch to begin new infestations.

Bridal CreeDSC00738per is on WONS (Weeds of National Significance) one of the worst environmental weeds, posing a serious threat to our biodiversity. If you have some please consider taking up the challenge to get rid of it. Plenty of great info online to help you.

These photos were taken on a recent trip to the farm on November 27th. You can see some progress however we are well aware this will take maybe years to control. We are lucky that spore infected plants are already on the property so we did not have to search!

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