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!

Where Did June Go!

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!

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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.

 

SWCC Meet 25th ALG – 25th ALG Meet SWCC

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!)

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Lunch time

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.

 

Mounding Day(s) at Cockatoo Creek

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!

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.

Lay Down Sally Strikes Again…

IMG_2348 IMG_2341Who could forget that fateful day of rowing in the women’s Aussie 8, way out front and a certain gold medal then one crew member……. lays down. Well one of our strainers and struts must have been channeling Sally because she failed to strut her stuff and did the same thing out in Kayla’s Woodland. Here we are a mere week and a bit since we signed of on the project and a section of fence is laying down because the strainer failed to stay uptight, errr upright.  The area is governed by sheet rock just below the surface so the usual depths you would put in a strainer post are simply not possible.

Colin and Jorn quickly swung into action. Colin with the big front end loader and Jorn on the tractor with the post rammer along with chains and a handy length of wire all raced out to help Sally the Strainer post back in the boat so to speak to strain away for another day. The boys had a fabulous time engaging the services of an old faithful piece of timber – you will see from the pictures she was once a mighty big tree in her hey day. The tree was moved into position, wired up and entwined with the strainer post and viola the race was won with Sally back upright in the boat.

Colin and Jorn had a great time as you can see, I came along late so sadly no photographs of lay down Sally however you can see the remedial action taken to remedy the situation.

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Southern Dirt Sign Off

Southern Dirt Sign OffA big thank you to Southern Dirt, Kojonup who have supported us in our regeneration work here at Bellalee. With their assistance we able to put away some remnant vegetation that contains a diverse range of flora and an abundance of beautiful jarrah. Without the sheep it will prosper. In this and an adjacent woodland we have noted both the red tailed and rarer white tailed Carnaby cockatoos nesting. This has added greatly to the importance of the overall aims of the work we are doing. 

Once again we are indebted to our neighbour Colin Ednie Brown who has helped us with both the physical work and the use of his equipment. We are very privileged as we lease the farm, live and work mostly in the city of Perth and come down to play. Both of us are ardent environmentalists and happy to give back land to improve biodiversity in Orchid Valley and beyond. Okay fencing is tough going, especially this time as it is in a rocky ridge however it is very satisfying knowing that the area is now protected. We each have businesses in Perth with fabulous staff who keep everything going in our absences, the best of both worlds! 

Red Tailed Cockatoos Nesting and Resting

Spotted three Red Tailed Black Cockatoos up on Kayla’s Ridge September 9th at 8:40am. Three were spotted roosting high in the tree and one was in a tree opposite. This photo takenunknownat 8:56 sees two red tailed Cockatoos together high in the tree.The rarer endangered Carnaby Cockatoo has also been spotted – we just didn’t have the camera out quick enough! However our neighbours report seeing both varieties on a fairly regular basis. It seems Orchid Valley is a favoured haunt by them.

The Carnaby’s Black-Cockatoo is classified as Endangered. This may surprise some people, as the species occurs over quite a wide area of south-western Western Australia, where they may rather conspicuous, scockatoosometimes congregating into relatively large flocks. However, their population has declined greatly in recent decades, mostly due to the loss and fragmentation of their preferred habitats, and they need the support of conservation programs to ensure their survival.

We are hoping our integrated connected regeneration projects will be a haven not only for cockatoos but many other native fauna as well.

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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The Window Opened, Strainer Posts IN

just ring, please….. Yes that intuitive sense kicked in and I felt there was a window of opportunity for us be able to use an amazing Post Rammer belonging to the gentle Kim Sanders, one of our local fencing contractors.

Timing was crazy, we had adjust arrived back from our holiday up north to the Pilbara and Jorn was re packed and headed down to Bellalee.

We have now managed to ram in the strainer posts and set our photo monitoring sites. I like to use strainer posts to make it easier for me.

All going well we will run the wire soon, then call Kayla to come and take a look at the finished project.

  Looking East Photo Monitoring Point 1
  Looking West Photo Monitoring Point 1    Looking East Photo Monitoring Point 2
    Looking West Photo Monitoring Point 2
      Looking East Photo Monitoring Point 1
   Looking West Photo Monitoring Point 2