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.

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!

Kayla’s Woodland

yes we have begun! The year ahead sees us spending plenty of time at the farm in Orchid Valley. Sunday March 15th our project officer from Southern Dirt, Kayla Ringrose and her husband Dereck travelled out from Kojonup to visit us for a farm tour. They had a little trouble finding us as Tone Rd has a big kink in it…… Orchid Valley Road naturally goes straight ahead and Tone Rd turns, why not. except the Tone Rd sign seems to have gone AWOL. Luckily we had one dot of reception so a few phone calls and text messages soon had themdriving towards us.

They didn’t get too far inside the farm gate far as we have a small regeneration project on Tone Rd, the perfect place to start. We then took them to see our two previously funded projects and showed them where a lot of the 25th Anniversay Landcare work would be done.

Naturally we left the best till last, the Southern Dirt project! Now officially named named Kayla’s Woodland. we have laid out the strainer posts and are tinkering with the amount of land we will give back. We will once again return to nature more than we originally planned. Once you get out there and start you see how valuable the regeneration work is  you become more generous. Jorn and I had toured to the back of one of the projects a few days prior and we can easily see how much healthier the tea trees and other vegetation is after only 21 months.

Dereck, Kayla and Jorn in the SWCC regeneration zone

Standing on the Eastern side of the Jarrah Woodland soon to be fenced to exclude livestock.

 

So let’s raise a toast to the beginning of this project “Kayla’s Woodland”.

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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