The Rock Farm has been fortunate to receive a little bit of rain over the past couple of days. A cold front that blasted the South West has made its way across the country, bringing cold moisture bearing westerly winds. A steady 20mm of rain over two days followed up on 7mm received a week ago. It is amazing to see how quickly things change. Hills that were a lifeless brown a week ago now have a green tint.
I now have the delightful problem of having to put the car into 4WD to get up the driveway!
If there is one thing that cold wet weather brings on, it is lambing. And no one summed it up better than Dog, in Murray Ball’s timeless Footrot Flats.
I knew our girls were close to lambing, but it must be a cruel twist of nature to lamb in the worst possible weather. I took the opportunity of a short burst of sunshine and went for a little walk around the paddock. I was delighted to find five new lambs to three very proud ewes. I hope these little lambs, and their yet-to-be-born brothers and sisters find enough shelter in the paddocks to pull through the last few weeks of winter.
The cattle are curious animals, and we love having them on the property. This photo was taken a day or two before the rain, and you can see how happy they are to see me with a couple of bales of old pasture hay. This morning I moved them to a laneway. They must have been hungry, as they stuck their heads down and started eating as soon as they walked out of the gate. They’re still in pretty good condition all things considered and are pretty happy to see me – especially if I come bearing gifts!
Whilst the grass now has a green tint, it is still too cold for it to grow. Like everyone in the district, I hope we get follow up rainfall to build moisture in the soil. It is the deep soil moisture that will be the difference between a good spring, and some difficult decisions.
The little bit of moisture has been a good thing. It has allowed us to plant a stack of acorns. We planted acorns from locally sourced Daimyo Oaks (Quercus dentata) and Californian Valley Oaks (Quercus lobata). The Hamilton Tree Planter was the perfect tool for the job – however it was abundantly clear that only the top 5 centimetres of the soil was damp. Underneath it was bone dry. This is part of our plan to use deciduous trees to enhance the soil health on The Rock Farm.
We have also planted some native seedlings. Our local real estate agent donated some seedlings to members of the community for National Tree Day. We gratefully received a Yellow Box (eucalyptus melliodora) and my favourite tree, a Drooping Sheoak (allocasuarina verticillata).
The Yellow Box is a magnificent slow growing tree, considered the best native tree for honey production. It prefers areas of better soil hence, in this area, large areas of yellow box woodland were cleared to make way for pastures. The timber is dense and resistant to decay, and was used for railway sleepers, posts, poles and for timber bridges. It is great to be re-introducing this tree to our property.
The Drooping Sheoak prefers dry shale slopes. It is just about the sole food source for the glossy black cockatoo, which is rare in our area. We had seven of these trees on our last property, but I haven’t found any on the new Rock Farm. Kangaroos find this little tree irresistible, hence we made tree guards to give it a fighting chance.
Special thanks to Chris and Gin from McGrath Real Estate for their generous donation to the community for National Tree Day.