Of droughts and flooding rains.

Over the past few days, we have enjoyed a welcome change in the weather.  With the warm moist air in the upper atmosphere from Tropical Cyclone Owen combining with a cool low pressure system, much of the south east received heavy falls over a couple of days.

The Rock Farm was no exception.

Over the first day, we received a steady soaking 28mm.  This beautiful rain seemed to bring out the colours of the Brittle Gum (Eucalyptus Mannifera) as the mottled grey is replaced by pinks as the old bark is shed.

The rain was also a welcome opportunity to catch up on a few shed jobs.  The little buggy, now my spray rig, was overdue an oil change, and The Little Fisherman found an old alternator to pull apart.  He is on a mission at the moment to harvest as much copper as he can, which he hopes to melt down…

Before I knew it, he had done some research online, found the crucible he wanted and raided his piggy bank to give me the cash for it…  I don’t know of many 13 year old boys who are so keen to put their money into melting metal, but I am happy to support his desire to learn.  Of course we will have a few discussions about safe techniques and PPE when the time comes…

Unfortunately our enthusiasm for the rain wasn’t shared by our hound.  She disappeared, and I found her curled up on the back seat of the car in the shed…

Down it comes!

The following day we were underneath a cloud burst.  35mm of rain fell in around half an hour, turning our garden into a raging torrent.  On this occasion I was at work, but my wife was at home, and took a series of photos showing something of the water coming down the hillsides.

Our creek quickly rose to impassible.  The water was deep and quickly flowing.  Whilst the water level also fell quickly, there was a lot of debris and mud washed onto the crossing.  The next morning revealed the true extent of the damage.  The concrete base was still place, but had been covered by large rocks.  The approaches had been covered in a thick layer of mud.

It took a bit of work, but I soon cleared the approaches to the creek of most of the mud.  It made me appreciate again how having the right tool for the job is so important with the tractor and its grader blade making a reasonably neat job.

The Not-So-Little Helpers were put to work clearing some of the debris from the dam overflows.  The sheer volume of water meant a lot of the dams over-topped their walls – greatly increasing the chance of failure.  There is a lot of work still to do around the place ensuring drainage lines are cleared.

But the best part was comparing the change that had happened.  Dams that had been dry were now full.  And the creek was a whole new wonderland to explore… especially if all you want to test is how long it takes to find a hole deeper than your gumboot!

It reminds me of the immortal words of Dorothea Mackellar, in her poem My Country

Core of my heart, my country!
Her pitiless blue sky,
When sick at heart, around us,
We see the cattle die – 
But then the grey clouds gather,
And we can bless again
The drumming of an army,
The steady, soaking rain.

Fire Season Maintenance

We have a fire plan.  We hope to never use it.

Our plan is a living document we have worked through with the kids, and details what actions we should take:

  • prior to the start of the fire danger season
  • if a Catastrophic Fire Danger day is forecast
  • if a fire is detected

The critical decision point occurs if a fire is detected.  We have to make a decision to either stay or evacuate.  Our children are now mature enough to be part of this decision process and are critical to its success.  Our fire plan is complicated by the very likely possibility that if there is a fire, I will be fighting it somewhere else with the Rural Fire Service.

One part of our fire plan is the ability to put out small fires with our own private appliance.  To this end, we have fitted an IBC 1000 litre tank with a small Honda pump to an old trailer.

The trailer sits by the shed, easily accessible.  I gave our fire trailer a service a couple of months ago (the fire danger season starts on 1st October).  All was in order, but during my rounds the other day I noticed one of the tyres was flat.  I pumped it up, but over the course of a few days it slowly went flat again.

It was a quick job to change the tyre over, but I also took the opportunity to double check everything else still worked.

After flushing out the old petrol, it was time to pull the starter and get the pump running.  Somehow the throttle was a bit stiff, but after a bit of lubrication in the form of WD40, it was soon working as expected.

The whole job didn’t take too long, but it is nice to tick off one small little job (again) in our fire safety preparations.

I just hope we don’t have to use it.