One of our aims on the Rock Farm is to re-rehabilitate the soil and create a parkland type landscape, similar to what was first described in the journals of the first European explorers. We are doing this with a mixture of native and introduced deciduous species – and last week it was time to plant some natives.
Our back paddock has a fantastic hill, with wide views along the Yass Valley. We have often camped up here, and enjoyed many sunsets soaking up the atmosphere of this special place. The only problem with the hill is it has four lonely trees, three Brittle Gum (eucalyptus mannifera) and one Red Box (eucalyptus polyanthemos). The ground however is littered with huge logs – nearly all Red Box timber, cut for firewood and fence posts many years ago. It does make for a wonderful camp fire, however it is a limited supply, and serves to remind us of what trees once stood in this special spot.
Reading Bruce Pascoe’s book (see my review here: Book Review: Dark Emu by Bruce Pascoe), I started thinking about how I could improve this part of the farm. After our last camp, I took the tractor up to the hill, and started spreading the logs around the paddock. I focused on placing the logs in such a way that they straddled rip lines I made back in March, and placed them to provide protection from the prevailing westerly winds.
Then it was time to plant seed. The first batch of seeds I planted came from an ironbark (I think it is an eucalyptus sideroxylon) near our front gate. The others were white cypress pine (callitris glaucophylla) that we collected from our visit to the Pilliga a few years ago. The ironbark seeds were especially small.
The seeds had been stored in paper bags for a few years and the gum-nuts had released their seed. I cleared grass away from each site, and planted the seeds in the soil, along with some ash from our slow combustion fireplace. I selected places nestled near the logs I had recently moved, with good sunshine and shelter from the western winds. The last task was to mark each site with a bit of ribbon tied to a rock.
It helped that it was a glorious morning – even if the four legged helper was more interested in sniffing out rabbits than me digging holes! As I wandered back to the house, I was able to collect some more gum-nuts from the ironbark, which I put straight into a paper bag. I will also collect red box, black wattle and other seed in the coming weeks and attempt to re-introduce some of these trees back on this hill too.
A few days later we had an amusing series of incidents at the Rock Farm. A poor supermarket delivery driver managed to not only get the wrong house, but he took our bottom driveway and managed to get his truck stuck. A couple of sunny days had failed to dry out the steepest bit of this track that is in full shade all day. After pulling him out with the tractor, I thought I would fill in the worst of the sections with some gravel that had previously washed down a culvert. The gravel was nice and handy – but also a little close to a small dam.
The first few buckets went well. I was me able to skim gravel from the top of the pile, with and only the front wheels dropping into the wet ground. And then I got greedy and went back for one more bucket. First one back wheel slipped into the goop, followed by the other and I was stuck. Proper stuck.
Thankfully the family were all working or schooling from home, meaning help was nearby. I knew their lunch break would be in about half an hour, so I worked like fury with a shovel trying to move as much gravel as I could under the front wheels (now lifted by the bucket).
I also moved our mighty Mitsubishi down and put it in position. Being automatic, I figured it would be a little easier for a not-so-little helper to use to drag me out. With the chain hooked up, the car in low range and the rear differential locked, it was time to call down the helpers (and advisers) to get me out.
Thankfully the recovery all went off without a hitch! Best I get a load of gravel brought in to give us all weather access to our carport! Just another job to add to the list 🙂