I cannot believe three months has passed since my last update. So much has happened that it is hard to know where to start, but a few key themes spring to mind as I reflect on what we have achieved.
- We repaired flood affected fences and driveway,
- We built new tree-guards to protect new tree plantings,
- A bull came to visit the girls and then went back home,
- We managed a family holiday in a totally different environment,
- I learnt far more about diesel engines than I ever thought I would,
- Our local informal regenerative land managers group continued to meet and also took steps to formalise our organisation, and
- Our calves continue to grow, however not without some heartbreaking news.
Our floods last October were spectacular – and created several weeks of work for me, clearing debris off fences, then repairing or replacing sections. My priority was to ensure our boundary fence was rebuilt – but Jo sagely asked me how many times I would rebuild it before accepting that our “flats” were actually a flood plain. After making some glib comment that it was the first flood of its kind in over 50 years (the age of the fences), her raised eyebrow caused me to pause. Any husband is wise to listen to his wife – especially when that wife is a Meteorologist and well versed in the matters of rainfall. I elected to focus my attention on repairing the boundary fence to pre-flood strength (critical). Other sections I took Jo’s advice and chose to use temporary electric fencing to keep stock in, using a portable energiser as required. This way if the creek floods again, losses to infrastructure will be minimised.
Clearing the fences (thank goodness for the tractor) allowed the opportunity to build a new tree guard around some Cork Oaks (quercus suber) that we had planted along our western boundary. Whilst I had stood up the damaged boundary fence, it wasn’t back to original strength. I took the opportunity to build the tree guard to a high standard three metres in from the boundary. It should not only protect the trees, but keep our cattle in.
Our cattle mentor John again leased us a bull for this season. This magnificent fellow joined our girls for a couple of months. He settled in to the herd quickly, and seemed very gentle and placid (although it is always wise to exercise a degree of caution in this regard). He followed the girls around and seemed quite happy with the new surroundings for his short stay.
After the experience with our bull last year (he had a little excursion next door), we were keen to get this one home before we went away for a few days with the family before Christmas. Thankfully Jimmy our carrier was able to get the bull safely back home before he was tempted to stray.
We managed to sneak away on a beautiful bareboat charter in Broken Bay, north of Sydney for three nights. With mobile phones locked away, it was a great opportunity to reconnect with each other and nature of a different kind to the Rock Farm. It also created a hilarious fish-out-of-water moment for the two teenager’s who are convinced their parents don’t know anything about anything!
After getting the run through of the yacht, the charterer politely informed us that the westerly wind blowing creates gusty conditions in Broken Bay, and keeping the sails reefed would be a wise precaution. Shortly after leaving our berth with sails duly reefed, we were barely moving, so we decided to set all our sails. Moments later we were caught in a particularly fresh gust coming down from between a couple of hills. The boy’s eyes opened wide as the yacht heeled over and took off. We decided perhaps we should reef our sails again, and after things settled back down, the boys asked us how fast we had been doing.
It was hilarious watching their faces when they calculated how fast six knots was in kilometres an hour… (about 11km/h).
Both Jo and I have worked on the water before, and we were so glad we took the boys out to enjoy the pleasure of sailing. We moored every night, and all of us loved swimming around the yacht and exploring the bays on the included paddleboard. When we returned the yacht, the charterer couldn’t believe how little fuel we had used over our four day three night charter. It was just perfect exploring the magnificent Broken Bay at the pace dictated by the rhythm of the wind and the water.
There is a kind of magic that comes from being on the water – in many ways it is similar to how it feels on the Rock Farm. There is an inner peace, whilst being acutely aware of how the weather affects each and every part of your day. It is good for the soul.
But we couldn’t stay all at sea forever. There was still extended family to catch up with and plenty to do on the Rock Farm. When we got back home, we started working on the to-do list.