We have enjoyed a busy few weeks on the Rock Farm, and we are now also starting to make some changes for the future. Up until now, we have been largely focused on repairing existing infrastructure. There is still plenty of work to do in this space, but we are also fast approaching autumn and the best time to plant trees. But just as we were getting ready to plant some trees, the weather turned for the worse.
The Rock Farm was subject to a couple of days of bracing winds. Whilst there was quite a bit of damage sustained in the region, we thankfully escaped with only a couple of branches and trees down.
One particularly fortunate group was the local scout troop that had camped on the Rock Farm. They managed to strike all their tents before the forecast wind came, however one gazebo was destroyed before they could get all their equipment stowed.
A few sheets of iron on the shed roof needed to be screwed back on tightly, but the main job after the wind had stopped was to clear downed branches off fences.
It didn’t take too long to clear the timber off the fence. The leafy branches were left in paddock to mulch under the tree, and the larger pieces cut for future firewood. The bent star-picket was re-straightened and the broken wires repaired. The plain wire was relatively easy to tension and soon the fence was looking no worse for its encounter with the Brittle Gum (eucalyptus mannifera) branch
After the wind, and with the promise of rain, we decided to make the most of the opportunity to plant some trees. One of our favourite trees is the Bunya Pine Araucaria Bidwillii. This native pine is found naturally in south-east Queensland, however there are some fine specimens in our local area, some reportedly pre-dating European settlement suggesting they were planted by Indigenous people. The trees are a popular choice for bush food gardens, provided you have the space to grow them.
It is easy to understand why. The Indigenous people would celebrate the ripening of the fruit with ceremonies, celebrations and feasts. Groups of people would travel for hundreds of kilometres to attend, making the most of these opportunities to trade, negotiate with other groups and marry.
Our aim is far more simple. We would like to see some of these trees grow on our property. Our first job was to collect some old 44 gallon drums that would form tree guards and protect the young trees from rabbits. Every farm has a ‘resource centre’ and we just had a wonderful collection of old half 44 gallon drums that had the base cut out.
We have decided to see if the trees grow naturally. We prepared the sites by scraping off the grass and weeds, and loosening up the soil with the Hamilton Tree-Planter. We put three seeds in each drum tree guard, and then placed a layer of natural mulch on top of the seeds.
Some of the drums were placed in open areas in paddocks, others were placed in sheltered areas with plenty of trees providing shade. Once we see how the trees go, we will be able to plant more of these trees. We aren’t in a rush. Trials suggest that about half of the viable seed will germinate in around six to nine months… but for a tree that lives around 500 years, I figure we can give it a while to get going!
It will be great to see how they go!