Summer 2013 – water, bushfires, regeneration and lots of learning

Summer 2013 at ‘Caroola’

Summer 2013, what can I say, huge exposure to external influences, including bushfire and lots of rain, but continued planning and a solid and exciting way forward!

Water…

Water, as any permaculture designer will attest, is one of the most important issues for designing a productive system. Suffice to say the water situation at Caroola needed improving. Whist rainwater runs freely into tanks, the capacity and pressure is not enough to service future stock, tree and garden needs. There is a water easement to the nearby Mulloon Creek and an unequipped bore as well, but working out where the lines go and trying to get the pump working took a frustrating weekend in 43 degree heat at the beginning of January.

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Equipment arrives

After much coordination, assistance from neighbours and a HUGE truck, most of the equipment from my ‘old’ farm arrived safely at the new farm… From an Holistic Management point of view  this has added considerably to the resource base to get things ‘moving’ on the farm.

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Bushfire!!!

Having received a ‘catastrophic’ bushfire warning from the Rural Fire Service forecasting 100km an hour westerly winds with fires already in the area, I packed up and left with the dog and campervan. Suffice to say, when the children and I returned the next day it was black, black, black.

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The devestation to pasture, fences, water systems and tree lanes being the major issue. Thankfully the house, equipment and shedding was saved! The next few days consisted of continual monitoring to put out smouldering trees with the helicopters circling and collecting water from our dams.

Holidays and housesitting

With a well-earned break on the coast planned with the kids, we headed off leaving my neice and her friend in charge of the farm – chooks, dogs, continued fire monitoring and looking after the garden. The fire had reduced habitat for many things, including field mice and ants who sought refuge in the house L

Keyline Plowing

With quite a heavy downpour of rain forecast, Cam Wilson and Nick Huggins were quick off the mark planning and executing some keyline plowing above the dams so that the charred paddock remains would not all end up in the dams and creek and cause further ecological problems.

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Regeneration

After return from my break at the beach, it was great to see some green starting to show through, and by the end of February the pasture was well on its way to recovery. The existing windbreaks, however, which were mainly pine, have not been so lucky to survive.

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Garden Growth and Harvesting

The immediate house area (ie within 3 metres of the house) was not affected by the fire, but was by the heat, so many of the seedlings I’d planted died, however the strawberries, comfrey, oregano and mint continue to thrive, we harvested a few tomatoes and some of the apple trees produced well.

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Further Education

February was a time of further education for me, with a fabulous week’s trip to Zaytuna Farm and the Permaculture Research Institute for a course on Urban Designing. For me it was not just about the course, it was also about the experience of spending time at the farm and joining in the daily activities such as moving the cattle, the chickens, feeding the chicks and milking goats. Fabulous food, great company and some good catching up with fellow permaculturalists too!

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I then headed off to Kiama for three days of fabulous Joel Salatin information sharing on pastured poultry, pigs and cattle, more food for thought when it comes to integrating different species of animals into a permaculture system. This was followed by a one day Joel and Daniel Salatin event in Canberra on Succession Planning using multiple farm enterprises as the base…

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Planning moving forward – challenges, water, fencing, tree lanes

So, the end of Summer provided a lot more challenges than originally planned, but it was certainly action-packed learning. In the background, Cam Wilson was working diligently on my overall farm plan… if anything the destruction of fencing, tree lanes and water systems has given us more flexibility in moving forward with design.

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With some overall concept planning in place, we’re looking forward to an exciting Autumn at Caroola!

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