Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness
An autumn to remember, the abundant rain in 2020 and the first quarter of 2021 saw us cruise through a dry April with nary a worry. We could stand back and enjoy the splendid autumn colours knowing there'd be plenty of winter feed. The Scarlet and Pin Oaks and the Service Trees put on a good display.
Penny and Paul were here in April to get us started on the big glasshouse. We got the steel frame up and welded by Wayne Gallagher. The roof is on and we've made a start on the cob wall on the southern side. Now it's turned frosty we might leave the cob until spring and work on painting all the secondhand windows. It's eight by five metres and tall enough for a banana crop.
The moist soil encouraged us to get some trees in the ground. One Sunday some volunteers helped us plant and guard 230 She-oaks and Blackwoods. On another day we had a team effort getting the garlic crop planted. It's all come up and looks good.
Autumn also saw the rams go and do their work. The ewes were all in good condition so conception rates should be good. Like most people we are rebuilding the flock gradually with natural increase. With ewe prices north of $200 we don't have a lot of choice.
The vege garden has been a source of sustenance and satisfaction. It was a bumper pumpkin crop and we have not lacked in garlic, onions, carrots, beetroot and parsnip.
There were enough tomatoes to make pasata and cucumbers to pickle. Now we have a wonderful crop of Granny Smith for stewing and eating fresh on our muesli. In fact all the fruit trees had a bumper year, including this tree (right) - possibly the oldest apple tree on the farm.
On the yarn front, we have received some sock samples made with our yarn from Lindners at Crookwell. They are pure merino and this batch were Plum and Bottle Green. Andrew is still tinkering on the specifications but we are hopeful we might have some to take to Bendigo in July.
I was fortunate to attend a cultural burning weekend workshop at Birkenburn in April. Tom and Martina have engaged Den Barber (Yarrabin) to run these workshops every month and they have been well attended, even booked out. After a traditional smoking in a fire pit, we walked to a forest area and built containment lines with rakes. It was a bit windy to burn so in the pm we set fire to some grassland circles with slashed perimeters. The following day was calmer so we burnt the forest floor. Care had been taken to rake litter away from all the bigger trees. The whole weekend was a cultural induction. We saw fire lit traditionally with friction igniting tinder. We learnt fire is our friend, "fire fighting" is the result of insufficient cultural burning.
Since the workshop I've invested in a new backpack and rake hoe and am itching to test my new knowledge.
David Watson - 6/6/21