Saturday, 27 December 2014

... breathes life back ...



by Simone McPherson
With the number of ‘Dry Storms’ on the increase the Bureau of Meteorology here in Queensland has been hinting of the fact that ‘El Nino’ is about to come into full swing.  I for one would not dispute this fact with what we have been experiencing here, it has been extraordinary, with conditions that are so extreme as they sweep across the parched land. 

… for weeks now we have been having this terrible hot dry wind. It’s the kind of wind that takes me back to the times I had spent sitting at the Hairdressers having my hair done and then the hairdresser would pull out the hair dryer.  I would sit there in dread believing that she was burning a hole in the side of my head as my hair caught fire with the heat setting that the hairdryer was on … back on track again; in the distance you would begin to hear the thunder as it rolled across the heavens making its weighty announcement that a storm was on its way …

… then, the skies would begin to turn, though melancholy in their appearance the clouds would then take on an incredibly excessive dark colour with a combination of Ultramarine and Alizarin crimson producing an incredible purple … 

… the atmosphere would begin to change as lightning strikes ignite the blackness.  Equally the gales would intensify sending dry leaves soaring from the gums trees as they bend and twist in all directions.  The gum trees would be counterbalancing the great gusts as they sweep through the Bush, with scraps of dry grasses, dirt, dust and anything else that was not fixed to the ground sent off in a flurry in all directions …

However during one of these unforgiving storms the most amazing thing began to take place … it began to rain …

Not in the romantic sense of the word mind you, of soft rain gently falling, it was wild, blustery, and turbulent as the raindrops pelted down from the angry stormy skies in all directions it was frighting …


… then as the winds intensified along with the tremendous clashing of the thunder the rain bucketed down propelled by the strong blustery winds … 

 … we watched as the rain then became sheets of water throughout the landscape

 … and then those sheets of water became rivers of water …  

We could hardly wait for the next day so that we could go and explore all the magnificence of what the storm had done by washing the landscape clean ...

… so we walked ...

... and we walked, we could feel the sigh of relief from the land and all its plants as they all soaked up all that wonderful water and ...

 ... Lily pup? well she was so over the moon to know that she could once again go swimming! ...

The holes that we dug in the creek beds out of desperation were filled …

… the creeks were now running with life once more …

… along with waterfalls here and there …

… we came across fence lines that had been washed out ...

 ... “who cares? We don’t, look how wonderful, how powerfull that rain was” that is what we thought …

 … the dams that had all but emptied over the past two years ...

 ... filled over night .... 

 ... as well as all the other dams on our property, ... what a Christmas present! ...

 ... they just kept filling and filling ... to overflowing …

… all that lovely rain had now completely saturated the landscape …

 … the following few days were spent checking on Stock and all the fence lines ... we were sure that we could see the grasses growing right in front of our eyes …

… it is an amazing sight to see the country as it pulls through from all those hot and dry days …

How grateful and humbling we are as we watch Nature as she gently touches and breathes life back into this beautiful yet harsh landscape that unfolds before us …


Saturday, 20 December 2014

... harsh yet beautiful ...



by Simone McPherson
It has been months and months since we have had any type of grass cover …

 … And yet for the past two years now, things have slowly been getting graver and now to the point of severe drought conditions here and in other parts of the Australian Bush.

 … sure we get all the signs of perhaps a down pour … at least? ...


… then it just passes us by without a single drop …

To date this year we have received 6 inches.  That is not much in the scale of things especially when you depend on it for Stock and pasture growth.  There are also the woodlands and the forests that are missing out as well as …


… all the Native animals, birds and reptiles who are also dependant on water.  Of course we too need water for our own existence.  It is something that we treat as very precious not being at all wasteful where every single drop counts.  I have even had to let my little gardens go for good this time.

So nowadays the country is seen like this … dry, hard, grey and rocky ...

… and it goes on and on as we walk the creek beds in search of some; any water for the stock, even the beautiful Callistemons are dying back …


… however, there is none ... even this Goanna was wandering around looking for water before we came along and he scampered up a tree …


… we have also started digging out some holes in the creeks in a vain hope that we can capture some water for our stock.  We are now down to just on 220 cows and we are taking weekly loses now.  It’s all such a shame.

... Lily and Maxi make the best out or a little seep in the dug out creek bed, which does put a smile on our faces ... 

There are signs of course that things are on their way …

 … and of course it is nature that quietly displays these signs …


… there is a lovely little native orchid that I mentioned a while back in one of my posts.  Well this particular little orchid … which is an erect epiphytic orchid – which means that it is a plant that grows on another plant though it is not parasitic.

These lovely little orchids Cymbidium suave or Snake Orchids form in large clumps on hollow logs, on dead as well as living trees … they have long linear leaves with deep yellow or even greenish flowers that are sometimes tinged with red or even brown at times on pendulous stems to about 30cm long …


The last time that these little orchids flowered was over three years ago and that was before we had a rather wet winter.  They have not flowered since and they are now out in their masses … so I do believe that there is hope yet …

… for at least some rain to break this terrible drought and to bring the country back for all the living creatures out here in this harsh yet beautiful Australian landscape.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

... gone in a cloud of dust ...

by Simone McPherson
As the last of the brilliant yellows of the beautiful ...

... and dainty “Red leafed” wattles flower ...

... the land has become waterless and parched to say the least we have had six inches so far for the year.

We have been busy in these times cutting back the Cypress pines that have overrun many of the paddocks after years and years of neglect through over-clearing back in the 1930’s and then in the 1970’s followed by no upkeep of the paddocks over the many years.

Max and Lily-pup are always keen to help … “… just give the word” they said.

This year I thought I would try something a little different on the garden beds to keep in the moisture and to stop the gardens from drying out too much over the hot summer months – Eucalyptus leaf mulch?

I was told to put “leaf mulch” from the Eucalyptus trees onto my garden by daughter number one. She informed me that the leaf mulch from the Eucalyptus trees would be the ideal thing for my little gardens out here as there was so much of it scattered over the landscape  –“sure” I said … “but what about all the eucalyptus oils from the leaves? will they not kill my little gardens off?” “…. no they won’t” she told me “… as the Eucalyptus trees have a very unique trait.  Before they drop their leaves, they actually extract all the moisture including the oils from their leaves before releasing them in normal times and in times of stress”.  “… how wonderful” I thought.

So … with my little helper we set out on the way home from one of our jobs to fill a couple of bags with the “Eucalyptus leaf mulch”. 
  
Now this “leaf mulch” has the additional benefit of cow manure as the little spot that we stopped at  on the way home is a “cattle camp” meaning it is a place that the cattle like to rest, stoping  under the shade of the trees during the heat of the day and it is warm and safe during the evening though most times they are out and about foraging during the night-time.  

There were fragments of bark and pieces of twigs in the mulch. I thought they could all complement the leaf mixture for my little gardens besides I could always pick out the bits of bark and the pieces of twig that happened to be in the way see how we go?

We have also been out mustering up the Weannies in fact 160 of them.  We could not get the last 62 in as they all went bush and two days later a job that should have been two hours ended up being two very frustrating days for the dogs the horses and us! 
  
They do become a little naughty as they run in all directions with their tails in the air it’s all for their own amusement and fun.


Once at the yards Max does what he loves to do ...


.... and that is work cattle, he brought them all in.  The Weannies had all been sold a week or so before with the Stock Agent coming out to draft of the weaners that his buyer was requiring.

And right on the dot the trucks arrive to load the weaners.


Driving through the gates .... 

 ... the drivers position themselves and ...

... back up to the ramp from where the Weannies will be loaded up along the ‘race’.


Once one truck is complete the other then moves into position ready for its load.   

Due to the condition of our 12kms of dirt road into our property and the 90 or so kms of bitumen out here from our main town B-double trucks are not permitted to travel along these roads hence the two double deckers.

Max of course is an old hand at all of this and just relaxes on the back of the old Toyota Ute keeping an eye on things.


After a cup of Black tea and devouring all of my Orange cake that I baked that morning, filling in forms and telling a few stories the men are ready and refreshed for their four hour drive to their destination.


We say goodbye and off they go.  


The magnificent diesel engines begin to drone and purr as the drivers shift through the gears.   

Then they are gone in a cloud of dust and ...

... the hum of their engines gradually disappears as they make their way down our dusty, powdery dirt road, now I have some washing to do ...........