Friday, 31 January 2014

... we are racing the sun ...



by Simone McPherson
For the past number of days we have been down at the northern most boundary of our property finishing off the building of a boundary fence line.


We have been up relatively early, driving over dirt roads …


… up hills …


… past some cattle that have already taken to shade  before the onslaught of the heat of the day …


… then 20mins or so, later we are at the gate leading into the northern boundary, not long now …


… then we start descending into the gully below, 

 through very heavily timbered country …

… to pick up again where we finished off the day before.

My job has been somewhat straightforward I’ve been putting on millions of these plastic insulators onto ...

... the steel posts three per post and over 200 posts … 


… then at each bend and corner we thread on the porcelain insulators to each line to alleviate less stress on the wire ...

... as it goes around each bend and allowing for the expansion and contraction for the wire during the different temperatures of the day and the seasons …


.. the climb up the steep hills alone gives me a good ‘heart starter’ to begin the day with … after a few steps I’m usually puffed before I have even started I am told by El Ranchero that it is a great work out! “Yeah right who are you trying to convince” I say under my breath, though he is right and ...


... once I get going I forget about the steepness of the terrain and concentrate on the job at hand …

However today we were on our final leg and finished the main fence line which was a great achievement ...

... considering the terrain that we have walked over for the past four days.


Now we have to do the creek crossing …


Now; this creek crossing is rather another ‘kettle of fish’ – meaning it is another matter completely to what we have been doing along the hills and gullies to get here …


… you see this creek as it flows is approximately a metre across at this time of year and perhaps ankle deep to the deepest areas being nearly up to your knees if you are lucky …


… though, when you look across the creeks rocky floor you can see that the creek floor stretches in width to over 30metres across! … that is when it is dry, without any water flowing.  

Then as the rains come and the gullies and ravines start to flow the creek starts to swell, to well over 40-50 meters across and over 5 metres deep in places and with that amount of water flowing down the creek it has the potential to take anything and everything with in its path which it does.

As you walk across and through the creek bed there are remains of old fences from a time long gone.   

You can begin to see why these types of fences are no longer used and do not work under these conditions.  

The old fence lines literally become a health hazard not only for stock and native/feral animals nevertheless for humans as well as the wire is a number 8 which means it is very strong then it also becomes brittle with age and weathering and having a horse tangle up in this sort of mess is very dangerous. And as for stock that become entangled in this wire and unable to free themselves that would be an agonising death I have seen a number of deer sculls tangled in wire where the deer have struggled and just made things worse by intertwining themselves up even more.


So we begin to pick up severed pieces of electric ribbon that were washed away over a year ago.  You see we had minimal access to this particular part of the property and this specific paddock is still very wild and inaccessible by vehicle, most of it has to be walked and climbed … that has now changed with the dozer going through here.


The beauty about living out in this environment is that you learn to be resourceful and what is the best thing to do with all the bits of ribbon that we have collected? – why tie them all back together of course! The ribbon will still conduct electricity as it has strands of stainless steel woven into its thread … so El Ranchero tells me.

Firstly to unravel the pieces …


… refix the steel posts with other old ones we have found along the dry creek floor … then replace the plastic insulators …

… do some readjustments to some Creek Oaks and their wire stays …


 … then before you know it we are  in business again …


While El Ranchero is finishing up with some repairs, I investigate the creek floor and find river rocks that have been worn smooth by the wear of the water as it has flowed over them through the countless years …


… I find some drift wood …


… and of course the creek floor is the natural habitat of the beautiful Red Bottlebrush - Callistemons




the many Knifes-edge Wattles – Acacia cultriformis and the Creek Oaks  - Casuarina cunninghamiana which are inhabited by the contented shrills and chirpings of the many Variegated Fairy-wrens – Malurus lamberti, the Superb Fairy-wrens – Malurus cyaneus, the tiny Mistletoebirds – Dicaeum hirundinaceum, the Rainbow Bee-eaters – Merops ornatus and the many honeyeaters that colonise this tranquil environment. 

Then before I know it El Ranchero has already connected our creek crossing to our new boundary fence line and we are all ready to go … now there are a couple of gates to hang and to dig out another trench to connect this boundary fence line onto the other fence line for power … but that is another day, now we are racing the sun as it sets in the west, I am looking forward to my tall icy cold Campari and soda and El Ranchero …. his icy cold beer, then we will think about tomorrow when tomorrow comes …