Thursday, 2 June 2016

... to finally be ...



by Simone McPherson
For the past number of weeks I have been very fortunate to have had the help of a wonderful ‘Helper’ around the house with me, whom I was introduced to through a programme where Volunteers assist Hosts with projects that they themselves are in need of assistance with in exchange for accommodation and meals as well as sharing in the 'day and the life' of a Host family and in our case that is how we met ‘V’ all the way from Germany on a holiday break from her own working environment back in Germany.

This arrangement has worked out very well for us all including El Ranchero, Maxi boy, Lily pup and even the horses, especially those who love and enjoy human company like Pedro.

It gives us a time to reconnect with the environment around us, like a large Dam that was built back in the 1970’s to provide irrigation amongst other things to Cotton and Corn growers further South West from where we live and …

… ofcourse the Dam has its own camping ground that is usually overflowing in the summer months with families and individuals that enjoy fishing as the Dam has a stock of such fresh water fish as Yellow Belly, Cod and Catfish to name a few as well as water sports and there are Grey Kangaroos everywhere enjoying the lovely short grass to the delight of ‘V’.

In addition to rediscovering places to visit within driving distance from where we live we also explored our own backyard …

… after a day of moving cattle we took the long way home to show ‘V’ a community of 'Black Boys' …

… We have been gifted with a number of small extraordinary communities of “Black Boys” though now days the name has now changed to ‘Grass Tress’ to be politically correct?   However these magnificently ancient species of plant are not at all related to a tree but the Lily family, the ‘Grass trees’ are very much a part of the Australian landscape and are uniquely Australian being an important plant to the Aborigines where they used the long slender leaves in the making of baskets as well as consuming the soft new leaf fronds for moisture.


These plants also fascinated the early European settlers, the artists and the Botanist alike as they were unlike any other known plant seen at the time. 

Their botanical name is Xanthorrhoea and they are prized here in Australia for their landscape attributes and unfortunately there are scoundrel’s out there that will remove this wonderful very old and very slow growing plant for financial gain destroying certain species from their natural habitat in the sandy woodlands that they love and thrive in.  


And ofcourse there has been large scale clearing here in Australia for Settlement as well as Stock production and as a consequence large masses of the ‘Grass Trees’ have been lost.  Consequently, as you can imagine we are very mindful, careful and almost guarded and secretive of our own little communities of ‘Grass Trees’ that we have hidden on our Property.

So together with ‘V’ we have been busy making soil to put into another 44 drum that El Ranchero cut in half for us and creating soil we have.

Before placing the beautifully made soil into the containers we have not to only level them out, we also create a base to stop snakes from making an abode underneath the containers … much to ‘V’s astonishment.

Then we collect a number of rocks to place inside the drum …


… upon which we then place torn up pieces of cardboard which has been wetted down to help in keeping the soil mixture moist in times of not much rain …

… then that beautiful soil mixture that took three days to make and another two days to collectWe collected humus dirt from the creek, raked up cow manure from the stock yards, leaf and bark matter which was collected from underneath the small groves of Gum trees along with some dry clay - beads - collected from a number of dams.  All these materials are then slowly combined in all different ratio's that I have experimented with over the years, with a mixture of water containing seaweed and fish emulsion, ‘V’ can hardly believe that this is what I undergo just to get some soil to plant all my lovely plants into.

…and after a topping off with more leaf matter we then plant ...


 ... and here we have the finished product another beautiful Bougainvillea …


… these two are called ‘Red Dragon’ and they should look fabulous once they get going, they sure have had a good 'start'.

And then we go through the same procedure all over again, this time however …

… we have had two Terracotta pots soaking down at the dam for two days …


… we go down to collect them and they are all well soaked now ready for their planting of...

… some wonderful Geranium cuttings that have survived here for the past four years and I know they will be glad to finally be in their very own pots at last, as  I now wonder where the two weeks have gone as we say Goodbye to 'V' 

We will all be sad to see her go, all being very grateful of her wonderful and cheerful help, though we wish her an enjoyable journey as she continues her travels exploring Australia