As the world unravels, my tasks here on our new piece of dirt slowly but surely continue. I haven’t had much luck with machinery since landing here. First, the Chinese chainsaw had to be sent back (and was replaced under warranty), then I managed to fall a tree on my Stihl replacement, totally screwing the bar and chain, then the used Husqvarna brushcutter I bought on impulse at a garage sale decided to shed its cooling fan blades, like an old man shedding his teeth….. it was going to cost as much to fix it as I paid for it, so I opted to shout myself a brand new Honda one from eBay, what I wanted to do in the first place, and should have done as soon as I arrived. Inexplicably, the trimmer guard which is made in two pieces fell apart during use, making me wonder whether it was ever actually screwed together? Five bucks worth of fasteners quickly fixed it, and I have to say, I much prefer four stroke motors to two stroke. I just wish Honda would make a four stroke chainsaw!
A few days ago, a letter from the Council arrived, telling me the ‘tall grass’ in my orchard was a fire hazard and would have to be cut within two weeks or I would cop a $3000 fine….. I strongly suspect my neighbours complained, they even mowed a strip inside my boundary as a fire break of sorts. it’s a bit sad when they can’t even ask you in person first.
I considered buying a rideon mower, but really, after my experiences with machines, and considering that my long term strategy for controlling the grass in the orchard consists of using ducks and sheep that require no fossil fuel inputs, I decided to ask my amazing neighbour if he’d cut it for me.
Being an orchardist himself, Matt has all the gear. He agreed to come over with his tractor and mulcher/mower, and had the whole job done in just over an hour. The tractor attachment is a neat piece of gear, as it slides sideways in either direction, allowing the tractor to remain in the middle of the row, while the mower slides right up against the trees for a clean finish. And rather than just mowing it also shreds the grass for mulch.
Two rows of apple trees were removed from the orchard by the previous owners, and replaced with several cherry trees, some black currants which I harvested and ate, a chestnut tree, three olive trees, some plums and possibly a pear, Matt wasn’t sure. I’m too new at these stone fruit to distinguish them, but they were obviously very neglected, and having to cut the grass gave me the incentive to clear the grass around all these lost trees and discover what else might be in there…… I haven’t finished yet!
It’s been hot, so I have to pace myself. And smoke from the bushfires up North in Cradle Valley has been blown all this way South making for very hazy conditions. I miss my ‘world’s cleanest air’ already
I finally bit the bullet and bought six chooks, which are currently laying three to four eggs a day, more than I can consume on my own, so now I’ve joined the Huon Producers Network, I may even start selling my excess eggs at the market. The chook pen that was already here is working great, the hens are happy, and after a week locked up to ensure they recognised where home was, I’ve started letting them out to free range again.
The orchard is doing really well, and frankly, it’s the Geeveston Fannies that are doing their best, even in the dry weather and complete lack of any irrigation and fertilisation, they are bursting with fruit. So much so that the other morning I found them attracting a rather large flock of Sulphur Crested Cockatoos which caused a fair bit of damage. One of the tennets of permaculture is sharing with the wildlife, so I’ll have to wear it… they’ve gone to someone else’s orchard now no doubt, who may be less kind, as they are actually allowed to shoot them, or at least scare them away with shotguns!
I’ve now decided to thin the Fannies and use the thinnings to make some cider. I’m told that thinnings make fine cider, so I’ll have a crack, watch this space. Surely I can harvest the forty or so kilos I need to make a batch of the stuff?
Speaking of Geeveston Fannies, I’m toying with the idea of calling our new heaven “The Fanny Farm”. A play on words (Funny Farm, Geeveston Fannies) I think it’s catchy and cheeky and might attract tourists to buy my produce. Glenda’s not keen, thinks it’s too racy…. what do you think dear reader?
Sid will be back from his break in a couple of days, and hopefully he’ll move all the trees on the ground to give me space to fell the last six to eight macrocarpas that are too tall for my access to winter sunlight. let me tell you, I am really looking forward to reaching the end of that tunnel, I am ready to move onto stage two of creating zone one, earthworks...