We have a plan……..

21 10 2016

It’s been raining. Lots. So much so, nearly everyone I know here is complaining, and is over it….. One advantage of being stuck indoors is that one can get around to doing the things that don’t get done when the weather’s fine and there are holes to dig, crops to plant, or grass to harvest… like planning.


No, the grass is not photoshopped, it really is that green!

Just to prove the old dictum “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know”, Bernie, my new town planning friend (full of stories you would not believe…..) has put a fire in my belly, and we have been working on our planning application. I have to tell you, I had just about given up on doing this project ‘the right way’, but Bernie assures me that if you approach Council talking their language, you can just about get anything through, as long as you follow the guidelines.

Our farm, as you may or may not know, has been rezoned ‘Significant Agricultural Land’. I like to think that’s why I picked it…… we are so lucky to own what I consider the best block in Geeveston! Not that I’m biased or anything…

One of the problems I was facing is that the rezoning calls for side setbacks of 100m, and our block is only 180m wide, meaning we can only achieve the correct setback on one side, not both. No problem says Bernie…… because when you read the fine print, it says “40m if the lot is greater than 1ha (it’s 5…) or if there is an existing building set back less than this distance, the setback must not be less than the existing building”! The shed from within which I am writing this is a mere two metres from the side fence! Let me assure you, I have no desire to be that close to the boundary!

Problem fixed……

The only other thing we have to show, is that our intention is to farm the land, not use it as some getaway for retired old farts like me……

After being here for over a year now, I have had a lot of time to think and foster my Permaculture Master Plan for this place, and putting pen to paper, literally, produced a rather impressive looking plan that Bernie was blown away by……. I also wrote a two and a half page document that Bernie will use as an appendix to his planning report, describing how using permaculture principles we plan to turn this farm from significant, to exceptional, and why we need to live here to realise the Fanny Farm’s full potential…….


Permaculture Masterplan


New pump, new suction pipe…

A lot of this is already started. In fact, before the rain set in, I even installed a pump that takes water out of the dam to an IBC perched atop the power station (see photo below). The idea is to gravity feed water to the market garden under construction, and the seedlings growing in the new polytunnel

Yes, I’ve been busy, until the current deluge made digging holes and planting anything simply not worth the effort.

The pump turned into a bit of a saga…… months ago, I discovered hundreds of metres of 40 and 50mm poly pipe, worth at least $2000 to replace. Some of the 50mm stuff went into the polytunnel, and my intention was to use the 40mm plumbing to lift water some 9.5 m from the dam to the roof of the power station. What I had not counted on was that the previous owner had slashed over the pipes, causing fairly major damage to the piping. The suction side of a


Pumped storage

pump must not have any leaks in it, because water pumps are not air compressors, and while they can pressurise (incompressible) water to, in the case of this pump, over 400psi, water pumps cannot pressurise air to anything over 0.25psi!

The end result of any air leak is no suction, period…. after mucking around for hours, I eventually decided to bite the bullet and spend fifty odd bucks on a new 25m length of pipe, end of problem. until that is, I broke the pump…..


Eastern side of market garden fence… water water everywhere..!


Well, I think it was my fault. The day before, we had our usual dose of gale force wind, but frankly I can’t see how it was responsible. Similarly, I find it hard to believe that by merely flicking the delivery pipe a few inches some 20m from the pump, could break the casing where that vertical riser in the photo is screwed to the pump…… but broken it was. I took the pump back to Hobart to see if I could claim warranty, but the shop people thought I’d be wasting my time, and the manager offered to replace it free of charge with a second hand one, within one day. Casings don’t wear out, as far as I know, so I accepted, and in no time I had the IBC atop the container full of water, at 100L/minute.

With all the rain we’ve had, everything is waterlogged, and I have no idea when I will next water anything…..! Such is life. And I was panicking when I broke the outlet from the dam. It’s been overflowing nonstop for days now.


Waterfall time…..

The beauty of having so much rain is that I am now aware of how much water I have to deal with behind the retaining wall that forms the backbone of the new house….

The engineer specified one 100mm drainage pipe, but I have already bought two. Not taking any chances; the last thing we need is a waterfall in the house next time La Niña visits Tasmania!



8 responses

21 10 2016

Looking great Mike!

21 10 2016

Fantastic permaculture plan Mike! Can’t wait to see the eventual photos of your house too. Greatly admire your efforts to date.

21 10 2016


22 10 2016

Bees, worm farm, compost, vehicle and people pathways, drinking water storage ..

Looks like good fun

22 10 2016
Diana Tod

Hi Mike,

I’m not sure this will get to you as I’ve lost your direct email address…I’ve ‘replied’ a few times here, but am not sure you’ve received them.

Anyway, you’re going gang busters down in Geeveston and it looks great – love your dam and your plan – looks pretty manageable once you’ve done it. I guess the worry, as ever, is the economy going belly-up…..and your council seems more amenable than ours, which won’t allow a house on less than 100 acres on rural land. We’re underwater here in South Gippsland, but not too badly compared to the Western District, and my three spring-fed dams have been overflowing waterfalls for months – a bit of a contrast to last summer which was the driest on record for 75 years…

Sadly, I’ve decided to sell here – many reasons, but mainly that I want to down-size to have more time for family and kids. I’m just wondering if you could advise me on how you went about selling Mon Abri as the real estate agents down here don’t seem to have a clue….they want need edges and iceberg roses and stone bench tops….

Gippsland Food Forest now has a B&B as well as the 500 fruit & nut trees, including 110 avocados, bringing in an annual income $80,000+ – all the hard work’s done, but still on my own it’s a 7 day a week job, but very manageable for two…

Check out my website for the cottage, which is hardly ever empty http://www.gippslandfoodforest.com

Anyway, I won’t go on as I’m not sure you are going to see this….

Cheers Mike, stay dry! Di

Sent from Windows Mail

23 10 2016

Hi Di……. I’ve sent you a private email.


24 10 2016

Hi Mike,

Is there any reason that you don’t have a large tank, filled off the shed roof, for your house water supply, and gravitate to the house? It appears from your photo that the shed area is high enough above the house to provide sufficient pressure. I know that tanks are not cheap but neither are pumps etc. In the low tech world we are heading toward it would obviate the need to maintain a pump system. Maybe you would need another smaller tank, filled off the tank, for stock water. Anything below the dam could be supplied by gravity. Just a thought :-).

In setting my own establishment here the main mistake I think I have made is in the location of my house and shed. I will always have to pump or carry water for household use (Always).

24 10 2016

Hi Mike,

Looked again at the photo and saw you already have a couple of tanks at the shed.

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