Working on our environment — the land

Rocklily was a sheep then cattle property in steep hill country that had been cleared in the late 1800s. When we purchased Rocklily in 2002 it had been 8 years in drought, and still a bit of green pick and water in the spring-fed dams. We took a pass on the pallet of superphosphate offered by the previous owner, good intentions there. After investigating various land repair methods, we started biodynamically with making and spreading 500 on ours and our neighbour Lyn's place. Through the biodynamic group we came across Peter Andrews who had been rehabilitating Gary Harvey's property. After an educational visit we started with contour ripping to get water back into the ground and a couple of slow up dams to catch big rainfalls and allow some to soak back into the soil.  We have planted fruit trees and other bee-friendly plants and let the steep pastures reforest. We got the dams cleaned out and repaired. We purchased native grasses local to the area and sowed this everywhere we had disturbed. Weed seeds were removed from what weeds we had, and the weeds were allowed to die down and return nutrition to the soil. We make weed teas as a way of getting rid of weed seed heads. It's been slow work. In 2017 we realised all the regrowth was too close to the house, sheds and wombatoriums and macropod enclosure. The hills are steep, 15-20 degrees and ripped by pigs, so even driving our stable tractor up and down to slash the tea-tree and bracken was not an option. With some of the funds from our calendar we have had Mick and his 13-ton digger in to clear around 30% of this regrowth around the main area. Millable trees have been kept for later and many single trees kept with the slopes, raked so we can now drive the 4 x 4 mower up and down. We can keep control of the bracken and make it fire safe, and this actually gives us more grass for the wildlife. We have also removed large cypress pines from near the house and tripped the 100-year-old pines up to help stop fires running up them. The name Wombeyan means 'grassy valley' and the artists back in First Fleet days painted more open forests than we have now. They say as the forests are no longer being burnt like they used to be, we have changed the tree cover to species that thrive after hot fires and there is more undergrowth too.    

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