Four years ago, when I was caught in the terrible fires in Victoria, never did I think that it would be a repeat performance in two ways, seeing and experience it happen again and to be staying as a wwoofer with Alice and Bruce. Well both are being repeated. This will be my last homesteading experience here before heading off to New Zealand next week, to continue the quest.
Above is one of the blackberry patches on this smallholding
Every morning my first task of the day is to go and pick blackberries for breakfast. The cultivated variety is American and is much sweeter that our native variety, as well as having easy pick capability, so there are no real thorns to contend with.
Alice and Bruces family home
Abandoned bicycles used to renovate and repair others.
A major project I undertook was to get bikes working and roadworthy. They also help to get about the property. Recycling is the way to go, and I have the experience to do it. Truing wheels, servicing and replacing worn, or broken parts for the numerous amount dumped and lying about.
A view of a couple of netted apple trees
I have started to get quite proficient at tying nets over apple, plum, pear, nashi and peach trees. There are also strawberries and melons which are nearly ripe. Nashi is not an apple, or pear, and comes from China, Japan and Korea. It looks like a russet apple.
English blackberries which are coming along nicely
A shot of poplar trees and pampas grass amongst the apple trees. A great place to hide from the heat
Bruce and Alice. Every day is a salad day. Meals are eaten outside for most of the year
Alice is a retired science teacher and also is a life coach. She founded and runs the Empathy Foundation. There are also appearances on television in regard to this issue.
Bruce is a professional photographer. He does arial photography, works for estate agents, does big weddings, as well as scientific work using time lapse work. He writes and is a regular, long time contributor to Earth Garden.
My cooking has been improving. Buck wheat pancakes (it is not a grain, but related to rhubarb!), as well as making felafel. Their daughter makes camembert.
Two of the three varieties of potato that are grown
A regular and relentless activity for all at this time of year is wood gathering into bonfires, grass is cut and trees near to housing is removed. All possibilities at limiting fire outbreaks at this time of year is necessary, survival may be at stake. A telephone system of alerting and updating information to householders minimises risk. Four years ago I had to leave and take the train back to Melbourne.
Drying garlic prior to plaiting
My favourite spot at the end of the day with a culpa just watching the bird life around the dam
Melbourne seen from the bus, quite a contrast to the peace of being in the country
Apples seen from the dam embankment, with blackberries in the foreground
The grass is completely devoid of any colour owing to parching by the relentless sun
Another project I undertook during my time here was irrigation of the apple trees. It is pleasing to learn new skills. The black plastic drip irrigation piping is laid out. Emitters are inserted at appropriate placesfor optimum water, which drips day and night. Any blockages have to be cleared, cleaned and set. Leaks mended. There are 200+ varieties of apple grown here. Some years certain varieties come good and other years it may be others. One thing that Bruce's meticulous records show is that the first flowers are appearing earlier and earlier!
A view across the dry fields
An unknown bird I photographed this morning
A kookaburra. Which I got close to by offering food
To hear one link to this. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S0ZbykXlg6Q
Ozzie birds are largely raucous and have huge bills. Their calls echo around woodlands. Huge beaks, too.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7dY2wd1vGX0 This is another very noisy bird, which can be near deafening, a sulphur crested cockatoo. Often they do a squaky screem when flying in large numbers.
This is my last posting from Australia. Next week I will be in New Zealand and will be silent for some time, as I am taking part in doing another 10-dat Vipassana silent meditation.