Archive for the ‘Fire’ Category

Growing Grass

March 13, 2016

We have been working steadily for quite a few months now, to get our middle 2.5 acre paddock ready to grow some good grass for the stock.  There was more work involved than I had realised, and it was definitely a learning experience!

Firstly Josiah and I steadily worked our way through the paddock with a brush cutter, slowly cutting back the sedges that were quite thick and tall in places.
Cathy brush cutting middle paddock
Then we paid a local company to come and spread lime.
Kim spent many hours on the tractor, getting all the 50 year old parts to adjust as they were supposed to – no easy task.  When that was done we set about the task of ploughing.  It was a slow job, with numerous stops when the shear pins broke because of underground obstructions, but we worked our way through it.
Ploughing the middle paddock
The plough digs under the dirt and turns it over.
Ploughing the middle paddock
Ploughing the middle paddock
Once the ploughing was finished, Kim ran over the paddock with our old discs, to break up the clumps of dirt and roots.
Discing the middle paddock
Then it was back to work on the tractor again to get the power take off to work.  We needed the PTO working so that the rotary hoe would function as it should.
It was about this time that the bush fires took off in Tassie, which fairly hampered our progress.
It was hard to focus on projects when we were constantly surrounded by smoke, watching the fire website and being half packed ready to evacuate if the fires threatened.  It was a very unsettling time, and we were glad to have the ploughed paddock that we could put the pony and cattle in when we did evacuate one night.
Silk in the plowed paddock with smoke
They were constantly telling us that embers travelling in the wind might take off ahead of the main fire front in Tasmania’s unusually dry conditions.  Thankfully the wind died down most evenings and the fire never came through our place.
Twinkles with her calf in the ploughed paddock
Mole Creek turned into a fire fighter focus point.  They set up a camp in a paddock, had the helicopters on the footy oval and used the hall for co-ordinating.
Firefighers (1)
We were so relieved when we finally had some decent rain – we had been praying hard for it!  We had 220mm on our property and 150mm in Mole Creek town over a 24 hour period.  Tassie had drought, fire and flood all on the same day!  It didn’t completely stop all the fires but it certainly helped, and some follow up showers and lots of hard work from the fire fighters has finally gotten the bush fires all pretty much under control now.  In fact the camp was packed up last week and most of the interstate firies have gone home.
But back to the paddock!
Kim ran over it twice with the rotary hoe to further break up the clods of dirt and roots before the rain came.  We really wanted to get the roots of the sedges exposed over summer so that the old plants would die, leaving the ground ready for our chosen grass seed.
The first couple of times Kim did the hoeing, it was very dry and dusty – this is what he looked like when he stopped.  🙂
Kim covered in dust after rotary hoeing paddock
We had been advised to sow the seed at the beginning of March, so we did one more run over with the rotary hoe to loosen up the soil again last week.  It was after the rain and not so dusty, for which Kim was very thankful.  Then we got all hands on deck to hand sow the seed.
We put in a mix of rye grass, cox foot and white clover.  Even the dogs got in on the action.
Then the final task was to run over it with the harrows, which covers up most of the seed and just generally smooths it all over.
After that all we could do was wait.  And it is wonderful to see the grass coming up now!
Grass growing in the new paddock
I think I will leave our other news for another email – this one has become rather large!

More Fires Nearby

January 22, 2016

The Lake McKenzie fire flaring up on Tuesday.

Smoke over the Western Tiers

View from Union Bridge Road on Thursday afternoon (while we could still see before the smoke blotted out the world!)


Short movie – looking north up Union Bridge Rd and panning around in a full circle, to the west then south then east then north again.  An interesting contrast of the beautiful blue skies looking toward Mount Roland compared to the dark brooding smoke over Mole Creek.



January 17, 2016

Yesterday just seemed to dissolve into a smokey haze so we looked up the Fire Map to check out what was causing it and this is what we saw:

Dozens of new fires started from lightning strikes all over the state.  Nothing too immediately threatening to anyone at this stage, but it is hard to imagine how the fire fighters can manage with that many outbreaks!  No wonder there was smoke around!!!!  None of the new fires are terribly close to us at the moment and we are very grateful for that!
However last Monday we had a fire in the mountain pass behind us which was only about 3km from our home.  It was at yellow alert level – Watch and Act – for a little while.  Thankfully there were not many other fires reported at the time and so the fire incident group could hit it with lots of equipment and they managed to get it well contained by Wednesday.  We spent 3 somewhat tense days watching and listening to the helicopters coming and collecting water from the dam next door, then flying just over the hill to drop it onto the fire.  It makes you truly thankful for the fire fighters’ skill and tireless work!
Chopper coming to get water

Chopper coming to get water

Hovering over the dam

Hovering over the dam

Lifting off with a full load

Lifting off with a full load

Nights were the worst as we looked at the glow and listened to the wind and wondered if we would even hear about it if the fire got away again and came down our side of the hill.  We set up a roster of people to stay up and keep and eye on things, just to be on the safe side.

It also meant we made sure to get our fire plan polished up.  Living in the bush as we do with trees far too close to the buildings to be safe in a fire, our plan is to gather up essential items and leave!  If we get stuck, and we might if the fire came from the south, we do have a ploughed paddock this year that we could shelter in or we could go and help the neighbours to protect their own property, but our best plan is to leave and go to Paul’s place in town.  The hardest part would be to leave the pony and house cow – I’m not sure they would understand that the safest thing for them would be to stay in the ploughed paddock.  Thankfully it hasn’t come to that yet, though we did have bags packed and ready just to grab and go!

The terrible fires in Victoria and WA make our smaller ones fade into insignificance though.  It must be incredibly hard for people to lose everything, and some even lost their lives.  It makes me feel very small and powerless.  I just remind myself that my life is in God’s hands and gain or loss, live or die that is actually okay with me.
Hoping that you are all safe and well!