Sunday, 27 April 2014

Dam and Damn Aliens.

I am still a bit upset about the three cattle we lost. I know I could have avoided it. The spray I got from the vet, really cleared up this ticks on the remaining three and they are looking much better.

We had the TLB (tractor, loader backhoe) out again yesterday. Doing some more work on clearing alien vegetation on and around the dam wall, which now doubles as the access route.  Basically what we are doing is removing poplars and inkberry  that are growing into the dam. Problem is, we made more progress than we thought we would yesterday and about a metre of wet material was added to the dam wall over about a 15 m length. That depth of material will take a while to dry out, so we cant drive on it yet. No big deal, except, I had parked my car at the cottage and now cant get it out. I had to phone Hlubi to come and pick us up and take us home.

Perhaps the route will be dry enough by Tuesday. When I checked it today, it was sill so muddy, that I couldn't walk over it. Its like sinking sand in places. I am sure though it will be OK once it dries. We excavated the same soil last time and it dried out OK for us to drive on.

I have been spending my mornings for the last few days reading Wendell Berry's "Unsettling of America". What he says really resonated with me and plays over in my mind. Even when I was working with the dam wall yesterday I was reflecting on what Berry speaks of as a "nurturing" spirit as opposed to the spirit of conquest. I can see what we are doing at Pebblespring seeks to nurture, but when we bring heavy machinery on site, it is nerve racking. Perhaps it feels to close to "Conquest". This property has been so badly neglected. It has gone to ruin. If the idea is that we nurture it in order that is can, in return, provide for us, then we will have to begin with some drastic "surgery"  But what I call drastic is nowhere near what my neighbours are advising "bulldoze the whole thing flat", "burn it all down". 

There is a gentle, more nurturing way. I will find it.

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Death and Destruction

I have delayed writing this post. Its been too painful.

Three cattle are dead. Tick born disease perhaps. Inkberry poisoning, also a possibility. I had to go out of town last weekend. I left on Friday. When I came back on Tuesday, they were dead.

I am devastated by this failure. I know all the rhymes about how we learn from failing, Its just that it feels so bad. It feels so discouraging .It brings everything into question. It brings my dream of this farm into question. I know it shouldn't. I know I should just shrug it off, but I am just telling you how I feel. I know that I am not ready to bring animals onto the farm, I know I am not ready to but the farm I know things are too hectic with work and with family. I know all of this, but I also know that the only way to make this happen is to make it happen.

But maybe this is what this blog is about: Communicating the real struggle that it is to transition to some kind of agrarian reality. Showing that its not all about strolling in the forest and singing songs by the camp fire at night.

Its real and it gets nasty!

Sunday, 6 April 2014

The Old Oak Tree

There is an old Oak Tree toward the east of the dam. It is in thick bush. I cut my way through to it yesterday. I had found it before, some months ago, when walking a different route. My neighbour, Gavin Flanagan told me some months ago that there was an old Oak Tree, he told me there were springs and a "well" I set out to find all of those and I did. But having a closer look at the tree I see that it is not very healthy.Some of the big branches seem dead. Others have broken off. There are leaves growing off one of the big branches, but not vigorously. I see some places where there is rot in the trunk and in other places I notice the tell tales marks of wood boring insects.

 So I am trying to find out what can be done to help this tree. Any clever people reading this know what to do? What kind of insect is likely to be boring into the trunk? Is there a safe method to get rid of them? Are there environmental changes I can make? (getting more light on the trunk, getting more cross wind?)

I measured the circumference at 2.3 metres. I have read somewhere that a very rough estimate of an English Oak's age would be one year for every 25 mm of trunk circumference. Our estimate therefore is that the tree is 92 years old, having started growing in 1922.

I am interested because I really like trees and because I am am interested in anything that tells the story of the farm, the various chapters of its history. This is part of the appeal of the site. Its like a journey of discovery, unravelling a mystery.