In July it will be 40 years I have had guardianship of this land at Huonbrook. A naïve starting point for me, when the steep hills were struggling to support a number of cattle, many suffering from brucellosis, an infectious disease of cattle, goats and pigs, caused by a bacteria of the genus Brucella and is transmittable to humans. Kikuyu grass, introduced from South Africa, had been planted to impede the heavy loss of soil after the forest had been removed and exported. Unfortunately for the suffering cattle, it supplied a poor nutrient value to their diet and did not fare well with the then 2 metre plus average rainfall.
Feral dogs in packs, (older farmers left their dogs here when they moved to town) could be seen dragging new born emaciated calves into the undercover. Already dying at birth, the calves either succumbed to ticks which circle their necks or provided an easy meal for wedge tail eagles or the dogs.
Most hard wood trees had been removed and what did remain, lease holders, before my purchase, had ripped out every stag horn, birds nest and bangalow palm to sell on. Fishing nylon line had been tied around trees to grow on epiphytes for the city markets. Many trees had begun to die.
My first task was to remove the cattle from the denuded hills which saw the beginning of the slow recovery into what mostly is now rain forest. Cut the fishing line off scores of trees and I began to really watch nature evolve and become my teacher and guide.
Lantana followed the removal of the cattle and that I am still slowly peeling back. I am very lucky lantana colonized the disturbed degraded soil. It could have been blackberry. Protecting the remaining soil from heavy rain and intense sun, it was an ideal cover plant to shelter the durable rain forest seeds dormant in the soil. Peeling it back is like the removal of a wrapping on a present, beneath lies a whole new micro life waiting to be activated by light.
Herbicides, to my knowledge have never been used on this land.
Its been an incredible journey……..from the early days here, when the rainy season was fairly predictable, the gales used to arrive like clock work, to roar throughout the month of August. Not unusual then to see rain fall continually for 6 months of the year.
Not predictable any more.
Winter time was our dry cool season. Now, in 2017 the weather is entirely unpredictable as we are seeing now this second deluge during our autumn and winter.
What a poser I am……………..photo by Rodney Weidland.
Read what other communities are doing to combat herbicide and pesticide use. Dicamba, now used by our Council on sports fields despite investing our money in a steam weeding machine.