If you ever wanted to know what a volcanic eruption would look like here, you needn’t worry anymore. This week the state government undertook a forest fuel reduction burn-off up in the mountain range itself. The photo below tells the story better than I can:
|Forest fuel reduction burn-off on Mount Macedon at the western end of the mountain range|
At the farm which is in the middle of the mountain range, the sky literally turned red due to the smoke.
As a bit of background history about the mountain range: way back in 1983 on 16th February, the Ash Wednesday bushfires burnt through this mountain range. On that one day alone over 1 million acres of land were burnt in every imaginable environment outside of urban areas which includes forests, coastline and also grasslands. The heat generated by the fires at some locations was estimated to have exceeded 2,000’C (3,632’F) degrees which exceeded that recorded during the Allied bombing of Dresden in World War II. In fact, the heat and energy per metre produced by the Ash Wednesday fires was estimated to be similar to that of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima.
Anyway, the fires on that day back in February 1983 worked their way up into the mountain range by way of the regular NW prevailing winds through that very patch of forest that was burnt off this week. Some people say that lightning doesn’t strike in the same place twice, whilst I reckon they’re talking total rubbish as common sense says that it does.
History has provided a salient lesson and I needed no further incentive to do the best that I can at the farm here to prepare for the eventuality of a bushfire at some stage in the future.
I have a list of projects that would be ideal to complete before the bushfire season is upon me and I’m slowly working through the list. Seeing the burn-off this week has however provided a sense of urgency that I hadn’t quite felt before.
The construction of the new steel shed (i.e. steel is unlikely to burn) is one of those projects on the list and you can see it progressing in the background of this photo below which looks across the bee garden.
|Bee garden with new steel shed under construction in the background|
This week I continued construction on the new shed and installed the steel roof trusses. Hopefully the shed will be covered by the old recycled steel sheeting by next weekend.
The photo below puts the new shed into context as it shows the new shed under construction relative to the existing cantina shed.
|New steel shed under construction relative to the existing shed|
Incidentally, it was suggested by Lewis that a cantina in the US is considered to be a bar that serves alcohol in the South West of the US. I hadn't known that usage of the word! At the farm here a “cantina” refers to the more traditional Italian usage which includes the storage and place of preparation for all of the preserved food and the various other bits of equipment that the farm requires. On a small holding, you have to be able to store all sorts of weird and wonderful equipment that only gets hauled out for use every now and then. All of those items just make certain jobs about the farm that much easier and without them you may not be able to even undertake the job. Bird netting is a good example as it has to be stored somewhere but it really keeps the pesky local parrots off the fruit trees and their ripening fruit.
|A rosella escaping from the scene of the crime|
In breaking farm news, the neighbours would have been truly astounded this week to see me climbing around the roof of both the house and the shed with a vacuum cleaner! It sounds a bit dodgy, but I spent about 4 hours up on there using the vacuum to suck all of the organic detritus which had somehow collected over the past few years. By the end of those hours, I was amazed at just how much I’d collected:
|Gunk collected off the roof of the house and shed|
The reason for all of this monkey business with the roof and vacuum is that the weather bureau had predicted that Saturday night would bring a 90% chance of between 10mm (a bit less than 1/2 inch) to 20mm (a bit less than 1 inch) of rainfall which was brought all the way down south here from the tropics. The barometer on the weather station here concurred with that prediction and suggested that a storm was approaching.
By Sunday morning, 35mm (1.4 inches) of rain had fallen on the farm and the water storage tanks were by now full and there were smiles all around.
Vacuuming the gunk before the heavy tropical rain fell on the farm meant that I didn’t have to get up at 3am – in the heavy rain – and clear the mesh filters on the water tanks. If those filters get blocked up then any water collected from the roof overflows and is lost to the soil. I’d much rather collect every single drop of rain possible and head into summer with full water storage tanks. The system worked perfectly too and by Sunday morning 10,500L (2,763 gallons) of rain water had passed through the system.
Speaking of water, during the week I repaired the steel heat shield which covers the house water pump. That water pump is a crucial piece of infrastructure and is now covered by two layers of steel. In the event of a bushfire that water pump provides water pressure to two of the permanently installed sprinklers, plus several hoses about the house, so it is worth the little bit of extra protection.
|Radiant heat shield covering house pump which already has a galvanised steel pump cover|
This week the air temperature meandered its way into the low 30’C (86 ‘F) degrees for several days so the strawberries have been happily ripening:
|Strawberries are now ripening daily|
|Josephine pear ripening on the tree|
|Cherry Van ripening on the tree|
|Fig tree about to enter its second summer at the farm|
It isn’t all about fruit, as this winter I replanted some of last year’s broad beans and it now looks like they’ll produce a bumper crop. This bean with full pods is growing amongst gotu kola, eau de cologne mint, French lavender and tri-colour sage:
|Broad bean with full pods in amongst herbs|
|Echidna – if you can’t see my head, you can’t see me!|
The temperature outside here at about 9.00pm is 10.6 degrees Celsius (51’F). So far this year there has been 712.4mm (28.0 inches) of rainfall which is up from last week’s total of 676.8mm (26.6 inches).