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    Newsletter

    Our approach to the drought

    Our approach to the drought

    Winter rains were well below average and so far Spring has followed the same pattern, yet grass did grow and remains green. Not through the use of fertilisers or chemicals, but through the power of regeneratively-managed livestock. 

    Every morning the sheep and cattle are moved to a fresh area that provides them with food for the day with enough grass left behind to cover the ground and feed them again in a few months time; even if there has been no rain. The magic of a holistic approach.

    Climate change means regeneration of our farm landscape is more important now than ever before and we thank our customers for supporting us through the process. 

    With planning, monitoring and replanning we are becoming evermore resilient. Some more rain would still be nice though..!

    Autumn

    Autumn

    Autumn is a beautiful time of year and this year is no exception.

    We had plenty of rain at the end of March and the farm is exploding with life. Summer grasses have greened and the winter grasses have germinated promising us a bountiful winter.

    The days begin with a cacophony of bird songs; kookaburras, magpies, fairy wrens and the lyrical cockatoos. A huge variety of insects also seem to have appeared since the rain. Spider webs can be seen on the grasses in the morning light shining with dew, something that I have not seen for quite a while.

    The sheep and cattle are looking marvellous with the wonderful season. There is enough grass to feed them through to spring, a very comfortable situation to be in.

    We acknowledge that we are very lucky to be in this situation. Our thoughts go to those that are still waiting for rain - for some the drought has been relentless.

    Managing for storms

    Managing for storms

    Last Friday we were lucky enough to have a storm that delivered some welcome rain. However, it resulted in a lot of soil being deposited onto our flats as the neighbouring country upstream could not handle the deluge and the creek burst its banks.

    A dramatic demonstration of how longed-for rain can be not only ineffective, but destructive on degraded land. Farmers need to build soil through regenerative agriculture, not see it disappear when the rain is a bit too heavy or the wind a bit too strong. 

    In an environment like ours the only way we know to achieve this is by bunching our animals, moving them often and giving plants had time to recover. There is no better illustration of this than a TED talk that Allan Savory gave in 2013. 

    Watch it.

    Water and effective rain

    Water and effective rain

    Water is always a big issue. 

    On our farm most of the dams have no water in them and surprisingly, we see this as a positive. This is telling us that any rain that is falling is being absorbed into the soil and not running away across the top of it. Any rain that falls is effective rain - captured by the soil, plants and growing grass. 

    In a year like this one where we have received approximately half the average rainfall we have been able to maintain our animals without any supplementary feeding. Why attempt to capture water in irrigation dams when you can utilise the enormous capacity of the soil to do the same?

    Dung beetles and native grasses

    Dung beetles and native grasses

    Walking around the farm, moving cows or putting out fences, we look at the round. We look at all sorts of things - the grasses, the litter and the manure. It has been very pleasing to see evidence of dung beetles doing their thing all through the winter. To us this is an indication that the environment here is healthy and diverse. Where there are dung beetles there is vibrant microbial activity in the soil.

    We were given a head start here on the farm because Sam's father Jim ceased using synthetic fertilisers in the 1970s. He could see that the native grasses were being swamped by short-lived annuals that boomed briefly but damaged the long-term health of the soil and community of grasses. When we came along and changed grazing management the farm was ready to bounce.

    Now that the days are getting longer and warmer we hope that the dung beetles and soil microbes will enjoy spring as much as we do.