Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The season is turning

For many of you spring has sprung already.... but for us up on the tablelands ... well we are only just seeing the first signs of a season changing.

So with more snow predicted for tonight and tomorrow in the higher hills near Orange I share these pictures of the our plants starting to warm up to spring...

The Blackcurrant cuttings that I took in early winter are waking up
(earlier because they are inside on a head bed)

The plum tree blossoms are almost popping open....

The roses are opening their first leaves...

The apricot tree is heavy with blossom buds...

and the magnolia buds are about to open....

I love the change in seasons... it's been such a long wet winter here....

Monday, August 23, 2010

Food Inc

I just took my littlest along to see Food Inc today.  I am not sure where to start with any digests that I have walked away with today apart from the fact that I don't really know where to start looking at "food quality" issues here in Australia.

My littlest walked away saying she just wanted to eat healthy food - but that some chocolate was OK - she is a chocoholic.

I liked the quotes at the end of the movie - I think I got a these couple correct:

"You can vote to change the system - three times a day"

"You can change the world with every bite"

On the way home from the movies I stopped down  the street to collect something from a shop - the shop attendant asked how my movie was and then enquired as to what film I watched - I said Food Inc.  Silence. Then after an explanation about the fact that 80% of Americas beef is processed by only 4 companies the shop attendant replied - "it would have been good to be friends with those company owners before they got that big".  And then came "that would not happen in Australia though".

Friday, August 20, 2010

Designs nearing completion

In earlier blog entries I have referred to the Permaculture Design Course that I am doing here in Orange.  Well - we are nearing the completion of the course and our garden designs are due to be presented to the rest of the class next weekend.

I am feeling nearly ready in some areas of our home garden design... like what I have put together for a section of the front yard.... I have plans for a mix of fruit trees, fruit bearing shrubs, the native pea Hardenbergia violoacea and other flowers to attract pollinators and predators - a perfect plant guild I think.

... but work on the back yard design is still well a little more in draft ...

I have had lots of fun reading and thinking about how we can be more productive in our home yard... and I love the ideas of permaculture that encourage the use a a wide range of perennial plants so that the maintenance of the garden once established will be less.  That sounds good for someone like me who is struggling to say no to new work projects.

I look forward to sharing with you how I progress in implementing my grand ideas to our garden... or maybe how the harder task of getting the design ideas past the family committee progresses.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A landscape of regeneration

On a recent trip to Nyngan teaching I made the realisation that the landscape as a whole was regenerating... I was out looking at trees on farms from a biodiversity and Aboriginal cultural heritage viewpoint.  It is the old trees in he landscape that might hold the scars of Aboriginal occupation and of course it is also these old trees that are full of hollows that are so critical to the survival of many hollow dwelling animals in our landscape - but I could not find them in the landscape.

On close inspection of the paddock trees I soon came to the realisation that nearly every tree in the landscape had been ring barked or cut and was in fact a multi stemmed regrowth tree.

Here you can see the original tree that has died and the two new shoots that have regrown to give a multi stemmed or coppiced tree.

Once you start looking closely at trees across the landscape you begin to realise that they are all growing back multi stemmed after being ring barked or cut off years ago.

Again another close up of a regrowth tree...

Once I was aware of this as an issue I started looking at trees on my drive home from Nyngan to Warren to Dubbo and it was hard to find any stands of trees that were not this coppicing / multi stemmed regrowth.
With so many regrowth trees in the landscape we were unable to find Aboriginal scarred trees - many of which were probably cut out or removed from the landscape.  Instead we did find some stone artifacts which was great and always brings home the fact that the land was occupied prior to European colonisation.

Trees were cut or ringbarked by early graziers to encourage the growth of grass to feed stock.  Trees have also been lopped for stock feed in times of heavy drought or cut to provide building materials or fenceposts.

The ability of nature to recover - it's resilience - always amazes me. 
Imagine the these landscapes if all these trees had of just died instead of resprouting and regenerating. 
Imagine the scorching summers of over 40oC with no shade.
Imagine a whole landscape that had lost its ability to generate rainfall from its trees.
Imagine a landscape with few birds and animals.

It is always quietly reassuring to see resilience in a landscape.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Kids and nature

On the weekend we went walking in Mt Canobolas State Conservation Area.  It was great to get out into the bush - the first time we have for a while.  We were beginning to feel very house bound with all the cold wet weather we have been having lately. 

We went walking through the snow that was still on the ground from the snow dump earlier in the week....

the kids made snowballs.... and then... 

.. the snowball fights were on for young and old alike....

...some of the ice crystals we found on the damp shady section of the walking track.

We had so much fun as a family out walking and exploring the outdoors that  I agreed with the kids to make more of a commitment to get outdoors and into nature more regularly.

So I would like to set a challenge for us as a family to take the kids out into our natural world every second weekend - no excuses about cold winter weather - just make it happen.  It feels like a more of a sustainable approach to the Great Outdoors Challenge that we participated in earlier in the year where we aimed to get the kids outdoors every day for a month.  I hope that this challenge will bring a deeper connection to nature for the kids and me alike and being every fortnight maybe it will just become part of our family routine.

On recommendation from a friend and reader of our blog I have also just borrowed "Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder" by Ricahrd Louv from the local library.  I am looking forward to finding out more about Louv's argument for a return to an awareness and appreciation of the natural world.   

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Music for all

It has only been a week or two since we extended our "TV free Tuesdays" to "Technology free Tuesday and Thursday nights" - and we are already having heaps of fun.

Here are the kids and Dad all enjoying some time to learn music..... they all had so much fun.. even the "big kid".

What do you do on your TV and / or technology free nights at home with the family?

Monday, August 2, 2010

It's snowing

We have just had another week of wet cold weather in Orange... but today it all seems to be worthwhile... it's snowing...  After dropping the boys at school I took our littlest to a picnic ground up near Mount Canobolas and here are some snaps...  it is a little higher and hence the snow is settling better than at home... but given that we have an outside temp of 2oC and it's snowing wet snow at the moment we may soon have a white back yard..