Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Flood, Tempest and Fire

It’s been a very eventful week. During the “big wet” we received 137mm (5.5 ins) of drenching rain. The dams filled and so did the creek for the first time in three years. In fact late afternoon Thursday, it broke its banks and flooded across the lower paddock. We had a brief respite on Saturday when the sun shone and the sky was deep blue. But on Saturday night back came the rain until early Monday morning. We received another 25mm (1.0ins). I think we can safely say that the drought has broken on the South Coast. The grass has turned a bright green and is growing furiously. I will not need any more hay this season. So now all the animals are on their own.

Although the ground is quite soggy it will only take a week or so for the surface to dry out. I think we have sufficient sub soil moisture now for the growing season.

Murray Grey and Calf
Then today, we experienced extremely high winds from the west, gale force at times.
We lost power at one stage and then, to our horror, we saw smoke billowing from our lower paddock. The wind had brought down power lines and started a bush fire. I called the RFS but someone had already notified them (a passing motorist?) and the bush fire brigade was soon there and had everything under control. It burnt out about 0.5ha. in my and my neighbour’s land and had made its way into the trees by the side of the road. Luckily the wind was blowing away from us and the undergrowth was still quite damp. However if it had jumped the road and gone into the National Park there could have been some serious consequences.
There is quite some damage to the power lines and although the power company was quickly on site I think it will be some time until electricity is restored. This means no water (pump!), no light and no cooking. Guess we will have to go to town for dinner and find some candles to read by.
In the meantime, we have completed the electric fence around the Semillon and Tempranillo vineyard to deter the wallabies. A search of the web found some interesting designs for that type of fencing. Contrary to my thoughts, a fence does not have to be high to keep out wallabies. Research has shown it needs to be multi-stranded with a number of closely spaced low wires complimented with a few wider spaced higher ones. Apparently they graze up to a fence and when confronted with a few thousand volts turn away. No attempt is made then to jump the fence, they prefer to try to get under it. DUH! You learn something every day!
So we constructed a fence with electric tape at 12cm, 18cm, 24cm, 32cm, and 55cm spacings, attached to the trellis end assemblies and some supplementary stakes by over 100 insulators. That’s a lot of hammering! We then connected the energiser and battery and turned the whole thing on. When we attached the tester we were pleased to find 4500-5000 volts flowing through the whole structure. The lower wire may even keep the rabbits out!
Needless to say the strong winds caused havoc with the vine guards. I think once the wind drops it will be an evening of retrieving them from the extremities of the property and reattaching them to the wires.
In the meantime we just have to hope that damage to the new vines as well as to the new shoots on the Cabernet will be minimal.
Work on redecorating the bedroom continues. The ceiling is finished and the woodwork is waiting for a second coat. Then it will be crunch time to see if the selected colour for the walls is what we envisaged!

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