"We must achieve the character and acquire the skills to live much poorer than we do. We must waste less. We must do more for ourselves and for each other. It is either that or continue merely to think and talk about changes that we are inviting catastrophe to make. The great obstacle is simply this: the conviction that we cannot change because we are dependant on what is wrong. But that is the addict's excuse, and we know that it will not do."
—Wendell Berry

Monday, 12 December 2011

Tropical Christmas

Another Great Australian Christmas rolls around. I have never been able to understand the whole fake snow and icicles thing here in Aus at Christmas. To me Chrissie has always been sweltering heat, outdoor barbeque's and swimming.  It will be our fifth Christmas here at the cloud farm and the first real Christmas for the littlest farmer. Last year he was still a meatloaf in nappies with no real understanding of what was happening. Now he is a toddler and is really getting into the swing of things. Soon he will learn about "presents" and our lives will be forever changed...

The weather is sweltering at the moment, unusual in our area as we would normally never go over thirty degrees. We are getting the big storms rolling back and forth across the tablelands, dumping a lot of rain as the lightning scares the bejabbers out of the dogs. The rain is good for the fields and with the heat allows the grass to really get a move on. This is important as we use the grass to help control weed growth. In winter we scythed the weeds in the top paddock in time for the summer growth of grass. This allows the pasture to outgrow the new weeds and we get a nice clean field without using any poisons.
 Some nice clean pasture in the top paddock. Mount Bartle Frere in the background.
We spend this time of year trying to get as many of the big projects finished before the wet season hits in January. Last year we were caught short when the wet came early in November and lasted for six months. This year I am struggling to get the new chook pens finished and re-render one of the water tanks. The chook pens are a large three shed affair and I am deliberately over engineering them to withstand the many cyclones we get. The water tank is one of those jobs no one likes. I have to remove the old top iron and build scaffolding so I can get inside. Then I have to clean it right out and render the entire inside with a layer of fine cement. What annoys me the most is that I only have to do this is because the first person to do it did a very poor job indeed. It is hot, nasty difficult work but it has to be done. We have no town water here so we rely on the three water tanks completely. Fortunately we are in a high rainfall area so we are usually alright and this is why we have been able to get by on only two tanks this year. If the tank is finished on time I will be able to cure the cement by filling the tank and then dumping the water several times over. This allows the cement to leach out all of the waste minerals without having them get into the house plumbing and clogging the pipes when they precipitate out. If it is not finished on time then that tank will remain unusable until we get enough rain later in the year.
The child bride, last wet season. Note the Drizabone and hat, essential wear during the wet.
It is like this for three months of the year.

The wet season is for us what the winter snow must be for those in cold climates. Pretty much all outdoor activities stop for the duration. The veggie garden comes to a sudden halt. The rain will literally beat to death anything it does not drown. Only a few tropical varieties such as the gingers and arrowroot can survive this treatment. I will, God willing, one year construct or purchase an industrial sized greenhouse and finally be able to grow most things year round. It will also do the garden soil good as it will sharply reduce the rate of leaching due to too much water.
Yes dear reader, there I am in last years garden.

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