It’s been another funny old year. Makes the sensitive person wonder just what exactly is going on with the climate? Last week was bonkers wet. Thursday we headed north to attend the Elmore Field Day. It’s a farming expo, and of course for lunch there were the tasty sausages sold by the bloke with the genuine mixed Aussie – German accent, who sold charcoal cooked Bratwurst sausages with fried onions and cheese in a bun. Proving that inflation is a real thing, they were $14.50 each, but so good and so tasty. Yum!
The weather on the other hand was a bit crazy. It was bad enough having to get up in the dark in order to get to the Expo at a reasonable time. It was after all about an hour and a half to two hours drive north of here. During the night beforehand, the wind blew and the rain pounded the house. Hardly inspiring weather to head off into the wilds and visit a farming expo. Candidly, it raised doubts as to the sanity of the entire journey, but more seriously, the noise from the wind and rain disturbing my sleep was an unforgivable sin.
The journey to the expo was horrendous. Not only was there water on the roads, but the rain hammered against the windscreen. Toughened and laminated glass is a wondrous product, and it was nice to be on the correct (and drier) side of the technology.
Not everyone drives to the conditions, and on a narrow country road on a bend, the trailer of a speeding truck heading in the opposite direction began sliding towards us. An alarming sight. Fortunately the laws of physics came to our rescue and the momentum of the prime mover pulled the trailer back into line. That was a close call, and we sure got lucky.
We took the new Suzuki Dirt Rat to the expo, not because it was the most efficient vehicle choice, although it holds it’s own. At 7L/100km (or 34 miles per gallon), the Dirt Rat is not bad at all. It’s easy on the wallet when it comes to refilling the beast. The Dirt Mouse Suzuki is better again at 4.6L/100km (or 51 miles per gallon), but could it get out of the saturated paddock car park? On exiting the paddock car park, the Dirt Rat had to be chucked into four wheel drive to stop the sliding around in the smooshy mud. All good fun.
Before we left home that morning, the sturdy work boots worn during the day were treated to a decent coating of shoe polish. Some people may consider that shoe polish is a form of paint, they’re wrong. The waxy layer provides some water proofing properties to leather boots, and did we need that or what?
Mud and puddles are par for course when it comes to farming, and they’re a tough bunch who just get on with what needs doing, when it needs doing. The vast majority of the folks at the expo seemed to be appropriately attired for the conditions. At least we dodged the rain, and that was because we looked at the forecast in detail and timed the visit accordingly.
This wet year, it sure pays to keep an eye on the weather forecast. City folks probably don’t think much about the weather forecast, but they’re wrong to do so. Looking at the rain fall predictions for the coming week shows, Holy Carp! Another freakin’ huge storm looks set to dump between two and four inches over this south eastern part of the continent. At this stage, you’d have to suggest that we’ve kind of had enough rain, for now at least.
After the rain this week, the valley below the farm has a sort weird flooded look to it. And the bridge crossing the local Macedon River (also known as Riddells Creek) looked as close to flooding as I’ve seen it for many a year.
By Friday evening, the heavy rains went away to wherever it is they go, and the sun shone. The sunset produced particularly lovely colours.
It was hard to ignore some of the damage caused by the heavy rain. The dirt roads around here are a mess. Relative to the surrounding area, we fared well with only minor damage. A small part of the crushed rock surface of the low gradient ramp was washed down into the paddock. The crushed rock with lime will feed the plants well, but certainly that was never the intention.
As an avid weather watcher, it was hard not to notice the big storm last week. With another one due this week, we’ve begun making some preparations on the basis that: Things could always get worse.
One of the preparations for worse weather was adding further weather protection for the chickens. The hen house sits on a concrete slab, and the walls are steel, but a layer of silicone sealant was added where the two meet so as to stop water from really big storms entering the otherwise dry hen house.
Late one evening during the most recent storm it became necessary to clear debris from the stainless steel water tank inlet filters which serve the house. If those filters clog up with gunk, they’ll fail, then water goes everywhere, much to my distress. So best they don’t get clogged up – which they didn’t, with assistance. However the ground around the water tanks had become very muddy and slippery and something had to be done about that. A thick layer of mulch was chucked on top of the surface and that will provide a nice all weather surface.
The water tanks attached to the large shed have long been full. However, it goes without saying that when water tanks are full, to quote the fictitious Star Trek engineer Scotty: They canna take any more captain, they’re going to blow! So excess water has to be channelled away from the water tanks, and preferably away from buildings, and anything else you don’t care to see damaged. Two water tank overflows were extended.
It’s probably not optimal having the two overflow pipes side by side. An ideal solution would have been to separate the overflows so that water does not get concentrated because that is often what causes a lot of damage. Conditions however were not optimal, and that’s how it is. With that in mind, we’ve begun trialling a way to break up and disperse water using a rock diffuser arrangement. Such a system was put together in the past few days so as to test whether it will work. Time will tell, but the system diffuses water exiting from the surface water drain located around the large shed. That drain ran continuously for over a day following the cessation of the rain.
There are some areas where water is still issuing days later, and they look suspiciously like a spring. In other unusual items of interest, a tunnel made by rats had collapsed. Makes you wonder how the rats fared during the rains?
And in a truly bizarre and somewhat ironic twist to the rain tale: A day of work was spent setting up a water pump and garden hose tap (spigot) so as to water the plants growing in the greenhouse. We’ve been unable to get the summer seedlings started in there until there was a feasible way to get water inside the greenhouse. What a fine joke, because despite the rain, for months now most days have involved me carrying buckets of water down to the greenhouse. That had to stop. Now we have a reliable water pump and tap in there.
The 12V DC high pressure water pump arrangement has been developed over many years of trial and error with this technology. It would be nice if the water pump worked without all the additional gear (non return valve + pressure tank + replacement pressure switch + emergency shut off valve + heavy duty switch), but it doesn’t, trust me on this. A temporary cover was later attached so as to protect the arrangement from the worst of the weather.
Despite the cold wet weather, the plants continue to grow. The recently relocated raspberry patch is thriving, and most of the relocated canes took.
The strawberries inside the greenhouse are out-performing their outside peers by a considerable margin. And, the unusual pink flowering strawberry plant appears to have begun to produce some tiny berries.
Onto the flowers:
The temperature outside now at about 10.00am is 5’C (55’F). So far this year there has been 1,000.0mm (39.4 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 902.8mm (35.5 inches)