Posts Tagged ‘Wombat’

A potpourri of pre-Christmas events.

December 20, 2018

Last week we drove to Sydney to visit our daughter who was meant to visit us. Due to storm damage  the trains were delayed and the buses were not running, we thought it easier to drive to Sydney instead. Trains are often risky and even a rogue wombat can derail trains. I bet the old ‘fast-train’ service will be raised again now that an election is due soon, together with the perennial second Sydney airport.  It keeps us nice and docile. Gee, the French sure know how to get things moving. I like their spirit.


This is our daughter and her youngest son, Max, who has reached that stage of being a teenager very drawn to languorousness.  This means he likes to adopt a seating arrangement between sitting and lying. He is Tom’s brother who is almost at the end of his Indonesian adventure and at present in Bali’s Ubud. Tom is 18 and now taken to sitting upright again.

The lunch was beautiful and included as a dessert a nice chunk of water melon ‘infused’ with mango gelato. This coming Christmas day she and both our Grandsons will be visiting us for a Christmas lunch with a possible stay over-night. Of course, that has the proviso the trains are running and that the wombats stay away from the rails.

The latest new’s item that really stunned me that for over 150 years a Tattersall club in Brisbane, Queensland, prohibiting women becoming members. They excluded women. Can you believe this? A vote was taken on the issue and the ban was lifted. Oh, Australia; where is your Santa list for moving forward?

The vote in favour of allowing women wasn’t all that overwhelming. It was mainly for financial reasons and not because it was so outrageously  misogynistic.

I wonder if the Republican issue will be dealt with soon? I suppose, we are waiting for the English queen to pass away. Another terrible sad bit of news is that the issue of refugees on Manus and Nauru will not be resolved before Christmas. When, oh when, will Australia be dragged in front of some court to face charges of crimes against humanity?

But, there is also good news. It seems that keeping pets helps to keep children healthy and possibly avoid getting infections. And…the more pets, the better!

A baby lying on the ground beside a small dog.

We are both now fitting in some more medical appointments as well. The medications we now ingest are keeping us alive as much as possible. This morning at 9am I was ordered to get in my underpants and take my valuables to the medical room and submit myself to a bone-density test. It was a remarkable experience. My feet were strapped in while laying on a hard surface in the horizontal position. ‘Just relax’, I was told by a female technician operating a sliding monitor taking images of my totally prostrated body. You know, when it was all over, I had trouble getting vertical again. The woman had to actually lift me up and prop me up a bit. The ignominy of ageing. It seems only yesterday we were skating and somersaulting about.

And now, look at it!



Our groaning world.

April 12, 2014

Our Farm "Rivendell"

Our Farm “Rivendell”

This article was first published some years ago (perhaps around 2009.)

Let me first give some details about Australia’s lust for ‘crop and weed spraying’. BY 2006 our annual use of herbicides was over 18 000 tonnes and for insecticides over 8000 tonnes, fungicides another 3000 tonnes. This is the un-adulterated product. At a generally advised mix of 200 mls of the herbicide or insecticide per 100 litre of water that then gives every person (20.000.000 people) more than 600 litres of chemicals in which to spray crops, weeds. You could happily spray a litre per day and have plenty left at the end of the year. You can understand why we are leaving such an enormous ecological hoof/footprint every time when leaving the rural produce store. We are fond of chemicals.

Check it;

So, once a year the farmer receives a letter with a date whereupon a ‘Noxious Weed Inspector’ will come out to inspect weeds. He arrives in a large 4W drive car with a Shire logo painted on its doors and will ask how the poisoning of weeds is progressing. I generally act evasive and vague which is my nature and easy to comply with. He soon picks up on my lack of enthusiasm for spraying and killing dreaded weeds. After ten minutes or so of country banter we start on a walk towards the infestation of weeds along the river that might have survived or overcome the latest spraying of toxic poisons. I try and bring the conversation over to the subject of herbicide resistance. There is now a slight change in the demeanour of the Noxious Weed Inspector.

What makes a good Noxious Weed Inspector anyway? Do burning desires and ambitions lay dormant for years in a person before breaking out in an all consuming drive to become one? Is a fixation with weeds something one is born with, genetic predisposition perhaps? Are now, after all those years of study and hard work the essence of Weed Extermination in danger of being thwarted by “herbicide resistance”? How fickle life can be for Noxious Weed Inspectors.

We now have the world’s second largest list of herbicide resistant weeds, 53 listed weeds resistant to herbicide, including the Serrated Tussock. Herbicide resistance is, simply put, the ability for plants to develop genetic change and become resistant to the poisons. Nature has this amazing ability and iron will to survive. It only takes mankind to really defeat them.



The problem is that most weeds thrive in areas that have been over-stocked, over cropped, over fertilized and generally exploited for too long a period. Weeds are taking their revenge. The battle between farmers and weeds is not being won by the farmers it seems.

Our paddocks just have a very common but very invasive weed, Serrated Tussock. It is an escaped little plant from South America but the focus of much scorn and debate amongst Weed Inspector socials. It is invasive but allowing paddocks to lay fallow and allow native vegetation to restore a balance again seems a better option than spraying.

We don’t make a living at all from farming, so for real farmers weeds are taking away part of their income. Certainly letting land fallow seems a luxury that not many can afford. However, the enormous cost of fighting weeds chemically might well become a worse option now. About 2.5 % percent of total farm cost in use of chemicals in 1988 has risen to 9% of total farm cost in 2006.

Monsanto is looking smug here.

Our weed inspector is not too keen on talk about herbicide resistance and quite rightly sees this as another attempt and an inroad on his authority to order killing weeds. He increases the speed of walking and furrows are now on his forehead. I appease and talk a little about the high cost of the chemicals recommended for killing weeds. The cost of those chemicals is between $350. – And $550. – Per twenty litres.

Wollondilly river at Rivendell

Wollondilly river at Rivendell

He tells me he will impose an inspection cost/ fine of $110. – For any non compliance, he emphasises. Years of study, experience and inspectorial knowhow now come to the fore.

I casually tell him of NSW Water Catchment Authority and their concern of flow on of toxins in the river that at the end flows into the Warragamba Dam. That water will eventually be consumed by the people of Sydney. Never mind that. Just think of the platypuses. They get a direct king hit as soon as the herbicide washes into the river. Our small acreage has almost two kilometres frontage to a river, hence another reason for us not to be keen with spraying Glyphosate, Flupropanate or other chemicals with even more sinister names.

From our perspective and experience over the last fourteen years, it has shown that weeds will thrive under stressed conditions. Spraying with chemicals has often marginal results. They come up even more and stronger next time around. In any case, the weeds now have’ heroically,’ developed herbicide resistance.

Our former farm's kitchen

Our former farm’s kitchen

Our Weed inspector has now finished his tour of duty and has given me the option of getting a contractor out who will spray, not just the weeds by spot spraying, but do the job by boom spray. A boom spray is a contraption of a series of spraying nozzles on a five or six metre boom towed behind a tractor that will spray a swath of weed killers over the lot. The weed killer is ‘selective’ and will have a fantastic ‘residual’ quality, he enthuses. He is throwing everything at me now but somehow senses my sullen reluctance to weed killing and toxic mixtures. He again mentions the ‘$110. – Inspection/fine.

The advice of chemical suppression is against the latest science. Problem is that the Noxious Weed Act is from 1993 (Section 18) and that Australia’s worst weed, the Serrated Tussock, has started to morph into a most resisting little weed. Herbicide spraying only gives it even more room next time around as native competing vegetation has been removed as well. Its dormant seed bank just sprouts up with even more chemical resistant tussock babies.

I tell him I will consider, but quietly reckon the inspection fee will be the preferred option, especially for the weeds. The platypuses have been giving a reprieve. The wombats are having a ripping time building and manning the ramparts. The blackberries continue with their impenetrable wall for future defence.

The Noxious Weed Inspector drives off.

One of those days.

October 29, 2013

There are always some days that have trouble getting ‘booted-up.’ After a good sleep I woke up feeling a bit like ‘not one nor the other.’ A bit like someone being asked ‘did you like your dinner’? Yea, ‘not too’ bad. It is hardly a standing ovation to the cook, is it? I’ll try and start with just a few words like; some years ago…

Some years ago on the farm I remember getting a very enthusiastic response to a meal cooked by Helvi. One of our grandsons, without further ado, climbed on the table and started licking the gravy direct from the saucepan. We let him indulge his gravy passion uninterrupted. I mean, they so quickly grow up having to adjust to a world critical of climbing on tables and licking gravy. I too still remember eating direct out of saucepans but not from the table. It is a slight difference. Holland is more proper and proper values are strictly regulated.

It was also at the time, the grandson used to pee all in a row from the large veranda floor surrounding our farm. They all took that proud stance that all boys adopt in the burgeoning art of young boys discovering being able to direct their stream. They did, and as far as possible. When Helvi asked why they did this, the answer was, oh well, the toilet is inside, too far.They were so busy playing around that they left going to the toilet to a bursting emergency status.

There is nothing like life on a farm that gives kids such valuable lessons. It ought to be made compulsory. Many school kids do visit animal farms or get taken to rural properties. There is just nothing like it. Of course, as there is with all life there is birth as well as death.

We had alpacas. It was in spring that one gave birth. All the boys were watching as the birth was progressing. An hour or later the afterbirth came about. One grandson poked it bravely with a stick. What’s this, he asked?

I explained as good as possible. All out of the blue, he asked; Do animals eat this? I said that perhaps dogs or most likely foxes might. What about people, he asked? No, I don’t think so, I said. He thought about this, but did not want to let it rest yet. What about English people? I had to laugh.

He was just three and the world so far had only family and locals in it. The ‘English’ was a different world to him and perhaps in his logic he somehow already thought that in the outside world things might well be different, so, perhaps English people could well be different and eat different foods.
Not silly reasoning for someone so young.

Some time later we came across a dead wombat. Wombats are rather top heavy. When they die, they mainly end up with their legs sticking up. The same grandson wanted to take a closer look. I stopped the car and we both walked over. He seemed sad and I thought of asking if he would like to do something. He said; can you put some lollies on his eyes? I said, of course you can. Why? He might get better, he answered. Next day we drove by, the lollies were still there. The wombat must be dead, he said.