-----In 2004 we bought a falling-down house and 30 acres. This blog documents our progress-----

Monday, December 11, 2006

watering trees and firefighting

I don't know what we would do without Dad helping out at Amherst, especially with watering. We'd hoped that this year it wouldn't have been necessary to make so many trips, but as it's so dry and the fruit trees still so young, he's had to go still every few weeks. At least it's only the orchard needing watering now, we've not been giving any to the gum trees or olives anymore.

Below are accounts of his recent watering trip and some local news - Dad has met the guy who will soon be our new neighbour. He is Tex's son-in-law and building on the site just near our dam opposite Tex's place. He's a professional firefighter and so Dad has donated some equipment to help set up for protecting our place. Hopefully Dave will get a chance to meet him in March.



I have plans to go on Monday to water the fruit trees as there has not been rain for this past month... i plan to pump from the dam for the day, and to take extra hay there. To fill in time while the trees are being watered, I plan to wheelbarrow loads of manure and place these about the fruittrees outside the area protected by the wire, and between the trees as well. Enriching the ground there will help the trees and the manure is old and not too hot. I will pile some on top, but not too much so as to burn the trees.

Tell me if this is not what you want, but if I don't hear at all from you, I will use the pile of manure in this way as it is not going to be enriching the soil where it is right now. It may be that working the soil around the trees would encourage water absorption and allow the manure to settle into the ground well and make it's contribution.

I will make one more trip after Monday to water, but briefly only as I will leave the tank full and not need to pump next trip, before I go to Lithuania at the end of December, unless we get very good rains. I realize it is costly to get this foothold with the orchard during these early years, but think what blessing they will be when up and running well. I will talk to you some time about putting an inexpensive wire fence around this little orchard and placing the netting on this fence and so let the trees spread out a little. We need not fear the sheep will get in, and built properly the roos will be kept out as well. It is a small orchard so a close fence will be not too dear".



I have had difficulties to water at Amherst. The dam was too dried up to pump from the place where I usually do so I had to totally redo the pumping situation and moved to the part of the dam where the water was over knee height, that portion nearest to the road.

There were no sheep on the property. Roos ate top only of another tree where I'd not reinforced the wiring protection, but tree is doing well otherwise.

Some good news though with regards to the trees: The trees that had been stripped last time have fully recovered and are well leafed, albeit all along their trunk as new little limbs are not yet grown. Also I discovered that one agave was still growing up near the olives.

While there, I watered well as before and placed more straw, but could not obtain bales of straw at nursery, only expensive chopped stuff so only took for the two trees which I had to replace from the last destruction. Am so pleased with growth.

The trees where there's no shadecloth in place (the ones along the road directly up to the house) are but slender poles so will need shadecloth at the next next opportunity. I will talk to you later about what must be done to do justice to this present orchard. So much has been done now that it would be stupid to just let them die now or to merely grow as stunted trees in the himalayas.

I talked to Tex about the drought. He has enough potable water to see him through, but stock is suffering. He will be butchering most of his flock. His son-in-law was just back from firefighting in Gippsland. He is a professional firefighter. He is the one building below you. I spoke to him after talking to Tex for about 20 min. He was working on getting set up with a quick response unit for putting out a fire on his property and yours should it occur. He did not have a tank yet so I gave him one of the tanks I bought for water saving here in Melbourne. I feel it is the least we can do to aid him in his frontline efforts to quell the small fires that may occur or to fight fire from encroaching larger fires.

I placed a very long pipe in the deep end of the dam to put the firepump sucker pipe into so it is possible to quickly access the water there with his firepump. He has one like you. You also have a tank and we will need it to be setup with your firepump. I have a small trailer here in Melbourne that we will use for this purpose. I have had it resprung with heavyduty springs to carry the weight. I have not taken it up there yet, but it will be the frontline defense we will have when I am working there. The water pump will be setup with it so a woman will be able to use it in an emergency, ie not requiring the lifting of the pump into the back of a ute or such, but merely hitching up the trailer to any vehicle with the strength to shift it. I will have the Jackeroo when I work.

I started the watering of the plants at 630pm and finished at 930pm, and that was possible only because I made a new arrangement with borrowed pipe from the pipe that leads up to the olive tank for watering from the deep end of the dam, and using the rest of the pipe to make a means of watering with 3/4 pipe rather than the 1/2 pipe. With the tank only 1/4 full my pressure only permitted to water each tree over 30 min, one at a time. Once the pump had filled the tank I could do two trees. However I pumped continuously for 3 hours and left the tank 3/4 full and watered all the trees deeply with the use of this extra pipe where the water time of the trees was only 10-15 min. I arranged that I could do one tree with the little existing pipe while doing 2 other trees with the other pipe in the same timeframe.

Initally I moved a small amount of water from the potable rainwater tanks (about 1 foot on the tank measure) to hasten the increase of water pressure available to me.
So it is done, and I got all the explosive things out of the container too so there is not a risk if a fire comes.

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