February is all about extremes for the 2 folk, the dog and the tractor. We started the month surrounded by drought-affected paddocks and an empty dam. We have finished the month with green fields and a half-filled dam, which is a really very good outcome!

We were lucky to receive rain in the last month, yet to be confirmed as ‘drought-breaking’ but enough to soak deep into the ground, our minds and hearts. The land is responding, plenty of new shoots everywhere, millions of seeds have sprouted and we are better for it. Sadly some folk did not receive rain, or the rain-washed their drought barren topsoil onto neighbouring properties. It is a heart-wrenching sight.

When we first purchased our place we were pre-occupied with the lack of trees and how to drought-proof our land.  Then we learned the greatest carbon sink is grassland and one of the best drought mitigation tactics is to maintain groundcover, preferably deep-rooted perennials. Good groundcover protects the soil from the baking sun, supporting soil biology and structure, and improves soil infiltration which reduces runoff. Whilst we started our regenerative agriculture journey as the drought started, the fact we started means we stand a better chance of bouncing back strongly when the rains come.

Our first signal of having made a difference is how our runoff dam did not fill. At first, we felt really down as those around us had full dams. However, the benefit of the water soaking into the paddocks, where it is needed to grow grass to feed the sheep far outweighed the sight of a reservoir of water exposed to evaporation.  The drought still bit us, we lost trees and more groundcover than we would have liked but our paddocks have grass growing and for that, we are grateful for the rain we received.

The house build has hit a standstill due to a lack of human resources and time. We have formally accepted we have a ‘bit too much’ going on at the moment. Time to contract out the non-house projects such as fencing and landscaping. Owner building is a constant and complex tussle between a need hierarchy of off-farm income to fund the house build, down-time to creatively solve problems, non-house focussed projects to inspire and bring balance (and keep us from becoming socially dull), and starting a farm-based enterprise to create the life we want. Of course, another solution is to reduce the number of things we want to achieve…leave that one with us.

The kitchen garden continues to teach. The rain we received encouraged the rosemary to burst into flower, giving deep relief and a lightbulb moment all at once. It has not flowered since a severe pruning (read slashing) back in February 2019.  Turns out it was actually lack of water that kept the plants from flowering. In a bid to save water, the irrigation to the vegetable garden had been turned off and only key plants were being hand watered. The rain was enough to convince it to flower and the bees are happy and should survive the winter out here. Happy bees = happy humans.

We are currently harvesting asparagus (the spears seem to triple in size overnight), spinach, chives, spring onions, rosemary, thyme, tarragon, bay, mint, and the first cherry tomatoes. An alternative harvest list according to the sheep would include corn, tomatoes, capsicums and beans. It is tricky to tell if the corn is ready given the sheep enjoyed the silks, the silks dying back is a signal of when to harvest. We continue to wait on the tomatoes to ripen (such beautiful big GREEN fruit), the cucumbers and the kale. Jobs to do: plant carrots, plant additional brassicas (the seeds did not sprout so it’s off to the nursery for seedlings). The wicking beds are still standing idle due to intense sheep interest and insufficient protection – we do learn eventually.

February was a milestone month for our garlic growing business. We had our first market stall at our town’s agricultural show. We enjoyed it all and it was really fabulous to meet customers existing and new. We had wonderful support from friends who can take stunning photographs, who know how to retail and who kindly purchased from us. This level of engagement validates our belief in locally grown, human-scale food production as a way to ensure high quality and nutrient-packed produce. Sadly the pics don’t show co-captain, who managed to avoid every attempt at a record of his amazing efforts. It could not have happened without him.

February book list


There has not been much time for reading this month so pickings are slim. Not shown are the sheep practice notes on how to identify the plethora of parasites that activate when we receive rain, and how to manage grazing and feeding to ensure animal safety as the new grass shoots. Oh, you read it correctly, new grass can make sheep very sick. Rain has a deep impact out in the country and for those living a farming life. Far greater than we could ever have comprehended. It is life.

Last word

rain endearing itself


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January, for the 2 folk, the dog and the tractor and many Australians, was the complete antithesis of this picture. January has been filled with some rather tense and heart wrenching moments. Just 3 hours away from our place in one direction and 1.5 hours in another, the stunning bushland and surrounding towns and farms suffered horrific bushfires. Precious animals in their millions perished, human lives were lost and dream lifestyles rendered to ash.  


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not the worst for smog but shows how drought affected everyone is out here

For us, at it’s worst, we were smothered in a thick acrid smoke as the fires burned out of control and the winds swept the smog into our home and lungs. It was hard to breathe and visibility was reduced to tens of meters, heightening the sense of impending emergency. High temperatures and winds meant any spark from any activity could put entire communities at risk. So for the day’s marked as ‘Catastrophic’ all we could do was steadily work through fire plans, clearing yards, watering everything, practicing SOPs, agreeing to fight or flee, what to take or what to leave. Lock down.

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not calm

What happened on the East Coast of Australia was unprecedented but not unexpected – which only adds to the shock of what has occured. I think there is a whole generation of under 35s who have only now realised their political leaders are not to be trusted and will avoid accountability at all costs. I believe the magnitude of the fires is due to industrialised humans and our persistent misappropriation of resources resulting in global climate change.  Fuelled by political and individual inaction in the pursuit of self interest and gain. My answer is to leave such creatures to eat their own young. We will continue regenerating the land, and support like minded folk; work harder to reduce our consumption, be it resources or possessions; and foster the concept of being a steward, not an owner of this remarkable planet.

We have signs of hope all around us too at the moment. Walking the paddocks and tree lots we discover trees thought lost to us have continued to hang on, even grow. Others have flowered for the first time, which initially we thought was due to maturity but now we wonder if the excessive smoke triggered the event. Even on a hazed out morning their beauty shines bright.


Kitchen garden pickings continue to be slim, for the humans anyway. Herbs continue to flourish but the rosemary is taking a hit as the house paddock sheep acquire a taste.The tomatoes, capcicums and corn are finally producing fruit, the herbs are powering along, the cucumbers are still pondering and the berries have outgrown their pots. Yet we have harvested barely a thing! The lesson this month is to start growing early by planting seeds undercover/inside where conditions are relatively stable. Then once the climate is right, strong, mature plants (or near as) are planted out to maximise the harvest season. This is not new, what took us so long (read 6 years)?

Seeds of 2 types of kale, broccoli, and brussel sprouts are potted up and have sprouted. The bees have not been forgotten with seeds of English and French lavender (Lavendula sp), Flannel Flower (Actinotus helianthi), Salvia (Salvia sp), Hellebore (Helleborus), Honesty (Nigella damascena), Globe Thistle (Echinops ritro) and Sea Holly (Eryngium planum) also potted up. To do planting carrot, spinach and late summer herbs. Plant out wicking beds.

Booklist January


One thing about lock down is you have time on your hands to read. Last month I read the first in the trilogy by Rachel Cusk. Exceptionally good writing. Just can’t remember a thing about the books as I was not present. Standout book, and a remarkable young woman, is Hashtag Authentic by Sara Tasker. If you need to get your Instagram geek on she is your go to library.

Last word

David Attenborough, A Life on Our Planet (film)

“The way we humans live on earth is sending it into a decline… Human beings have overrun the world…Our planet is headed for disaster, we need to learn how to work with nature rather than against it”


now breathe
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