Leaves are brown…
There’s a patch of snow on the ground…
Winter has arrived and thankfully some good soaking winter rains arrived with it. It was a dire time throughout Autumn, with the rains arriving on the very last day. But then Winter descended and with it those cold mornings that our central highlands of Victoria are renowned for. Mornings were frosty and it was difficult to get out of bed! Even the chickens struggled to get out of their Chook Falcon on those chilly days!
Leading up to winter and the promise of rain approaching, we realised that we needed to improve the water harvesting and drainage on our property. Over the last 2 winter seasons here, we have been inundated with rain and bad drainage, creating a swampland across the entire block. I’m sure the llamas and horse started to get webbed feet!
With our winters so wet and our summers so dry, we needed to be able to channel that resource into catchment areas to decrease their evaporation and increase their usefulness (other than just breeding mosquitoes!).
Last winter, we painstakingly mapped out the slightly-lower-than-very-flat areas on the block (did I mention we’re sitting on a plateau and have very little slope?!) and Stace worked hard digging (mostly by hand) a series of channels and pools to collect and move the water across the block.
The chickens helped where they could…most of them just hanging around for a tasty worm to be turned over with the next clod of earth. Most of the time they just got under Stace’s feet…but that’s what happens when you have free range chickens!
With torrential rain finally falling down, we watched with expectation…and discovered that Stace’s hard work creating a system of drainage channels throughout White Stone Farm worked a treat! Hooray!
Winter used to depress me, with our beautiful property becoming a cold, sloshy, swampland…but no longer. I now see it as working with nature and utilising her bountiful resource. We now have a series of ephemeral pools and can move water slowly through the paddocks and use it more effectively to grow veggies, get water to stock and continue to rejuvenate the landscape. Our small aquaculture dam beside the greenhouse, which is the main source of water for the greenhouse as it cycles through, ran completely dry over summer and autumn, but is now nearly full to brimming! Hooray! Our native fish that nearly perished in the hotter months and had to spend some time in the fish tank in the lounge room are back in their outdoor home finding natural food and (hopefully) growing big and fat!
Winter is such a cosy time, for hot soups, crackling fires and long days of rain to refresh the landscape after a parched dry season. And now we will get to enjoy all that water long after winter is gone.