2013 - Promise and Challenges

Well it's over 4 years now since we went "bush" and whilst we've achieved a hell of a lot on farm in that time, the idea of keeping an ongoing record of what's happening has been less successful. News Years Resolutions are next to useless for us as  there's something in the joint intelligence around here that says as soon as it becomes some sort of mandated activity it doesn't happen. It would be nice to be able to use this blog as we'd wanted - to look back at what's changed... but there's a few photos tucked around on various hard drives around the place and we'd better stick with that for the moment, with the vague idea that we might actually blog a bit more frequently on what's happening in these parts.

But a bit of a retrospective think about things, and where we are at at the moment, and it's all pretty good. Weather aside as this bloody drought is a nightmare of increasingly frightening proportions, there has been very little regret about the move.

Sure the climate up here is harsh, and difficult and very very challenging, and absolutely this idea that the drought has ended is irritating, insulting and frustrating as hell, as we've had little / no rain now all winter and spring, and are now dealing with near enough to empty dams, dry as tinder grasslands and a serious management problem with livestock water, but there are plenty of things on the upside.

The air is clean and clear and wonderful - there's no persistence of smoke lingering over us every day. We come and go, hang washing, sit around outside, open and close windows and generally live free of that constant cloud of toxic fumes that ultimately drove us from the Dandenong Ranges. Obviously people up here do fire preparations, and are more fire aware than we've come across in years, but they do that within reason, and with consideration to everyone around them. There is burning off, but there's a general consideration of wind direction, and impact. Even the DSE, when burning off the bush reserves, do it quickly, efficiently and with some thought to where the smoke is going to go and for how long. Although the Longest Lunch and a burnoff became a close run thing a year or so ago, common sense and co-operation prevailed in the end.

Obviously it's helped by the size of the properties, but mostly, it's an issue of care and consideration and awareness of neighbours. There's also a very nice little warning that comes with your welcome pack from the local council - no point in moving into an agricultural area and then whinging about agricultural activities (occasional headers in paddocks of a night / gas guns firing in paddocks / roosters crowing!).

And that's probably the thing that makes all the hard environmental stuff easier to take. The community up here is fantastic. The combination of artists, farmers, small-holders and broad acre growers, graziers, croppers, grape growers, wineries, workers, labourers, professionals, retired, young, old, just kind of works. This is a community in which, in the main, everyone is accepted for who they are / what they do / and their foibles and individual quirks might be commented on, but mostly with affection and acceptance.

So after 4 years, and in the face of a desperate weather situation, no regrets. A few desires - but pretty simple ones really. Wish it would BLOODY RAIN. A few weeks worth would be good. But not on the Australia Day long weekend - there's a party in town and everyone will want to show up.

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