Monday, 30 April 2007

Ochre Archives Newsletter - Issue No. 5

Welcome to the fifth edition of ‘Ochre Archives’.

Feedback on Ochre Archives No. 4
Blue-green alga
Biodynamic agriculture consultant Cheryl Kemp suggested that with blue-green alga we “spray biodynamic preparations around the water and some in, and you could even put some Manure Concentrate in the water and that will help it to bring in the good bacteria and microorganisms and clean up the water. You could try it in the brown algae as well. It would be a good experiment, and might make the water more palatable for the animals.”

Defoliated Kurrajong Trees
Cheryl advised that we could assist the Kurrajong trees that had defoliated by “spraying biodynamic soil preparations around the trees, right out to drip line, or you could just mix up some (biodynamic preparation) 500 and pour in a cut ring into the earth around the drip-line to support the tree roots and bring in the soil micro organisms below to enliven the soil. Some good rain would do the best, but this could help, especially when the rain comes, it can instantly jump back to life.” We’re pleased to say that the two Kurrajong trees appear to be re-foliating naturally.

Matt Rush
A reader from Port Macquarie let us know that Matt Rush (Lomandra longifolia) which we’ve found on the farm is common on the north coast of New South Wales, used in highway medians as it doesn’t need a lot of attention and can also be used to minimize soil erosion.

Risks in totally de-stocking land
Cheryl Kemp cautioned that the work of Allan Savory has proven that totally de-stocking in ‘brittle tending’ environments can lead to desertification. This is absolutely true – and explains why fencing off some areas in the hope of increasing diversity and regenerating land fails in many cases. Many well-intentioned environmentalists have yet to learn this unfortunately. Ochre Arch (and most of Australia for that matter) is located within a brittle-tending environment. Our decision to de-stock was made in the context of this knowledge, balancing our desire to allow the land to rest and avoid the cost and effort involved in substitution feeding stock. De-stocking to us means removing domestic herding animals such as sheep and cattle. There is still plenty of other native fauna on the property, including kangaroos, wallabies, wallaroos, rabbits (numbers are under control), and a myriad of pasture eating birds such as Australian Wood Ducks (around 2-300 in one group) and Red-Rumped parrots.

Findings from recent trips to the farm
We sent Grenfell resident Mikla Lewis the accompanying photograph for plant identification.

She responded: “The yellow flower is Sida corrugata – its common name is ‘corrugated sida’. It is a lovely groundcover in spring and summer and seems to disappear in winter. Ants love to collect the seeds and surround their nests with them in mounds. The seeds are sort of diamond shaped with little corrugations around the edges. Sida is in the Malvaceae family which includes hibiscus and marshmallow.”

Trees and Shrubs
Mikla also identified the following plant as Hopbush,

“which is Dodonaea. The species is probably viscose and ours is probably the Wedge-leaved Hopbush. The shrubs are much enjoyed by wild animals and were used by the early settlers to make beer (hence the name)!”

One of the branches on this Australian White Cypress Pine (Callitris) has been rubbing against the main trunk for a very long time, to the extent that it has almost completely worn through the bark.

The vertical opening evident in the bark is, we assume, the result of a recent lightning strike.

The fungus in the photo below was in one of the creeks following rain. It is about 25cm long, soft to touch on top and like hard plastic around the edge.

The bell-shaped fungus below is growing about 2 metres from ground level on a red-gum tree.

Here is an ant nest, with a large number of seeds spread around the entrance. The nest was in amongst ‘Corrugated sida’ plants (mentioned under the ‘Grasses’ heading in this newsletter), so it’s possible the seeds were from these plants.

Here’s an ‘old-man’ Red-Necked Wallaby’.

The Magpie in the top right was flying up from the ground to access the Kurrajong seed pods.

In Closing
Once again, feedback is most welcome, via email to

Until next time!

Kind regards… Phillip & Jan Diprose

Link to Ochre Archives Newsletter No. 4

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