Archive for the ‘Our Block’ Category

Trees for our block

Thursday, May 7th, 2009

As of now there are maybe 150 trees in the existing woodlot and maybe 40 significant red gums across the rest of the property. My new best friends at Austrahort Seed Merchants supplied me with a few thousand river red gum seeds, ironbark and maculata (spotted gums) as well as tens of thousands of acacia victorae.

So far I have 300 river redgums seedlings sprouted and moved into tube stock. These will become the base of our woodlot next spring to be planted once the frosts have stopped. This should be enough for our firewood needs managed as described in the post about woodlot management.

Currently we have the first of 2500 acacias potted into seedling trays and in the mini greenhouse.  We will be using these as commercial seed trees, acacia seeds being a native food and keenly sought after for the nutritional and health value. Once the acacias sprout and can be moved on into tube stock the ironbarks and maculata will be next.

The spotted gums are sought after lumber for fine furniture and beautiful decking and will be planted with a 20 year harvest in mind, like a small super fund. The ironbarks are so incredibly strong they will be staggered 4 deep as a windbreaks around the property line and around the perimeter of paddocks for the same reason. They are also a commercially in demand lumber.

We are looking to plant out 300 red gums, 2500 acacias, 10 000 spotted gums and 10 000 ironbarks plus fruit and nut trees in our orchard. Potentially we have the capacity for 20 000 acacias in addition to the above, how many we end up with will be left to farm gate/market returns for the seed.

One thing is for sure – our block will be a green and thriving oasis amongst the thousands of hectares of cleared grazing land around us.

Our plans for this patch

Saturday, May 2nd, 2009

We have big plans for our patch, tempered only by the fact we want to establish a lifestyle with the cash proceeds from the sale of our house and any money we earn in the meantime. Put simply, we will go at the project until we have reached our reserve cash limit, then its back to work to earn enough to complete the project.

We already know we don’t have all the cash on hand to finish which is a nice reality to be honest. “Can’t spend what we don’t have” budgeting at its purest.

Our immediate plans are to re vegetate certain areas, mainly as windbreaks as the wind up here can be severe. Once this is done we will establish a large woodlot, which will be used to grow timber for firewood and perhaps structural uses such as fence posts later.

We are about to put before council plans for a shed of 15 x 6 metres, 9 x 6 of this enclosed for a workshop with a 6×6 carport for sheltering the cars in wild weather. Off the shed we will have 50 000 litres of rainwater storage. This storage will provide our legally mandated 22 000 litres water storage for bushfire fighting and that leaves 28 000 litres of storage for the green house and vegetable patch and for us to use during the build. These tanks need to have hardware compatible for CFS (Country Fire Service) trucks to take water from if needed to fight fires.

This shed also means we need a proper driveway placed close to it. Again, there is mandated widths and access roads for fire fighting equipment and vehicles that I need to carefully research before we go ahead with that. The shed is only 20 metres from the road boundary so it won’t be a huge imposition to make a path for trucks to the shed tanks.

Down the hill there will be a green house with attached chook shed and fenced veggie patch. All this will be designed with permaculture in mind so each area will have multiple uses other than growing vegetables or housing chickens.

Running off this area will be the house, with orchard linked to the chook shed and vegetable patch to allow the chooks access into the orchard.

The house is going to be large, 28 x 9 metres of actual living space with a further 2.4 metre wide verandah right around the perimeter. If I claim the size of the house like your typical real estate agent does, the house will be around 41 squares in size, or 4110 square feet or 453 square metres.

Here’s a rough mud map of what we want to do in the paddock closest to the road. This is all proposed, currently the block is used for grazing and is a blank canvas. One thing you will notice is lots of water tanks, we want to have 150 000 litres of storage.

Rough outline of the first paddock.

The angled boundary is actually an easement containing a buried water pipe for a property a further kilometre away. They were smart enough to place this just inside the paddock fence, making it easy to find.

There is currently a woodlot just past this easement, however it is not large and it sits in the lowest point where a dam would be perfect so as we cut this lot it will be with no view to regenerating the trees. The woodlot we establish as in the mud map above will be cut as a regenerating woodlot.

The fall from the road boundary to this easement is approximately 40 metres, with a plateau where the shed is and also where the house is proposed to be located. The shed will need 5 minutes on a bobcat to level where it will go.  We’ll need to cut approximately half the house base into the plateau up to 50 cm deep and fill the other half a similar depth.

Under Development

Saturday, May 2nd, 2009

So, lets start with the story of the name.

My cousin is a specialist teacher who teaches primary school Aboriginal children. We had a whole heap of phrases thrown together from the dialect of the Kaurna (pronounced gowner) people who we believe were the nomadic tribe of the area our block is in. Taking her advice and remaining culturally sensitive to these people we ditched the bastardised native name idea altogether.

Our property is located at Ayres Road just outside of Tungkillo. The block is strewn with moss rocks. As you can see from the big letters at the top of the screen it wasn’t real hard to come up with a cheesy play-on-words name for the property.

We’ll be updating the blog with our progress as we embark on our very own owner-builder project.

Where possible we will also document our costs as we go along. For matters of simplicity we shall not bother with diesel for the 4WD nor will we break down the project to days and time spent on site. Councils are rightly sensitive about people living on their own land without approved dwellings so we don’t want to give the council ammunition to prosecute us should we decide to “camp” in the relative luxury of the shed or house as construction continues.

Where the %&*! is Tungkillo?
Funnily enough every second person we speak to in relation to the block utters these words. Tungkillo is 12 kilometres out of Birdwood on the Adelaide to Mannum Road and consists of a pub with some houses around it. Peaceful rural living with all the real necessities a man needs close at hand. Click here to find Tungkillo with the help of Google.

The block.
It’s big. We’ve gone from 815 square metres of pleasant suburbia to 580,800 metres of secluded and extremely peaceful grazing land. There is an abundance of rocky outcrops all over and we have our own winter creek with it’s own feeder coming down the hill at the back of the block. There are some native trees, and we certainly plan to be adding more trees to it.