After 30 years of very hard work, rendering us in effect ‘Professional Peasants’, McCarthy Park 1 was looking good! We had totally re-fenced the place, cultivated two and a quarter paddocks, made four ‘wildlife sanctuaries’, one around the annual dam/soak, another around the artificial ‘snake lake’, another around the ‘billabong’ and the other down the back has been left totally natural, though we did let the sheep graze it for a week or so to take out the introduced grasses. We planted a huge number of local native shrubs and trees to rehabilitate the bush land we have on the property, to add shade to the paddocks and to encourage the return of native flora and fauna.
More details on this journey below, but as to where we are right now- in late 2020, after a few years of increasing traffic and subdivisions, we downsized to a more manageable 5 acres. We regularly see kangaroos, and plenty of birds in this much quieter and greener McCarthy Park. That of course is the next chapter, but these early years in McCarthy Park 1 were challenging, fascinating, hard work and rewarding!
At the same time, we experimented with a variety of animals that help us work towards our goal of sustainability, including ducks, poultry, sheep, (Wiltshires) rabbits, turkeys and guinea fowl. We had fish in our swimming pool (previously barramundi in summer and trout in winter, then Silver Perch), with the trout and barramundi now in our aquaponic system. We also had a large vegetable garden and two orchard areas also supply some of our food, and beehives which supply us with honey and beeswax.
We have a solar hot water system and solar panels (26) to help in our goal towards sustainable living, though this does not cover all or our electricity usage (we do not have mains water supply so rely on pumps for all our water usage).
As our children have grown up, money has become less of a problem and we have been able to afford other equipment that has helped us, such as a mulcher, ride-on-mower, and a modern tractor with implements. The tractor in particular (with bucket, ‘carry-all’, grass rake, ripper and slasher) has been a huge help! Where we did so much with wheelbarrows or the car, now we can use the tractor. Whether it is carting heavy stuff from one place to another or landscaping, it has certainly been useful!
On top of caring for the animals (feeding and watering, putting away at night, repairing their runs &c &c), there are also a myriad of things that need doing. Setbacks can take many forms-trees lose branches, often covering tracks and breaking fences; roofs (house, rabbits, stables, &c) get covered in leaves—presenting a severe fire hazard, firebreaks need regular attention, irrigation systems regularly fail, something dies or escapes, bushfires etc. So even with all the aids, there is never ‘nothing to do’!