Setbacks…..Fire, tree-falls, equipment failure, death and destruction….are a natural part of rural living, even on our small scale. Often it has been one step forward and two steps back!
Describing our experiences without covering this aspect would be incomplete, and if others are attempting the same lifestyle it is helpful to know that a wide variety of sometimes debilitating setbacks is normal. Some are due to nature, and all we can do is clean up and repair the damage, some are to an extent self inflicted as a result of lack of time, lack of adequate equipment, money, or lack of knowledge.
The disasters are tough at the time, but are always an important lesson. Such as…..
* The bushfire that burnt out the front paddock……… while we were overseas, leaving our daughter and son in law to manage. It also took out the electrical pole, leaving us with no power and therefore no water (we are not on mains water, so rely on pumps and the bore for our water supply and sprinklers). They had to resort to putting out spot fires by bucketing water from the pool when the fire brigade had to move on (they ended up needing to return though!). There was also the bushfire that burnt out the entire back paddocks-five acres worth of bush, pasture, fencing…… and a couple of others that caused concern but didn’t end up directly affecting us.
* Dog attacks on sheep– a couple of dogs can really devastate a flock of sheep in no time. We lost a number of sheep and goats over the years, especially before we were able to re-do the fences. Even now we worry for there is always a chance a rogue dog will get over or under a fence and create havoc.
* Eagle attacks on the poultry– from time to time we have had Wedge-tailed Eagles flying over head checking on the easy prey below. In one period we lost a duck and our lovely rooster to an eagle that returned four days in a row.
* It is distressing to have to kill a sheep that has been badly mauled but still alive. It can get worse, in one year after a really bad spate of dog attacks when burying a sheep one of us come across the sheep the other had buried in a previous attack.
* The loss of every turkey (again from a fox) the night we bought them from our daughter! This story and more on the goose who crash-landed next door and was latched onto by a waiting fox, we tell in the farm ‘humour’ (some of it is ‘black’) section.
* The bore collapsing, leaving us with no water for a few days just before Christmas (requiring us to bucket in our supplies from a neighbour’s hose) until we could get it redone. We have also been left without water each time there is a power failure! On the other hand, one year we had to remove the bore from the swamp when the water table rose so high it started to cover the electrics on the pump.
* Starting a fire while burning off! Even though it was August, and quite acceptable to burn off—those paperbarks are highly flammable and the flames just raced up the bark. The fire then leaped from tree to tree and down towards the neighbour’s place and the volunteer fire brigade visited once again, but in entering from the neighbour’s place one truck got bogged down to the axles in water!
* Purchasing 50 trout for the new aquaponics system, and forgetting their tendency to leap! When we got up in the morning we found 20 on the ground. Even with our experience, mistakes are still made with alarming regularity!
* Our own dogs have caused their share of death and destruction too. Just when we think we have done a great job of training and they leave the animals alone, one of them will get a mouthful of turkey (Finn) or kill a duckling (Midge).
* Perhaps more easily solved, but just as devastating is when the chickens get into the veggie garden either when we have spent a whole day tidying and planting, or just when things are ready to crop! Also when ‘bad’ insects destroy a lovely crop of vegetables seemingly overnight!
*Regular tiger snakes around the house- one season we had nine….. and that was just the ones around the house- a snake ‘no go’ area with the kids and dogs. So, we built a ‘snake lake’ on a low bit of ground in front of the house, and haven’t seen a tiger snake in the house area since! Dugites maybe- we even had one IN the house, but they aren’t as bad as tiger snakes so we are pleased with the result.
*A large branch falling straight onto the topbar hive, smashing it to bits, just at the time we were considering a split as it was such a healthy and thriving hive. It took hours to salvage what we could and reinstall the bees in a spare Langstroth we had.