The flood has not ended the drought, but for the first time in a long time there is moisture in the soil. Now we see growth as we have never seen it here.
A lot is recovering, but nothing is the way it was.
First rabbit numbers explode, then fox numbers, and of course: weeds.
But also some of the burnt and dead-looking Eucalypti start to shoot again, and a few of the other native trees and shrubs. Many only shoot at ground-level and some are utterly dead, but there is a promise of recovery.
Then new seedlings start to grow.
The first to come up is a little herb, Sweet Hound’s-tongue (Cynoglossum suaveolens), which has a small, nondescript flower and the most exquisite perfume. I had not seen it here for several years. Then thousands and thousands of wattle-trees germinate. Wattles are a pioneer tree and will quickly close the tree canopy again. But they are short-lived and will die in about 10 years time, to create an increased fire hazard.
No idea how to manage this.
The grass is suddenly knee-high, a sight we are so unaccustomed to that I am searching for our cattle, then detect them laying down, with only black ears poking out of the high grass.
But the pasture is also very different. Native grasses grow first. They are beautiful, very hardy, prevent erosion, and are generally useless for feeding cattle.
Pasture management is one thing I thought we would need advice with.
The fruit-trees do their spring growth thing, with burnt apples hanging next to prolific apple blossoms. But many fruit trees are dead or only shoot again from the rootstock, which of course is no good. Some have survived but their mate, the tree needed for cross-pollination has died.
There is no time to do anything about it.
The vines start to shoot again, too.
Some regain their canopy, some shoot from the roots, some don’t shoot again, and some have burnt to the ground. Some even have grapes, but many vines turn red – a sure sign that the fire has strangled their trunk.
And shortly after the vineyard goes out of control.
The vines collapse with disease. Caring for them was low priority and they show it. The vineyard has never ever looked so bad. We try to mow the grass between the rows, but the mulcher- mower catches a wire from a damaged trellis and is out of action for 2 weeks.
The trellis posts and irrigation lines don’t seem to recover much either, but let’s give them some more time perhaps…
And business explodes, too.
After assuring worried customers that NO, there is NO need to panic-buy the last ever bottles of wine left to us, NO, we are NOT down and out and closing and moving away, and YES, we are open for business as usual, sales resume.
Then they start to boom.
The Sarsfield bushfire has made headlines and many people want to help.
We spend our time labelling, packing, delivering. This not only helps cash flow, it also gives us a tremendous moral boost.
Some people care about Sarsfield Estate.