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“Trees are the poems the earth writes upon the sky” said Kahlil Gibran. Pete, Shani and Sophie prepare to plant.

This year is our fifth on Yarnauwi, and this June saw our fifth annual tree-planting extravaganza. Over the last five years, our amazing community of tree planters and supporters have planted 5000 trees and other plants on Yarnauwi as we work to restore woodland, stabilise and repair erosion and plant trees for future timber, forage and food. Following the last four years of observation and experimentation, in 2017 our main focus was planting carefully selected species into some of the more challenging areas of the property. Each year we’ve propagated and planted trees sourced from both Trees for Life and our own seed collection. In addition to their generous labour and time, we’re honoured that Yarnauwi regulars Richard and Marg have now immortalised the annual tree-planting tradition in a musical saga, published below and sung to the tune of Loudon Wainwright’s The Swimming Song. The lyricists also pre-emptively apologise for any character assassination contained within.

Putting in soil-stabilising groundcovers around the shed.

A week or two following the tree-planting extravaganza, we were delighted to host the Permaculture Association of South Australia for a walking tour and lunch, sharing our property planning process and how we’ve approached the landscape restoration through a permaculture lens – of which these plantings are a central element. Thank you to Tree Team 2017: Anthony, Pete, Shani, Arlo, Freya, Jeremy, Claire, Innis, Sal, Mary, Branny, Richard, Marg, Nat, Jess, Oliver, Gillian, David, Geoff and Andrew.

One of the electives at this year’s tree-planting fiesta was making plaster casts of animal tracks. Here we have a collection of fox tracks from the dam’s edge.

The Yarnauwi Tree Planting Song
Richard Smith and Marg Easson, June 2017

Today we planted treelings
on Asher & Annika’s farm.
Joel & Sophie they were there
for added strength & charm.
Repeat/modify last line.

Joel Catchlove he’s so tall
he takes an overview.
If he hopped & had a tail
he’d be an old man kangaroo.

Just to add confusion
Sophie is & is not Green.
The non-green bits she’s been using
to help organise the team.

The landscape there is really beaut
and certainly has potential
for permaculture to take root
and Green-Catchlove residential.

Out there ‘mongst the planters
was our mate Anthony
who had all his fingers crossed
to plant the five thousandth tree.

But Innes he had other thoughts
that that tree would be his.
We all know he could be right
‘cos at tree planting he’s a wiz.

As the good ship Yarnuawi sails
we’re safe with captain Annika.
We’ll surely fly before the wind
when she calls out ‘Set the spinnaker’.

On Yarnauwi we’re all spic & span
thanks to first-mate Asher Dasher
who’s ace at lots and lots of things.
Watch out if he’s got the hammer masher!

Ritchie set up posts and netting
and was quite useful once or twice.
He was best at eating up the lunch
test-flying choc brownies thrice.

Margy helped refuel each tum
with a yummy spinach pie.
So-fuelled we wrangled plantlets –
Yarnauwi’s no pie in the sky.

Well Jeremy he knew what to do
fresh from issues big & midgy.
Watching him command those neophytes
held us breathless, ridgy-didgy.

In our company of foresters
was the mitey mistress Nettle
whose reveg care I declare
will make their future fine fettle.

Out there working really hard
all day was Princess Freya.
A role model for our treelets.
She’s really such a stayer!

The treelings with the best ahead
have been planted Arlo-style.
They can’t help themselves but grow
hypnotised by Arlo’s smile.

To make all Yarnauwi’s treelings
ISO-bio-geo compliant
they’ve been well advised by PTB
on whose wisdom we’re reliant.

The coming trees upon Yarnauwi
won’t need kissing stones & blarney;
they’ve been snugged inside the soil
with skill that was showed by Shani.

We were the Dukes of two-stroke county.
Thank God for Geoff’s post-hole digger.
And Branny cleared a monster swag
with a giant whipper-snipper jigger.

So skilful with the masher
Was the ever-handy Nat.
With some tidy tapping here and there
Each post was pounded. That was that!

Wonder woman of the korflute
and small post was our Jess.
Each plantling erect and neatly
she lined up with all the rest.

The grass was just so wetty
that Oliver’s clothes got, well, damp.
At wash and wearing trousers
He’s now Yarnauwi’s champ!

Oh, the prize was none but Jilly’s
for camouflaged planters’ pantlings.
But local biota who felt bereft
were appendage-ascending antlings!

In great arcs he swung the mallet,
Monsieur David he weren’t lax.
Just think of how the plants would sing
if he’d also swung his axe.

At big jobs she wasn’t queasy.
Not quicksilver Sal-athon.
Cried she ‘It’s easy-peasy!
5 thousand tree’s no marathon!’

Though Mazza brought her knitting
she’s no Madame deFarge of old.
But if there’s horticultural hempy-kempy
be sure that heads will roll.

Soccer balls were brightly bouncing
from busy big and tiny boots.
Humans present and future woodlands
today put down their roots.

There’s many things we give thanks for
about this loved Yarnauwi.
Especially now our poets
have a new rhyme for Caltowie
(not forgetting Booboorowie, Terowie
or even David Bowie, but he’s not a place,
and he’s never been to Yarnauwi!)

So ‘Thank you’ to Yarnauwi.
We’ve sure enjoyed your sods.
The fate of all your new treelettes
is now in the laps of the gods.

We’re sure to come back again
if we get an invitation.
Yarnauwi’s got us all so high
on self and eco-restoration.

It’s time to stop this song-worm.
We’re going from bad to worse.
If you’re especially lucky
next year you’ll get a verse.

We were too busy to take any photos of our farm tour with the Permaculture Association of SA, but here we are at another permaculture-based property near Cape Jervis as part of the same event. Here Chris Day and Pedro Rowley talk about their design for water-harvesting swales for a future orchard on the steep, pink gum woodland site.