We’ve written a fair bit about our relationship with the decades of farm junk strewn across the property, including our page of curated finds. A couple of months ago, when clearing another trailerload of scrap metal from the gullies, Sophie’s cousin Andrew spotted some treasure amid the trash. It was corroded, missing legs and other bits, but still identifiably a spirit-burning, post-World War II camp stove. Continue reading
Our passion for growing trees has in many ways outstripped our capacity to grow them, and so our growing space has become overrun with foam containers balancing precariously on the edges of hard rubbish chairs, bricks and scraps of wood. Some months ago, we claimed some old school tables from a local school’s throw-out pile, and thought they might be good for more growing space. Predictably, the manufactured timber tops very quickly fattened in the moisture, buckled and then started getting slimy.
Earlier in the year, our friend Pete decided that the time was right to haul the last clump of tyres from Zephyr Creek. It was about 8 o’clock at night, and after a cursory glance, he predicted that there “couldn’t be more than 30 or 40 in there.” Almost 200 tyres later, Pete had earnt his “Employee of the Month” status, and with assistance from Will, had built a respectable tyre mound on the edge of the creek. Thanks. I think.
The patch buried under tyres is slated for revegetation this winter, so we couldn’t leave the tyres there indefinitely, nor could we afford their disposal fees, nor could we find any earthship or go-kart track builders interested in taking them off our hands. So after pondering them for a while, we settled on Option E: using them to construct sheep shelters. Continue reading
A day spent hauling junk out of gullies can put you in a philosophical mood. When we first purchased this property, we were drawn to the erosion gullies filled with generations of farm rubbish with a kind-of masochistic fascination. After a year of hauling, stacking and shunting loads to the dump or recycling depot, today we loaded up our ute with the final bundles of unruly and ancient fencing wire.
The most recent round of dump trips has also been momentous in that it finally marks the banishment of a terrifying, rusted and threadbare rocking horse from the property. The horror horse, wedged between rusted 44-gallon drums stuffed with irrigation pipe and topped with a decaying mattress, formed one in a series of mobile art installations mounted on the back of the ute, displayed for a brief, one-time-only journey between our block and the Yankalilla dump. A number of more conceptual, minimalist pieces followed shortly after, composed of snarls of fencing wire of assorted vintage. Continue reading
When we first dug the post holes for the bee house, it was winter. It was a clear, sunny day, but only 30cm underground it was a river. Now, the soil has hardened again and already cracks are forming where the sun has touched between the tussocks. It is the time of insects: the long grass shimmers with the darting of grasshoppers and butterflies, the red gums are awash with ants and centipedes uncurl in dark, hidden places. It’s a good time to introduce our first livestock – bees – and to finally complete their shelter: the Bee House. Continue reading
While the sun still has some sting left in it, we’ve now completed our first official summer working with the block. When we settled the contract in late November, we began drafting a phased plan for actions to take over the 2012/13 period and beyond. We intended the first year (at least) to be primarily a process of observing and auditing the property, learning what we can about what is here, what has been and what is possible.
As we’ve noted in our curated collection of farm-found rubbish, the largely idyllic setting of the property masks a narrow badland of erosion gullies repopulated with human trash. It’s bizarre sifting through it, a process of contemporary archaeology that often strays towards the forensic as we imagine the human story behind the array of objects gradually becoming swallowed beneath sediment and phalaris grass.
One of our missions is to clear the large rubbish from the gullies, increasing their habitat value and allowing us to more effectively address erosion and revegetation, while also allowing for the reuse and recycling of the accumulated items. On a blazing February morning, we helped a local scrap dealer begin to extract recyclable metal from one of the most dramatically eroded gullies. In an hour and a half we had well over a tonne of metal, in the form of a deep freeze (packed with coral, rainbow-coloured aquarium stones and empty tins of bourbon and cola), two washing machines, an electric oven and stove, a motorbike, three BMX bikes, an exercise bike, venetian blinds, chook wire, corrugated iron, steel tubing, downpipes, engine parts, metal drums, wheel rims and homemade farm machinery. Continue reading