Well, humans are making it worse, unfortunately, in many ways, and honestly, my heart aches looking at the volcanic recolonisation pictures above, because I have more biodiversity in my vegetable garden and that's such a sorry point from which to begin again. If there can be recolonisation of animals from surrounding less damaged areas, that's nice, but humans have already fragmented the remaining natural ecosystems and that makes the whole process of recovery so difficult now. An area that may look green and OK to a casual observer or a non-field-biologist can hold less than 10% of the prior diversity of an area, and many people wouldn't see the problem. A depleted ecosystem is still an ecosystem, and depleted ecosystems can still perform some basic functions, and have basic food chains etc, but it's a pale comparison to what went before, or what you can find in our nature reserve on the farm here, for example.
Volcanic eruptions we can't prevent, but these also tend to wipe out relatively young ecosystems in young geology, which is hugely different from the large-scale incineration of some of the most ancient and biodiverse ecosystems in the world down here in Australia. I grew up in the Australian sclerophyll from age 11 and saw for myself how incredible and species rich it was compared to nature in the geologically-younger Europe I had come from. Living down here is like living in a cathedral, to a person interested in biodiversity - but a cathedral that's increasingly being vandalised and beaten down, as the years go by, just by the way our society here operates. There's so many people trying to help reverse this decline, buying up remnant bushland to preserve, preserving remnant bushland on their own properties, rehabilitating wildlife, adopting Indigenous-style bushland management etc etc etc, but it's like putting your finger in a leaking dyke - it's a drop in the ocean compared to the ongoing human-made extinction crisis which we have not been able to halt, and which our horror summer just gone by has accelerated.
It's so easy and quick to wipe out species, and so incredibly slow for them to evolve and differentiate. I happen to like the biodiversity still to be found in this part of the world, and to want to defend as much as I can from demise - because even though evolution can start all over again, it shouldn't have to just because we can't get our act together. I love what is here now, and I loved many things we have lost forever even in my lifetime, and I think these things actually have a right to be.
When we have guests coming in from Europe to look at the reserve out the back of the house or when they go to National Parks here, they oooh and aaah over the scale of the biodiversity compared to back home. But here, a lot of people take it for granted or just see it as unattractive prickly bushland when they would prefer to live in a humanly engineered park/botanic garden.
Anyway, if any of you ever visit Australia and are interested in this stuff, I'm happy to show you what's there and why it is special and should be protected from extinction. Of course, some people I know don't care about stuff like this - not meaning you,
, or any other regulars here, because I know you enjoy and appreciate nature. It's not a fun topic, anyway - and talking about it is less helpful than doing something about it. GENERAL RAMBLINGS
Which right now, I'm not doing - after yesterday's wonderful day, I ended up waking up just one hour after going to sleep with nausea and indigestion that amped up to a proper colic like in a horse.
I suspect there's a food intolerance behind that which I have yet to pinpoint - though I have a few suspects. Anyway, I distracted myself from the pain by reading till past 2am, and making some off-topic comments on the palatability of different forms of alcohol (which many of you here have heard from me before) on the music forum where I'm doing a lot of writing since Sunsmart's Cushings got aggravated. He's better, and sometimes I get the impression (because he's getting naughty, which is a good sign) that he might be up to doing some light retirement riding, and that it might actually benefit him, and I've been threatening him with it when he's become playful-on-the-naughty-side.
But while I'm not riding, there's less to journal about on a horse forum - even though of course I still do general entries on other things here reasonably regularly.
Last night was disrupted, so I feel flat, and the weather is truly miserable today. I've done some paperwork that needed doing (as useless as this activity actually feels) and the drizzle accelerated into a long downpour, so I couldn't get outside to fix up that bit of plumbing I've got all the parts for. Ah well, thought I, and went back to bed to stay warm, and do a little writing here. The dog saw me head back to bed and left her beloved sofa to lie companionably on the hard floor next to the bed, so I got her some floor pillows and a towel to keep her warm, and to thank her for her company. She only does this when I'm unwell, actually - and so she spent much of the time I had a broken foot two nearly years back curled up by the bedside whenever I was in bed, like some kind of self-appointed nurse. And when I feel better, she'll be the first to encourage me to take some exercise, get in the outdoors etc. MUCH-NEEDED HOLIDAY
Brett will be on holidays for two weeks (including three weekends) as of tonight, and we have so looked forward to it. Both of us feel as if we've been run over with a steamroller, and have decided to go near no to-do lists whatsoever and just have time off together to do whatever we feel like; and this will probably be a lot of resting, reading, watching movies, making nice food and going hiking when energy permits it (as happened yesterday, for example). It's been over 18 months since we had a proper break; since last year, half Brett's annual leave was taken up with both of us being bedridden with flu, and the other half later in the year we were doing fine-tooth cleaning and work around the grounds so we could open our farmstay that summer, which we did, and which has now bounced back with local travellers since restrictions have eased here: No community transmission detected in WA, the only confirmed COVID-19 is from returned travellers in quarantine, and our hard border closures that helped to achieve it have just been extended in view of the current outbreaks in Melbourne and Sydney - at the moment, this means we're living a semblance of normal life in this state, obviously with social distancing and other precautions that are necessary to prevent a case that accidentally gets in from spreading exponentially...and obviously with no overseas tourism, but people who normally like going overseas are currently really interested in getting to know their own state, so we've seen surprisingly many people at our farmstay.
I've got to say, and I've not said this for many years, that our state government here has done a really fantastic job lately. They have countered the pandemic with rock-solid restrictions and despite the naysaying of the states with community transmission that wanted us to open our borders to them, and this has resulted in a far more normal life for West Australians than what we're seeing in many places in the world, or what is now unfolding in Sydney and Melbourne... the state government in Melbourne was trying very hard to get this right too, but the main weak point over there turned out to be outsourcing the supervision of hotel quarantines for returned travellers to private security firms which broke all sorts of infection control protocols - and also the housing of normal travellers in the same hotels... and that kind of thing can unfortunately conceivably happen anywhere, although it's determined a lot of people not to let the same mistakes happen in their quarantine arrangements.
At the end of the day though, it will be carelessness that will be people's undoing, so I expect eventually we'll get a second wave here too - since it doesn't take much to start one. POST-HOLIDAY HOPES
We're hoping that the upcoming holiday-at-home will recharge our batteries significantly, so that we don't have to drag ourselves to do stuff so much of the time, and so that I'll be able to get back into cardio sessions on the mountainbike again three times a week, plus Pilates. That's been getting quite good at one stage, but then I got so tired again that I just couldn't face that kind of exertion on top of everything else. It's funny how easy it is to want to go running or bike-riding or rollerblading when you've come home from a day of officework, and how hard it is to do that when you're mostly doing physical work, and much of it outdoors. Then, honestly, I just want to come in and vegetate on the sofa, but I've got to find a way to do regular cardio and Pilates at least 80% of the time (20% lapses allowed) so that it's consistent enough to work properly. One way, of course, would be to do it in the mornings, before work, and I had a bit of success with that. Part of being energetic long-term is actually to prioritise fitness activities. If any of you have got some tricks that have made that easier for you, let me know!
, you moved to a farm too - have you found that your energy has become very much absorbed in running that, and tending to your home renovation, compared to pre-farm? Has anything fallen off the calendar for you as a result, and how have you got some of those back, and made the decision to perhaps let others go?
, how do you do your juggling?
We've had this place ten years now and not been interstate since, and we were regular travellers to Tasmania for bushwalking getaways before that - it's a great place to live, but there's no question that it would probably benefit our enthusiasm for working here, if we could have "spells" completely away from the place once a year. We've tried to compromise by having dedicated recreation days that we don't push ourselves on, and relax at home and/or go hiking on those days, and that's already been very helpful. We're also working on cutting back some of our farm work - by running even less cattle, by buying in hay sometimes instead of cutting tree fodder (which can be really tiring) - of course, there's no round bales to be had in our district at the moment, as we're going into another bad year on the back of three years of drought in this agricultural area. It's a good thing we killed that big steer for our own freezer, because we couldn't have gotten him through the winter lull in pasture growth comfortably, without buying hay in, which in his case wouldn't have been economical anyway.
I'm also not going to be doing much native vegetation planting this year, just to ease off on something and get some time to breathe. The existing planted areas need pruning and maintenance, so we have to re-prioritise what we can do with our time, and be happy with.
On the good news side, the farmstay is a real success and a far better income source than running cattle for us. We're going to only run a handful of steers for the next few years, unless the weather improves dramatically and pasture growth gets back to what used to be normal. We'd rather be understocked and have a bit of slack, than find ourselves overstocked for deteriorating conditions and having to sell to feedlotters, or slave away daily with tree fodder.
I think as a bit of a pep talk to myself, I'm going to sit down and write about the main things we have managed to do, these past ten years - there's been many good things. But, I also want to take action to decrease our workload, so that we don't get exhausted by it - and just have a general good think about what we want to be doing.
Having a proper break from work for two weeks plus three weekends will surely be a good start...