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Project Stockrace

The stockrace at the front of Autumn River is the first sight that visitors get of our dream, and it is important to us that it looks respectable, if not (yet) downright stunning. When we started, there was a significant breach in the bank beside the driveway. After toying with the idea of a duck pond, we have stabilised and filled the bank back in so that there is now a respectable flow and no muddy ponding. We have also planted a significant number of native grasses and shrubs, for stability and aesthetic effect. It's been a bit of work, but it has its rewards...

11 January 200416 January 200525 March 2006

16 December 2006 - It's been a damp summer and not too hot, although we've had a fair few strong nor'west days. The soil at the front seems to hold the moisture really well (the stockrace can't hurt) so everything is continuing to grow fast. The grass on the roadside needs cutting weekly... funny how it never occurred to us to wonder before who took care of it.

12 November 2006

12 November 2006 - the plants are recovering nicely along the banks of the stockrace, helped by the phenomenal amount of rain we have had this winter and spring. The constant onslaught of gale-force nor'westers doesn't seem to have done too much damage here, although the trees in the background are showing the signs, with one fewer poplars on the right and a few damaged limbs to the evergrees at the left.

25 June 2006

25 June 2006 - the snow a couple of weeks ago has definitely dampened the tone of the front. We had sprayed the weeds on the bank on the road side, so they were already browning off, but the snow broke them all down to ground level and has hopefully forestalled any real prospect of recovery. The grasses, flaxes and toetoe have taken a real hammering and are all down to about a foot in height, instead of the metre they used to stand.

12 February 2006

12 February 2006 - after much grief over flooding, the stockrace has been cleared out a little to ease its flow. We're not sure exactly how much of a help this will be as the contractor seems simply to have scooped out a thin layer of sediment from the bottom, but mainly widened the channel and dumped the sediment on the banks to build it up. However, we shall see.

14 January 2006

14 January 2006 and the grasses have finally take off. This is what we envisioned the area looking like when we started, and actually it's only been 18 months. It is amazing how much everything has grown in the last four months - the toetoes have gone from nothing to huge, the reeds have sunk their feet in and shot upwards, and the hebes at the front are now almost hidden by the adjacent native grasses.

9 October 2005 - A new spring and the plants are starting to bush out in anticipation. It's great to see them coming along, mostly fairly well, and we are looking forward to some vigorous growth in the next few weeks.

18 September 2005

When we arrived on 18 September, we were surprised to see visitors waiting on our front patch of grass. A local farmer was herding his cows between paddocks, and they were almost at our front gate at the point when we arrived. No damage to anything, and an interesting addition to the biodiversity of the scene.

28 May 2005 - Summer is definitely over and growth has slowed, but we are thrilled with how well the plants have done in their first year. Actually, they've only been in for seven months but already some of the tussocks are touching each other, and the hebes have turned into round little bushes in a most gratifying way.

The stockrace seems to have silted up even worse than when we started, not really a surprise as it is completely grown over in the 20 acre block next door. At some points you can't even see there should be a channel there for the water to run through. However, it has recently been subdivided into two 10 acre blocks and we understand that it has recently changed hands, so hopefully the new owners will take a little more care of things.

19 March 2005

19 March 2005 - The reeds especially have really thrived over summer and have put on heaps of growth. The toe toe and some of the tussocks have also make significant progress towards shading out any competing weeds.

We have another hundred or so tussocks on order, plus some flaxes (phormium cookianum/ whakariki/ mountain flax), which will go along the fenceline... It is nice to see such a successful little project right at the front boundary.

2 January 2005

2 January 2005 - coming along nicely. The grasses etc seem to be growing out appropriately, although there is a certain amount of evidence that we are being nibbled by livestock. Not just the rabbits and hares either - unless they have cloven hooves on a Saturday and webbed feet on a Monday. Yes, we think that stock wandering down the road are stopping on the way past for a bit of a snack, and there are a gratifying number of ducks residing in the vicinity.

31 October 2004 - our first "personalising" project - planting a whole swag of native grasses and shrubs at the front. In order to keep the maintenance as low as possible, we also covered the entire area with weedmat as we planted. Hopefully it will last long enough to let the plants establish and shade out competing weeds.

31 October 200431 October 2004

4 July 20044 July - Our first winter. Oh look, ice.

21 March - The filling we did of that enormous puddle has mostly dried out and the repairs seem to be holding. In early March the surrounding banks were ploughed as part of the overall cultivation and are now much more level, although there is one more ploughing to go and hopefully we will have a lovely smooth surface to be admired by all the passing motorists (maybe).

5 February 20045 February 2004Of course, it didn't quite work out that way. No sooner had we started the project and laid down the first layer of silt, than it started to rain. And rain it did, making up in a week for the previous two weeks sunshine! So no significant hardening of the rebuilt areas for a while....nevertheless, the shoring held and the work could continue, muddy though it was.

The whole area began to look a lot better after the grass was mulched down, although it initially showed the raggedy edges of the race where the grasses had taken over and started to creep into the water race. For a bit of light relief, the grass which had grown into the race was dug out and placed on the banks, providing the newly filled in areas with a covering of grass to put down roots and stabilise the bank. Not a perfect straight line, but better than it was. And all this to keep a race operational so other farmers can use it for their livestock!!


5 February 2004 5 February 2004 - Several weeks have passed of us going out and shoring up breaches in the banks, in the process creating our very own temporary pond - which grew duck prints :-) Special thanks to Krishna Anand for his assistance getting the shoring put in....and sorry the gumboots weren't quite high enough!

So how do we rebuild the banks? With a desire to 'get our hands dirty' and start engaging with this whole land thing, we decided to relocate the silt which was clogging up the stock race and put it onto the banks. A few days scorching sun and nor'-westers and our new banks would be solid. No recourse to machinery at this stage, so it was a shovel and waders, and time to work off the christmas pudding! Now, for those that haven't had the pleasure of standing in a silted stock-race it is quite a strange feeling, sinking to your knees in soft oozy silt/mud. At least it provides a solid foundation for digging!


11 January 2004 11 January 2004 - Sometime in the past the stockrace flooded and burst its banks, and was never repaired. We inherited this messy and muddy situation. We didn't quite realise the extent of the damage until high waters at the end of winter, and we certainly didn't realise the size of the task to fix it until we were elbow-deep in it. Why did we do it? Well, it transpired that this stock race is what is known as 'farmer maintained'. In this case, townies or not, we are the farmer!