Where we are
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...
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 - 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 - 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 - 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 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.
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
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 - 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 - 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.
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
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 - 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 - 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!