Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Struggle to Survive.

In the early days of settlement of the Australian colonies, it is a wonder that the land survived.  One would have thought that with the vast expertise of the English Yoemen (Farmers) there would have been enough knowledge on how to care for the 'hand that fed them'.

With the discoveries of pasture, it was immediately taken up by squatters and men with money that could manipulate the land grant system.

With the Gold finds, came those that felt that this land was their gold mine, and pushed their landholdings to the limit by overstocking and firing good forest land that had taken thousands of years to provide compost and mulch for the pastures as the rains fell and washed this nutriment down the slopes.

With the fires and the devastation of tree felling the forests soon stopped providing and only gave heartache in errosions of gullys and land slips.  To compensate thmeselves for the loss of this regenerating of the pastures, the settlers over stocked, and the cloven feet of sheep and cattle packed the ravaged soil to a concrete like clay pan.

It took many years before the farmers came to their senses, aided by laws from a government that had let them run a course suited to the Peerage, the snobs of England and the Australian settler that wanted a better or a good life at the expense of the land itself.

More than these actions put stress on the people and live stock of the time.  There were 200 species of insects that came with the convict, and immigration ships.  The normal predators of the harmful bugs were left behind, proven by the fact that the suviving insects would have been attacked by their eneimes on the six months voyages across the sea.

One such insect introduced from Africa on ships of trade, a species of blow fly, Lucilia Cuprena deposited eggs in the fleece of sheep, the lavae burrowed into the  tissue of the sheep causing severe lesions and an agonising death if not treated.  This fly has caused more damage and cost more money to control than almost any of the insects introduced.  The blow fly continues to be a pest of great resilience and harm causing to the sheep farmers on Australia.

Black and brown rats scampered from ships and their fleas caused an epidemic of Bubonic Plague in Sydney in 1900.

Probably the classic stupidity was brought about by James Austin when  he consigned twenty-four grey rabbits from Glastonbourogh,  in Sommerset to his brother Thomas, at Barwin Park near Winchelsea in Victoria in 1859.

By 1887 25 million rabbits scalps were presented for bounty payments in NSW. At Teryawyena Stations in Western NSW 80,000 rabbits were killed, in 1885 470,000 and 1886 and 685,000 in 1887.

Then came the purpously bred 'Rabbit Cats', cats that were so big that they would often attack a new born lamb.  Their species still roam the country side in our day.

About the only introduced species that entered Australia from England for the poor old Englishman so that he didn't feel home sick, were fish. (The carp came from Europe)  One enterprising Englishman managed to keep trout eggs cool enough for the six monts voyage and sucessfully released some into the rivers of Victoria and into Tasmanian waters.

It has taken too  long in Australian history to come to our senses in regards land care, but it is happening, much to the detriment of the honest, struggling farmer of our times.

If I am allowed to have an opinion, Australia needs to expand on stored water, the artesian basin is drying up, and that takes raindfall on the east of the ranges, one hundred years to reach the underwater caverns.  We have already put the inland water supplies at crisis level.

The  alluvial soil of the outback, the red soil and the black soil plains can grow all types of vegitation  with the right amount of nurturing and with the right amount of water.

I do not think the bulldozer clearing of the scrub is going to provide any long term benefit, at all.  Nature is not that kind that it will give the rains on demand, and the wind has no restrictions on when it can blow the disturbed top soil away.

No comments:

Post a Comment