Episode 193. Fires, Snow and Sheep Husbandry

This is the World Organic News for the week ending 11th of November 2019.

Jon Moore reporting!

Decarbonise the air, recarbonise the soil!


Well it’s come to that time of the year again. Each year it arrives earlier. I’m talking about the fire season in Australia. The season starts with fires in Queensland and New South Wales, usually, and heads south and west as the summer rolls on. Astute listens will realise that we are still in Spring. Summer looks horrendous. I’ve included a couple of links. One shows the extent of the fires from satellite images. These are terrifying images. Over 100,000 hectares have burnt but the other article portends doom. While weather conditions have eased as I produce this episode on Sunday the 10th of November, Tuesday the 12th is being described as catastrophic. An actual bushfire level of threat here in Australia. Dry winds, high temperatures and low humidity. 

Of course the mainland, the eastern half especially, is in the grip of drought. So Nature is “conspiring” to make things down right dangerous. In reality years of political inaction on climate change, regenerative agriculture, indigenous fire management techniques and, wait for it, budget cuts have all added to create this situation. The NSW state government cut $35million from the budget of the Rural Fire Service. This is body charged with fighting bushfires. 

Podcast footnote for our listeners outside Australia and New Zealand. The rural firefighting agencies in Australia and their names vary from state to state, Rural Fire Service in NSW, Country Fire Authority in Victoria and the Tasmanian Fire Service here in Tasmania, all these agencies are staffed apart from a small coordinating staff in the capital city of each state by volunteers. That’s right, unpaid volunteers. These people literally put their lives on the line each summer and increasingly from Spring to Autumn, to protect their local communities. As the fire seasons extend and the size of the fires increases, they are spending longer performing this community service. Even they have limits. People working on the fire front for up to twelve hours a day, days on end. We are fortunate in that the entire continent doesn’t burn at once. Relief crews come from interstate and overseas. The Kiwis always kick in and we return the favour when needed.

During the 2013 fires when my sister-in-law and husband lost their house we decided it was safer to move into my sister’s holiday house on the coast, 200 klicks away. As we drove down a convoy of 50 plus South Australian tankers and crews were heading to fires. Almost brought me to tears. So to summarise this podcast footnote: Volunteers on the ground, budget cuts, willful ignoring of the science at the federal level, that federal government run by a pentecostalist happy clapper who literally brought a lump of coal into parliament to show how “great” it was is sending “thoughts and prayers”. Meh!

End podcast footnote.

So we head into this week with trepidation. During last weekend another sister-in-law was evacuated and the fire stopped one street from her place. We have family and friends spread across the areas of concern for next week. I can only hope this might lead to some actual changes but I seriously doubt it.


While all this was happening to our north, we received snow down to 500m elevation. We’re at 350m so a little sleet and rain. A big place Australia.

On a more hopeful note I can across a post on Facebook this week. For the life of me I can’t find it, thanks Zuckerberg, but the gist of it went like this: other than humans, every other living thing and biological system is working towards keeping the soil covered, moisture saved and the planet in dynamic balance. This being so, and from my observations, it seems to hold true, we all need to think deeply about what is my favourite Masanobu Fukuoka statement: What less can I do?


On the home block we’ve had a new lamb drop. A first time ewe, she handled it well. I moved the massive flock of now three ewes, a ram lamb and a yearling ram onto new feed. There’s a video in the blog post accompanying this episode. It shows the feed the flock has left and what they moved onto. Probably three to four weeks before they’ll be moved again. 

The apples continue to bloom with the later varieties starting to burst bud. The pears are growing away at a pace and I’ll thin the fruits in December. The raspberries are moving from flowering to fruit production in their own ways. Harvest will start some time in late December or early January. The last bag of frozen raspberries from this year’s harvest has been cracked. Raspberry muffins for morning tea the other day whetted the appetite for the fresh fruits soon.

The pigs have started their work on their new field. They run and frolic when they hit fresh pasture, their ears bouncing as they bound about. The geese, two females and one gander, have all coalesced around the six goslings. They are maniacally protective. It is comforting to see but with two of Mrs World Organic News’ grandkids arriving this coming week things could become fraught. We will see.

As parts of the mainland burn we’ve received 40 mm this week. The dry time here is Summer, especially late summer so the more soil moisture we can accumulate now the better.

We need to get our act together as a species. The natural world is screaming at us, increasingly loudly, we must open our ears.

Decarbonise the air, recarbonise the soil!

We are in the process of writing RegenEarth’s second season of podcasts and I’ll let you know when they are roaming free on the interwebs. In the meantime you might want to listen to our short season one and subscribe so you’re ready for when season 2 drops.

Thank you for listening and I’ll be back next week.



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Topical Talks

Weather forecast fuels Sydney fire fears, RFS warns of ‘catastrophic’ danger for the first time ever


NSW fires: Pictures reveal widespread devastation that can even be seen from space


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