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Green and grateful GOF

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I was blessed with an almost idyllic childhood growing up on a little farm in Australia.  Despite that, I can always remember wanting to get it over and done with quickly.  To grow up so that I could view the world from full adult height then ‘go out and do something useful.’

‘Doing something useful’  I have since come to understand means different things to different folks, and my interpretation is no more or less legitimate than that proposed by others.

My life’s dream of ‘usefulness’ was enabled by a three-year tertiary Diploma of Agriculture which included practical experience in a broad spectrum of rural activities.

These included barbed-wire fence construction, chicken sexing, repairing farm vehicles using only Jesus Juice, pliers and fencing wire, blacksmithing, doing time trials with Howard mini-tractors racing in reverse gear around chook sheds, milking cows and making butter, butchering almost anything which moved and was edible, distributing DDT liberally onto anything which moved and was inedible, and shoveling more tons of animal shit and stinking fermented silage than any city dweller would think possible.
I’m exhausted just recalling this comprehensive education and indeed the Diploma proved to be one of Great Usefulness.

Then followed twelve years inflicting these dubious skills upon unsuspecting natives in remote parts of New Guinea, but taking time also to observe the inner workings of the Government Department for which I worked.
The experience taught me that many corpulent people who were even more pale-skinned than I actually ‘worked’ in comfortable town office buildings, and they considered that shuffling pieces of paper and attending committee meetings and conferences constituted a genuine form of ‘usefulness’.  Perhaps it did.  They certainly thought it did.

For me ‘usefulness’ invariably meant doing physical work and constructing something tangible.  Preferably alone.  I always pig-headedly and obstinately refused assistance from well-intentioned friends and neighbours. Perhaps this is an unfortunate legacy of being raised as an ‘only child’.

 

*       *       *       *       *       *       *       *       *       *       *       *       *

As the curtain closes on 2011,  I will sit on the verandah each evening watching the cumulo-nimbus clouds germinate in a clear blue sky before burgeoning into massive tropical thunderheads at 40,000 feet.
I will reflect upon the absolute magnificence of the nature which surrounds me and review my lifetime spent attempting to do ‘useful’ things.  I will absolve myself from transgressions made during the year past thereby allowing myself to repeat the more enjoyable ones  in 2012 without any guilt.

I will also accept that most forms of human ‘usefulness’ including my own are a cosmic irrelevance and when reviewed from half a millenium hence my lifetime achievements will have been of no greater value or lasting importance than those of Nelson the dog who is presently attempting to dehusk a coconut outside on the lawn.

Nevertheless I am absolutely content with my place in the universe and my limited understanding of it.  Despite a lifetime punctuated by some regrettable occasions of ineptitude and thoughtlessness I am satisfied that I did my best to be ‘useful’ in the only way I knew how.

In the final anaylsis nothing much really matters apart from treating ourselves, our families, other people and Mother Nature with the care and respect they deserve.

*       *       *       *       *       *       *       *       *       *       *       *

The following “before” and “after” photographs show the results of our ongoing 20 year reforestation project covering 30 acres.
A token act of appreciation for this small piece of earth which has sustained and nourished our little family for the past 29 years, but which should never have had it’s rainforest clear-felled by the original lease-holders half a century ago.

*       *       *       *       *       *       *       *       *       *       *       *

1A 1982

1B 2011

2A 1982

2B 2011

3A 1982

3B 2011

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About GOF

"Life is like a sewer. What you get out of it, depends upon what you put into it." (Tom Lehrer)

41 responses »

  1. The after pics do my heart good.
    And your entire post is just what I needed! Thank you for the gift.

    Reply
    • Thank you Lauri. It is such an extraordinary privilege living in this place at this time in human history. From reading your blog I get the impression you feel the same way about your little patch of paradise too.

      Reply
  2. What a lovely view, GOF. I’m sure you appreciate it even more since you are the one responsible for much of the work. Thank you for that. I’m sure Nature appreciates it too, when she isn’t blowing down your outbuildings and flooding your gardens.

    Have a restful holiday with your family and friends!

    Reply
    • Thank you HG. I never tire of the view. Nature tends to look after everything in Her own cyclical way, but it does feel good to give Her a hand to help offset all the destruction going on in the world.

      Best wishes to you and your family for a safe and happy holiday period.

      Reply
  3. If nobody else is appreciative, I know your friendly neighbors the feral hogs certainly are.

    Have a good holiday.

    Reply
    • That’s a very good point GOM. Thought I’d gotten rid of most of the feral pigs in the dry season, but the ‘wet’ started a couple of weeks ago and we had the first unwanted visitor rooting around the place this week. Time for Mr Magoo to oil-up his weapon oinker destruction.

      I hope you and Mrs GOM have a very enjoyable holiday.

      Reply
      • Weapons of Mass Oinker Destruction? Lol!

        How much rain do you get in the wet season, GOF?

        Reply
        • Our annual rainfall has increased during the last decade……average over the 29 years I have been recording is around 150 inches or 4 metres….most of it between December and June.

          We don’t often get a view of the mountain during that time with visibility down to 100 metres in blowing fog and rain. 🙂

          Reply
          • It’s hard for me to imagine that much rain!
            Do you have biting insects? Mosquitoes? Biting flies? Do you have to have screens on your windows?

            Reply
            • We have very few annoying critters of any kind Lauri. Mosquitoes are rare. March (Marsh?) Flies are seasonally annoying Aug-Jan but nothing that a good ole Austrian slap-dance won’t fix…..window screens stop all the other harmless moths and bugs from being attracted inside to the lights.
              What about your place…..Mrs GOF was amazed at the number of mosquitos in Minnesota when she went there in Summer. Do you have the same problem?

              Reply
              • We have a lot of mosquitoes and big old nasty biting flies. When you get bit by one of those big flies it hurts as well as itches.
                This year we were gifted by the presence of a new type of mosquito…very tiny so we couldn’t hear them whining, but when they bit it itched like crazy! It was a very warm wet spring and summer, so whatever kind of mosquito they were, it was obviously the condtions they love.

                Reply
  4. Yep, you done good, GOF. Those before and after pics are a real eye opener. The planet thanks you.

    Reply
  5. Wow, it’s hard to believe those are the same places! I would venture to say that your variety of usefulness is much more enduring than most.

    Reply
    • Thank you Kim. Sometimes I think the 30 years passed in the blink of an eye, but then I remember all the sweat and occasional blood and tears and realise that it really does feel like 30 years.

      Reply
  6. Damn. I feel like a total underachiever after looking at GOF’s contribution to sustainability. My sacrifice is shaving without shaving cream and turning of the PC when I go to bed. Mostly.

    I thought all Queenslanders were addicted to bulldozers and burning off. Apologies to all those who are not.

    Your legacy is going to outstrip many of ours. Imagine what you could have done if you HAD created your own religion.

    Reply
    • Most of the work was done by Mother Nature herself Pete. We did plant several thousand seedlings over a few acres, but 20 years ago we chose to remove all our cattle from the property and allow natural regeneration. It is quite astonishing that we now have forests of wattle trees 100 feet tall in places where there used to be just grass and eroding deteriorating land.

      Since Joh got off his bulldozer a lot of Queensland vegetation destruction has ceased.

      Let’s not discount the religion idea just yet Pete. I believe there’s good money to be made from cults.
      I’m already growing a guru beard, and if you think you have the aptitude to sit cross-legged for long periods of time under a shady tree being worshipped and given donations of money and gentle body caresses by rich young women looking for the meaning of life you are welcome to join me as Assistant Fount of Knowledge.

      Reply
  7. It’s hard to say more than “tig.” It’s wonderful. Around here, it’s amazing how in mere decades (longer than 30), our forests can repair themselves–for the most part. Deeper in the Ozarks, it wasn’t the clear-cutting but the strip-mining operations that came in after that truly fucked it over. The government reforested (as they “always” do) with pines, where weren’t the original hardwoods. Now, it’s piney, piney, piney down there. Green, and that’s good, but never to be what it once was, I think due to the destruction of arable land.

    Reply
    • Thank you MT. We too are constantly amazed at the rate of natural regrowth especially as a lot of “expert” advice said “rainforests don’t regenerate after they are cut down”.

      There are lots of monoculture pine plantations in Australia too where once there was rainforest. I have heard that pine trees do all sorts of bad things to the soil, but in any case nothing is as good as the original diversity of a healthy natural forest.

      Reply
  8. You are one hell of a writer, GOF. I also grew up doing and loving physical labor, cleaning horse stalls, later zoo stalls and moving grains, hauling wheelbarrows of manure and to this day love it and feel it is the best work one can do.

    The reforestation success takes my breath away. Good holidays to you and family, and Mother Naturemin your back yard.

    Reply
    • Thank you for your kind comment Amelie, and I am blushing a little here because the one thing they didn’t teach me to do during the 3 years at College was how to write creative English.

      I dread the day when I can no longer do physical work. Mrs GOF and our other neighbours do not totally understand why I insist on pushing lawnmowers around our half-acre of grass instead of buying a ride-on, or why I dig post holes by hand when I could hire a hole digging machine.
      I think you and I are kindred spirits in this regard. I look forward to you visiting one day so that we can shovel a few barrow-loads of mulch up the hill and spread them around the vegetable patch. I’ve not offered that opportunity to anyone else before. 🙂

      Happy holiday to you and your loved ones Amelie.

      Reply
      • I’m deeply honored, GOF. You’ve got a deal. I am a bit addicted to work, so expect to get a lot done while I’m there. You and I will not stop doing physical work until we are good and ready. 🙂

        Hugs to everyone there. No snow yet, but the shovels are out just in case!

        Reply
  9. Well if I come to visit I am *not* going to be shoveling mulch around! I’m going to be sitting up on that verandah, drink in hand, absorbing all that astounding beauty nature has thrown up around you. I will wave occasionally at you and Amelie…..

    Reply
  10. Yup, I’m pretty sure those photos indicate you’ve fulfilled your dream of being useful.
    Thanks for stopping by my blog, I’ll be back to read more of yours!

    Reply
  11. I’ll dive in on the hard yakka, GOF. 🙂

    Thank you for the comparison pics. They are absolutely heart-warmingly wonderful. 🙂

    Reply
    • “I’ll dive in on the hard yakka, GOF.”

      I just knew you would LOM. Thank you. The workers will get first pickin’s at dinner time.
      Verandah dwellers can have the leftovers. 🙂

      Reply
  12. Thankyou GOF, for restoring a little bit of magic. She would have been very impressed my friend. My reaforestation projects have been limited to small back yards.

    Reply
    • Thanks Brad…and every little bit of reafforestation helps.
      You live a life which is gentle on the environment and that’s even more important.

      Reply
  13. Pingback: Do you like nature? I like nature. « opinions expressed may be incorrect

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