Welcome to my place, my purpose is to create a supportive environment. To create new landscapes through new mind-scapes, new ways of thinking, doing and being. To provide a place where like minded fellow travellers can pause, get some useful information and some spiritual sustenance before continuing on their way. Don't die with the music in you.
Bill describes himself as a grass farmer, philosopher, raconteur, maven, epicurean, futurist & story teller.
Welcome to my place, make yourself at home, wander around, "set a spell". My aim is to see my philosophy expressed in my reality. I have been fortunate to have had some outstanding mentors and for those on the road less traveled, I hope to leave some sign posts to help those seeking a more regenerative way to live and be.
I look forward to your feedback, talk to you soon.
If you're not dancing close to the edge, you are taking up to much room. Don't die with the music in you. We are human beings, not human doings.
Bill and Debbie Hill own 'Corramandel' and 'Broom Hills' Warrenbayne, near Benalla, in North-East Victoria. The Hill family have farmed in Warrenbayne since 1908.
Soil type Broom Hills - Stony gradational and yellow duplex, pale gradational, brown gradational, red gradational and friable brown gradational.
Corramandel - Clay loam, sandy loam, brown gradational, friable brown gradational
Rainfall (average/yr) 900 mm- 'Corramandel' 160 ha (100 meg rain fed dam, commanding 12 ha of border check, gravity fed lasered irrigated pasture.
800mm- 'Broom Hills' 260 ha ( SERCS trial here)
Property Area (ha) 420 ha plus (they have a lease block for wethers, as well as agistment for dry cows and dry sheep)
Main enterprises Fine wool merino sheep, spring lambing
Self-replacing, winter/spring calving Angus cattle for weaner production
Current pasture Broom Hills has native grasses and clover, rye grass, phalaris and annual weeds, some pasture cropping to supplement stock feed, mainly for grazing.
Current average stocking rates 150 cows and calves on 'Corramandel' 1000 ewes and lambs on 'Broom Hills'
Heifer weaners and merino weaners
Vegetation (no of ha) 5-6% of remnant vegetation and revegetation. With the planting this year the revegetation sites and the remnant vegetation have created a connection across the property
The SERCS project
How many shrubs planted 7200
Planting rate 2 rows 3 m apart with 10-12m alley. The rows were alternated with 2 shrub rows with shrubs planted 3m apart and 2 tree rows with trees planted 6m apart.
Site preparation Eleven small blocks were ripped along the contours with a bulldozer then a blanket weed control with a boomless sprayer. Each block was fenced with prefabricated fencing , galvanised steel posts with a hotwire, gates strategically placed for easy stock movement, water reticulated to troughs from a solar pump, via a tank on the highest point of the farm.
Planting method used The seedlings were planted on 19 & 20 June after 120 mm of rain during May and early June, which ensured good moisture profile in rip lines. The trees and shrubs were guarded on the next 3 days. The seedlings were planted at the depth of the root ball. As there were plants left over
Bill extended other areas and created 2 more blocks so he could plant all his seedlings. All his blocks are fenced and all his seedlings have tree guards to protect them from wind, rabbits and cockatoo damage. He has since spot sprayed with a Glyphosate/ Canvas 750 mix around the seedlings to reduce the weed load.
On site challenges Weeds including Bracken fern, very stony sites requiring a bulldozer for ripping. More fencing required to create smaller paddocks on what was formerly the least valuable grazing land.
Bill's response when asked why he was interested in the SERCS project was "For many years we have been wanting to add to the fodder available to our livestock and to make use of all available rainfall and conserved moisture, wherever & whenever it may fall. Debbie has been involved in a project called "Green haystacks" which has been trialling native trees and shrubs for a many years and has given us some valuable data with a few species. Animal production is paramount in today's challenging environment, but animals must be healthy and content, to reach their potential." In a proactive response to a changing climate we are keen to try to add to our feed base, creating reliance through diversity by adding browsable shrubs and trees.
When asked how he saw shrubs being an advantage on his property, he replied "Many animals in today's industrial farming systems have a hidden hunger that doesn't allow full expression of their genetic potential. Browse of native perennial shrubs can satisfy many of these deficits and balance their diets and to help in keeping them healthy, content and productive." "We are always looking for ways to work with nature to become more resilient through diversity rather than force production through external inputs."