Warrandyte, spring, and mowing

For newcomers to my blog, I live on 1.6 acres in Warrandyte, a hilly, tree-covered, fringe suburb of Melbourne [Australia]. It’s a glorious place to live, in winter. Over summer, not so much. Eucalyptus trees burn, and we have an awful lot of them.

The potential fire danger in Warrandyte has been a recurring theme almost from the moment I first started this blog. In fact, one of the very first posts I ever wrote is called ‘2012 – practical tips to protect life and property from bushfires‘. This year’s post is going to be a visual treatise on why mowing is vital to reduce fire danger.

I’ll start with the area directly behind the house. It faces northish, pretty much on the top of a hill, and is the most likely direction for a bushfire. I have a roughly 15 metre space between the house and the trees:

A relatively flat terrance stepping down the hill

This is how every inch of my block should look. Now for the reality check:

The dividing line

This shot is of the next terrace down. You can see exactly where the mowing stopped.

And on the other side….

Some of you may recognize this area from the blog banner, or the cover of Miira. In the foreground is a gently sloping terrace held back by large field stones. The next terrace down is half mowed, and again, you can see the dividing line between mowed and not mowed.

In this screenshot you can see the same area from the side:

A gentle slope, Warrandyte style

The unmowed grass is so tall, it makes the slope on the left of the pic look ‘flat’. It’s not. About a metre further down the terrace drops to another level.

So why is the mowing taking so long? And why am I soooo exhausted? Well, I’m mowing every inch of this block with an Ozito battery driven lawn mower:

My Ozito battery powered lawn mower

I LOVE my Ozito. This little mower is not supposed to mow blocks like mine. It’s supposed to be a lightweight solution for little old ladies mowing pocket handkerchief lawns. You know what I mean, the pretty ones that have real grass instead of field grasses and weeds. And yet, this amazing little mower is getting through grass that’s almost knee high.

In my own defence, I have to say that I started mowing as soon as I finished burning off the piles of dead wood that had accumulated over winter. Unfortunately, I’d barely done half of the front of the block when we had a massive storm that dropped some very big branches and a shitload of smaller ones. I paid to have the big ones cut up and carted away, but I had to deal with the little ones myself. [Little as in under 2 metres long].

As a result of that storm, mowing had to stop while I walked up and down 1.6 acres picking up dead wood, putting it into piles – roughly 8 – and burning it all off again.

But it’s Spring, right? So while I was busy doing other things, the grass was busy growing. So here we are, Ozi and me, desperately trying to catch up because once that grass dries out, it will be like kindling to any fire that decides to come through.

Warrandyte is a wonderful place to live, but enjoying the ‘serenity’ is not enough. We have to maintain our properties so that they will be less likely to burn when the inevitable happens. And on that note I’d better grab the batteries and get out there.

Stay well,
Meeks

About acflory

I am the kind of person who always has to know why things are the way they are so my interests range from genetics and biology to politics and what makes people tick. For fun I play online mmorpgs, read, listen to a music, dance when I get the chance and landscape my rather large block. Work is writing. When a story I am working on is going well I'm on cloud nine. On bad days I go out and dig big holes... View all posts by acflory

37 responses to “Warrandyte, spring, and mowing

  • Widdershins

    Would you like some rain? I have mega-liters to spare. 😀 … definitely get the Offspring to do the ‘heavy lifting. I mean, why else would women go through the hell of childbirth if not to put ’em to work in the garden? 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  • ChrisJamesAuthor

    Blimey, 1.6 acres must be hard bloody work, Meeka. I’ve only got 0.3 and that’s more than enough to cope with (and, of course, we don’t have anything like the summer fire risk you do). As every year, I’ll be doing my special Warrandyte rain dance so all the Polish rain clouds go spinning over your way 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  • DawnGillDesigns

    would a strimmer help? MrG does all our cutting at the allotment and at home since the final rabbit died (I pick and choose my areas for equality!) and when it gets a bit too long, coz he’s neglected it – or like this year I insisted on ‘no mow May,’ which extended to ‘can’t be arsed August’ – he gets a strimmer out. We’ve a battery and a petrol one – the plot and road at the allotment are too much for a battery one to manage

    Liked by 2 people

  • tidalscribe.com

    What a lovely property. I hope your neighbours are as vigilant clearing fire risks.

    Liked by 2 people

    • acflory

      I’ve been hearing a lot of mowers in the distance lately. The Black Summer fires definitely focused our minds on the threat. Sadly, I fear that much will be forgotten by the time the next El Nino brings drought and devastating fires back our way. 😦

      Liked by 1 person

  • daleleelife101.blog

    Are the alpacas on strike? Summer mowing is a never-ending job as well as cleaning out gutters… don’t forget your gutters! The G.O. takes care of these jobs but I have my own list of never-ending jobs!

    Liked by 2 people

    • acflory

      The alpacas won’t eat grass that’s gone/is going to seed. Once I cut the seed stalks off, they are more likely to keep the grass down. Unfortunately in spring, there’s lots of fresh, tasty new grass for them to eat. Why eat the tough, chewy stuff? -sigh-
      I have gutter guard over all the gutters so that’s something I can get a guy in to do once every few years or so. The mowing however….

      Liked by 1 person

  • robertawrites235681907

    HI Meeks, I lived on a plot when I was growing up and we also had to cut the long veld grass as it was a fire hazard. I remember the fire spreading to our property one year. I was in the house looking after my three younger sisters and my Dad, Mom and two helpers were outside beating the flames with wet sacks. I remember leaving sister number 2 in charge and running to take buckets of water to my parents. Scary stuff. My dad bought a ride on mower. Maybe you could get one with a few people in your area and share it. It makes mowing much easier than what you are doing. But maybe that wouldn’t work because of the terraces?

    Liked by 4 people

  • Audrey Driscoll

    People in parts of British Columbia need to (and some probably are) doing stuff like this in preparation for fire season in summer. Several years ago some really bad fires in the BC interior started after a wet spring made grass grow really tall; when it dried out it was perfect fuel.
    I have a 50 x 120 foot suburban lot, with a few small patches of lawn that I mow with a push mower. I’m thinking about getting one of these battery operated ones for when I’m too feeble to keep pushing. The lawns contain a lot of volunteer weeds now that most of us on the street have stopped watering them, so they’re coarser textured, but I hope a cordless electric mower will be able to do the job.
    Wishing you a fire-free summer!

    Liked by 3 people

    • acflory

      Oh! The battery powered mowers these days are brilliant. Seriously, I run out of puff before the batteries do, and as you can tell, Ozi handles tough weeds as well as actual grass. I’d really recommend one. 🙂

      Liked by 3 people

  • Matthew Wright

    One way to keep fit! 🙂 We don’t have similar fire danger in NZ but the news of Australian fires is always disturbing – especially with climate change increasing the risks. Hope all is OK for you this summer. Must admit I very much like electric mowers. I bought one about 2 years ago, thinking it was a greener and hassle-free alternative to a tired 20-year old petrol mower that was well past use-by date. And it was, to a point. The only problem is that it can’t handle heavy grass, especially if the battery is down a bit. Does yours struggle with the longer grasses?

    Liked by 2 people

    • acflory

      lol – Ozi doesn’t like the longer grass, no, but I’ve developed a technique that works. Because the mower is so light, I tilt it back on its back wheels and cut off the top of the grass in the first pass. Then I drop it back down to get the bottom half of the grass on the second pass. As you can tell from the pics, I’m mowing some pretty heavy duty grass. 🙂
      If you keep the blade sharpish and recharge the battery regularly, yours should work just as well.

      Liked by 1 person

  • CarolCooks2

    Beauty and tranquillity always come at a price but it sounds like you have all that under control it looks lovely and hopefully safe from any wildfires… Hugs x

    Liked by 2 people

  • Scottiestoybox

    Hello Meeka. Sounds like you are getting lots of exercise. You must be in great shape. Hugs

    Liked by 2 people

    • acflory

      Hi Scottie. 😀 And no, not in great shape. The covid kilos piled on and I get puffed much too easily. Getting better after all the mowing and walking, but still not ‘fit’.
      How’s your health going?

      Liked by 2 people

      • Scottiestoybox

        Hello Meeka. I am doing well. Just trying to get all things ready the big holiday. This year Ron and I are not going to do the tree thing, we are going to set up Ron’s village. He has lighthouses, Santa’s Christmas shops, and all the regular Christmas village display stuff. He has so many we normally don’t have room to set them all up, so we do a few each year. This year we are going to use the space we would put the tree to set up a big village on a snowy blanket on the floor. What are your plans for the big end of year holiday? Hugs

        Liked by 1 person

        • acflory

          Oh Scottie! That sounds wonderful. Please take lots of pics. I love miniature anything and everything!
          Not sure what the Offspring and I will do this year. I’d love to see family and friends but…although I’ll be fully vaxxed by xmas [just] I’m still scared of coming in contact with my very lovable great nephews. There will be chocolate mousse cake though. That is the one constant in all our Christmases. 😀

          Liked by 1 person

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