IN JULY, on the coldest day in winter, members of the Berridale Rocky Plain Landcare group were talking about fires. However, as the snow fell, the discussion was not about huddling around the slow combustion heater but about bushfires and how to prepare yourself and your property.
The number of dangerous grass fires that the Monaro had in August has shown the wisdom of the executive of the Landcare group, who had organised for RFS Community Safety Officer, Ailish Pope, to take the Landcare group members through the process of preparing fire plans for the family members, as well as a farm fire plan for stock and assets.
The planning for fire session was part of a field day run by the Landcare group to assist newer and less experienced landholders better manage the main problems of owning land in the Berridale and Rocky Plain area.
The day began with a paddock walk at the "The Elbow" property of Rob and Gaye Smith to identify some of the most important native pasture plants and discuss management techniques to improve the growth of these plants. The group also looked at the major weeds of the area, including African Lovegrass, Serrated Tussock and St John's Wort. Rob Smith explained to the group the techniques that he uses to control these weeds - the success of his techniques being plain for all to see.
As the clouds rolled in it was firstly the rain and finally the snow that drove the group from the paddock to the relative comfort of the Rocky Plain Fire Shed where the group finished their discussion on pasture management before warming themselves up with a barbecue lunch.
Following lunch thoughts turned to preparing both yourself and your property for bushfires. Ailish Pope was able to give some clarity to the perennial question of whether to leave or to stay and fight the fire.
"Especially on days of Severe or Catastrophic fire rating, leaving early is preferable to staying and fighting" Ms Pope said.
"Preparing your property, including establishing an asset protection zone, organising access for fire trucks to your property and having a fire plan for each member of the household is essential for landholders."
Snowy River Landcare will be the next group to organise a field day near Dalgety on Saturday September 14, which is going to be on erosion and soil health. The use of Yeomans plough for pasture regeneration will be demonstrated.
Also, participants will be shown how to construct and install rubber flap drains, which are low cost technique used to control erosion on farm access tracks.
People may register to attend the free field day and lunch by contacting Shane Kimber on 64565162 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. RSVPs are due by Wednesday September 11.