Do you remember Melissa’s story of courage?
Here’s Melissa’s update about her transition from living in the city to setting up a vineyard and truffiere in the South West of Western Australia:
The next chapter of our transition ‘from the Jungle to the Vines’ officially began on Friday the 20th March, when the keys were handed over to us for our 85acre property in the beautiful South West of WA.
Our first night on the farm was a grand wake-up call that we were no longer in the city. The first night coincided with the first rains of the season. This was a very exciting time, as our neglected vineyard and land celebrated this life-giving kick-start to the season.
That said, the first rains are also a wake-up call for the Portuguese millipedes.
Now we love our new home on this property, but as is it an un-lined shed, it provided easy access for the thousands of millipedes who decided that the light generated from the premises is all too alluring.
Let me set the scene:
We had a mattress on the floor and a 14 week old Staffie pup. These millipedes crawled through in their thousands. The dog was no help, just curiously observing the incoming invasion. Clint (the other half) was sucking these little critters up into the vacuum cleaner at about the same rate as they were entering. I was ‘Googling’ what we could do to stop our shed from being overrun. As it turns out, light is an attraction, but fire is a good idea because they shy away from dry environments.Clint busily stoked the fire in our little potbelly in the centre of the shed, while I lined the base of the shed with salt. The millipedes laughed at my dismal attempt to hold them back as they crawled over the token white line that ‘shall not be crossed by thy bugs’.
Clint busily stoked the fire in our little potbelly in the centre of the shed, while I lined the base of the shed with salt. The millipedes laughed at my dismal attempt to hold them back as they crawled over the token white line that ‘shall not be crossed by thy bugs’.
The fire in our little potbelly was a great idea, given that it was freezing cold (I know we are only in March…) so we kept this burning as fiercely as we could, and turned off all the lights.
Although a little stressed about the number of millipedes that may seek refuge in our bed as we slept, the three of us (dog included) started to nod off on our mattress. Just as I was drifting off I heard the sound of crackling. As I opened my eyes, I saw embers firing off the pipe of the potbelly, landing all over our shed. The pipe was red-hot and at melting point. Clint was quick to react and started putting the fire out, preventing us from burning down our shed, and possibly our property, on our very first night!
When we woke up in the morning, the millipedes had thankfully started to retreat back into their homes underground (ready for the next evening of fun and adventure in the shed) and our potbelly was no worse for wear.
We are also developing a plan to bring our vineyard back to full glory. We are hoping to save about 40% of the existing vines – however there will be a lot of re-planting and pruning required over the coming months.
(Arguably) the most important activity will be lining our shed, in order to trap the heat in and keep the creepy crawlies out. Thankfully the millipede invasion is a seasonal one, about two weeks during the first rains and then again in Spring. Regardless, I think a lined shed would make our little home a much happier and stress free place.
Lastly, we need to manage our grass and weeds. We are passionate about respecting our land and keeping our property organic (bug spray in the house excluded), so we will be busy fencing away and bringing in some new farmyard friends. Over the coming months we will have help from some cows, chooks and, my personal favourite for blackberry bush control: goats.Although we face many challenges, we are so very excited about setting up our dream home in the country. It is not all hard work though… we did take some time out to have a paddle in our dam and enjoy a home-cooked meal overlooking our new country home.
Although we face many challenges, we are so very excited about setting up our dream home in the country. It is not all hard work though… we did take some time out to have a paddle in our dam and enjoy a home-cooked meal overlooking our new country home.
Here’s a link to Melissa’s Story of Courage, just in case you haven’t read it. Enjoy.