Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Bushfire Planning

Even though I live in Australia. Even though these days I think of myself as an Australian who was born a long way from home rather than a Brit who has chosen to live here, I reserve the inalienable right of all of those who hail from the mother country to whinge about the weather.

44.6 it peaked at here at the farm today (the regional forecast was for a max of 42). My office here peaked at 49. Even the pool is nudging its way above 30. Tomorrow, the forecast is for 47 degrees, that's 117F in old money. The herd is beginning to suffer a bit, we have plenty of shade and plenty of water but you have to feel sorry for them, particularly the suris who are carrying fleece. Nobody around here can remember conditions like these.

That brings me to the subject of this entry. We can't ignore it - the bushfire risk this season is the highest it's been for a very long time.

It came close two years ago - the Mount Bold bushfire was not huge by Australian standards, but it burnt out over 2000 hectares and it was much too close for comfort and, as you can see, the fields were still green then - they're dried out and brown today
The 2007 Mt Bold fire from Prados Alpacas

Of course, the Prados herd was much smaller then - we just had our first two animals so it was easy to safely shed them in my workshop.

Chelsea and Caramello improving their woodwork skills.

We couldn't do that with the 40 animals we have today and the sheds in the paddocks are too exposed.

So it's time to revisit our fire planning.

First make sure that we're safe.
  • Clear dry vegetation and anything combustible around the house
  • Clear the roof and gutters of leaves and other debris
  • Make sure we have downpipe plugs available (to fill gutters with water - more homes are lost through embers getting into roof spaces than as a result of the fire front itself)
  • Test the backpack sprayer for spotfires
  • Finally - open the wallet - This year, it's time to invest in proper fire pump and hoses - can't rely on electricity supplies in a fire.

Next the animals.
The layout of the farm, the distance from wooded areas and the lack of fuel in the paddocks means that we are low risk for lasting fire. If we get one, it should flash through fairly quickly. This means that the main priority is to provide escape routes.

Looks like the best thing we can do is open all the gates and make sure there are at least two exit points from each paddock. We may get some unplanned matings, but that's a small price to pay.

It's going to be an interesting few months.


  1. We're a world apart on weather. Norwegians melt at anything hotter than 30C :-P

    And fires are extremely rare, and almost never of any size.

    Norway is an extremely safe place to live for most. We're visiting Australia this summer (our summer), but one day we have to go down during your summer as well just to experience it :-)

  2. The reality of fire is scary !...something that I hope never to be faced with !

    I don't think it will be caused by the hot weather, over here in N.E. Scotland.

    We are forecast some more sub zero temperatures and snow for the weekend !..Jayne

  3. Strewth, you couldn't set fire to anything here at the moment if its not mud its water!