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Another Severe Weather Event

Shelter down
Native tree down over track
More devastation
Macadamia tree destoyed
Bill surveys another area of damage
Another track blocked

We have been hit by four major SE cyclonic weather events over the years: Cyclone Bola in 1988, another in early July 2000 just after we had built the factory, Easter 2011 and now 20 March 2011. Yes two major destructive storms inside 12 months!

These weather systems are held over the country for several days and gale force SE winds funnel down between the Pouakai and Kaitake ranges behind us.

They are very destructive punching holes in shelter trees, snapping off the tops of pine trees and hurling them for metres like javelins, annihilating macadamia trees by splitting them down the middle or blowing them clean out of the ground and felling 100 plus year old native trees in our bush.

Winds of 120 km were recorded here in Taranaki and one of these blasts blew our 37 year old walnut tree in our garden out of the ground. The devastation is heart breaking. You can’t write about it at the time, you become numb and go through a grieving process.

Another result of these storms is the loss of crop. The winds hit prior to the macadamia nuts becoming ripe and blew a lot of nuts off the trees. Trees don’t like being beaten up by the wind and often sulk and crop poorly in the following season. So the orchard is littered with light coloured, light weight nuts that cannot be used.

There is the obvious debris of fallen trees and smashed branches and the secondary debris of leaf litter. Each annihilated tree and smashed branch drops its leathery leaves in heaps. Then add rain and these sodden piles are the perfect habitat for rats. They come to feed on the nuts and build nests in tunnels under the debris.

So we are waging war! War on the rats, the possums and on the chaos everywhere.

The clean up involves attacking the native trees down over our two major tacks first. Next clearing out the causeways, drains and gutters of so much leaf, twig and punga frond litter so we don’t lose our tracks when it rains and then starting to chainsaw, drag, tow, heave, carry debris to get Quad Runner and tractor access. Then the work on each macadamia orchard block- more chain sawing, painting with pruning paint, towing, dragging…

Once we are close to a third of the way around the orchard, we hire a large commercial mulcher and with two contrators, Bill starts the job of cutting out the large timber and feeding all the rest of the debris into the mulcher. Stacks of limbs and trunks will later be given to friends and family for firewood. Another pick up job. Then the process repeats itself - more chain sawing, painting with pruning paint, towing, dragging… Hire the mulcher.

When this has been completed we need to go around again with ladders and a pole saw to get the branches still hooked up in the trees, to paint areas missed and to make radical decisions about badly damaged trees.

Add in raking out the immature and rat damaged nuts, mowing, spraying and trying to harvest those nuts that have stayed on and are now beginning to fall from the areas we have managed to clear... and you have a picture of the battles we face.

Bill calls them challenges. Bugger the challenges!

 

Either you manage the situation, or the situation will manage you. Sioux City Airport Chief