Preparation the key

Countryman

No one would dream of building a house without a plan, yet this is exactly what happens on many rural properties.

Creating a rural property is much more complex than building a house on an urban block. For a start, it's much bigger. It can take years to unfold and is continually changing due to the seasons to land use policies of the region, let alone what your neighbours are getting up to.

Without a plan, everything gets rushed and is not done properly and you tend to just slip into being reactive, rather than proactive. In other words, things happen that need urgent attention - weeds proliferate, the dust blows and plants die or fall on fences.

Not only does this draw your time and energy away from building your dream, it is frustrating and not much fun. Not surprisingly, this simple failure to plan can be traced back to what makes most people decide to leave their 'dream' property.

What is needed is a property plan, a blueprint that can guide you through the months and years to help you create your vision splendid.

Whether it is planting up the eastern boundary windbreak or putting in the artificial wetland or the perennial pasture, each item of the plan is really a recipe, with key ingredients and a set of steps to follow in the right order and at the right time.

If you fail to do this when you are cooking, you end up with something that I might cook - ugly and totally inedible.

When you take the time to follow the landcare recipes - and as a general rule there will be five to seven vital steps to follow for any project on the farm - you have a much better chance of success.

_Projects take time _

A plan forces you to realise that projects take time, usually several months or even years, and that you will now be marching to a new tune in which the chief conductor is nature.

Nothing happens in a hurry in the bush, so you can forget backyard blitzes and instant gardens. You are on Mother Nature's time, and following the seasons is vital for success on the land.

By following the plan, you do jobs at exactly the right time. For example, remembering at the last minute that you wanted to do tree planting, and then racing around putting in tree seedlings at the wrong time of the year. This will usually mean failure or at the very least huge amounts of extra work and expense, as you nurse them through their first tough summer.

Similarly, trying to control weeds when they are big, ugly and thriving is stone-age mentality. When you follow the plan, you can hit weeds when they are at their weakest and more effectively controlled.

Following a plan has other advantages. Firstly, you don't rush and hence stuff up. Secondly, you can get contractors when you need them, often at a time when they are free instead of getting to winter, realising it is raining and then frantically trying to get someone to prepare boggy paddocks for planting.

If the contractor is, by some miracle, free at this time instead of sowing crops or spraying weeds for adjacent farmers, they will probably avoid you like the plague, knowing your paddock will be poorly prepared - full of weeds, water and well-nigh impossible to 'work up'.

Only when you have a plan and the appropriate recipe will projects work efficiently and effectively.

Finally, a plan gives you 'landcare cred'. In other words, funding bodies are far more likely to support you - often with taxpayer dollars - when they see you are a sound investment. You know what to do, where and when. In short, they know you have a plan.

·

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails