We have many beautiful trees on our farm. I estimate we have around 2 hectares, or 5 acres, of natural bush land, untouched by human development. Most of it is in one area at the back of our proposed house block, and we have a wide strip of native scrub down the side of our lane way which separates our farm from our neighbour’s bare paddocks. We are also lucky enough to have a few amazing trees within the paddocks which provide shade, shelter and ambiance for our livestock and us.
My favourite tree must be over 100 years old – it is a huge eucalypt under which shade can found at any time of the day, because its branches are so wide and far reaching. Before we had even taken possession of our land, we had decided that it would be a great place to have a picnic and so it came to be known as The Picnic Tree. In early December, a couple of months after we took possession of our land, we held a paddock warming picnic under the grand old tree just as we had envisioned. Every one who came to the paddock that day admired the tree and the children decreed that it was a great climbing tree. Every child who has been to the farm since we have owned it has ended up scaling its heights, walking its branches and announcing that it is, indeed, a good tree.
And I must agree with them, not because I have ever climbed the tree, but because its shape and form are aesthetically pleasing, its shade is cooling and its leaves provide shelter from the hot Australian sun. It is lovely to sit in the shade of the tree, to picnic or catch up with friends, to watch the changing reflections on the surface of the dam or to be entertained by the passing parade of cows looking for a treat,sheep searching for fodder or wild ducks waddling up the hill from a swim in the dam. The Picnic Tree is a place of rest and relaxation as well as being a social gathering spot.
Last weekend I was walking down to the dam to check the cows and walk among them (part of my objective to keep them docile and getting used to us walking among them without them being afraid or running away so they are easy to handle) and I walked past the picnic tree. As I walked, there was an audible buzzing coming from the tree. While I had been focused on the dam and watching the cows, I had not noticed that the tree was in full blossom.
And the tree was full of bees, gathering nectar, slurping pollen, weighing themselves down with nature’s goodness to take back to their hive. There must have been hundreds or even thousands of bees in the tree at that time – the sound was amazing. I had been worrying about our hive of bees because they are in the scrub portion of the block and most things had finished flowering – I was concerned that they would not have enough food to get them through winter. And there was the Picnic Tree, providing nourishment to the social creatures who pollinate and buzz our food sources and our blossoms to assist with the continuity of life. I’m guessing the Picnic Tree has been providing shelter and nourishment to creatures great and small for many years and I hope it will go on doing just that for many years to come. I plan to enjoy many social gatherings and picnics in the shelter of that tree, almost as a tribute to the beauty of the tree and I’m glad it can provide a picnic for our bees as well.