News of August 2020

“We are the result of viruses; we are not being attacked by viruses.”

Zach Bush (link to source; go to Minute 21)    

Dear Friends and Family,


As crazy times continue it appears we have been subjected to what is apparently an ancient Chinese curse: May you live in interesting times!

We watch the news, we wonder about what opportunities are being paved for our grand-children.

We watch the weather, we wonder if we will escape wild-fires these coming weeks.

We wonder how you all are, and hope everybody is safe and well.


Winter was pleasant, dry and windy at times, but is now coming to an end. Often we get to hear comments about Kachana like “there always were a lot of springs in that country” or “I remember that country as being well watered”. – Well such comments reflect my own impressions 35 years ago.


As three-year wildfire cycles became apparent, so did the disappearance of springs. The worst fire we experienced hit us in October 1996. Over a period of about three weeks, in an area of over 6000 (six thousand) square kilometres (that included Kachana), most of what could burn, went up in flames. I have not seen any of the country impacted by that fire recover to its former state. 


Last year (2019), after three challenging seasons in a row, we could observe how much of our “permanent water” dried up. Undermanaged areas ended up looking every bit as sad as unmanaged  country that surrounds us. ‘Season four’ (the one we are still in) did give us our annual average of rainfall, but rain arrived late and cut out early, making this the fourth season in a row to keep us on our toes. As could be expected the country looks very much like it did a year ago, with the exception of our managed areas where water is still holding up surprisingly well.


We are happy to note that produce from our ‘Corona gardens’ continues to keep us motivated to improve on gardening skills. All the while, behind the scenes Middle Level Management works its magic.


As we begin to pray for early rain with no lightning, may September be a great month for all! 


With best wishes from the team at Kachana

Photos of the Month

News & Views

Does survival of human civilisation hinge on pastoral success?


By “pastoral success” I mean the restoration of many of the world’s arid landscapes to levels where they can provide the environmental services now required to compensate for modern human life-styles.

Such environmental services primarily include the purification of soils, air and water.

This restoration permits life and abundance (i.e. also, biodiversity and biosecurity, if we wish to use popular buzz-words).


The moment society begins to reward the restoration of such services, is when it becomes safe for pastoral innovators to transition from being nutrient exporters to becoming land-doctors.


This much we appear to have learnt:

In balanced natural settings there exist symbiotic relationships between soils, vegetation and animals. (Plants harvest solar energy. Plants feed life below and above ground. Animals keep plants healthy.)


Such balances allow the building of natural wealth that sustains human communities and civilisations.


Not only do modern humans extract more than nature freely yields, but our chosen modes of extraction and life-styles further upset such vital balances by restricting the self-healing of landscapes.

(As some ‘Corona Lockdowns’ have recently demonstrated, simply stopping what we are presently doing will allow some landscapes to recover. However, this is hardly a realistic option… especially in dehydrated regions. The revitalisation of broader landscapes calls for active assistance with self-healing.)


World-wide we have ample evidence that in dryland settings where life-enhancing balance has been lost, a desirable balance can be re-created! (If this can be brought about in the desert grasslands, then it should come as no surprise that other landscapes can also be revitalised.)


For such changes to be achievable we need to understand how nature builds wealth.

We then mimic nature to reinstate wealth-building processes. This is primarily achieved by appropriately exerting influence on all animal behaviour.

Ideally this begins by managing the behaviour of domestic, semi-wild and wild herds.



There is plenty more to learn:

There will always be more that we will never know, or even be able to know!

We therefore rely not on text books or regulation, but on nature to let us discover what works.     

(e.g. Can the behaviour of feral donkeys be modified so that these animals begin to work as wild herds?

To answer this question, we embarked on the Kachana Wild Donkey Project.

There is now a film about the Kachana Donkeys: Without a Voice)



Throughout most of history, and until the beginning of this century pastoralism was driven largely by a taste for milk, meat and leather. (Opportunity)

November 2019 I presented an argument that in the not too distant future,  “thirst” will become the driving force behind pastoralism. (Necessity)


In my estimation, the long-term survival of human civilisation, at least in Australia (in a manner that the majority of the electorate might feel comfortable with) now hinges on pastoral success.


People who are genuinely serious about making a positive contribution to society might do well to take the time to understand the challenges that we collectively face.

Few manage to convey this complexity in simple uncommon good-sense language.

Walter Jehne is one of these people!

(Hopefully many who read this have watched this particular presentation before, but the knowledge that Walter shares in it is too important to be missed or not to be repeatedly shared.)


Then again, knowledge alone will not suffice to adequately address our challenges.

To do that, effective action will also be required.

Listen to Allan Savory elaborate: Making Permaculture Stronger (July 2020)

Link of the Month

It is said that beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder.

Take a few minutes to behold the beauty of these busy little fellows:

(Thank you, Albert, for this link!)