HOME AGLIBRARY CATALOG NEXT CHAPTER
VISITORS to "Nevallan" and "Yobarnie", our propertiesnear North Richmond, in New South Wales, have, on many occasions, asked me aboutmy husband's interest in the land.
With these queries in mind, this foreword is written.
For a number of years my husband has made an intensive study of landproblems. It seems to give a feeling of satisfaction in his life that no other typeof work has been able to do. Always an original thinker, with an inventive mind,, he has spent hundreds of hours walking over the land and watching the soil, obliviousto heat, cold and rain. Often he was up in the middle of the night during heavy rainobserving its effects on some new cultivation or drain. He has conducted experimentstoo numerous to mention and built implements to his own design as well as havingused any others available.
The growing of grass and tree seeds and the transplanting of youngtrees were watched and tested. Experiments in the methods of handling water by the"mining man" were tried. In the earlier days of the work these mining methodsof water control were commended by visitors, but he was never satisfied. Sometimeshe would go on long moonlit walks over the property trying to visualise the ultimateappearance of the land when a particular scheme was completed.
The soil on which all his later work was done was poor, worn-out shaleand considered useless for anything except a warm sheltered winter paddock. Knowledgeableland men could only tell him what could not be done with it. However, he persistedin his belief that this type of poor steep country was the most important of allland, and a payable solution to its particular problems was much more important thanany of them realised. He is an enthusiast and his faith in the agricultural futureof Australia is a tonic.
The property, bought originally as a business proposition, had mybrother, James Barnes, as manager. Following the tragic bush fire at the end of 1944,when he was killed, we suddenly found ourselves burdened with an undesired responsibility.
My husband, a city business man with varied interests, was not a farmer,and my knowledge consisted of what slight information was acquired as a girl froma father and brothers who had been on the land. Surely little enough to accept theresponsibility of a 1000-acre property, and for some weeks after the fire its fatehung in the balance.
The World War was on, labour problems were tremendous, and the faceof the area for the first six weeks was blackened and parched, showing the scarsof an Australian heritage, "a bush fire". Fences were gone and the cattlescattered throughout the district. Even the new house was partly burnt. It was byno means an attractive task from any outlook.
However, the decision to carry on was made, and from this unfavourablebeginning, assisted by casual local labour, we started the project now known as "Nevallan"and "Yobarnie". The area was subdivided into two for convenience sake.
The agricultural side of my husband's affairs has been a week-endoccupation, but the land has gradually assumed increasing importance in his life.He finds Soil Fertility, with its potential national value, an absorbing subject.
During the years, while travelling through country areas of the differentStates in connection with mining work, he often commented on the regrettable signsof the dying fertility of much of the land, the growing erosion problem and the indifferenceof some owners. This indifference was due, not to lack of interest, but to lack ofknowledge. The information then available to them was often vague, too technicalor economically unsound.
He has been trying to develop a plan or system so that it can be offeredas a concrete proposal; one that all farmers could understand and use to their advantage,regardless of each individual problem. The growing favourable comments made by visitorson the appearance of our property and the enthusiasm of those who have had the KeylinePrinciple explained to them, have strengthened his belief that at last he has foundsome important answers to major agricultural problems.
My husband has endeavoured in this work to devise a cheaper method,a workable plan that would show results, not only in three or four years time, butnext season and next year and every year following. Now, after the years of studyand effort, he claims to have produced one.
The' results visible now are certainly intriguing. Where previouslyexisted sparsely grassed paddocks of little value there is now a lush sward of richpasture carrying many types of grasses, some of which my husband has been told repeatedlywould not grow without irrigation in the County of Cumberland.
"Keyline" is the name he has given to his method of landdevelopment. It is exciting and carries a message of hope to all owners of land.
It gives them something to think about and apply to their own soil,something within their financial range and a definite plan that can be managed, ineach man's sphere of operation.
In the first chapters of the book he described the meaning of "Keyline",and with the understanding of this, the plan is simple. The following instances denotereactions on visitors of sight-seeing and verbal explanations.
One couple, while driving around, came to the "Keyline".Instantly the wife understood it and tried eagerly to explain to her husband. Sheeven drew from her handbag paper and pencil and made a small sketch, but he couldnot follow the idea at first, and it took some further explanation before he did.To her it was so simple.
Parties of students have covered the same ground; a few grasped theprinciple immediately and groups would gather quickly around them seeking enlightenment.
I have seen parties of men become so enthusiastic that for the restof their visit "Keyline" was their main topic of conversation.
If the enthusiasm shown by the "men of the land," who haveseen this work and discerned the meaning of Keyline Absorption-fertility is any pointerto its possibilities, then his efforts may have succeeded.
Sydney, March 1954