Life begins at Halcyon

‘Cutting’ is a sweet spot for Landing’s ‘Farmers’

27 April 2018 | by Halcyon

Home owners at Halcyon Landing are tapping into Bli Bli’s agricultural roots with their rural revival of land adjoining an old Bli Bli cane train cutting.

The cutting, which traverses Peppercorn Hill, was originally excavated in 1941 and was later deepened to 10m to allow locomotives to carry greater loads of cane over the hill.

These days the area sits behind Landing’s community workshed, and the road leading up to the shed is aptly named Peppercorn Lane.

The area caught the attention of some of Landing’s more rural-inclined home owners who have begun transforming almost 2000sqm of unused land just south of the cutting.

Known as the CTC (Cane Train Cutting), the site’s ongoing transformation into a small farming precinct has brought yet another dimension to the daily life of home owners.

Led by ‘frustrated farmer’ Ron MacNevin, home owners have built a chook run, started an orchard, planted vegetables and installed a beehive on the land.

Their work began almost a year ago when Ron decided to make some improvements to the area beside the cutting.

“It started with myself and Stan Smith, and we got more people interested,” he said.

“We cut back grass and made a bit of a pathway to open up the area, and it just grew from there.”

Ron said it had been a hugely satisfying project, only made possible with the donation of materials, labour, chickens and fruit trees.

“It was an all-round effort; the social club bought materials, home owners donated all sorts of things like fencing and wire to help us out, and then more and more people got involved - it was overwhelming,” he said.

“I think I’m a frustrated farmer, landscaper and gardener, so to achieve what we have here has given me a great amount of satisfaction.

“This is the kind of work I’ve always wanted to do, and its been a great project to do with a few of the guys who shared a common interest.”

The CTC’s 14 resident chooks are cared for by a team of about a dozen ladies who are rostered to let the ‘girls’ out of their coop each morning and make sure they are rounded up and put to bed before sunset.

Home owner Jill Corish said the chook shepherds, also known as ‘Henherds’, feed the hens, top up their water, clean out their coop and collect their eggs.

“Most days we are getting about a dozen eggs from them and they are truly free-range eggs,” she said.

The eggs are bundled up into half dozen lots and sold during Happy Hour at the Rec Club each Friday night, with all proceeds covering the cost of chicken feed.

Jill, who is also a member of Landing’s Green Team, said the manure removed from the hen house was used to fertilise the nearby citrus trees, which were “doing very nicely” as a result.

Fellow ‘henherd’ Lee McGregor said the hens loved to roam and scratch in the orchard and veggie garden area, and to dine on the ‘food parcels’ dropped in by home owners.

“We have an esky-size container set up next to the coop where home owners can bring their veggie scraps for the chickens to eat,” she said.

“The chooks are very friendly and we have people who come up just to visit them.”

Lee said there was a trick to rounding up the herd in the afternoon.

“We just shake a plastic bag, so they think there’s feed in it, and they come running,” she laughed.

Meanwhile, former cattleman John Wettenhall is focussing on much smaller creatures these days after setting up his beehive in the CTC.

“Coming from an animal management background, I thought it would be interesting to find out about bees and create a nice little hobby out of it,” he said.

John, who has joined the Sunshine Coast Beekeepers Society, started with about 500 bees in November and expects to be harvesting honey in April.

He hopes to extract up to 40kg of honey from the hive each year and is thinking of registering the name “Halcyon Honey”.

“A few people have come to have a look and they’ve shown a lot of interest in the honey and when it will be available,” he said.

Elsewhere at the CTC, the orchard trees and vegetable garden areas are blooming with hopes that a wide array of harvestable fruit and veggies will be produced.

Some seating areas also have been established, allowing CTC visitors to socialise, enjoy a cool drink, relax or simply commune with nature.

The CTC even has its own PR person, home owner and former teacher Roger Buttenshaw, who pens updates on the progress of the precinct for the Landing community.

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