making a Pc living in earthworking?

Australia Felix pcorgbgo at
Wed Jun 21 18:38:56 EDT 2000

Hi Mikal,

We at Australia Felix Permaculture we have been undergoing permaculture
earthworks for over seven years throughout south east Australia - both as
designers and operators. For the past two years Konrad Ensor (our surveyor)
and I have been developing the engineering CAD plans our earthmovers then
use. Jennings Earthmoving (Castlemaine), Garry Allen (Shepparton) and more
recently Adrian Todd Earthmoving (Bendigo) have been completing most of the
works involved.

When I first started the business I did all of the tractor work myself -
using a hire tractor and assorted hired and borrowed attachments, until I
started to get my own.  It is a fairly typical story of progress. Nowadays
we use selected regional contractors - some of whom work exclusively on
Australia Felix jobs as we have that sort of volume these days.

It is vitally important to develop a good relationship with the earthmover
you are working - typically they are the sort of folk who don't suffer fools
gladly with some well enabled at not moving from their way of doing things.
Ideally you want someone whose experience brings back to earth fool-hardy,
over engineered ideas whilst not being a smart arse about it. A lot of this
can be overcome by having sensible designs in the first place and
experience.....Having an ex-mining/engineering surveyor working on our team
only adds to success equation. A similar person should be available in most
developed areas on a contract basis.

To us the setup Adrian Todd uses is the bees knees and is the best of any
contractors I've seen. The diversity of equipment at his disposal is
staggering, with him being able to perform just about any farm development
earthmoving/tractor work. His dozer is a rubber tyred 250hp Michigan (made
by Clark who also make bobcats) that doesn't always need a float, as it can
drive on the road at 45 km/h. The Michigan is used for dam construction,
side cuts, house sites and ripping (800mm +) for forestry and tree crop
planting (at about AUD$110/hr). Adrian also runs a Fermac backhoe that he
uses to for trenches, soil testing, strip footings etc. His best machine
though is his JD 4500 hydrostatic drive tractor (45hp). This surprising
little machine runs very cheaply and is capable of an enormous array of
work, provided you have all of the implements. It has among other things the
following: a rotary channeller (perfect for making keyline-style
diversion/irrigation drains), a 2m rotary hoe, 3 shank Yeomans Keyline Plow
(ours), Dojo Ripper, Tiller, Mounder and a 1200mm trencher (this outperforms
single application Ditch Witches) together with a blade for filling
trenches. This base level of equipment attached to the Johnny runs out to
about AUD$30K, with the Johnny about AUD$40K. It runs for around AUD$75/hr
including attachments. Adrian's that rapt with it he's looking at getting
another one. Too bad they don't make the Michigan dozers anymore - its all
Cat et al with tracks.

I've got to get back to work so I'll catch you all soon,


Yours and Growing,


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