Bredbo Valley View farm - providing quality education in Permaculture and sustainable living practices.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Great weather for the Ducks


I can’t believe it but we’ve had more rain today, last time I looked it was 16mm – and there has been more since then. Looks like we are going to get our whole month’s average rainfall in a week. Pity it didn’t come before the fires in Michelago started and destroyed people’s homes. The Duchks spent the day in the garden eating snails - yum yum.

We had visitors today from Melbourne – great to see them again. They stayed for a BBQ dinner which we ended up having to cook inside because the rain was so heavy. Also fatso was being a pest carrying off the BBQ on her back – I really need to get her fence fixed so she can’t get out when it rains. The pigs are having a ball with all the mud, they slide and wallow and lay around. It was quite hot before it rained; it reached 34 Deg C by midday, but dropped once the rain started.

The Cooks brother has been helping her build a Chook Dome – it’s a real work of art, abstract I would say. It will be interesting to see it finished; The Cook is hoping to keep her new Ducks in it for a while down in the garden. I’ll post pics tomorrow.

The puppy is having fun, she’s played with fatso this morning and tried to play with the cat today – but he’s not really interested in playing with the puppy.
The Cook created one of her world famous Christmas Cakes today – spectacular, she’s a real gem in the kitchen – so lucky I married her and didn’t wait around for Trisha Yearwood.

In other News - Looks like we are getting our own smoker built – won’t be half as good as the Rock Wallaby one. Obie, our visitor from Melbourne, has a brother in Canberra who is a gun welder – apparently this will be right up his alley, the Cook wants him to flash up a Rotisserie as well – I think She thinks I’m made of pigs. Shame I haven't got a welder or I'd give it a go myself (yeah ok, I can hear the Cook laughing from here too).

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Nice rain. Penny say's hi!


How about that rain? Not quite biblical - but I’m not complaining, far from it. The rain started at about 0100hrs on Christmas morning and this morning it is still raining. The Cook measured 19.5mm by dinner time yesterday and we’d only put the new rain gauge out at 1100hrs. By this morning we’d had a total of 26mm (due to no rain gauge we missed the first fourteen hours).

We had a lovely Christmas Day – all started a little later the normal Christmas Day, our recalcitrant visitor refuse to get up early, that didn’t go down well with the kids and all sorts of punitive actions were being discussed when he wasn’t up by 0800hrs. Luckily they don’t have my creative slant when it comes to this sort of thing and the visitor was allowed to slumber – threats from the Cook to the three of us also went some way towards our better then should be expected behaviour.

For breakfast Christmas Day we had our own bacon and eggs. Dinner was the traditional turkey, prawns and ham. The highlight was the home grown ham. It was just superb, the Cook likes the Shoulder ham better but the rest of us will take anything you dish up as long as it’s from our paddock.

Today was a little slow whilst we get over yesterday. The cook took the time to plant a couple of Pecan nut trees she brought at the Murrumbateman Filed Days - that have been sitting in our bath tub ever since. She has also attempted to pig proof the trees, but time will tell how well that will work. Hopefully the pigs will ignore them, yeah right........

I took the dogs for a walk out to the dam to see if we had managed to catch any of the rain – appears not, none of the dams have any water in them, maybe over the next few days we’ll get some inflow. Penny the new puppy was a terror, she barked at every cow, sheep and kangaroo. She’ll sleep well tonight for sure.

I don’t know if anybody else saw it, but ABC2 showed the Australian film ‘A Bush Christmas’ it Nicolle Kidman’s first movie. It was filmed around Rathdowney, near Beaudesert in Queensland. I grew up not far from there and recognised a lot of the extras in the movie as well as the land marks. I also manned a polling booth in the hall they showed the dance in and rode at many camp drafts and Pony Club days at the show grounds. It was filmed in 1983 – now I feel really old.

Mrs Duck Herder, Afternoon Tea sounds very nice and now the Cook has a brand new second hand antique oven she can cook a cake and biscuits. We are home all week, if you talk to Em organise a time that is good for you both and give me a call.

Oh, nearly forgot. This was funny; the Cook discovered that the Kitten we thought was female for the last six months is indeed male. I just shake my head.......

Friday, December 25, 2009

I hear footsteps on the roof


As I sit at the table to write this the Cook is busy wrapping the last of the presents, CMC is playing every film clip in their catalogue and the new puppy is whining at the back door. Yep, I went and got the Cook a short haired Border Collie puppy for Christmas. She’s rather cute, her name is Penny and she’s made herself right at home. And the Cook loves her – he scores...a direct hit on the perfect Christmas present yet again.

The tree is lit and everything is ready for Santa’s arrival, in fact, the dog are starting to bark at something now. Must nearly be time for bed.

It’s been a rather busy year, a few ups and downs, but mostly positive if you don’t count the dry, weeds, LHPA, horses, the Jeep, foxes and my useless electric fence building skills. But hopefully Santa is towing that huge thunder storm I asked for, we’ll have to wait and see what morning brings.

Well guy’s, I hope Santa is kind to you all. Hopefully we get rain from Rock Wallaby to Valley View and all those places in between. Thanks to everybody who reads our blog for the kind comments and remarks – especially Mrs Duck and Em. We’ll have to all catch up in the New Year. JAAAM in West OZ, promise I’ll ring and The folks in Maryburg – I know it’s my turn to ring you too – I’ll do it at 5am when the kids get me up. And not forgetting the Rock Wallaby guys – nice looking ham, great looking pigs, nice to hear you got rain at last. And no, I didn’t forget the Adelaide connection, I hope your all well and safe also.

Goodnight to all and Merry Christmas, from all of us here at BVVF.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Too close for my liking.


Sorry for another break – things are hot and dry, very dry. Yesterday we had our first fire scare; a blaze broke out on the western side of Cosgrove Hill, just behind us (800m South). I’d just returned from picking up feed when we saw the smoke. The Cook got the pump running whilst the kids and I unloaded the feed and filled the fire tank. Luckily this time the wind was in our favour and the fire was to far south be any direct threat on the house. In the time it took us to start getting organised the aircraft from the Michelago arrived and spent about an hour bombing the fire. The aircraft had been over flying the farm all day between Michelago and Bunyan Airfield and they probably spotted the fire even before we did.

I had a talk to one of the firies this morning, I was told they had trouble getting a crew together due to the effort on the other fires.

The last two months we’ve had less then 10mm of rain, our average for this period is over 140mm and the rain we were expecting over the Christmas week has disappeared. So with little outlook for a break in the weather we will be constantly watching for smoke over the next few weeks – or until it does rain.

This also means that a lot of the jobs I wanted to do in the back paddocks are off as well. We can’t afford to have the vehicle start a fire and as I have to drive through thick beds of tinder dry grass to get anywhere - it’s just not safe.

One of neighbours was badly injured in the Michelago fires; he made front page news of the Canberra Times on Saturday. Hopefully, he makes a swift and full recovery.

In the middle of all this however, the Cook has managed to keep her garden going and we are currently enjoying a bountiful harvest of Zucchini. The three new ducks are growing and now have full feathers – they are just beautiful, and we think they are all girls too.

I saw on the Sister-in-Laws Blog that she took a fall off a quad bike (I hope your okay) – Don’t worry F, doesn’t matter what you do to your face you’ll always be prettier then Maverick…. And I haven’t started my Christmas Shopping yet either, I figure I’ve got until Thursday. Is it too late for Amazon????

I’ll post more soon, lot’s of stories stored up, like being bitten by a snake, selling lots of pigs and George’s latest indiscretions.

Monday, December 7, 2009

White with two please.


Yeah I’m still alive, survived a sense of humour transplant. Things in general have worn me down a bit lately so I think it’s really time for a little holiday – if I’m lucky Santa might let me have one for Christmas. I was talking to somebody today and they asked when was the last time I had a holiday? and I couldn’t remember.

I read an article today about a judge who believes the internet doesn’t allow us to forget. His opinion is that in the past, pre digital days, people would forget bad things people had said or done and over time forgive them for their indiscretions. However, in today’s digital world everything lasts forever and nothing disappears over time. A bit like the Blog – here forever, don’t tell the Cook.
The farm is still here, pretty to very dry, no water in the dams and very little summer feed – lucky sheep eat rocks.

Speaking of sheep, you may recall we had a successful lambing this year, lots of little spring fella’s bounding across the dry, dusty dirt chasing down mum. I was lout fencing on the weekend, I’d missed going out there last week due to an injury, so I was keen to see the sheep and see how they were doing. I tracked them down the flats and into a small gully, I could hear Mildred’s bell tinkling away and smell the heavy sent of lanoline on the air. I creped over the rise, they usually bolt if they see me so I stayed out of sight. I did a quick count, and made a mental note that there must be more somewhere. I watched them for a spell then moved back down the gully. I looked around for more tracks and sign of the remaining animals but couldn’t find anything. Whilst I was snooping around the sheep began to move towards the river into the shade for the afternoon. I decided to take up a position overlooking the trail and count them into the paddock. We only have 24 so if I take off my boots I can keep track – thanks to those extra toes!!

So we lost some sheep. We had a couple of good litters of pigs as well – which is another story. One poor mum had ten piglets and was doing really well. One night we noticed she was down to eight – nothing unusual we lose a couple every once and a while. Anyway by the end of the week she was down to a single piglet and I couldn’t believe it. I searched around and couldn’t find any sign of what was happening until a couple of days later when I found a well worn path being travelled by an adult fox and three or four cubs. It must have been hunting lessons for the young ones. Anyway I have a solution in place to make sure this doesn’t happen again – looks like the old Yowie suite is going to get a run after a few years in the trunk.

Mrs Duckherder, your ducks are going fine and I’ll take a picture of them soon. Only three hatched but they are doing really well. The other chicks that we hatched are doing well also, we’ve been really lucky with them and there are some really nice looking birds amongst them. The Goose had a nest going for a while – but she dropped dead walking back from feeding one day – oh yeah, it’s never slow around here. It was a real shame, and it happened right in front of the kids. We tried to incubate here eggs but that didn’t work and we took them off life support the other night. Which reminds me, those eggs are still in the incubator.

The Cooks garden is going well, she has been away a bit lately and even with the blokes looking after it there appears to be life. Ben has been enjoying the strawberries and we’ve had a good supply of lettuce, radishes and assorted greens.
Got my ugly mug in the paper – must have been a slow news day. Mrs D spotted it otherwise it would have gone totally unnoticed.

The fence is taking shape and I’ve got over the blisters – now I just have calluses. I’ve spent alot of time and effort hammer posts into rock to make it work. I think next time I have such a bright idea – I won’t.

Snakes are out and about and we’ve seen a few to date. The Cook had a close call the other day and the kids have seen a couple too.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

A minute to myself to catch up


I’m having a little difficulty typing after a couple of weeks fencing and such. We’ve crammed a lot in over the past few weeks and I’m ready for a little lay down. The temperature took a sudden climb and the days included morning mist and afternoon storms. We had 28mm in one afternoon at the beginning of last week alone. Nothing like the 8inches they had 20km’s down the road which closed the highway, killed stock and destroyed a plant nursery. Of course today it was windy all day – at one point we had rain and dust storm within seconds.

The fencing is far from finished but we’ve been able to complete a lot more then I could have alone. With about a quarter of the steel posts now in on the wildlife refuge and just a little wait until we can get the rock out of the last four holes in the CMA area it’s all going forward. The guy’s came out and helped again – on an incredibly hot and humid day.

The rain we had forced the river to rise and I had to do the dash and rescue the pump – at least this time I had pants on.

I had to drive out to Murrumbateman and pick up some mulch for the Cook. We found some advertised for $30 a bale and the Cook sent me out for two. It never occurred to me to ask if they had any way to load it – I just thought that a horse stud, with 8x4x4 straw bales would have a tractor. Any hoo, a couple of hours later and a tonne of mulch was on the trailer and I was stuffed, it was hot and humid and the straw was wet all the way through and I’d only loaded one. By the time I got back to Bredbo it was afternoon and I needed the trailer to pick up the weeks feed. Of course it was coming a day early, that afternoon.

Mrs Duck herder dropped in on us that afternoon and we had a pleasant couple of hours showing her around and chatting about compost. Unfortunately I left at one stage and the Cook and Mrs Duck conspired to make me go back to Murrumbateman and retrieve the other straw bail for the Cook this week end – I’m really looking forward to that. There was also nice little impromptu lesson in Potato identification and ‘farting’. Poor old Ben was left to unload the straw on his own when we went for a cuppa – looks like its Harry’s job next time.

The Cook and I had been invited to a dinner at Old Parliament House to celebrate the 100 Anniversary of the survey of the ACT and the food producers from within 100 miles that night as well. It was a great night, the food was wonderful of course and the pig farming and slow food conversation was entertaining. The tables were arranged so that there was producers and consumers together and people could ask questions and discuss what it actually takes to grow a pig, chestnut or waratah.

We only just made it to the dinner on time – I had to load a tonne of fed onto the trailer and then park the car at the underground car park at the hospital, we left it there because it might rain and we didn’t want the wheat getting wet. I also needed to get change – unfortunately the Cook only pointed out the security cameras after the event.

On the way home dropped by Mrs Duck and dropped her off some high quality Bacon – she goes to bed way too early.

I had a chance to take a short walk down the river Friday before it came up and chanced upon a couple of swans paddling in the shallows and a juvenile Eastern Water Dragon sunning himself on a log. We’ve had an increase in the wildlife around the farm in the last year or so, things that we’ve never seen before and that aren’t included in the Cooma/Monaro State of the Environment.

And of course Sunday was my birthday, so I went fencing. Paul, Greg and Tanya came out again. Paul was out early and had a farm fresh breakfast of bacon and eggs, Greg and Tanya stayed for dinner after a hard day’s work. We got to sample the Cooks pickled gherkins’ from last year’s crop – now they’re not too everybody’s taste but I loved them – she can make them for me any day, and there are jars of them left – lucky me.

Yesterday on my way home from Canberra the jeep over heated slightly so I pulled over and had a quick look. Transmission fluid was going everywhere so I pulled into the servo for an emergency top up and hopefully a quick trip home before the transmission blew. Luckily I made it, but this morning I had to take it into Cooma for a new transmission cooling hose – five hours in Cooma is not fun. Another few hundred dollars gone, but at least the car still goes and I can pick up bread tomorrow.

Whilst the car was in being looked at someone from the Jeep Club in Canberra came through town, he noticed our jeep out front of the servo and stopped (I haven’t talked to him yet so I don’t know why). He quizzed the mechanic and left a card for me to contact him – apparently he’d never seen a jeep with nearly 500 000 KM’s on it before and was quite impressed.

So I’ve still got a list of things to do a mile long, things like; the sheep need to be mustered, I need to put a water pipe in for the pigs, I need to finish mowing the lawn, there’s some work needs doing on the chook pen and it keeps going ( I’ve ignored all the fencing I need to do other then what is currently being done).

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

wasn't there pigs here yesterday?


I’m sitting at the dinner table watching Ben run in circles around the lounge with the kitten trying to catch him, every so often the kitten takes a short cut and launches herself from the top of the lounge at Ben – luckily there hasn’t been any contact yet, but it’ll come, and I’ll wet myself laughing when it does.

We had a good storm this afternoon; at a guess I would say more than half an inch – I was in Cooma with Ben when it rained, there is mud everywhere and the back room of the house has had water in it as well. So, after the kids left for school I spent the morning crushing grain for the pigs and making up feeds, I topped up their waters and made sure the chickens had plenty of water as well – it was going to be a warm day.

I spent most of out the back putting in the last couple of strainers, that’s 20 with another five in the trailer waiting for the holes to be ‘improved’. Tomorrow it’ll be time to start putting in the steel posts – I can feel the aching shoulder muscles already, I suppose it’s character building if nothing else, plus now I have blisters on my blistered blisters.

You know how sometimes you do something – then in hind sight you realise you’ve made a huge mistake. We had a couple of piglets in a box in the house some months ago. They needed some warmth and looking after because they were too small and the litter was too large. Any way these are the pigs we’ve been using in the garden paddock to plough things up. Harry went out to feed them this morning and they were gone (at first I had a dread that they had been stolen, I’d been woken by what I thought was someone driving up the drive at 3:45am – couldn’t find any sign and I checked the camera this morning but it showed nothing). I went to investigate what was going on and found the little buggers had dug a tunnel under the fence and escaped – so it was more a ‘great escape’ then ‘a wooden horse’ – we found them a short time later back in the big pig yard. We probably shouldn’t have watched Hogan’s Heroes when they were in the house.


oh well no tears and they've gone to bed - quite time at last.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Now it rains


It was a little wet and windy today – just what we needed. The day started off slow but soon with kids galloping off to school and pigs to feed everything regained its momentum. The Cook had a well deserved lay in and I looked after the animals. We’ve recently reduced our numbers by about a dozen pigs and it’s made a big difference. Most of the ones that went were bigger pigs as well, so the feed is going a lot farther.

I spent the remainder of the morning after feeding dodging the Cook and her jobs – she was on the look out to put me to ‘gainful’ employment. As there is nothing to eat in the house until we can get to the shops again I headed up to the back 500 acres to have a look for weeds. Of course I found more than enough to be depressing. I haven’t been right up in the back corner adjacent to the railway line much, there’s a lot of tussock coming across the tracks onto our place, luckily it shouldn’t be too hard to get under control (famous last words). I was also trying to find any trace of our second Jersey Bull – no luck there, I’ll have to go see the neighbour and see if he’s seen him.

On the way back I came via the back of the hill behind the house, I ran into the Wedge Tail Eagles who were hunting rabbits in the grass ,I managed to get a couple of quick pics before they disappeared over the ridge. I also spotted a couple of new native flowers, I still can’t identify them – they weren’t flowering properly so I may go back on the weekend to have another look.

I don't know if there was something in the water here but some of the animals are a little odd today. The kitten thinks it's a lion and has been pouncing on anything that moves in the house from behind cover - and after seeing snakes it's not a pleasant feeling to have a kitten sink it's claws into your ankle. The fat dog has been doing that crazy dog thing running around with her tail between her legs all over the lawn. Fatso has been following me around all day - getting in my way when ever it is convenient for her and lastly George - he's joning in where ever he can and being a real dag.

When the boys arrived home they were put strait to work cleaning up the shearing shed, earlier in the day I’d found a blue birds egg on the grass up there and left it on a table. Anyway Ben found another couple and bought them back to the house. He’s quite the survivalist and pestered the cook to be able to break one of the eggs open and see what it look like inside. I was thinking it’d be a half grown chic or that it would be rotten. But low and behold it was just a normal egg, Ben asked if you could eat it, to which I responded that you could if it was a survival situation – so he wanted to try it. Out came the frying pan and Ben went to work cooking his egg, once finished he and Harry divided it and put it to the test – they both ate their share and decided it tasted just like ........chicken!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Sshhhh - they're all sleeping


Finally, it’s all quite....... not a sound - except the soft patter of rain on the iron roof and the faint muffled snoring of a fat black Labrador in the mud room. Quite a contrast from the last 48hrs.

We had 18 young lads here over the weekend for Ben’s birthday sleep over and that’s a lot of growing boys to feed.
Hat off to the Cook, she has spent the past two days attached to the stove cooking pizzas, biscuits, cakes and bread. I think, with the exception of pork we’ve run out of everything edible in the house. It was quite a logistical challenge to get everything cooked on the wood burning stove – specially the pizza’s, I think the kids were still eating until 9pm then there was milo’s at 10:30pm. They all spent the night in the shearing shed, I wandered up about 11:30pm and they were all still up watching DVD’s – except our two who had both passed out on their swags, exhaustion had taken its toll I expect.

I can’t even remember Saturday, I think it started early with a dash to Cooma to get everything that the Cook hadn’t the day before in Canberra. We had the Land Care AGM, it was uneventful. The guest speaker was from DECC and spoke about the Atherton to the Alps project, this is a conservation project about linking all the diverse landscapes along the Great Dividing Range. K2C is part of this and we received funding from this for some of our conservation work. Saturday afternoon was spent spraying weeds – for which I have formally given up and decided to get in a contractor with a tractor and boom to finish – there’s just too much. Did I ever tell that we have had our status wildlife reserve Gazetted?? It happened a couple of weeks back and the property is now officially named ’Valley View Wildlife Refuge’.

Today I have to really thank the three people who turned up to help with the fence, Paul, Greg and Tanya. All of them are part of the NSF and have their own conservation work to deal with as well. The help was gratefully appreciated and I could never have finished so much without them – and Paul is coming out next weekend as well. Unfortunately I have bent my crow bar into an ‘S’ shape – I need to find a heavier one I guess.
We headed back to the house about 1pm and arrived just in time for parents to start arriving to pick up the. Then I hit the road, off to Canberra to drop kids back and a long trip home. By the time we fed the pigs and did the waters is was dark and raining heavily. The Cook had conjured up a chicken from somewhere and we all sat down wearily to decimate the poor soul.

Now ever body else is in bed and I’ve got five minutes to myself, I might have a cuppa, catch up with some blogs, feed the dogs and hit the sack...........

Friday, October 23, 2009

No Rain, lots of Wind and plenty of blisters

Swainson Pea

One day I’m going to actually have holiday, the last time I took time off was when we moved into the farm. It never slows down, and even this weekend is full, Ben has his Birthday Sleep Over, there is the AGM for Land Care and a trip into Canberra on Sunday.


The last two weeks have been fairly productive, I’ve been able to get a lot of the posts into the ground out the back in the conservation area, the last few have been soul destroying with solid rock down about 18 inches. My arms ache, I’m sunburnt and in desperate need of a shave - I’ll be glad to head back to work, the kids reckon I’m a real red neck now. It hasn’t been all my work, one of the guy’s from the NSF has come out and helped and some others have also offered which is really great – and I will take them up on it.


We had a Grass Lands expert Rainer Rehwinkle come out yesterday to do a survey of some of Grasslands. It was a little windy, but otherwise a very pleasant afternoon. Rainer found over 60 species of native plants including orchids. He was very impressed with the quality and the quantity. I thought this was amazing because he only saw a small portion of the grassland we have. He’s asked if we would donate some of our Swainson-Pea seeds to the millennium seed project. Some of the seeds will end up in the National Botanic Gardens and the rest will be sent to the deep freezer in Norway where they are storing a collection of seed samples from every plant in the world – sort of a huge bio bank. I forgot to take my camera with me so went back today, but the wind was up again and the little flowers are hard to photograph in the wind. Whilst I was out there I stumbled upon two Shingle Back lizards and an Earless Dragon – which was slightly funny as Lauren, the facilitator from K2C was with us the day before and she spent hours looking under rocks for the little blighters.


I’ve also spent a bit of time spraying the Tussock Grass in the paddock next to the highway. It’s a wonderful job; the long Love Grass makes it difficult to walk and hides wombat holes really well. The paddock is a nice shade of pink however. I’m starting to think there is more to be done here then I can manage alone – between the farm and the conservation work there is barely a free or slow moment. I am going to need to get the local contractor in to boom spray some of the larger infestations of Tussock otherwise they’ll just get away and the problem will only get worse.

The Cook was in fine form this morning, I was in the Chicken Coup turning on the water and she was bringing up some scraps to the chickens. I wasn’t watching but she suddenly screamed and I looked up – just in time to see two very large brown snakes slithering across the yard. She had nearly stepped on them (maybe interrupted them is more precise), luckily the dogs weren’t around and the kids had gone to school. I think she’s looking a bit greyer this evening.


The Cook has been preparing the garden for the Bio Dynamic Course. It’s looking really good and a lot of effort has gone into it. It should look really good by November – and many thanks goes out to Mrs Duck for her donation of seedlings, they are doing you proud Mrs Duck and the Cook is very happy with them all.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Who's the good looking rooster??


Another day out in the open air and wind, I’ve got blisters on my blisters and a few aching muscles. I spent hours digging rocks out of post holes, I’ve ruined a pair of gloves in two days and I’ve already started to wear the second pair at the base of the thumb. And I’ve bent my crow bar – that’s a real bugger.....

It’s amazing what you see out there, I saw two foxes, one saw me, but the other didn’t.

I’ve managed to get seven posts in to date and this should speed up in the next few days as the fence goes out across the flats. I still need to go back and cement one in because I couldn’t get the whole deep enough in the rock.

There are dozens of different birds, hawks and falcons can be seen floating around on the updrafts and the stubble quails keep scaring the life out of me in the long grass between fence posts. I spotted a white necked heron gorging itself on threatened species down at the river this morning – I tried to get a picture of it but it had gone by the time I got back with the camera.

Our sheep are looking well and all the lambs have survived the bad weather. I see them each day on my way out to the fence, they are fat and happy – we’ve got one that must have been missed at shearing time it has a double fleece which will make it a fly target when the weather warms up so we’ll have to get the shearer out early this year.

Big day tomorrow – somebody is having a birthday, not that you would know. He’s been reminding us for days. So we are planning a special dinner for him tomorrow night, the cake is cooked and his pressies are sitting here on the table ready for when he wakes up.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Here it comes again

Working hard

A few days ago we rounded up a dozen of the smaller pigs and put them into an enclosure (we call it a pigitentiary) on the garden area. They only stay out on one spot for a night and they plough it up enough to move them onto the next area, at this rate we’ll have the paddock ploughed before the end of the month. Everything is starting to look green again now, but we’ll have to wait and see how long it lasts, maybe we’ll get the wet spring we’ve been hoping for.

We’ve finally been able to get our electric fence problems sorted out as well. Our mains power energizer arrived back from repairs the other day and is now working a treat – no more loose pigs. The Cook is really happy about that.
The River is running well and the water is crystal clean. I was quite surprised when I saw it, I thought it would have been a little more turbid after all the rain.

I spent most the day on the hill side putting in fence posts, apart from the blisters, wind and rain showers it was a rather nice day to be out there – lucky, because there is more of that tomorrow. There’s nothing better than the solitude of a vast open space.

The other thing I really like is music – both types. Right now I ‘m sitting at the table typing whilst listening and watching the new Sugarland DVD – if you’ve never heard of them then do yourself a favour and get any one of their CD’s, they’re just great. Jennifer Nettles, the lead singer, has the most amazing voice and she has the greats Georgia accent – I love the Southern ladies when they talk like that... I’ve been really lucky to catch them in concert as well and they are as good live as on CD. I’m thinking of heading off to CMC Rocks the Snowy’s again this year, I’m just waiting to see who all the acts are. I know that Taylor Swift will be in town around then as well and if she brings her support acts with her I’ll go see them instead. Glorianna are touring with her at the moment and I’d really like to see them in concert – and Kellie Pickler is another favourite as well.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Back again


It’s been a while – I’ve got no excuses life has just kept us rather busy. We’ve had a lot happening – it has rained quite bit nearly every day without the drying winds’.

I won’t try and catch up right now, I’ll leave that for later. The important things first; a big thank you to Mrs Duck Herder for an incubator full of lovely duck eggs, they’re in and rotating and hopefully in a couple of weeks we’ll clutch of very special ducklings. She also gave us a load of Onion and Leek seedlings which have been planted. And sorry for busting in so late Mrs DH – I’ll try harder next time to arrive at a decent hour...

We’ve also picked up our first batch of natives for planting in the upper reach of our gully. The fencing has started in earnest and hopefully in the next three weeks the planting areas should be stock proof. If anybody has a spare couple of days of sunlight they could spare let me know.

We’ve had more snow as well, last week on Wednesday it snowed all the way down highway to Michelago. I was taking the kids to a first aide course in Canberra – I nearly turned around and had a snow day it was so heavy.
The River is high but the water is crystal clear, the rain has been enough to cause runoff but not a lot of silt. Up early in the morning to collect another load of bread, then back home for a little more fencing, some tree planting and if it’s fine a little weed spraying.

Still more to come - Bee and NSF meetings, weeds, piglets and all sorts of things. I need to sort out my pictures - they're all to large to upload, I need to get photoshop.....

Monday, September 28, 2009

It never snows in September!

Snow over Bredbo



A lot needed to be done this weekend – not much happened. Due to the weather we had a pretty quite weekend. Saturday the wind drove us all inside and at times it was either raining ice or snow. I don’t think the temperature rose above 7 Degree’s making it the coldest September day for years. The winds suddenly abated at 6pm Saturday night, which was nice, but by Early Sunday morning we had our second dust storm in a week and woke to a rather windy morning. The kids had a sleepover and spent the night n the wool shed – luckily their swags are well decked out and they didn’t freeze.
???????
Cooks day off

I was supposed to go over to Braidwood for an NSF meeting Saturday night – but I decided to stay home because of the weather and the 3 hour drive – one way.

We fed a lot of bread to the pigs on the weekend. I wouldn’t be surprised if they’ve lost interest in it. But they were still eating it this morning so hopefully, by tonight, it’ll all be gone. Of course having a couple of extra hands made feeding it out a lot easier. George is always there to give a hand as well and his eagerness to get into the trailer is going to be legendary one day.

Sunday was another horrible day – but things needed to be done. I dropped into the Bredbo Markets and picked The Cook up some honey. Went into town and picked up the feed, visited the dump (hilite) and spent the afternoon unloading the feed.

This morning we had a sort rain shower and then everything fined up – you wouldn’t have known we’d had such a bad weekend by 9am.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Lots of bread


Well it’s back to farm stuff. Had a little more rain over the past couple of days and we are starting to see a little bit of green come through into the paddocks. We had a pleasant surprise yesterday morning when the cattle arrived in the back yard after a couple of months grazing the ridges. I don’t know if it was the rain that bought them back, but it was good to see they are doing fine.

The kids wandered out of bed bleary eyed early this morning – followed by that ball of energy known as Ashes. Ben was complaining that the kitten had woken them up wanting to play not long after the sun rose – neither of them was impressed and I had little sympathy for them.

I received a call from the bakery this morning – one of the ovens had chucked a wobbly and they had a tonne of bread they needed to get rid of before the weekend. The big trailer is packed to the brim and the Jeep had a job dragging the trailer up the range this morning. They just kept on bringing the stuff out by the forklift load. I think the pigs will be really happy tonight when the boys get home and we can start unloading it. The big trailer is packed to the brim and the Jeep had a job dragging the trailer up the range this morning.

The bruise on the Cook face is going down at last – she had parent teacher interviews last night, goodness only knows what they thought.

There’s a big weekend ahead of us but the weather isn’t looking that good. I’ve got to make it to the dump on Saturday before anything else – it wasn’t Em’s fault I missed the dump last time either – it was all mine.

And lastly – hi to Liz and Obie down in Melbourne – thanks for the email, which I haven’t replied to yet.

//MTF./

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Tuesday - already


I didn’t get time to post last week, I’d written something – but it never went any further, so I back posted it today. Another week has flown by and we are getting closer to school holidays again. We’ve had a little bit of rain – enough to get things started, but not enough to put anything in the dams.

Last week was our first trial run at delivering fresh pork to the door step. This worked well and I think everybody was happy. We’ve had our first family feast of Berkshire and everybody was very impressed – even the Cook.

Luckily for me the Duck Lady and her husband were on the delivery list for pork. I left my stop there until last as she had offered me a cuppa. They have a lovely place and we had a nice chat and a cup of tea under a lovely shady tree watching the ducks, chickens and cockatoos doing their thing in the garden.

The kitten is growing and taking up a lot of everybody’s time – she sleeps with the boys and has been giving them a bit of curry during the night. I think Harry will be glad once it’s a little bit older.

We’ve had more chicks hatch in the chook pen and there are chicks everywhere. Hopefully we’ll have a better ratio of hens this time and start getting eggs again before winter. Until then we have a one egg a day ration.

I managed to visit Em in Cooma on Saturday when I picked up Ben form a sleep over. I thought I should introduce myself and took them around some pork as a welcoming gift. Unfortunately I missed the dump – that’ll be a blow later in the week.

After the rain last night there were no pigs out of their paddocks – giving more weight to the idea that he ground isn’t wet enough for the fence to not work properly over the past couple of weeks.

On the lighter side - the Cook bashed herself chopping fire wood on Sunday evening. It left her with a great shiner on her cheek. She spent all Sunday night wandering around the kitchen holding frozen peas to her face. Unfortunately she had to work Monday – which included lecturing at the University. And working in a female dominated work place you know who will be getting the blame for that one…….

The Brown snake is alive and well in the feed shed. He and I had words on Sunday afternoon – but I don’t think snakes have ears, so basically I’ll stay out of his way.

We had a light Aircraft doing low passes along the river all day yesterday – may have been the aerial photography mob that do property photo’s and letter drops every so often. It looked a little ruff for that type of flying though. I went out and watched it go by a few times – just in case they were spraying weeds. The aircraft was a blue and white Cessna Skyline 182 – been in a few of those in a past life, glad I don’t have to do that anymore.

I bolted out of bed this morning and headed off to Canberra to pick up bread. At first I thought it was raining, it had earlier in the night (going by the Old Di rain in the feed bucket method of determining rain – I think we got 3mm), but it turned out to be a massive dust storm mixing with the clouds and a little fog – a very surreal look to the whole valley and surrounds.

Last weeks post


We’ve all been really busy lately, spring is here and the temperatures are slowly rising. The first blossoms are almost done and we’ll be searching the apricot trees for buds in the next few days. It was up early this morning to enjoy the pre dawn hours. The animals were out and about snuffling in the dust and dry grass, somewhere along the river a fox was calling out – it was very peaceful.

It was a busy weekend; the days were nice – apart from a mild breeze. It was Ben’s last soccer game of the year, sleepovers, a huge trailer load of green scraps for the pigs had to be fed out and a long afternoon walk along the river looking for signs of the wild boar.

Sunday was busy, helped to move some chickens across town to a new home - that took some effort. We picked up feed and more greens, and finally loaded up some pigs for travelling. I took some from down the road with a couple of ours. It was interesting to note the differences in the breeds, the ones I picked up where Saddle Back crosses and are markedly longer then our guys. The Berkshires appeared to be a lot hardier pig and the muscle tone was much better on the free’er range pigs.

Anyway, by the time we were able to load ours it was late. So here we were trying to sort out and load black pigs on to a trailer in the darkness. Poor old Ben got knocked for six and winded buy one of the bigger pigs and trying to sort out a boar from a sow proved problematic.

At the end of the day I think the cook learned a couple of new swear words – so it wasn’t all for naught.

We’ve got a cat. I’m allergic to the buggers – but we’ve got one anyway. It’s a little black kitten named Ashes – photo’s shortly. Of course a cat wasn’t really part of the overall scheme of things, but the mice problem gets worse each winter and we don’t want to poison them which is the only other way we could get them.

It’ll be another busy weekend ahead

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Something completely different

My next job - Weeds.....


I love Bush Poetry and Australian Folklore, I still have my collection of Henry Lawson and Bamjo Paterson somewhere - and a couple of old Wallace and Matilda cassette tapes so here's a lovely Australian poem. It has something for everyone - If you know the bush, it will appeal to you, if you work in the oil industry, there is something in it for you too, if you have a sense of humour - well, it might test it a little and if you are not an Australian, then it won't help your knowledge of Australian life one bit ...

I'm not sure of the Author, I think it's that really famous poet Annon.

Goodbye Granddad

Poor old Granddad's passed away, cut off in his prime,
He never had a day off crook - gone before his time,
We found him in the dunny, collapsed there on the seat,
A startled look upon his face, his trousers around his
feet,
The doctor said his heart was good - fit as any trout,
The Constable he had his say, 'foul play' was not ruled
out.
There were theories at the inquest of snakebite without
trace,
Of red-backs quietly creeping and death from outer space,
No-one had a clue at all - the judge was in some doubt,
When Dad was called to have his say as to how it came
about,
'I reckon I can clear it up,' said Dad with trembling
breath,
'You see it's quite a story - but it could explain his
death.'
'This here exploration mob had been looking at our soil,
And they reckoned that our farm was just the place for
oil,
So they came and put a bore down and said they'd make
some trials,
They drilled a hole as deep as hell, they said about
three miles.
Well, they never found a trace of oil and off they went,
post haste,
And I couldn't see a hole like that go to flamin' waste,
So I moved the dunny over it - real smart move I
thought,
I'd never have to dig again - I'd never be 'caught
short'.
The day I moved the dunny, it looked a proper sight,
But I didn't dream poor Granddad would pass away that
night,
Now I reckon what has happened - poor Granddad didn't
know,
The dunny was re-located when that night he had to go.
And you'll probably be wondering how poor Granddad did
his dash--
Well, he always used to hold his breath
Until he heard the splash!!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Okay - We're back and it's full steam ahead


AN INTRODUCTION TO BIODYNAMICS
Grazing, cropping & horticulture

BREDBO, NSW

Saturday 7th & Sunday 8th November, 2009 9am–5pm

SUSTAINING GENERATIONAL EQUITY – GROWING SOILS FOR THE FUTURE

You will learn how the biodynamic preparations contribute to the soil food web creating fertility and balance in your soil.
Biodynamics is a cost effective method of producing high quality plants, food and fibre with regenerative ecological outcomes.
Also applicable for garden enthusiasts.
This two day workshop will introduce you to all practical aspects needed to apply biodynamics:


• The life of the soil

• Creating fertility in your soil
• Managing your natural resources
• Practical use of the biodynamic preparations
• Using the planting calendar
• Developing risk management: Weeds, Pests, Diseases
• Meeting climate change challenges: Drought, Flood, Carbon sequestration

Books will be available for sale

BOOKINGS: 02 6655 9853 office@biodynamics2024.com.au
VENUE: Bredbo Valley View, Bredbo
LOCAL CONTACT: The Bredbo Pig Man, you can smell him coming! Use the Blogsite email.
COST: $220 pp or $330 per couple GST inc.
Morning & afternoon teas provided. Please bring lunch.
Please register by Thursday, 5th November, 2009.

Presented by
Biodynamic Educators:

John Priestley

John is a third generation ecological farmer. He has been evolving his practice and knowledge of
biodynamics for over 50 years. With his wife Dorothy he grows award winning citrus and beef
cattle at Paterson in the NSW Hunter Valley. He is a wealth of practical knowledge with a
keen eye for the small observations that can make adifference to farming.

Hamish Mackay

Hamish has been working with biodynamics for 35 years and travels Australia presenting introductory
biodynamic workshops, providing growers with clear and practical methods for adopting biodynamics as a cost effective way to produce high quality food and fibre; at the same time improving our environment.

Monday, September 7, 2009

New hatchings

Wombat tracks in the mud


The Cook has spent the last couple of nights on her hands and knees in the dinning room. It’s the only way she can see into the incubator and watch the chicks hatch. So far we have had nine out of twenty four hatched. They are a mix of types some are ours and some we bought locally. We have a good setup now and things are working well, they grow so much better under the heat lamps then they did under light bulbs.

So far we have two Hamburgs which are growing much quicker then the rest. The three that I picked up from Monika are growing and have feathers now; I think they are from our small white hen and maybe one of the red roosters. The Cook has had to help some out of the egg and one even managed to get a warm bath and blow dry. She just loves hatchings and spends hours watching the little ones escape their shell and play around their new home. Although most spend the first few hours sprawled in front of the heat lamp recuperating from their ordeal.

I’ve finally managed to get the grain mill fixed and now we can get back to crushing the pigs feed. Unfortunately the feed guy didn’t make it this week so we are on shop bought rations for a week, the pigs don’t mind and I’ve never seen them pass up a free feed yet. I had a talk to somebody about our electric fence and it appears there’s not enough moisture in the ground to conduct properly and therefore the pigs aren’t getting zapped. I need to go around and rewire some of the fence so that the ground is set up differently and should work better.

We’ve been getting the odd light shower over the past few days – but I don’t know exactly how much because somebody ran over my rain gauge. But we’ve not had enough to make the electric fence work unfortunately.

We’re glad we decided not to sow any crops this year as well – would have been another waste of money.

I spent the weekend installing a new surveillance system for both the pigs and the farm. We’ve had continuing problems with ‘unknown’ people entering the farm during the day. I’ve managed to make a catalogue of tyre marks as well to match with cars. I splurged a little and have purchased both daylight and infra red cameras with zoom. The range is amazing – so far I’ve been able to read number plates at 200 metres. It’s also hooked into the internet so I can monitor it from anywhere and it sends an SMS alarm if it detects certain types of movement or tampering. I might hook it up to the Blog one day when I’ve got a spare five minutes.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Catching up.

looking North along the Gully


We packed in a lot over the past week. The Jeep went in for some long awaited repairs – which took a little longer then first thought. But no wit is up and running at full speed. Of course only having one car was a little bit of a bother, but we managed.

There were a number of meetings, including the Natural Sequence Farming AGM and a Weeds vs NSF show down at the Bredbo Pub. Both went well with the showdown going well with nearly 80 participants. The Council Weed Inspector was very accepting and I think his approach to the whole evening was encouraging.

Then Saturday it was off to Yass early in the morning for a Field Day with Peter Andrews. It was horrible weather and by 9:00am I was soaked. Reminded me of lovely times I spent on the training area near Rockhampton. Once the sun came out it was mild enough that I didn’t catch pneumonia.

The property we visited was very elegant and obviously had a bit of money spent on it. The lady had a variety of animals including; Alpaca’s, Dorpers, East Friesian Sheep and Jersey cows. She was supposed to have pigs – but I didn’t see any. The country was a little rough and I doubt if there was room for the serious implementation of NSF principles.

I was going to have a rest of Sunday – yeah right. Fences needed fixing feeds need making and feed needed to be moved. I had to feed out the remainder of the green feed and clean up the mess. Sunday afternoon I let all the pigs out for a graze on the new fresh grass in the potato paddock – they loved it, but by 5:00pm they were all ready to get back home and have dinner.

The Cook has named the smallest one of the three piglets Scruffy. They other two haven’t got names yet, but they are looking really good and as they are able to be registered may be good candidates for show pigs. The buggers chase me everywhere I go – day or night, squealing happily. They eat with the big pigs and then expect to be fed again when the dogs eat. Luckily we have lots bread.

George has left home – on a trial basis. He’s living with the mob of sheep in the bottom paddock, the ones with all the lambs. There is no Ram with them so he’s pretty happy. He still comes when you call and he chased the car down the track yesterday them once we had gone he returned to his girls.

Monika from work hatched some of our eggs (three) in her incubator and I took the chicks home with me last night. She was sad to see them go – but she likes ducks better. They have settled in nicely with the other five chicks we have at the moment. By next week we’ll have more from the two dozen eggs ready to hatch in the incubator at the moment. We managed to find eggs from Hamburg’s, Old English Game, Plymouth Rock and some Silkies.

The Geese are still laying and hopefully we will try incubating some of their eggs once the latest lot of chicks have hatched. That’ll test the incubator, might have to put some duck eggs in with that lot as well.

The willows have started to sprout and the highway was lined with snow white blossoms in places this morning. The wild apple trees are really showing off this year and if we get some rain it should be a great crop. The first of the new Bredbo Markets ran on Sunday and was pretty impressive by all accounts (the Cook). She said there were a lot of stalls – mostly Arts and Craft. Probably not the place to sell our pork, but there maybe something else we can do instead – keep posted. The Cook has also found a Butcher to process our Bacon and make Sausages for us as well. More on that latter also – BTW he’s German ……. So they should be good…..
Oh yeah - we've had about 8mm ofn ain as well......

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Monday is the start of a whole new season

The Mountains from our front gate


We emerged from our three days of horrible weather without too much damage. A couple of our sheds are a little wind damaged having borne the brunt of the wind for the past days. We’re getting used to these pockets of inconvenience but they still disrupt the daily routine somewhat.

The three little pigs are still causing strife – the Cook has ‘named’ the smallest one Scruffy – so she’s off the menu, the other two are still contenders. Inexplicably the Boars spent most of the windy nights sleeping in the open, I have no idea why. The Cook spent hours yesterday feeding out green scraps, she’s still sore and stiff from skying with Ben on Tuesday and really enjoyed spending another day out in the cold wind. We also had to do the traditional ‘after a windy day’ electric fence inspection. There’s always something blown onto it on days like these and its best to fix it before the pigs find out.

The Jeep is finally repaired and back to full running order. I had explained to the mechanics previously that I thought it needed a new head gasket, manifold gasket as well as other various adjustments – this has finally all been done and it drives like a dream again, which isn’t bad for a fifteen year old car with 450,000km on the clock.

I’m expecting the river to get a minor flushing in the next couple of days with the rain we had – with any luck.

Tonight is the Upper Murrumbidgee Natural Sequence Farming AGM, so it’s into town for that. There are field days over the weekend with Peter Andrews as well which I will hopefully find time to attend.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

One extreme to another


Sunday night was the hottest August night on record – Monday night it snowed…. We had another day of winds above 85kmph but we also had about 10mm of rain - which was nice, the temperature got down to about 2-3 degrees which was warmer then we expected.

The Cook put new straw out for the pigs yesterday, but for some reason the Boars where all out sleeping in the rain. I’ll never figure these guys out, but as long as they are happy I don’t care how they decide to sleep - but you’d think they would take dry straw over cold wet mud.

There was a blanket of snow across the ranges this morning; it was getting really thick up towards Cooma. There was more snow falling after the sun came up so it’ll be interesting to see what it looks like when the cloud clears. The Cook is off skying with the boys today whilst I hold down the fort – I had a quick look at the snow cams a little while ago and it looked pretty cold up there. I hope she survives.

Monday, August 24, 2009

It's getting closer


Well we finally had a little bit of rain on Friday. Unfortunately we had our rain gauge run over by a mystery visitor the other day so I don’t know how much we ended up with. People down town were saying we received about 9 - 10mm, which is better then nothing - but nowhere near what we need.

Ben is a star; he got his picture in the local paper – again. It was to do with the seed balling day run last weekend.

The big black boar came back again Saturday – again the day after rain. This time we had arranged for someone to come out shooting that morning. They rolled up about 6am and the boar was standing in the paddock waiting. They couldn’t believe it, I had to pry the Cook from the bedroom ceiling when they fired their first shot, scared the hell out of her. I didn’t actually wake up – the cook had to shake me. Anyway the shooters missed the pig. I found his tracks latter in the day and there was no sign or evidence of him being hurt.

The Cook decided to make pancakes for breakfast on Saturday. Harry was going to somewhere for a sleep over and we need to make sure he is full before he leaves otherwise he eats people out of house and home. The Cook broke sic eggs into a bowl then added flour and milk – somewhere in there she got confused about wether she was making scrambled eggs or pancakes. Of course, we fear for our lives so we said nothing and just smiled and ate them.

We spent Saturday doing various farm chores, which never seem to get done. We had the Mums out grazing Saturday after the rain. They love it out the front at he moment lots of great weeds and sweet grasses to snack on.

The Cook showed me a huge egg she’d found in the chook pen the day before, she said she’d never seen such a big duck egg in her life. Then she said at first I thought it was a turkey egg until I realised we only have boy turkeys. I then pointed out to her that it was a goose egg – causing a little embarrassed laughter and a threat about putting it on the blog, which of course I take very seriously – and won’t say a thing….

Sunday morning was beautiful, we had a slight westerly breeze bringing in the warm inland air and by 10am it was 17 degrees. Sadly things changed by 5pm – back to 60kmph icy winds.

The fruit trees are all in bloom and the bees are going crazy all day. Hopefully we won’t get any heavy frost before the fruit sets. The sheep came down again and we have a few more lambs – one is coloured, with black legs and a black and white face.

We received a letter today saying that our Flora and Fauna Sanctuary had been approved and will be gazetted in the near future. They’ll send us out a copy when it happens. We received our signage the other day, but I still don’t know where I’m supposed to put it exactly.

The three little pigs are pressing their claim to the dog’s mattress. Last night we could hear a ruckus out in the mud room which turned out being Shadow trying to lie on the mat – on top of a piglet or two. I don’t know who’ll win this, but we’ve never had piglets wanting to live with the dogs before.

Whilst I was out clearing briars on Sunday George decided to follow me. He ended up chasing the car right out to the far end of the property. He was happy to graze around the car until it was time to go home. I felt sorry for him because it was getting late, so I let him get into the back of the Jeep and ride back with me.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

I need more time in a day


There’s probably a lot I haven’t covered over the past two weeks due to how busy I’ve been. Tomorrow night is the AGM for the Natural Sequence Farming Association and Peter Andrews will be paying us a visit before the field days planned for Friday and Saturday. I’m planning on heading out to Murrumbateman on Saturday for a look at the project site on Yass River Road.

Yesterday morning I double booked myself, and had to make an early run (5am) into town to collect the bread. When I arrived home Daisy the pig was out in the yard ready for breakfast. She’s recently taken up sleeping in the hay on the floor of the feed shed - what ever makes her happy.

On Sunday I was walking around the pigs and noticed a piglet laying on the ground, I thought it had been laid on, so I picked it up. It appeared floppy and lifeless so I figured I would have to dispose of it. I walked around a little more carrying the piglet, climbed through the fence and went off looking for a bag to put it in. I hadn’t thought to look at its gender, so I turned it over and looked when it let out a ear piercing screech and frightened the hell out of me. Piglets obviously sleep a lot sounder then I thought.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Seed Balling


Water is becoming an issue for us again. Although we have enough to keep us going for the immediate future but once summer kicks in we are going to really struggle. To date we have had less then 140mm of rain, down from 260mm for the same period last year and way below the 330mm on average for this time of year.

So we’ve decided to reduce our pig numbers down to about 12 pigs – we figure that at this point we need to plan for the worst case. I think we can support our twenty odd sheep without too much problems. So now comes the job of picking the ones we’ll keep. Don’t worry – Fatso and Floppsy are safe and Tiberius our Boar will stay as well – that leaves nine choices.

We hatched a mob of chickens last week as well, the Cook has the incubator turned up high and has been collecting eggs from across the district for hatching. I’m hoping I can get some off of Mrs Duck Herder and see if we can hatch some handsome ducks like hers.

We had a Field Day on Saturday in partnership with Greening Australia, Landcare and K2C. We spent the early afternoon making seed balls, which are balls of clay about the size of a marble containing various sees and a little fertilizer – basically seeds inside a womb. The idea is to throw these balls into areas were you couldn’t easily plant but want to grow tress and shrubs. There is a long history attached to this method, but natural farmer Masanobu Fukuoka is recognised as the more recent advocate of the system. He is famous for never ploughing and just using seed balls for all his planting – vegetables, cereals and trees.

It was nice to get out in the open and spread some of these balls around the farm. We had about twenty people helping and seeded the area along a rocky ridge. It was made even more exciting by the discovery of an echidna by some of the children. We’d seen a disturbed ants nest further down the hill, but to find the actual culprit was fantastic. People where also able to see some of the threatened and endangered plants and trees we have also.

Of course George had to be a participant as well and chased the cars along the track out to the ridge; I think he was in the middle of the convoy by the time we got there. Once we had stopped he mingled with the crowd and managed to get his picture taken with Graham from Greening Australia for one of the local newsletters.
Before the Field Day the Head Teacher from teh Albury TAFE dropped in to pick up a couple of pigs. The TAFE's eco farm is diversifying into the free range pig business and chose us to source their pigs from. Unfortunately they arrived in a vehicle much higher then our loading ramp. This wasn't a problem for the two smaller sows they wanted - we just lifted them into the truck - after a short carry. It was the Boar they weree opicking up for the another person that was going to be difficult. In the end we used a bale of straw and some bread to lure the boar into the vehicle. We were both surprised at how easily he went up in the end. The Boar that went was Boris he's not the prettiest boar, but he was the toughest of the three young Boars we had, he also was a bit of a fancier of the ear scratch. Hopefully he'll enjoy his new home.

We are getting hammered by cold fronts at the moment as well. Last night we had 100kmph winds and Sunday afternoon was terrible. The worst part is we only receive very small rain falls which dry up immediately with the wind. All the pig humpies have been blown down near the river so another job to add to the list for the weekend.

At one point last night the three little pigs decided they’d rather sleep with the dogs’ then out in their shelter. They kicked poor old Archer off of his mat and set up home happily grunting and snorting. Unfortunately for them Archer got a little upset by about 9:30pm and decided that enough was enough – and he turffed them out into the night.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Are they your horses?



I generally stay out of town politics but I went to a Town meeting about the dump on Thursday – always a highlight, the dump. A lady approached me and asked when was I going to feed my horses, another lady jumped in as well and then the local RSPCA Inspector got interested in the discussion. Anyway, the horses the lady was talking about don’t belong to our farm; they are being agisted on land owned by the Livestock Health and Protection Authority (LHPA).

We have complained in the past to the people concerned and to the LHPA with little effect, people just don’t seem interested. So I ramped up my efforts and attempted to get the horses looked at by whom ever I could find – that was Friday.

I was again approached by somebody at the dump on Sunday, for the same reason, the poor horses. This time I decided to escalate things and armed with a camera I went across and took photo’s of the horses, I checked their teeth and none of them were older the 14 at the most. They had good feet, which was something.

So I rang the RSPCA again and got permission to give the horses water, I hadn’t seen a trough or bucket in the paddock since Wednesday and it may have been longer. They drank every drop and were still thirsty but I didn’t want to give them too much in case they got sick. That afternoon one of the horses came down to our gate and laid on the grass in the corner of the paddock – it was still there in the morning.

Sunday night I emailed the pictures to the RSPCA and Monday morning I rang the head office of the LHPA and emailed them pictures as well. I received a phone call back some time later saying they may send a Ranger and the Vet out after the Cooma Sale if they have time. I haven’t heard anything from them since. The lady that called me told me that officially they couldn’t do anything under the RLPB Act, that wasn’t my concern, because under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act it is their problem.

I arrived home Monday afternoon and there was still no water for the horses but the worst looking horse had gone, it was the one I’d seen laying down in the corner. I half expected angry people waiting for me at the gate when I got home. Tuesday I went off to work, a I left I checked and still no water for the horses, I’d had enough so I waited till the afternoon – hoping the LHPA would ring and tell me they had solved the problem but nothing. So I contacted the RSPCA again sent in more photo’s, an hour later on the way home I received a call saying the Senior RSPCA Inspector in NSW was going to deal with the issue. Finally, the up side being the horses had water last night, unfortunately it was all gone this morning, but hopefully these people might start looking after their animals.

Last thing, I’ll share one of the excuses I heard when I asked around about what people thought about how the horses looked “But she has so many (horses), you can’t expect her to look after them all”
If you'd like to complain about the state of these horse send an email to rlpbsc@rlpb.org.au and tell them your not impressed, the horses are located on the Bredbo TSR - the more the better.

I think I need to take a break …………

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Buried


Have you ever had one of those senior moments – you know, when you see something, you know it’s wrong, but it just doesn’t register until much later. This morning I went out to the mud room to let the dogs out. Shadow was all over me as usual, I noticed she had dirt on her nose and I thought she must have buried her bone from the night before.

Anyway, I let them out and tied Archer up, Shadow headed strait for the bread buckets in search of scraps. I hassled the kids along – they had arrived home late the evening before because of Skiing and Soccer practice and we left some of the chores until this morning.

So we finally finish feeding pigs, piglet’s, chooks and other assorted poultry and head back to the house. As I go in I noticed that the ash bucket beside the door is looking a little full and make a mental note to empty it later – and that’s when the penny dropped…!


I called the dog over and sat her down, I pointed into the bucket and asked her if she had been in the ashes (no reference to the Cricket) – she looked at me and wagged her tail with that “aren’t I a clever dog” look – needless to say the bone has been dug out and buried properly.

Monday, August 3, 2009

A year on

It was a lovely weekend, the sun shone; we had warm days and freezing nights. The boys had a sleep over to go to this weekend, so the Cook packed them off early Saturday morning. I had the day to myself, after feeding and doing all the general farm stuff of course. So, there wasn’t much time for anything apart from feeding, making feeds and sorting the green feed. I’d only just finished doing the green feed when Dave called me and said he was bringing out another load – great.



We spent an hour unloading a ute full into a pen, then we decide to have a cuppa. When we’d finished and moved back ventured we found the pigs had made a cunning escape from pigopylus and raided the feed pile – it was too late to do anything about it, so we just let them all out to feast. There were a lot of fat and round pigs by dinner time. We heard nothing out of them that whole night – apart from greenhouse gas emissions.



Sunday was National Tree day and I spent the morning at Jacks Gully helping to plant trees. By midday t was time to head home and I arrived back just before the Cooks mate Jane turned up with the kids and a new Goat. So now we have four goats – although this one likes to hang around horses more then the other goats.

The three poddy piglets are growing quickly, they followed us around all weekend squawking and grunting – worse then the boys. The Cook did a lot of cooking and we are now resupplied with ANZAC biscuits for the next few days.



The Cook, Jane, Max and the three little pigs - looking for the goat


To top off the weekend we had high winds, up to 100kmph. The winds were caused by a cold front moving across Victoria – by this morning we had a full on dust storm raging. The pigs movable shelters lived up to their names and weren’t to be seen, the bread trailer – all 1.2tonnes of it was blown across the paddock and ended up resting against a fence post next to the pig shed.


Dust storm this morning


I nearly forgot - on the way in to town this morning I spotted these characters taking shelter from the wind.


On another note the blog has been going for a year now – over 7000 hits and 245 entries later - thanks everybody….!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

What's Fatso doing?

Fatso is the closer pig


What’s Fatso doing today? She is busy as usual, rummaging through the grass looking for more food. Yesterday she decided she wanted to come into town with me and it took ages to convince her she wasn’t getting into the car. Finally I had to cut her up an apple from one of the barrels to get her attention away from the car. By late morning I was rescuing her from certain damnation whilst hunting through the Cooks onion patch.

As lunchtime arrived, Fatso was tired and took a nice nap in the sun out side the pig house, she likes it in the sun and can often be found resting her eye’s when it’s high. By two O’clock she was out on the ploughed field getting stuck into some fresh delicious grass. When I drove out to pick up the boys her and Floppsy galloped back to the trailer and took up positions whilst they await the boys return – because the boys fill up the bread baskets in the afternoon and Fastso gets to sit in the trailer and eat anything she wants.

The boys spoil her a bit. Once the bread is done and the feeds are out, Fatso – so full she would surely burst finds a nice warm spot between two of the mothers and cuddles up for a nice sleep, ready to go again in the morning. She’s always the first one up and she is always comes running out squealing away to greet me in the morning.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Brand new pigs

new piggies


We all had a very busy day today, picking up feed, fencing, playing and unloading feed. Poor old Cook got attacked by pigs bringing in the shopping after a night duty. One of the pigs managed to break open her apple bag and spill apples all over the paddock. She came running in looking for some help - but as always the pigs won in the end.


We went out to feed tonight, one of the pigs was looking pretty big this morning - yes it was one eating apples, anyway she had eight piglets at 5pm and mum and piglets are doing well. Luckily I'd put a new wall on the pigs house, it started to rain jsut after she had finished.


Anyway - tomorrows Monday, start of a brand new week.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Picture to follow

The big black Wild Boar came back yesterday. The first time Harry frightened it by bellowing out to his mother. It headed off for the river and everybody thought it had gone.

Unfortunately it came back later when the sun was going down. The Cook chased it down the river – then went in looking for it…..???? Anyway, she was hunting through the reeds when she spotted a big black shape coming towards her, she froze and it picked up speed. I still don’t know what she was thinking, but she picked up a big stick and was about to bludgeon it to death when – luckily, she realised, in the murky light of dusk - that it was the dog not the Wild Boar.

Lucky dog. Luckier Wild Boar, I’ve been on the wrong end of a walloping form the Cook a few times now and I’ve never won. It would appear that the rain brings the Boar down out of the hills, the first time we saw him was after some rain.

Well, it was rain of a sort, about 4mm all up – not much, but enough to keep the feed growing. Today is beautiful; the Cook has taken both the boys off for hair cuts and long pants before the new term starts. Unfortunately I’m working off farm today and can’t make the most of it – but there is always tomorrow.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Another good read ....well,

Another article from the ABC Rural site


Capitalism traps intensive farmers

By Kim Honan
Thursday, 23/07/2009

A visiting animal philosopher says capitalism has trapped intensive farmers.Jes Harfeld from Aarhus University in Denmark also says that free market systems means animals get treated as objects.He says farm animals need to be treated as individuals, and not as units or commodities."

An un or under-regulated free market capitalism will give us a framework where the animals can only be objects," he says.He says unlike animals humans are subjects and individuals and believes animals should also be given this right. "We are subjects that have a mental life, can feel pain, sorrow, happiness and through ethology we have learnt that animals aren't that far from us in that respect," he says. "They should be somehow regulated in a way that they do no become objects, not even in the system of capitalism."

He believes farming with free range give animals more of an possibility of expressing its normal positive behaviours. "These are behaviours that will show you that they are subjects, individuals with a mental life," he says."If you're a sow in a sow stall or a chicken in a little cage it would be very difficult for you to show any of these behaviours and you will easily become an object."Mr Harfeld says getting rid of factory farming is the answer but the responsibility doesn't entirely lie with the farmer. "It's important to notice that these farmers are trapped in a system, they are trapped in a system of free market capitalism," he says."Many of these people would not be able to do farming if they did not do intensive farming."Mr Harfeld comes from a farming background in Denmark and sympathises with farmers. "I feel very much for the farmers because they are under attack from so many sides," he says."There are the animal welfare people, the government and the systems, they get new rules all the time." "And because they are caught in this market system as well, I feel for the farmers but they are part of the solution as well."The young animal philosopher, unlike Peter Singer, does eat meat. "I look at this way: I work with farmers all the time and I have seen farms and I've seen places where the animals lead extraordinarily good lives," says Mr Harfeld. "The animals would certainly not be living these lives if there were no such thing as agriculture and if we create welfare enough within the system - enrichment, possibility of positive natural behaviour and all that - I think agriculture can ethically exist."


In this report: Jes Harfeld, PHD fellow, Aarhus University, Denmark.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Slow down..............


I had the chance to talk to Daryl Deuschers near Stanwell yesterday – he’s an interesting fellow. He has a rare breed turkey farm where he grows and processes both common and rare breed birds for commercial sale. He was talking to me about his concerns because people don’t understand what the value is in free range or rare/heritage breed. He has an awful time getting people to even buy them from him for the table regardless of how good they are. So, I’m going to get some turkeys off of Daryl – just need to work out how?

A Lot of people don’t know that Turkeys were being farmed by the Native Americans before Columbus. It’s sad to see that the viability of a species like this, and there are more than one, rests on the single issue of wether or not people would eat it. I suppose it like fashion and music there is no such thing as personal taste or styles anymore its all about commonality and trends.

Biodiversity doesn’t have to only concern native species, I know in Australia there is a hang up about native verses introduced species. People get flustered about ferals and weeds and don’t understand that domesticated stock is part of our food or agricultural biodiversity.

Personally I still have problems understanding people’s belief that intensively farming animals is justifiable and proper. The only obvious reason it is necessary is because of mans over-urbanisation and overpopulation; and it’s only going to get worse – in both instances. I could go on about the things but I would just upset the Cook – and now my Dad (Hi..!!!) reads this I have to be extra careful.

The article I posted yesterday goes some way to explain how entrenched the ideas that food assembly lines or factories are the answer and that animal welfare isn’t a consideration when people are food shopping. I know the sample size was small, but it is sad to think people can be so unconcerned about the single most important thing in their life.

In contrast, I had lunch with a group from PNG today; they were very entertaining and friendly. But, when you talk to them about their priorities, it’s not a plasma TV or new car or even a mobile phone, it’s about food. Either, having enough and being able to share with family and friends or having good food, fresh from the garden and straight into the table. I really enjoyed talking to them and hearing their stories about how they prepared and enjoyed their pigs. I’d be a rich man in Moresby; they told me I would easily get 900 Kina for a good grower pig. (hmmm…900 Kina x 60 x $AUS = $$$$$$$$$) But, it’s more then just the money.

If you jump over to the Duck Herder’s Blog you’ll see a brilliant example of how someone can regain that connection with the realities of food and the seasons. The world needs more Duck Herders, Dave’s and Hughes and Cooks. I must print off Mrs Duck Herder’s recipe and get the Cook to chase up some nettles – I’m sure I saw some in the pig paddocks on the weekend and I think she has been busting to try them.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Heads Up.

This is from the ABC Rural website and is very concerning when it comes to animal well being and slow food - the last few lines speakj volumes about peoples ability to adapt and change. More about this tomorrow.


Study finds little awareness of factory farming

Tuesday, 21/07/2009
Preliminary findings from a study to be released next month on attitudes towards farm animals and factory farming have surprised researchers.
Forty-eight people from both regional and metropolitan Australia were involved in surveys and focus groups as part of the RMIT University study.
Research fellow Dr Iris Bergmann, from the University's Global Cities Research Institute, says it didn't expect the extent of the lack of public awareness about factory farming.
"One of the most amazing findings was the little knowledge that there is amongst the general population about what actually happens to farm animals in factory farm situations, as to the welfare of farm animals," she says.
"But also the impacts, the complexity of the impacts of factory farming, is little known."
Dr Bergmann says the study was designed to intially find a broad range of views, but researchers plan to develop a large-scale survey that establishes data for the general population.
She says the two farmers who participated in the study did not oppose factory farming.
"In this case, the two farmers would not consider free-range situations," Dr Bergmann says.
"They thought factory farming situations for animals were the best for the environment, and in particularly for the economy and to run a sustainable business.
"One farmer specifically said he believes animals are bred for that purpose."

Yummy.....!!!!!


I was going to tell you about what happened last night – but then I got these and I just had to share them with you all. Or maybe just one of them, this is the pig that went for the drive in the Masarati - which is a good reminder to never get into a car with somebody you don't know. Thanks to Carolyn for the picture.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Sunday


The jury is in and the wood fired roast pig gets full marks. Hopefully I’ll have some pictures of the results for tomorrow’s Blog – there are heaps of left over’s, none for me however….!!!!!

The pigs spent a quite Sunday grazing over the river flat, with the goats and George of course. George raced the car down the drive when he saw the Cook return from her truffle lunch – and he beat her up the driveway.

The Cook had a terrific lunch and is full of enthusiasm for truffles again. This will mean more fencing and hard work for me – but she’s the boss. We will have to carefully decide exactly where they will be planted; I think the last spot was too close to the pigs and the power lines, so next time we’ll choose a better, smarter spot. Our soil and temperature are perfect for truffles here and there are already a number of growers close by.

I fixed the electric fence for the time being, just glad I don’t have a pace maker - yet. I think I need to go back around the whole lot and replace some of the work I’ve done previously. One big mistake I made was not being able to isolate individual paddocks. I think I can fix that without too much effort or cost. I also needed to use more steel posts in the hinge joint parts, the little pigs have no respect for that stuff.

I will also need to finish the front paddocks and put a hot wire around the river flat later on just to stop the young pigs getting too adventurous and heading for the highway.