Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Young Ben is the proudest kid in Bredbo this morning – and rightly so. Last night, unbeknown to him, he was awarded the top of his year at Monaro High School. He was also awarded the top in two subjects and received an award in recognition of his achievements in Maths outside the School. Both Mum and Dad had a tear in their eye when he walked up to receive his award – we are so proud. He's the one on the right – check out those curls!
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
This is an enmail I recieved last night from a pig I sold a couple of weeks ago (I didn't know it could type or I wouldn't have sold her).
I did not realize at first what was happening but I am deeply disappointed that you abonded me in such a way without even saying good bye. I arrived at this strange place where I had to stay over night in this awful trailer next to a strange pig lady with some funny spots on her coat, she was not nice to me at all, next morning we were unloaded into a paddock and I felt so lonely. Then there was this man with this foreign accent who tried to touch me all the time.
But finally I have settled in , the other pig lady is quiet nice to me now - her name is Lotti and we eat from the same plate, and I enjoy by now the different diet - no boring Wonder White anymore but some green grass and would you believe it some organic ( don't know what that
means) Coconut flour in the morning for breakfast and some potatoes for dinner!! The only problem is that there is a constant garlic smell in the air! Very annoying indeed.
All in all I feel very happy and at home now and I do not miss you at all anymore!!
Olga (they call me Olga now - not very funny)
Thursday, November 17, 2011
So I managed to borrow a couple or three hens from friends and was given some fertile eggs from another friend who had recently bought a couple of hens that were running with a rooster, but had wormed them and didn't want to eat the eggs - sigh!
|The Black ones are Plymouth Rocks|
In response to our current snake problem Old Nev sent us one of those Snake Repellers, they work on sonic waves and deter the snake from coming to close - Thanks Dad, we'll let you know how well it works. We'll put it in the garden first as that's the place we see the most, and The Cook spends most her time.
Yesterday we received a package from the Diggers Club, The Cook had put in a combined order with another friend, thanks Annette, for some seeds and plants. So we spent an hour in the pouring rain last night planting things.
Speaking of rain we've been getting some, Spring rain is great! However alot of farmers are concerned that we didn't get any winter rain and that will affect the pasture growth later on in the year - we'll see how it goes.
Monday, November 14, 2011
Sunday, November 13, 2011
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
The Cook took this photo on the weekend, reminds me of my days as a lose head prop in the Army Rugby Team. These guys have really been fun to have a round, they stick together, they make funny noises and they turn up in the strangest places. Last week I was doing the pigs water, I heard a piglet grunting – I thought down by the river. It was getting dark and I thought maybe one of the piglets had been caught by a snake. So I grabbed a shovel and headed down towards the gate. As I went past the old windmill I heard the little grunting sound again, I looked down the well and there was a piglet! Luckily we still have one small child, he was lowered down into the well to rescue the little fellow. The well is only eight feet deep and dry, luckily filled with old leaves so it was a pretty soft landing.
These guys also ended up in the Canberra Times on Grand Final Weekend – with 22 of them and all being black and white I thought it was a sign that it would be a Collingwood final
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
I thought I'd gather together all my threads of thought about our permaculture going's on into a single post. I'm also doing this from Word 2007 which has a publish to blog feature.
Zone 1. Well so far this has been a total disaster – let's ignore it for a while longer.
Zone 2. This is where the action is, all except one of our newly planted fruit trees has survived the winter. Unfortunately one of the locally acquired apple trees perished – these things happen, and luckily we have a couple of replacements in pots ready to move in. The cook is busy exploring the garden beds and picking out the weeds between all the things that she let go to seed. She has never had much success with carrots until now, seems self seeding is a good way to grow them. And like everything else in our lives we have no control over it.
We've made a huge potato bed this year which has been filled with a variety of different spuds. We're planting them under layers of mulch this year – so I've got to get more mulch. It was interesting to see after about an inch of rain the water began pooling in the contours of the potato patch – which is what is supposed to happen.
This weekend I'm fencing around the Solar Power Station and we are turning the ground around that in to gardens as well. I'm planning to grow pumpkins, beans and corn in that area. Once I've fenced I also need to move the water trough as well.
Our asparagus is shooting up, tasty little suckers they are, I've only tried a couple so far. The strawberries are all coming back after the pigs dug them up at the end of winter, so we are interested to see how they bounce back. The raspberries are spreading as well and we're looking forward to a good crop of those.
I've almost completed transporting my 1000 bricks from Canberra to home. Once I have them all at the house I can get the bobcat in to level the pad area for the outdoor kitchen, the bricks are for the smoke house and the base of the wood fired oven.
We've installed a proper watering system this year. I'm using wobble tees on four foot posts to water the veg garden and potato's, I'll do a similar thing for the pumpkins and corn. It works – but you can't have too many on a single line and, to make it work better I need to step down to 1 inch pipe from the 1.25 inch.
This weekend is the Murrumbateman Field Days, which we always go too. The Cook spied cheap mulch out that way the other day so we are taking the trailer to bring a load back – permaculture involves a lot of mulch and the sooner we can make out own the easier it will be.
The Bees are busy, all the hives are active and working hard, I'll have to check the Queens in the next couple of weeks to make sure they are up to the season. I'm hoping to harvest enough honey to see us all the way through the year.
Last year I built a worm farm, but we decided not to put worms in it until spring – I filled it with cow manure from the paddocks and let it sit. We were having problems with one of our bathtub troughs so the Cook decided to change one of the worm farm tubs for the trough – she discovered that we had been farming worms all along.
Zone 3. We had a nice surprise the other morning; our Black Angus cow 'Becky' had her first calf, we haven't been able to get close enough yet but we're pretty sure it's a heifer.
Zone 4/5. Due to last year's season we had an explosion of Serrated Tussock, I'm still dealing with is around the house and front paddocks. Out the back it just dominated a lot of places; I decided to get in on the councils helicopter spraying and we managed to get 16 ha of unmanageable weeds dealt with. I know spraying isn't a permaculture type solution, but we needed to compromise on this to stop the problem deteriorating.
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Thursday, August 11, 2011
|This the hole in the bathroom window - the window is covered in ice -it's 9am|
But of course, things are still happening. We had kids’ soccer on the weekend, visitors up to the wozzu and jobs that went undone.
I bought the Cook a new toy, it’s big and red and hopefully will make her busy life a little more bearable. It’s the biggest garden tiller you’ve ever seen. You may recall that we use our pigs to do a lot of the digging around our place, but sometimes we need to finish things off a little better then the pigs are capable of, and the poor old Cook has a crook back, so digging isn’t something she likes doing. Hopefully as the ground becomes better we won’t need to dig.
In a perfect world, and following permaculture principles of low energy inputs this is more desirable, however we need to get to a point where that is possible for us.
I bought it home in the small trailer, we used ramps to load it on, but I don’t have any of those at home. I decided if I unhooked the trailer I could tip it up and roll it off. There was nobody around when I needed to unload so I did it myself, I untied the tiller and then I unhooked the trailer, unfortunately the tiller was at the back end of the trailer and the trailer tipped up rather suddenly. The tiller rolled down the tailgate and headed down the hill – strait for the cooks car, holy crap! I gave a semblance of a chase and managed to knock it off course just before it hit the car, not so lucky were three pigs, a dog a rose bush and the back fence, I haven’t told the cook yet.
We had the chance to give it a run on Sunday and managed to turn over the whole garden in less then an hour – that used to take us four weeks or more. We’ll have to change the way our garden beds are, but makes it possible for us to really start thinking about our option s for a market garden or CSA.
We had some seriously cold days last week, I think it was Friday when we had the coldest day in the district for 17 years. The diesel in the car turned to jelly and I couldn’t go to work until 10am when the truck had thawed. Unfortunately the Cook pumped water on the Thursday and I didn’t empty the pump, so when I went down to pump on Sunday it was sitting on the side of the river split open like an oyster – bugger.
It’s going to take a few weeks to repair so I’ve had to replace it, we’ll have a spare now I suppose.
I started picking up the bricks for the wood fired oven on Saturday, in the rain with Harrison, 1000 bricks is a lot, specially when your loading them by hand.
Thursday, July 28, 2011
|This was the view down the drive at 7am this morning|
|Frozen thistle - covered in frost|
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
This is something nobody else will care about – but I do,
Where I grew up we had a country music radio station, there’s not one out here, nor can I access one across the internet – and I don’t like the US ones either. So at home we tend to have the AUSSTAR tuned to CMC a lot. My all time favourite country band is Alabama, I grew up listening to them. Theirs was the first tape I bought, the only record I’ve every owned and the first CD I ever purchased and played. It used to be a ritual for me to play the Alabama Christmas album every year, until it mysteriously disappeared.
As a lad I listened to Alabama late at night, as way back as 1980, we listened to Alabama when we made our Friday night trips to the Canungra Pub, or something like the Rathdowney Dance or on bowling trips to the Gold Coast. I could never get the guy who played the music at the local Rodeo’s to play it – his loss (I made him listen to it on the way to work instead). I took my Alabama tapes with me when I joined the Army and listen to them all the way through recruits and Puckapunyal.
I had Alabama playing in the Hilux the first time I took the Cook out , that was in Townsville, and most of the times I took the Cook out. We even managed to go to an Alabama concert when we were in America back in 1993 – it was their last concert for a while and it was in Nashville, Tennessee – I’ll never forget it, I’d wanted see them for as long as I could remember. We even went to their home town of Fort Payne Alabama – people really do drive around with deer tied to the front of their cars.
I often remember their songs whilst I’m doing stuff around the farm – one of the more common ones being ‘I’m in a hurry and don’t know why’ closely followed by ‘Can’t keep a good man down’ – and of course whenever I’m thinking about the Cook it has to be ‘Close enough to perfect’.
Anyway, the other day I had CMC on whilst I helped get the kids ready for school – I was dropping them off. A song came on, I couldn’t see the TV as I was in the kitchen, I said to the kids “that sounds like Alabama – who is it?” We have the smartest 12yr old year 7 kid in Cooma living at our house and he said “Brad Paisley” and I said “are you sure? Sounds like someone else”.
As the song went on I started to recognise rifts and lines from old Alabama songs so I just had to have a look. It was Brad Paisley – he was super imposed onto old Alabama film clips, interesting I thought, then the song followed an old and familiar line and who else but Randy Owens, Teddy Gentry and Jeff Cook singing the chorus from ‘Mountain Music’, they’re looking old, but – I was back in the 80’s, for a second or two.
And the kids nearly missed the bus.
So there you go after 31 years a great band can still make a Bill Board number one hit and bring the memories of those 31 years flooding back like it was only yesterday.
(google Old Alabama )
Monday, July 25, 2011
And speaking of TAFE, I’ve been asked to run a field day for the local TAFE on the farm. They want to look at planning conservation work, incorporating NSF activities in a conservation setting. As well as that I’ve been invited to submit an abstract to talk at the 2011 Harald Jensen Lecture run by the NSW Branch of the Australian Society of Soil Science.
There have been a number of NSF days and meetings, more Field Day planning and general stuff. I attended a talk this week about farm biodiversity and food production which focused mainly on biological farming techniques, which are different to biodynamic farming by Maarten Stapper. It was an interesting talk and I was glad I went as it helped me better understand where biological farming fits into the whole picture.
|Sausages drying on wine barrels|
|I called in to visit - nobody was home, but I know what they do when they aren't making gardens!|
Friday, June 3, 2011
The workshops will cost around $150 for each weekend, and numbers will be limited to 15 people per course. If your interested leave a commetn with a contact and I'll send you more info closer to the date.
Thursday, June 2, 2011
I finished my Permaculture Design Certificate over the Easter break. I met a lot of really nice people and learnt a lot as well. The course covered a lot of theory, but due to it not being a live in course there was not a lot of hands on. The Cook mocks me now because I tell her things she has been trying to tell me for years – I know – she’s always right, I should listen to her more – I’m a bad, bad man.
Last weekend we had a moment of confusion when Harry came in and told me we had a wild pig in the pig pens. I went out to look and low and behold a young boar had managed to force his way in with the sows. He was a very handsome young fellow, black and white – he looked like a Bentheim Black Pied, a rare native German pig which is crossed with the Berkshire in Europe, the only reason I say this is because I saw an add for one the other day (look them up on google).
I have done a little research and found that nobody has a record of these pigs ever coming to Australia – but somebody has one advertised for sale 100km from our place – in the same catchment. I’m pretty sure he was wild, but he did seem rather at home with the sows – anyway, I had no choice but to dispatch him. The Bottle Tree Creek/Rock Wallaby guys had a pig incident the other day as well I read – I wonder if they got that one?
I’m not a big reader – but since my course I’ve got dozens of permaculture ebooks to read. Somehow I’ve got to find the time, there is one I’m downloading at this very moment titled ‘Trees on the Treeless Plains ‘ by David Holmgren and is a revegetation manual that provides a design system approach and principles applicable everywhere to assist in the development of local strategies and design solutions. I reckon I’ll find this very helpful for our place and for a lot of the places we visit doing NSF work. I might even do a review.
It’s busy going forward as well, weeds to kill before an inspection in July, Kimberley from up at Jerangle is coming down to look at pigs this weekend, more field days to organise – not here thank goodness, and a long weekend of fencing – somewhere in this lot I’m going to have to get more pig food as well.
Jeez! I nearly forgot about one of the most pleasant days we’ve had out on the farm all year. Back a couple of weeks ago the Cook organised with another family or tow to have an apple crushing day – her hope was that somebody would be able to work out how our fruit crush works so we could make some apple cider.
So anyway we had a yard full of people, some copping, some mashing and some crushing, there were kids and dogs and by the end of it we had more juice then any of us knew what to do with. We’ve still got apple juice in ice cream containers in the freezer. So we now know how to crush the apples next is making the cider – Mrs D any ideas, you’re the alcohol specialist?????
Monday, May 16, 2011
Thursday, April 14, 2011
During the week on the way home one evening I spied a grove of Honey Locus trees on the side of Adelaide Avenue. These are great fodder trees and resist cold better then the carob trees. Animals feed on the large seed pods they drop in autumn. I pulled over and filled a feed bag with pods and took them home. Unfortunately, the pigs have found the bag and I’ve lost some of the pods – but at least they like them.
So the next Saturday a friend, Paul, from the NSF and I spent the morning out on the quad bikes seeding the top gully, I think we managed to do about and acre or so – now we need to wait for spring and see what germinates.
I attended a presentation about the water/plant cycle and its affect on Climate Change. This dealt with the establishment of micro climates to help cool the planets surface and about how if we control the amount of solar energy used to do activities other then just heat the soil we can increase productivity and mitigate the some CO2 generating processes.
All the Cook was do was look at me and laugh, she had me sit on the lounge and put a bag of frozen corn on my face – that didn’t help, but at least I couldn’t see her laughing at me, just hear it. Poor dogs got a couple of stings as well.
Thursday, March 17, 2011
|NSF Booth Cooma Show 2011|
|Lamb after Cooking|
|Lamb after eating|
Our feed supply man Greg, has come down with a sudden and very serious illness – I hope he gets well, and the Cook and I wish him all the best. Unfortunately we can’t get our feed that cheap or as good a quality anywhere else, so I’m off to Griffith this weekend to pick it up, that’s about 350km away to the west. It’s still cheaper then getting it here, and if I get a double order cuts down on the extra cost as well.
We’ve sold so many pigs this year. I’ve lost count of how many have gone, and last week we received an order for 20 over the next 4 weeks. So as well as driving to Griffith I’ve got four trips to Sydney in the next couple of months. On a rough count, we’ve gone from nearly 100 pigs to about fifteen or less by the time these leave. We plan on getting back to just our 5 foundation sows, their piglets, Little Pig, Floppsy and Fatso and the two boars. Specially now our feed man is out of action.
We have a couple of regular customers Ivan and Zvenda (sp), they have ordered another two weaners and are taking our oldest barrow to make into sausages/salami’s for us – half each. They are lovely people and ply the Cook with home made wine for a reduction on prices. They bought over a lovely shiraz the other day which we shared at the open day – I don’t drink, but was told it was very good.
Our Solar power station goes in a month which is very exciting. I’m waiting for the design drawings to come so I can get the holes and trenches dug – another job to do.
We’ve almost finished the first stage of new fencing for the Permaculture project and, probably not this weekend but the next, will have that finished. The small bull is back and the other bull and our cow are somewhere down the creek just waiting for it to be finished. I’ll get it slashed next week so that it’ll have fresh growth in time for winter.
So we are looking forward to apple picking and acorn collecting over the next few weeks as well – they say there’s time to sleep when your dead.
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
|The Cooks Pumkin Vine|
|The Cooks favourite|
|Harry helping fence|
|Tiberius sitting and Lisa Laying down - water trough tipped over.|
|Lucerne Paddock - the little pigs love this.|
Monday, February 28, 2011
8. Gate and hinges. The larger the gate the better, you may need to get a tractor into the paddock or back up a float to transport a pig.
10. Insulated wire and joiners for the electric fence.
11. Cable ties, and
12. A good sense of humour or the ability to swear like a trooper.
Thursday, February 24, 2011
Our story this year is also about how ordinary people survive extraordinary events. Part of what it means to be a Queenslander is to laugh in the face of adversity. As I travelled through flood ravage towns I witnessed our sense of humour act as a source of strength.
At the Helidon evacuation centre I met an elderly couple from Grantham whose home had been taken by the waters. As they stood shivering before me the elderly gentleman was too overcome with grief to speak.
His wife, who was missing her top row of teeth, stepped in with all the tenderness of a lifetime partner and said; "Premier, this is my husband. The waters rose fast and I had to leave my teeth behind to save him. Right now I'm not sure I made the right choice."
They lost everything, but they still had each other, and they still knew how to laugh.
Stories like this that have been told and retold across the state. They have raised a smile amongst the misery and have they raised our spirits in our darkest hours.
These are stories told by Queenslanders, like Baralaba piggery owner, Sid Everingham, who was asked by a local reporter if he'd suffered any stock losses in the floods.
"I've had 30 sows and pigs go down the river," he replied.
The next day the front page headline said '30,000 PIGS SWEPT AWAY - PIGS FLOAT DOWN THE DAWSON". The locals wondered how they'd missed the avalanche of pork. Maybe pigs do fly after all.
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Thursday, February 10, 2011
Here are the items I’ve found essential for building your pig fence;
1. Good fencing pliers. Fencing pliers can range in price from $25 to $100 and as time goes by you’ll lose a few. I like to have a pair with the rubber grips for doing electric and a set without for tying Cobb & Co hitches.
2. Wire spinner. I bought a good one of these from Waratah; problem was it took me two years to work out how to use it. Since then it’s been a dream, you can’t run wire with out one.
3. Wire strainers. I bought an average priced set of strainers years ago and they have never let me down, I also bought two sets of the waratah ones when I bought my hinge joint strainers and they are just crap. They don’t always chain, the jaw springs gave out after a couple of uses and the wire grips chew the wire – I would avoid them at all costs.
4. Steel post driver. I have two and a pneumatic one. The mandrolic version is good for quick jobs, but if you’re putting in a hundred posts nothing beats the pneumatic driver. Steer clear of the Chinese copies (about $599), I got mine from Marchant Engineering in Sydney (about $2000) with a petrol driven compressor, it works a dream. I’ll probably invest in more air tools as I go.
5. Steel post lifter. You can’t get steel posts out with out one. Make sure it has a good solid large foot plate other wise you’ll just sink it into the ground when ever you use it.
6. Fence post shovel. You need a good one, I like the wooden handle version, I’ve had mine now for twenty years.
7. Heavy crow bar. You’ll need one with a tamping end. Don’t get the light weight versions, they may be easier to pick up but they bend easily.
8. Bolt cutters. For cutting wire, much easier cutting wire with bolt cutters then fencing pliers.
9. Shifting spanner. For attaching hinges for gates.
10. Level or plumb bob. For getting those posts strait.
11. Tape measure. Make sure it’s at least 5m, you loose a lot of these – and I’ve buried a couple down fence post holes as well.
12. 10lb sledge hammer – everybody needs a sledge hammer, don’t go cheap here. I’ve broken the head of a Chinese made sledgy, a rather large piece sheared off and hit me in the face whilst banging in a post once, so go for quality with a good handle.
13. 20 Litre bucket – for wire off cuts and carrying tools.
14. Fencing clip pliers. These are used to attach chicken wire or mesh wire to your fence. There are two types, and we use both, made by white’s wires; the plier’s type is fine for small jobs. The other is a spring fed pliers; they hold about 50 fasteners and are great for bigger jobs.
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
1. Are you farming free range or are you just running them in a pen. This is important because it relates directly to paddock size and the amount of materials you will need. From our experience pigs are happier in paddocks then pens. They do less damage to the paddock the bigger it is, and as long as they are well feed they won’t try to push out of the paddock.
2. To minimise materials, pick as flat a piece of ground as possible, small pigs will take advantage of any weakness in your fence and undulating ground provides many.
3. Make sure it is close to a water supply or somewhere you can run water to.
4. Ensure there is shade in the paddock. Remember shade moves and changes through out the day, so check the area you are putting your paddock during different times of the day to ensure there is always shade available.
5. Make sure it is close to power, solar energisers are good but prolonged wet weather or a break down can get ugly if you don’t have a backup plan.
6. Keep your paddock close to your loading/unloading facility, vet crush and sorting yards – it’s probably best having them integrated.
7. Better to build the fences for the smallest size pigs you are going to have first. So if you are planning on breeding your pigs, it’s important to start by building a fence that will keep the piglets in and the predators out.
8. You’ll need to use electric fencing; there is no other option – honestly.
9. You need to identify an area to isolate any sick animal – you can use temporary fencing like sheep panels for this. But again it will need shade, water and electricity. Isolation paddocks are best located at the front of a property were access is easy and people, like vets, who may need to see the animal don’t have to come into contact with healthy animal and risk contamination.
10. Although a flat area is best ensure the area you pick has some drainage and is not located with in a flood plain or an area that runoff drains into a dam or creek. The high level of nutrients in the soil can cause problems, like algae blooms, for you after big rain events.
11. Pigs can cope better with the cold then they do with the heat, so it’s very important if you live in a place which has regular temperatures over 25 degs in summer to have a wallow. Wallows also help with the control of parasites and other skin conditions. We live in an area were lice are a real problem and the only way to control them with out chemicals is if the animals have access to a wallow.
Please feel free to ask any questions.
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
After a while of laying in bed sweating, I decided to liberate the fan and forcibly relocate it to the bedroom – not hard she was asleep on the lounge with Dirty Dancing blurting out of the TV. At about 2:38am, the rooster started to crow, the Cook had in between managed to sneak into the bedroom and into bed. Something happened and the rooster startled her and she left the – walked past the fan, on her way out.
On her way back she trip over the fan and sent it crashing to the floor – boy, can she swear. The next half hour she spent, with a torch in her mouth, trying to reassemble our $10 pedestal fan from Aldi’s. She swore and swore, she couldn’t find parts and couldn’t fit bits back together. Finally, she stacked up enough of MY clothes around the base, a suitcase and other miscellaneous items that the fan stood on it’s own accord – but now it doesn’t rotate.
Some how she thought that all the swearing and banging and crashing hadn’t woken me up. As she very carefully climbed back in bed I rolled over and said to her – “If you had of asked, I could’ve driven a steel post into the bedroom floor and wired the bloody thing up, would’ve been quieter”
We’re still married.
And, Mrs Duck, after telling you the Ducks weren't laying the other day, they've layed two eggs between them in the last two days, isn't that a coincidence!
Friday, January 28, 2011
The aim of the workshop is to introduce people to the ideas about blending NSF with other alternates farming principles like permaculture and biodynamics. The topics we will addressing include;
1. Healthy landscape,
2. Healthy soil,
3. Sustainable production,
4. Drought proofing.
5. Food security
It’s taken me a while to discover the links between all these things, about how NSF, Permaculture, biodynamics and methods like pasture cropping are key to establishing a sustainable farming enterprise. And sustainability is the goal – in any type of season, which means all inputs have to be from on farm, non chemical and non petroleum based.
The map shows the area we will concentrate on for the project, after the workshop we will further cut it down into phases.
And why do we feel it’s important to create a sustainable farming enterprise, go here and read this - go here!
Thursday, January 27, 2011