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

Monday, July 8, 2013

Pigs in Compost

Pigs sleeping in compost - note the piglet on top the pile

Turning compost is a chore I love doping, but during this period of short days I need a hand.  I've been investigating different ways to make compost over the past months after I was asked to do a workshop for the City Farm on composting.

I've noticed that the Berekely Method of composting has it's draw backs in a cold climate.  Do what you might it is difficult to keep it hot enough in the -8 mornings.  I've tried covering in plastic and tarps - even a slab curing blanket, but nothing kept the heat going.  I also noticed I was using a lot of water, the constant westerly winds keep drying the compost out,  I started to worry about leeching nutrients from the pile because of the amount of water I was putting on.

So, after a lot of research I decided to give the biodynamic method a go and it's working really well.  I have introduced the pigs into the system to turn the compost every other day. They love it,  I just move them from one heap to another - it also keeps them warm at night - one of those permaculture win/wins.  So no more hour long session turning compost every other night , just move a few pigs from one spot to another at feed time.

Now I have time to weed between the onions I planted at solstice, lucky me;)


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Posting on the run

Lots of stuff going on at the moment, just when I was trying to get back into blogging. Wee are currently running a Permaculture Design Certificate with our great mate Trish McEwan. Trish is a really dedicated lady and puts a lot into the course. As usual we get to meet all sorts of interesting people with lots of different backgrounds on these courses. The information sharing is amazing and the depth of knowledge remarkable – and that’s the students.

Some of our PDC Students at one of Canberra's Community Gardens

We have had a fair bit of rain of late, which caused havoc with keeping pigs in for a couple of days. It would have been much easier had it not been for our neighbours cows. I can’t believe the things will get through a five strand wire fence, three strand electric fence to push over a sheep yard – and then just stand there chewing their cud.

Our new Holistic Management system is going well, but I should have seeded a paddock last week and ran out of time. Never mind, not much on this weekend anyway.
I had the opportunity to be interviewed by the local ABC radio station, on my way into the study I even passed our new Prime minister taking his early morning walk around the lake, the other day about our Urban Farm at Floriade project. It was a great experience and the interview went pretty well – the Cook even heard it and sent me a nice well done text message – aaahhhhh!

We managed to plant forty Chestnut Trees last Sunday into our pig area.  I just have to sit back for the next 15 years to see how they go.  It was a miserable afternoon when we put them in, luckily with all hands on deck and the soil being really soft the Job wasn't too onerous.  I will be muching them this weekend,  it ended up being too boggy to get in along the swales until then. 

So, one of the things I set out to do this year was to make a large barrel of Apple Cider, from locally sourced apples, for the end of year Christmas Party. We have a recipe we’ve used previously, and it worked well. But, alas, I seem not to have followed it to well and now I have 33 bottles of really good Apple Cider Vinegar. It won’t go to waste, if nothing else the pigs will drink it.

The boy’s were a little upset, they had tried the Cider before it turned and thought it was going really well, and is probably why I only managed 33 litres from the original 44 litres I put up.

Ben received the shield for academic achievement, for his year, at Monaro High again. His name is now on each shield from year 7 -9, he’s got his sites set on the end trophy now.