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

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Devil you know.

Well looking Back on the farm diary I didn’t realize how much we had done over the past twelve months. Started out with the arrival of twenty-five piglets, the kid’s first yabby expedition and a visit from Aunty Iris. The Cook castrated her first piglets a month later, I engaged in mortal combat with a couple of snakes and drove to Townsville.

And that was just the first month! Things didn’t slow down at all - the Cook rescued sheepy from the river, We had our first visit from Bush Heritage and the Cook did her Soil Biology workshop. By the end of February we thought we had things well under control – yeah right! I had only just returned from Townsville when we had a visit from Gayle, I took in CMC Rocks the Snowy’s and the Cook milked the cow.

By April we started having trouble containing piglets so we weaned the first lot. We had a soil workshop on the property, Flopsy the pig was taken to the vet for an ear infection and we had our first frosts. I started collecting acorns for the pigs over Winter, we had our first ANZAC Day in Bredbo and had a visit from Mum.

We went to a lot of field days, met a lot of interesting people and spent an awful lot of money on pig food. By May we had almost eighty pigs and the Cook went to Adelaide with the kids. We also visited the Mountain Creek farm run by Michael Croft; which was a great inspiration to us, and Ben started playing Soccer. In May we also had our first piglets inside and our first piglet die.

By june it was winter well and truly, Rusty the Donkey died, we had problems with the school bus and the pigs opened a new paddock – thanks to some help from a couple of mates. In July we had the arrival of a new calf and another attempt to milk Belle. It snowed at home and things really started to cool off.

The rest of the happenings are on the Blog, too many to repeat here.
The kids had their first Christmas holiday sleepover with four mates from Canberra. Lots of computer play, water fights and eating. Tomorrows New Years eve, have a safe one. I haven’t updated the last couple of days due to the sleep over and no spare computers.

We found out who was our 2000th visitor, who was also our 1999. He logged off and on again just so he could say it was him - good on ya Maverick!!!

Todays picture is of a Blue Devil a native to these parts - it was very windy when I took the photo, cheers

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Spinning yarns

Poor old Beryl is losing all her wool - due to her earlier fly blown drama Beryl has started shedding her wool. She's leaving it all over the front lawn, in clumps, sheets and wispy little trails. I love animals! The cooks horse knocked the front off the metre box as well, another thing to fix.

We had 5mm of rain today, three seperate storms past by us and we only recived the edge or tail end of each. Canberra recieved 25mm from what I hear. I love Christmas - Hugh FW is having a marathon on the lifestyle channel - all the River Cottages in one day, twice over.

The wind and rain kept activity slight today so not much to talk about. Tomorrow I hope to get some design for the new pig paddocks done and a little photography out the back - see what happens!

Oh, I managed to pull the pump apart dry it out and get it going again - and only two screws left over!! I'll work out were they go one day.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas everybody!!!!! Well it's warm here today, about 26 Deg, phew! it feels warmer. Kids snuck out at 5:30am and had their first peek uder the tree - the excitment was just too much. They had us up about 5:45am - way too early. Everybody enjoyed their presents, lots of DVD's and books.

The cook went straight into action and lunch preparation was frenetic. We had harrisons favourite - the four meat lunch, comprising; roast lamb, ham, turkey and prawns. Lashings of salads and fruit and some new things we hadn't tried at Christmas before, these included baked garlic.

Lots of things came straight from the farm garden - potatos, garlic and salads amoung the many. In the middle of all that, the family tradition of building a gingerbread Christmas house was undertaken and a cottage was duly constructed from specula cookies and lollies - can't wait to get into that!

Things have started top dry off out here now and I suppose it's time to start thinking about bushfires. Luckily I've still got a fire pump and the new tank we bought earlier in the year.

Well, I need to get back to farm things now, feeding the pigs and filling waters. Hope you all had a great Christmas and maybe we'll catch up during the year.

Today's picture is the Valley View Christmas Tree, after the presents were opened.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

More to the story

I didn’t have a lot of time before and I missed out an important part of the story – Once I saw how high the river was I ran inside, remember it was about 6:15am, the poor cook was still asleep. I poked my head into the bedroom and asked her to give me a hand – thinking back on it now, I don’t think she was too impressed. We waddled down to the river, me dressed for town and her dressed for bed, I grabbed the end of the black pipe and gave it a yank to see if the pump was still attached – nope nothing there! Then we realised it was the irrigation pipe not the pipe to the house. So I rummaged around in the grass and finally located the house pipe, gave it a yank, and to my great relief felt a hint of resistance.

The Cook waded into the river, in her PJ’s - water well above her gumboots (it’s a child friendly Blog, I can’t write what she actually said at this point, but apparently the water was very cold!) and dragged the pump out of the water. What a morning.

She’s gone off to Cooma now, food shopping for tomorrow. At least she has something to tell her mates about if she runs into anyone.

Oh, yeah. The Eagles came back to the house yesterday. Luckily Ben was around and managed to lock up the Ducks and Chickens before they could grab a takeaway. I was talking to one of the knowledgeable guy’s her at work yesterday and he told me that the dark eagles are older birds, maybe hunting is getting hard for these birds.

I picked up my camera as well – very nice! This is my first picture – outside my window, a white faced heron (taken through a window so not 100%).

Fat, dumb and Happy - the wombat, not me!

Yep, well today is going to be one of those days – just ask the Cook! I arose early this morning, needing to stock up on feed for the next few days, I was off to the city. I had just finished showering and dressing and was on my way out, I noticed that Archie was off the chain and George was nowhere to be seen. There was wool struwn all over the back your and I got that horrible feeling that something was wrong.

Archie came round the corner of the cars and I called George, who is usually very vocal first thing, but he didn’t come. Archie didn’t have his “I just ate the chickens” look on his face so I was put a little at ease – but I still wasn’t convinced – something wasn’t right.

Anyway I walked round the front of the house and there I saw it – George, Beryl the fly blown sheep standing near him happily grazing, phew! But I still had that feeling, something wasn’t right, then I saw it, at first I couldn’t focus on what I saw, it was totally alien!

Ben had told me how he had seen a tornado forming in the sky during the storms we had yesterday – yes Ben, I said but we don’t get tornados here. Well, front page of the Canberra Times this morning – in color is a photo taken by Mrs Leckie (see photo here ) down the road – a tornado and only miles from us, obviously Ben was right, he must have seen one forming that didn’t touch down.

Back to the main story, what did I see – the Bredbo River had risen about two metres over night and was flowing from bank to bank, and my pump was in it somewhere!
The night before I had pumped as the new flush from the previous rain had flowed down, we’d left the pump down at he river so I could pump again later. We had received 1mm of rain that day and Cooma had only recorded 11mm. Didn’t seem there had been a lot. It’ll be interesting to talk to either Steve Collins or the Cooks mate Di to see how much fell up at Jerangle and Peak View.

So now when I get home I can spend a couple of hours striping down the pump and cleaning bits before it rusts solid.

The wombat is back – left the usual calling card at the gate – I took a pic of it just to share with you all. You could say it's a poofect picture, illustrating my comments when I realised what had happened to the pump this morning.
Merry Christmas for tomorrow everyone, and if your driving anywhere I hope you have a safe trip. Thanks for all the nice comments about the Blog and can't wait ot see whats instore for next year.

Cheers and ho! HO! Ho!

From all us here at ‘Bredbo Valley View’

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Thunder but no rain

I woke to the sound of thunder this morning - unfortunately the storms missed us but it did rain elsewhere on the Monaro. Being Tuesday it was bread day so there wasn’t time to stand around and enjoy the tropical morning. Harry's at a sleepover so there’s picking him up as well.

Last night we ended up with a bit of a mess. There was a calf in the pigs paddock, pigs in the garden with the goats, sheep in the horse paddock and cattle in the sheep paddock – and nobody knows why. It’s probably good it hasn’t rained, the sheep are being mustered today and hopefully crutched. It’s rained every time we have wanted to do this – well maybe, I should pay more attention!

Trundling down the road this morning I spotted my two eagle pals sitting in a tree over looking a lovely flock of Border ewe’s and lamb’s – they were kind enough to pose for a photo, so I obliged. If you didn't know, you can click on the images to make them bigger.
BTW - I get my new camera tomorrow - can hardly wait!!! it's a Sony a350 with twin lense kit.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Less pigs

The weekend before Christmas, and all through the house – nothing was stirring, not even a gosling! That’s how it goes at our house, although we have our fair share of mice it’s the goslings that are the biggest animals in the barn.

I came up the drive on Friday afternoon to the sight of a mangy fox drinking from the horses’ water trough. Damned things aren’t afraid of anything! Saturday morning we had to separate some of the gilts from the herd for people to look at. They ended up taking two gilts and four weaner’s home with them to Boorowa. They were pretty happy with them and had a good laugh at our “racing pigs” as they ran from one end of the paddock to the other chasing one with a mouth full of bread.

Saturday afternoon we finished the paddock down in the front of the house – which was going to be for the goats, and just need to wire it up before some pigs can occupy it.

Sunday was warm, I spent most he day mowing the lawn, Jane came over in the afternoon with three Peking Ducks for the Cook. She stayed for the afternoon, wandering about and looking at things. I ventured off to the orchard down the road, I’d heard they have a good smoke house and I wanted to check things out. So I turned up and had a chat to the people who were very nice. The fed me a home made smoked pork sausage and some home made bread, it was great! They showed me around their Goose farm and vineyard and told all about how they do everything in the traditional ways. They had the most delicious cherry’s I’ve ever tasted, not as big as you get in the shops but way more flavour.

Before I left we agreed on them killing a pig and doing the smoking – maybe making some smoked bacon during winter. They gave me a loaf of home made bread and a couple of smoked sausages and sent me on my way.

The Cook and I had the sausages for dinner Sunday night – beautiful, firm and tasty!

Friday, December 19, 2008

I ain't no rabbit!

They don’t call it the silly season for nothing. Eagles look like they have taken off with a few more chickens – or should I say roosters. Yesterday we had about seven now we have two. Another duck is showing signs of a lucky escape as well.

So the chooks are staying couped up for now. We’ve had more rain, about 12mm over the past couple of days, which is good. It’s off for more feed today – highlight of my week.

Of course it’s also last day of school, kids are looking forward to that! Little do they know – lots of jobs have been organised for the rest of the year. We’ve had kangaroos in the garden, the dog does her best, but she tires easily and after a couple of goes at chasing them off chooses to ignore them.

The garden is going gang busters – but the rain has caused a few things to go to seed. However; there is enough moisture in the soil now to get us through until early January.

There seems to be a lot of talk around at the moment about a growing rabbit plague. We are certainly seeing the signs of an increase in the number of rabbits around the house, I’ll have to take a walk on Saturday and see if it’s happening else where.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Eagles have landed

Sometimes things just happen that don’t let me achieve all my daily tasks. Yesterday, being Tuesday and bread day, I went into town. The Cook asked the kids to clean out the Goslings cage, fair enough; the kids take them out onto the back lawn. Empty out the goslings and take to the cage with the fire hose. Number one sibling and his younger brother, having a good’ol time with the hose neglect to keep a good eye on the Goslings – and they escape. Too where they have no idea, a quick look reveals nothing, so they decide to go inside and wait until I get home.

Anybody see the hole in their plan. So I get home, and am greeted with – “hi Dad, we’ve lost the goslings!” What!!!! So out into the yard we go – searching the bushes, down the river, into the pigs pen and all round the chicken coup – nothing. It’s nearly dark so I crack a whopper and tell the kids find the goslings or don’t come inside – now that got their attention. Anyway, long story short, they were in the Cooks Garden under a zucchini bush.

I didn’t get in to the house until after nine pm so I was a little tired and I still had to cook dinner. But that’s another story.

Anyway, I was heading down the road this morning when I saw three eagles circling over the flats across the river. As I moved closer one of the eagles dove out of the sky and grab a lamb in it’s talons, flew off and landed on a nearby dam wall – too far away for me to help the lamb, and take a decent photo.

Monday, December 15, 2008

What happened to Summer?

Things got away from me over the past couple of days – we spent the day at Scottsdale on Friday at an African Lovegrass Workshop. It was very interesting, apart from the fact that he people form the NSW DPI and the local Agronomist were particularly rude and obnoxious throughout the day. We met a couple from Candelo who have had a lot of success with using worm tea on their love grass to make it more palatable. We will be trying this in the pigs areas, just need to round up some worms.

We finally had a chance to catch up with a friend from way back as well. He share farms Ingellara, the Biodynamic farm down the road and we’ve been trying to catch up for months.

During the Field Day, as with all days at Scottdale it rained – we ended up with about 15mm over the weekend – nothing compared to Canberra’s 53mm. Then of course we have had a couple of days of wind, now everything is nice and dry again.

I was inside on Saturday having a cuppa and chat with Matthew on the phone, I remembered I needed to fill the pigs feeds with water so I dashed out side. I had only reached the gate when I noticed a huge Wedge tailed Eagle sitting on one of the ducks in the back yard. A second Eagle swooped down and landed on the corner post of the chicken yard. Luckily I was able to scare them off and save the poor duck – which apart from a couple of scrapes and a cut to the head came off OK. Of course she hasn’t left the chicken house since.

Sunday was quite, a little bit windy and cold. I spent a little bit of time cutting down the old Love Grass tussocks in the front paddock and the Serrated Tussock down by the creek. Unfortunately when I picked up the mail this morning I had a warning form the Council that I was getting a weeds inspection after New Years – yippeeee can’t wait!
The Cooks Potato patch is looking good - in todays picture.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Bean there.

I’ve a lot of catching up to do. Firstly the garden – it’s looking great, the vegetables are coming on and things are really looking good. George is fine, he’s fully recovered form his illness. The Pigs are back in their paddocks but they have destroyed all but three of our truffle trees. And lastly, the Bull is back from the river and living with his mother again – she’s really an old cow. The fly blown sheep known as Beryl is doing well, but I haven’t finished mowing the lawn.

Still no new camera! Waiting, waiting, waiting.

Old Ted, the Bin Laden look a like, from Dubbo is supposed to be coming down for a visit tomorrow – but I haven’t heard from him yet. Matthew and Fiona went to visit Maryborough – haven’t heard from them either; and the Western Australian Nomads are moving to Karratha. I can’t keep up with it all!

The Cook can’t cook at the moment because she hasn’t an oven. But, I’ll keep looking in the papers and see if I can snag another bargain. We are spending a fortune on biscuits and snacks for the kids (yes the kids, not me – the kids!) and not having a stove also means no fresh bread or duck egg pavlova’s.

On the weekend when we were out at Jerangle we had the best feed of fresh Black Angus Steaks I’ve ever had. The guys up there really have a great place and their cattle were in peak condition – better then what I can say for my pigs at he moment.

Our cow is looking good, the Cook put out one of her Biodynamic licks the other night and the cow just goes crazy over it. The sheep tucked into it as well, I suspect there could be some fine tunning to do to the recipe before it is perfectly matched to our pastures.

Speaking of the Cook, she’s over in Braidwood today at a Serrated Tussock field day, then on Friday we’re off to a Love Grass field day – she’ll be all weeded out by the weekend. Hopefully we’ll get a heads up on what the developing story is with controlling these pests – I bet they don’t discuss the organic options.

Today spic is from the garden, enjoy.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Escaping pigs

I got quite a surprise this morning. Walked out of the house to run into town and pick up the bread, normal sort of Tuesday thing. I got to the back gate and noticed that the rubbish bin had been knocked over and garbage was spread right across the lawn. As I walked out of the gate and picked my way through the bin contents I noticed something familiar – yet strange.

Across the entire area we use to park the cars was a mass of black lumps – it was very early. I stopped for a second to have a second look when I realised it was all of our pigs. Somehow they had escaped from their paddocks and decided to spend the night asleep on the lawn.

As nice and cute as it all sounds they were now standing between me and their breakfast – holy @&%^# Batman. A mad dash across the paddock and a leap into the back of the trailer I started throwing bread out into their paddocks to lure them back – it was a brilliant idea and worked a treat! So luckily I survived.

George the lamb is getting better now as well. He was sick for a few days and we thought we would lose him, but luckily he’s fine.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Duck, Duck, Goose!

Didn’t get a lot done this weekend. The shooters came out – I think they are a little green – shot at a couple of foxes, but they didn’t hit a thing. As they were leaving the bloke that was buying the weaners arrived, he left empty handed, the pigs were too small for him and he only wanted to give us $55 each – bugger that, on your horse mate! People happily paid more for smaller ones. I wasn’t happy after spending an hour catching the little devils – and I seem to be the only one who can. I suppose it helps to be able to think like a pig. I’m not as young, thin or fast as I used to be either and by the end of it I felt like I’d done a marathon. Of course there was absolutely no sympathy from the Cook. I then went out and mowed the lawn for three hours.

The NSF guy’s came out late n the afternoon, I think the scale of our project was enough to make them think. I’m confident they liked what they saw and we’ll see were it progresses from here. We had a look at the project on the adjacent property, it was massive, it would be interesting to see the contrast between the two if we can get it all up off the ground.

Harry and I saw a fox on the way into town on Saturday – and this was whilst the hunters were still wandering around. There was a dead fox cub on the highway this morning, just out the front, so they are definitely breeding.

Sunday we went up to Jerangle with the Obie’s. The Cook has a friend up there that has about 500 acres and a house. It was lovely country – much different from ours. They have lovely trees and basalt outcrops and lots of green grass – very envious! After we arrived home I mowed the lawn for three hours.

We also took delivery of our first Geese – photos of these to come! And I’ve still got three hours of mowing to do.

Friday, December 5, 2008

It's Friday

So I’m out near the gully burying the dead pig, the dump is shut and with the fox problem, flies and summer I needed to get it disposed of sanitarily. I was filling in the whole, when the Cook comes over and say’s
“That’s near where I buried the Wombat”
“Yes, I know” I said,
“Looks like the dogs have dug it up” she qwips, “I can see a bone, down there in the gully”,
“Yes it’s a fema, I say” Now this bone is about twelve inches long and huge, I think it’s from a cow, and I’m trying not to laugh!
“Wombats have big bones – don’t they” she says – I can’t hold it any more and have a quick giggle, get caught, and after a short explanation am given the finger (not of the Wombat). Yes she keeps me entertained. But then I was the one filling in the hole.

The goats keep escaping to the rocks and inevitably one of them gets stuck. The boys have to keep going up there of an afternoon to detach them from a rock. In way of explanation; they all have a short piece of chain around their necks for times when we need to catch them – otherwise it’s near impossible.

We’ve replanted a lot of the corn and some pumpkins – which reminds me, I need to get some zucchini seeds today, in the field. I am hoping we can get enough out of it to feed the pigs for a couple of months. All that, and as many acorns as I can get should cut expenses down a little for a couple of months.

Now I’ve got the ramp for the trailer built it’s time to get some of these pigs to the Abattoir, hopefully in the next couple of weeks we’ll fatten up a couple of likely suspects and get them off, although Christmas time probably isn’t the best time to start doing this.

Gino is coming out on Saturday to take away a pile of weaners which will reduce the numbers by at least another 10 – would have been 11 until yesterday’s little fracas. That should give me the capital to do some fencing and shelter building over Christmas – the fun never stops. But seriously, once I can get some more area fenced I can start turning the pigs over, fattening some for processing and breeding from others.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Pig down!

OK – never a dull moment, It’s normal that there is a mêlée in the morning when feeding the pigs, little ones go squealing off and big ones toss smaller one’s around – nothing unusual. This morning after the dust settled we had a dead’n. One of the weaners somehow must have been squashed or knocked and ended up dead as a door nail.

This is the first large pig we’ve lost, unfortunately I didn’t realise it needed to be bleed straight away, otherwise it would have been dinner as well.

Everything is green, the river is flowing and the frogs are happily croaking in the grass. The NSF crew are coming out on Saturday at 3:00pm – yep I thought it was going to be February as well – but they must be keen – which is good we are!

Still no good camera, I’m clicking away with the Cooks one but it’s just not the same. I don’t know what photo I’m putting up today – but it’ll be nice.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

He's got a sheepish look

So the Oats are going to be ploughed in. Can’t harvest them and their not high enough for making decent straw from – looks like I just bought $5000 worth of mulch! That’s farming. Still – wouldn’t want to be doing anything else, except maybe fishing.

Looks like the fellow who wanted the weaners is back; got a message to call him – luckily I’ve got a whole stack of those to go. There might be a few going locally soon as well – people’s interest is picking up. But I don’t hold my breath. It would be nice to thin them out before Christmas.

The Cook is taking the pony out to inspect the tree seeding we did before the rain – I hope this goes better then the Oats.

There are a few ducks laying at the moment, Ben has been colleting a half dozen eggs a day. I need to find a good recipe for salting them so the Cook can make use of them (luckily she only looks at the pictures!). I think the West Australian set are hiding for some reason – they haven’t commented on anything for weeks!!!!!!!!!!

Nearly forgot The Cook won the door prize at the field day on Sunday - a free years entry into NSW National Parks, that'll be good for next sky season.

I’ve borrowed the Cooks little digital camera I gave her for Christmas – it’s OK for happy snaps, but not as good as my Sony DSC F717 was for hires shots. Today’s picture is of George the poddy lamb.

Monday, December 1, 2008

More Rain

I’d forgotten what to do on a wet day it’s been that long. Saturday we received the best part of our 52mm for the week. This brings our total for the year to about 300mm which is less the half our yearly average.

I went down and checked the oats on Sunday morning. It’s all heading and it’s only about three inches high. What the rain hasn’t ruined Buzz’s sheep has eaten. I can’t keep the mongrel things out, they go through any fence the buggers.

Surprise, surprise – the fox was back on Sunday morning and dragged off the Cook’s favourite rooster. I’m setting traps for it in a couple of days to see what I can do – but I’ll know him when I see it – he’ll be bloody fat!

Potato’s are going much better then the oats and it looks like we’ll have a bumper harvest. I finished the temporary loading ramp for the pigs as well – it’s time to lock a couple up and go get some pork made!! I have had more people enquire about pork but not many hand over a wad of readies for one yet – I know patients is a virtue.

The Cook went to the Grasslands Field day and had a ball. She met the President of the NSF who told her they were coming out in February and that Peter Andrews himself may be coming out in March – she’s very excited. I also received an email from the CMA, they may be interested in participating in the NSF venture as well – I suppose we can only wait and see. We didn’t get a grant from the Caring for our Country DEWHA/DAFF Open Grants – this year, we’ll try again next year.

Friday, November 28, 2008

I'll have a half!

It's late Friday night and I've finally struggled to the computer. We had another storm this morning and follow up this afternoon - 15mm more rain altogether. We may make it htrough another summer yet.

Being Friday I had to go into town and get feed. I was about ten minutes out when the cook rang and asked if I had taken the lambs milk powder out of the back before I left - Of course, not! Back I went - which was lucky, I was just about home when I spotted teh old black Lab making his way to the pub again. A good couple of hours before opening - he's keen. So I ducked off the road and stuck him in the back of the jeep.

I got soaked loading the feed into the jeep. Camberra had about 15mm in thirty minutes, it just pelted down (OK - keep it in perspective we are having a drought and I know Queensland gets 15mm in five minutes twice a week).

Everything is green. Remind me one day to tell you all about the TSR - I really hope the Department of Agriculture or the NSW Minister for Agriculture would disolve the RLPB's and hand the TSR's over to the Lands Department. We've landed next too the only TSR in the state that is allowed to be ploughed, and what really makes me mad is the joker who ploughs it half heartedly plants something and then nothing but weeds grow. And because it's on our western boundary - where we get all our prevailing winds from, the seeds blow straight into our place. No place for conservation farming in the old thinking around here! Luckily he's so lazy he dosen't spray the weeds or fertilize or lime the paddock.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Gardening glory

Yesterday was nice; cool, cloudy and calm. We received approximately 1mm of rain as well, of course that happened whilst I was feeding the pigs. The cook spent most of her day in the garden, with the aide of a couple of new garden tools she has almost dug the entire area over. We have Asparagus, potatoes, garlic, lettuce, zucchini and mobs of other veggie’s sprouting through the soil.

The pump was pulled up from the river last night – don’t want to leave it down there just in case we get a storm. There are storms rolling in from the west at the moment – hopefully the kids get home soon so they don’t get wet. Harry stepped on a brown snake walking home the other afternoon – it’s because he has such big feet, the poor snakes can’t get out of the way quickly enough.

Might have to build a loading ramp for the pigs this week, been putting that off for a while, but finally the time has come to roll up the old sleeves. Hopefully we get some rain tonight and not too much storm.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The river returns

Golly gee whiz – I got all excited and forgot that I hadn’t done anything yesterday. Good news is the river is flowing again and we have clean clear water. I dragged the pump down onto the river last night and started pumping as soon as I noticed the water was flowing.

Mr Fox appears to have been feeding on our pullets again. I counted them on Friday and there were eighteen – come Sunday night there were only five. We weren’t out side all weekend because of the rain, but we were out most of it. The fellow down o the village hasn’t called yet about going out shooting, I’ll have to give him a ring.

The chap who was supposed to be buying my piglets hasn’t called either. However I did notice he has his tractor for sale on allclassifieds- might be something going on there I don’t know about.

Harry, well what can I say, Harry has been bringing home his exams from school over the past few days. Needs a little work in some areas, but at least he is passing. Reading his answers I can see a very strong resemblance to the type of exam answers I gave as a High School student - this is going to be one scary ride for his mother!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Rain, hail, ice and snow - but it's November

Pretty slow old weekend – what with all that rain we had! 31mm over the weekend , and what a relief. Nothing flowing down the river yet, but we don’t expect that for a couple of more days. We’ve got more mud then the pigs know what to do with, but they seem happy enough with it.

But not only rain - we had snow, ice and hail as well. Saturday was freezing and Sunday wasn’t much better. I was supposed to go to a local Grasslands Field Day on Sunday, but due to the pigs’ houses needing some running repairs because of the gale force winds, I was about half an hour late. Just in time for everybody to be leaving. Rather not have had to stand out in the weather all day anyway.

I was wrong about the stove – it’s just the oven that’s busted, not the whole thing. At least we still have hot plates, well three out of the four, the other one never really worked.

Pictures are back, I used the Cooks little point and shoot. Not the best quality – but I am trying. In fact today’s photo is by the Cook of George the lamb, he’s getting ready for bed.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Ahhh, what the hell.

I like slow days, days where the world does nothing and you can just drift along – but that doesn’t happen anymore. I attended the NSF AGM last night, only about eight people there, but it was worth while. The committee is going to do a field visit in February, of both Valley View and Billilingra – our next door neighbour.

The Cook sent me a text half way through the meeting, seems she has blown up the oven – great, next to hot water that’s my favourite appliance! This, just after I put the last bit of “spare” money we had on lay-buying a new camera – double bugger. It was funny, the second I gave the young lad at he camera store my money I had a horrible feeling something else expensive was going to break, blow up or die.

The flyblown sheep is getting much better and is walking around the living room now with out the aid of a stick. She still likes her cold tea in the evening and lightly toasted muffins in the morning. The Cook took off early this morning for town – left her travel mug of tea and purse at home – the dill!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Rain - wonderful rain!

At last – some rain! Overnight we scored a total of 14mm, not a lot but more in a single day then we’ve had since May. Down the road at Michelago – 28km away they had over 50mm, lucky buggers.

Yesterday afternoon I had to attack the fly blown sheep with a syringe of water and blue spray to clear out the infestation in her tail. It was horrible, the damned Cook had decided to go off to work and left me with it, and yes, I did wash my hands before I cooked dinner. Last night I went out to check she was alright, we left her out on the lawn because it was clear and mild, when I got out to her I could she two sets of eye’s in the torch light. By the time I got down to her second set of eyes had gone, at first I had thought it was a goat, but I’m pretty sure it was a fox.

Whilst I was down with the sheep I heard a possum growling in the trees by the river – we haven’t heard that since we left Murrumbateman, and its nice to know they are about.

So now it’s rained we are going to have to be extra careful about fly strike over the next couple of weeks. We also have to watch how the weeds grow through the oats, and the market garden – maybe we will get potatoes.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Drought is the only news

Heres todays ABC news stories about the Monaro from ABC Rural;

The previous generation had the best of it says Monaro sheep and cattle breeder

Todays forecast rain could be a life saver for the dry south coast and Monaro. Many Monaro producers are this week making critical decisions on selling stock as water runs out. Andrew Hain is on the dry Monaro plain near Cooma. "We are the third sand dune from the airport" he jokes. Mr Hain says the previous generation had the best years on the land. However he believes the ongoing drought is part of a cyclic weather pattern that will change, eventually. "In my lifetime 1968 started the droughts, and they have followed on with monotonous regularity" he says. Mr Hain says the adverse conditions make producers strong. "There will be some tough decisions made by the end of November" he says.

Running out of water on Monaro

On the western Monaro plain, toward the mountains, Gordon Crowe is farming in the drought at Rocky Plains. He says he is making critical stock decisions this week as stock water is running out on one of his properties. Mr Crowe is a conservative stocker and still has dry feed on the property. As yet he has not had to buy feed for his sheep or cattle.

40 year drought

Dave Jardine also farms at Rocky Plains, where the dry conditions are making producers consider the stock levels yet again. he says the drought conditions have been with the district for most of the past 4 decades. "Since 1967 - 68 we've been in one long dry period" he says. He says his farm has fared better with rain this year and has had 12 inches of the average 34 inches a year. "It's been a long time since that average" he says. He says farming on one third the rain makes them resilient and canny farmers.

Record Drought

Monaro, far south coast and southern tablelands are in the grip of drought. Near the Victorian border around Delegate, David Mitchell is preparing to feedlot core breeding stock as a drought survival strategy. He will put the first 3,000 of an anticipated 5,000 breeding ewes into on-farm feedlots to survive this drought. Mr Mitchell says this years lack of rainfall is a record breaker. "Unless we get 90 mm by the end of the year, this will be the lowest rainfall on record" he says of the 82 years of rainfall records on his farm.

Big cattle selloffs

As dry conditions continue in the states south, livestock selloffs are underway at large regional saleyards. Leann Dax reports over 30,000 cattle were sold at Wagga saleyards yesterday. The Monaro is holding it's 2nd special drought store cattle sale later this month at Cooma.

Is there an animal in the house?

I keep finding hairs on my key board – I think they are mine, I wonder if I’m losing my hair? I hope not, I’d probably have a pretty ordinary looking head. There’s no water left in the river, a few small ponds further up, but nothing we can pump from for the house. I’ll have to get a backhoe in to dig us a hole in the sand in the next week or so.

There was supposed to be someone turn up and take a mob of pigs away on Saturday – but they never showed up. Don’t you hate that, I spent all Saturday morning waiting for these people and not even a phone call. I finally plucked up the courage to take a look at he oats yesterday, that’s looking pretty sad as well. If, and I mean IF, we get the forecasted rain tomorrow and the next day it may pull through, if not the oats will only be good for grazing.

Nearly all of the dams are dry, some have only mud and a puddle; the rest are just dust. It really only took a couple of weeks for things to turn around, one day the river was flowing and the dams half full, then a couple of days of wind and hot weather and it’s all changed. We have a portable tank and some troughs for the stock if things get any worse – but hopefully it won’t come to that.

Everything else is going fine, saw an enormous brown snake up at the feed shed yesterday, scared the hell out of me. I cleaned the shed up after that so I could see the floor. Goats keep escaping up to the rocks – they love it up there. Have a bloke from town coming out this week, hopefully, to shoot some foxes. I was told he shot fourteen across the river from us on the weekend, unfortunately they have to go and there is no other choice.

The Cook – god bless her, went out to check the sheep last night – any excuse to ride one of the horses. She came back with a fly blown ewe under her arm and dumped it on the back lawn/dust bowl. She ended up half shaving the poor thing from the waist back and smothered it in purple spray. Goodness knows what the sheep was thinking? Anyway, Shadow the dog got kicked out of the wood room and the sheep took her bed for the night. It seemed ok this morning – but now the animals in the house/barn are getting bigger! And to top it all off, I don’t think she washed her hands before she cooked dinner. On the up side however, the Neem oil has appeared to work on the sheep’s lice problem.

Friday, November 14, 2008

No break in the weather

Warm, with a breeze and a little cloud cover – no rain. We are seeing a lot of large clouds move across the sky but not a lot of action out of them. I’ve got a guy coming to pick some pigs tomorrow. Hopefully I can sell ten or more.

That will give me the ability to put in a couple of new fences; one around the quarantine paddock, one down the road side of the truffles and one out the back of the garden – that will keep the pigs contained and out of the veg garden.

The goats have been exploring the rocks out the back. They don’t like staying up there at night, always heading back to the house for a sleep. Funny how they never liked the house paddock before – now they won’t leave it.

Ben has his school fete tonight, that’ll be a trip into Cooma this afternoon for the Cook. She’s in the kitchen now baking up a batch or two of biscuits.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Summer is here

Boy was it hot yesterday – 29 Degs, the pigs drank nearly all their water troughs dry by 4:00pm. And here I was thinking I wouldn’t have to fill them up twice a day anymore. I sent a bunch of emails off to different people talking about projects and grant applications but I’ve received nothing back as yet.

I was out watering the truffle trees last night, I noticed that the tree in amongst all the weeds and grass was growing really well. The others, growing in the cleared area, with tree guards and stakes are all doing poorly. I think I’ll stop mowing around them and see what happens over the next couple of months. If only I could show you a picture!!!

George the Lamb and Beccy the Calf are going well. George now sleeps where Archer the dog used too. Archer now sleeps outside on his chain. Today I’m heading into the feed store for a weeks supply, must remember we need milk powder for the poddy’s.

It’s hot again today; hopefully we get a cool change tonight. Everything is brown, and so very dry – even the hardy Love Grass is dying. We’ve lost a couple of the older sheep, we’ve found three dead so far. But hat was to be expected, they were all in pretty ordinary shape when we picked then up.

The Cooked has hatched another brood of chicks, about fourteen in all, I think we have nearly thirty chicks running round – hopefully they make it to egg laying age and beyond. The cook is putting in the Turkey eggs next, we’ve got room – really, there’s no animals sleeping on my side of the bedroom YET!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Asleep at the wheel

Sorry, we had visitors yesterday and sort of threw me right out. Our visitors were from Bush Heritage, we had some discussions about what we are going to do with the conservation work and where to start. We’ve come to the decision that we need to tackle the Tussock Grass on the back sections and thicken the native pastures to increase the ground cover.

The Bush Heritage folks are really keen to help us restore the property back to its original landscape. We had a chat about the NSF side of things as well. Luckily they seem pretty open minded about this and are willing to give it a try. The next meeting of the NSF is Thursday week here at he Environment Centre at ANU in Canberra – guess where I’ll be?

I went out to the Rural Store at Hall and picked up a new water trough for the pigs yesterday as well. I’m pretty confident that he pigs won’t run out of water before we get home now. The new trough is about three times the size of the old one and I’ve put both of them out with the gang.

One the baby Boars ate the lat of the corn seedlings yesterday. The fence went down for a couple of hours, unfortunately. We plan to plant some more this weekend – should only put us a month behind, but lack of rain is the big thing. The creek is really low – wish my camera worked, I’d show you all. I’m thinking I may need to start digging the channel out from the main stream – looks like I know what I’m doing for the next week.

Monday, November 10, 2008

NSF Field Day

Weekends are wonderful things. I get to do all those things I couldn’t do on my own during the week. Saturday started early with the Cook harassing me out of bed – “You need to get up” she said, “all the pigs are in together”. Tiberius’s breeding program required him to service a couple of the sows that morning – sorry I hadn’t read the farm notice board before I went to bed.

So whilst we were out putting pigs back I caught the little Boar that I was taking out to Michelago that morning as well. The little bugger put up quite a fight, and I’ve got a good scar on my nose to prove it – I should learn to hold them better, he took me by surprise and head butted me right on the bridge of the nose. We stuck him in the trailer, threw him some bread, and headed inside for breakfast.

About 10:30am we headed off to Michelago and after driving around for a while, stop for directions and finally found the property we were looking for. It was a nice property set right in the base of the Tinderry Mountain Range. They had an old run down farm house and lots of lovely old trees scattered across their property, it was a beautiful setting. We left the Boar happily getting to know his two new companions – a pair of Saddle Back sows. From there it was into to twon to drop the kids of for yet another sleep over.

Sunday I was up early again and off to a field day for the Natural Sequence Farming (NSF) Association out at Muldoon Farms on the eastern side of Bungendore. I was stopped twice by the police on the way, firstly for a vehicle check at Hume and then for a breath test just outside Bungendore.

The field day was very inspiring; Peter Andrews was on hand to talk about NSF and how he applied his ideas to the Muldoon farm local catchment area. The results they had achieved after just two years were very impressive and it was clearly making a difference to the biodiversity of the creek and surroundings. Peter spoke about pioneering species, trees that will grow anywhere, but after tie die out and are replaced by native species. These pioneer plants help return the soil and environment back to a point where the conditions are optimal for the native plants to regain dominance in the landscape.

He also talked about how the system helped to contain fire and over time reduce the incidence of fire in the landscape. There was also a lot of talk about weed control and the role of local government and their development decisions. Overall it was pretty positive.

Having had a day or so to think about what I saw yesterday, and contemplate what it all really means I can’t help but wonder. There was obviously a lot of money involved in the property that the field day was held on – would of the project gone ahead if there wasn’t a government grant to pay for the work? Would of the owner paid for the work out of his own pocket with out the grants? Cynical I know, but, business people are just that business people.

It was nice to see that he K2C coordinator was there taking notes, it’s important that as many people from as many diverse interest groups see what is possible. After all we are all working towards the same goal in the end.

Anyway, the Cook and I will battle on, we’ll take away the lessons we’ve learnt here and apply them where we see fit. I think our own mix of conservation farming, sustainable farming and elements of the NSF will get us to where we want our property to be in the long run. Hopefully the kids will appreciate all our work when they take over the farm.

Friday, November 7, 2008

New to the family

So the fun continues - we have a new family member, George. George is a two week old Merino Lamb. Our friend Jane sent the Cook an internet add for him yesterday, I was told to call the guy and see if we could get him. Irony is that the lamb originally came form the property behind us and is from one of Buzz’s sheep. So we picked it up in Canberra and drove home with it sitting on the Cooks lap whilst she slept all the way home.

It has been adopted by Ben, or more accurately it adopted Ben and is now living in our house. So far this is the largest of the farm animals to make it into the house. He’s quite charming and sweet, has really long legs and he’s frisky, loud and tenacious.

Looks like I‘ve sold the remainder of the big piglets. This will give me a bit of breathing space to have some of the porkers fattened up for processing. It’s supposed to rain today, the weather reports now say tonight – hopefully it’ll happen soon.

I’m off to a Natural Sequence Farting field day on Sunday – it’s out at Braidwood which about 140km from here so looks like an early morning. I’ll write it up for Monday if I’m not too tired.

Hopefully Monday will see the return of Photo’s as well – still got to send the Cook off to do a few extra shifts so we can replace the old one. I’m looking forward to that!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Somebody make it rain - please!

Just when you thought it was safe to go outside! Kids left the back gates open yesterday whenthey went to herd the troublesome goats in off the rocks. The horses escaped and are now living in the rock paddock - which is OK except for the damage it will do to their feet. We'll have to keep a close eye on that.

The potatos and corn we've planted is starting to struggle - whats left of the corn anyway. We'll need to start watering if it dosen't rain in the next week. I still haven't been able to get out the back and check the oats - don't really know if I really want too just yet.

There was a garage sale in town the other day - I bought a great chicken cage for $40. We've put all the chicks in it for the time being, but Ben keeps bringing injured ones back to the house - I think there is more in the house then in the new cage. It looks like they are getting injured from being pecked - I suppose that means we'll end up with all except one in the house again. At least we'll know who's the top of the pecking order.

The Cook sprung me with the loot I'd made on the pigs and wanted to spend on fencing - now I'm off to the Rural Store to get a new trough for the pigs. In one hand - out the other!

Still have a lot of briers to clear up in the gullies, which I can't say I'm really happy about doing in summer. Every step I take along the gullies is a step closer to another snake. I saw a gaint brown snake onthe Nimmitabil River bridge yesterday, must have been six foot long or more. It wasn't there on the way, I only saw it on the way back. Hopefully we don't have too many of those buggers on our place.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

What - no pictures????

Has it only been a week? How time flies. Lots has happened over the past week, we’ve had hot dry winds, sold some pigs and fixed the Jeep. Everything is drying out really quickly now, twice last week we had hot winds over 90kph lasting all day.

The Jeep has come back, new water pump and all – works wonderfully. Unfortunately we had to sell one of the children to pay for it. The pig paddocks are bare dirt at the moment; hopefully we will get some new fencing in over the next couple of weeks which will help solve that problem. They are still digging the incredible holes in the yard – for what purpose I don’t know, but it doesn’t appear to be escape as I first thought.

I managed to get out into the back paddocks and clear away a lot of the brier bushes over the past week as well. These things are extremely thorny rose like bushes that grow anywhere. I’ve noticed that they are growing right across the district, but I am amazed they are growing so well in the dry.

OK, you might have noticed that here is no photo today – well, we had a little accident with the camera – did I say we? No I meant the Cook had an accident with the camera. She was going into Cooma with the kids, I’d left the camera on the front seat of the car so she could take some photos. Not wanting to take the camera to Cooma (it was a high end Sony DSC F757) she thought she’d put it in the washing machine for safe keeping. When she got home, she decided to do a load of washing – chucked it in and off she went. The morale to this story is that digital camera’s don’t survive the spin cycle. So I don’t know what I’ll do for the short term, I wonder how many pigs I need to sell to get a new camera.

So I was pretty upset. Anyway, this weekend we went to an open farm day at an Organic farm over near Gundaroo (that’s near where we got the sheep from). It was an interesting day and we ran into a lot of people we knew, and caught up with others we hadn’t seen for quite a while. It was interesting to see how other people approached the market garden side of things, we took away a few good ideas and the Cook walked away with some new tools. Looks like more fencing and a lot of irrigation to start putting in.

The sheep are settling in to their new paddock, we’ve lost two that we know of. Probably from age, but I’ve got to go up and take a look at them tomorrow to see how they are holding up. Hopefully I’ll get them down for crutching and drenching in the not too distant future.

Beccy the calf is a bit of a wag. Harry has been feeding her lately but he went for a camp over the weekend. So we went out to feed her, she had come right up to the back of the house looking for dinner, she had her tongue out ready to take the bottle but just wouldn’t. She wouldn’t take it from the Cook, Ben or me. As soon as Harry arrived home the Cook gave him the bottle to feed her with and she went straight onto it. I think she has problems!

Speaking of problems – I’ve got to find a better way to capture piglets. Our first paying customer arrived on Saturday to pick up her piglets, at the time they were still running around in the paddocks. I hadn’t fed them in the morning figuring I’d wait and feed them when she arrived. This was fine until I caught the first pig and put it in her horse float. After that I couldn’t catch any more. At one stage Ben was hanging onto one whilst being dragged across the paddock. All the two ladies could do was stand and watch the commotion. Anyway we finally got three of the four piglets caught and put in the float. The final piglet, a girl eluded us for about half an hour and three loaves of bread. Finally, she ran out steam – or weighted down by bread and we caught her. Next time I’ll have to feed them lots and try catching them whilst they are asleep.

Well it’s Tuesday already, the next lot of pigs have left the farm bound for Borrowa. They were a little easier to catch then the first lot, which was lucky because both the kids were at school. The two groups of people who came out both had similar stories to ours about run down farm houses with no water and atrocious plumbing, bad electrical wiring and incredible cold. As bad as that all sounds, it was nice to know other people share our experiences – and survive. So I’m nine pigs lighter and have money to expand the pigopylous - what could possibly go wrong to muck this up!

BTW – lots more happening, just haven’t had tie to put it all here yet so keep checking back for updates – photo less updates that is.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Going International

Our Blog has gone international; Ian Walthew, an Author and Blogger in France has added a link and review of our site on his catalogue of Farm Blogs. He's collecting and organising a consolidated list of links to farm blogs from around the world - visit his site and have a look at whats going on around the world. You can find him here

We had a really heavy frost last night and fear the worst for our potatoes. The Cook did have them covered with straw but they may have gown through that this week. The BOM are forecasting daily highs of 30 -31 next week, this morning it was minus four. I'm really not sure what I should be doing first!

I found this older photo on my computer and thought I would share it with you. The Cook made a lamb roast cooked in a sheath of grassy hay. It was absolutely delicious, the recipe is in Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's River Cottage cook book.
Today also marks my last day in my current job, I'm moving on with things, so I'm not sure when I'll post next. I'm hoping it will be monday, but I'll just have to wait and see. So please check back regularly - you don't want to miss anything.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Another coldie

Another cold morning with snow falling on the Tinderry’s as I drove into town. The Jeep was hauled off to Cooma this morning, looks like a new water pump and hoses.
Beccy the calf has been grazing with the other cattle and has settled into the herd well. She is drinking more now, probably because she gets more exercise.

Another piglet has been singled out for special attention. The Cook is working on a way to cope with these without having to bring them into the house – good one!
Forgot to mention the other day, the Cook and I were driving home from Michelago when we came across a small herd of deer crossing the road – this is the second time this year I’ve seen them on the highway.

Today’s picture is of a sheep I saw at the Murrumbateman Field Days - I’m not sure what breed it is, but probably a mohair type.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Loaves - but no fishes please.

How the weather changes - it was snowing on the hills this morning and we had the fire going last night it was that cold. Poor Ben has school photo's today and had to wear summer uniform, he was most unimpressed.

I had to pick up the pig feed in the little car yesterday - and it was packed. Poor old Cook had to sit on the roof, which was fine because I couldn't hear her complaining out there. She made me pick her up down the road from work so nobody saw her, with me that is!

The pigs had reorganised themselves when I got home, all the mum's and piglets are in one area now, and I don't know who is drinking from whom any more.

Feed time this morning was a free for all with the goats, horses and cattle all pitching in to help out. Animals came running from all directios to try and get a share of the fresh bread - luckil;y Shadow was ther to organise things for me.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The ABC Rural page has another of my Photo's

Just browsed onto the ABC Rural web site - they have another of my photo's on their front page! follow the link to have a look.

More pigs gone.

It was all yeee haa!!!!!! and ride'em cowgirl yesterday on the farm. Calamity Jane rode off too the lucerne paddock and brought back the bull. Having successfully relocated him back to his own paddock she drove the sheep out into the gully for a couple of weeks - I hear that Phoe the horse is about to renegotiate her workplace agreement.

We had rain last night - about another half a millimetre, takes our total up to 39.5mm for the past three months. Our average for those three months is usually about 110mm. So things are looking a little dry for the coming summer and it's already getting warm. We're hoping that at least the warmth will bring some storms - which although hit and miss sometimes are beteer then nothing.

The Cook has another lot of eggs in the incubator, and I sold another few pigs last night as well - that's nearly twenty of the thirty piglets gone. I found out last night that he NSW Department of Health has put out a snake warning - appearently there are a lot around this year and earlier then normal, I hadn't noticed.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Jeep is dead - long live the Jeep!

The Cook was looking back over the Blog on the weekend and quips “there is always something happening isn’t there!” This week end was nothing unusual. I arrived home Friday night and passed the Cook at the gate – it’s nearly dark and she’s off to work. “The bull is down on Buzz’s lucerne paddock over the back, you’ll have to go move him onto the river for the night.” Right, I don’t know Buzz’s lucerne paddock, where the gates are, or where in the paddock the bull is. So off I go on another little adventure in the darkness. I get down to the paddock and the bull is standing by the road – lucky me, I chase him around for an hour until I stumble across a gate and I move him on – ever notice how lucerne paddocks are always full of snakes! Kids are sitting down eating dinner when I get home – Harry couldn’t wait so they helped themselves.

I had to go on down to the oats paddock and do some fencing first up Saturday, by the time I’d trodden on a couple of Brown Snakes and chased a couple with the shovel I was feeling a little lonely. I fixed the fence and headed back to the house. The whole time I was there, the bull was watching me from across the river.

A fellow was supposed to be coming to look at a boar, but he never showed up. I missed the land care meeting as well, but I had a chance to catch up on a few things around the pig yards.

We evicted the piglets from the house; I don’t think they were too impressed. They keep coming up to me and pull my trouser legs for attention.

Sunday morning we were up and at it early – Murrumbateman Field Days. I was up at the crack, about 5:30am to get everything fed and watered so we could meet the Cook in town. We hurried off at about 7:00am but didn’t get far. As we came up to the gate I said to the kids “Car seems to be running a little ruff”, everything seemed OK at that point. About 2km down the road everything stopped – crap!!!! I noticed smoke coming from under the bonnet and thought – crap!!!!! I waited for the Cook to ring – I didn’t have any credit on my mobile, silly me. Our NRMA membership had run out as well.

After about half an hour I decided to try a trick I’d learnt in the Army about moving a vehicle out of danger – and to my surprise it worked. We managed to roll back into town and out the other side until we could turn across the paddock and roll down to the driveway – brilliant, the car won’t be stuck on the side of the road. We got to the house and rang the Cook and filled her in. She’d only had the Jeeps door re-attached the day before. I think this time the Jeep is well and truly dead.

So finally about 11:00am we arrived a the Field Day, had a look around, bought a book on Sheep Basics, and spoke to a guy about irrigation. We headed off home about 3:00pm to do some sheep mustering.

We needed to move the sheep up to the yards to spray them for lice and get them out into the paddock. They have de-wormed and are ready to take on the African Love Grass. The Cook and the two boys haven’t had a lot of experience with sheep, but they love getting into it and having a go. We got them into the yard no problems and the spraying went well. The Cook and Harry got bowled over a couple of times (I can laugh now they’re not here) but apart from that it went smoothly. The sheep are now out in the big paddock happily eating away.

On the way into the yards we picked up the goats, which ended up pretty handy as they led the sheep into the yards. Poor old Pricilla has lost her mate however, with Sheepy leaving the comfort of the house yard to flock with her own kind.

Once the sheep were done there was only getting all the pigs back into their own paddocks left to do. Of course when ever we go out the fence goes off and everything goes everywhere – I should have quessed.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Have a good weekend

Well it was all excitement when we got home last night. The Boar had moved in with all the sows and – well – the breeding program is in flux again. The cattle decided that the front paddock wasn’t filling their needs and moved out the back – Calamity Jane went out on her horse and rounded up all bar the young bull – he’s still over on Buzz’s oats. The older bull was found stagging around with a mob of Buzz’s Hereford cows – I’ll cop a heap of misery for that.

There are a few things to do tomorrow, some ones coming to look at pigs, I’ve got to do a rubbish run, now I need to go do some fencing out the back as well. There's also the Land Care meeting in town. Sunday will be written off with the Field Day and back to the grind Monday.

Looking forward to the Field Day, catch up with a few people, see some new tractors and drawl, check out some Wiltshire sheep and have a steak sandwich – yep what more can a bloke ask for?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

to do's

There seems to be a big difference in the way people think about sustainability. I believe it means being able to farm with out effecting the environment or any local ecosystems. Being sustainable is harder work and probably less profitable then more industrial forms of agriculture, but at the end of the day it’s the condition of your property that you’ll be judged by. So how does a farmer judge what the balance is between sustainable and profitable? I’m still looking for an answer to this one – but it’s not lots of pigs.

I would like my pigs to live in green fields, interspersed with oak and chestnut trees, how do I get there? Over the last couple of weeks I’ve tried to stand back and reassess what it is I’m doing and how do I get there. I think reassessment or review is an important part of any enterprise and knowing when to change is important. Let’s face it, pigs are hard work, twice a day feeding, lots of water, electric fencing, housing and the list goes on. I like the pigs and they have just started to bring in a bit of money – but I’ve got to change the way we do things to make it easier.

Up until now we have been jumping from one thing to the next, we didn’t have the first pig paddock finished until the morning I picked up the pigs. The chicken pen is still only half finished. The sheep don’t even have a proper paddock yet. I haven’t finished fencing off the garden or begun on the orchard – and the Boss is going to bring trees home on Sunday. We don’t have water to everything and I have to cart buckets everywhere. The cook has to water the garden from a water can and, well, you get the picture.

So it’s time for what we used to call ‘consolidation’, I need to, in consultation with the cook, prioritise what our list of ‘to do’s’ is and get on with it. And not let anything else lead me astray. Of course I’m getting hassled about the renovations to the house as well – like I don’t have enough to do!

For got to mention on Tuesday - there is a LandCare general meeting in Bredbo this Saturday, which I am going too. It’s interesting hearing what people are doing and planning on doing. Some people are Biodynamic, some are Organic and some conventional, but ever body seems to get along and hopefully learn from each others experiences.

Today’s photo is of the Cooks garlic, one of three patches she has growing around the place.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Horsing around

I apologise for nothing yesterday, I was run off my feet doing things for Ben. Yesterday was a great day with 8mm of rain on our freshly planted potato’s, garlic, corn and oats. The evening was rather cool; the Cook was up all night making ginger bread men for Ben to take to school today.

We had finally located the spare part for the Jeep door so maybe we can get this fixed before the weekend. This weekend is, of course the Murrumbateman field days, our yearly pilgrimage to the North of the region. I’m hoping to get some tools, a bit of fencing gear and maybe another John Deere hat as the young fellow keeps wearing my other one to school. The Cook is planning an assault on the plants – more trees I think.

Daylight saving is great. I can be out in the paddocks until 8:30 or later, depending on dinner. It really helps with getting the mundane things done which take up time in the mornings leaving longer on the important things.

Last night we noticed that a horse form the TSR was in the front paddock, the Cook went out to put him back with his mates but noticed he’d hurt himself. I took a torch down and had a good look at the wound; it was rather serious, bleeding a steady amount with a rather large downward gash and flap. We rang the owners, who came down and had a look at it, they put the horse back into the paddock, and hopefully they will come back and treat it this morning.

The piglets residing in the house are being evicted on the weekend – the Cook has had enough. But honestly they do stink a little, unlike the first lot which were rather odourless in comparison.

Looks like I’ve sold more pigs, I’ve got two more orders one for a grown Boar and another for five piglets – thanks allclassifieds.

Today’s photo is of Maia the pony we are looing after for Jane.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Birthday time!!

Party Time; young Ben had his birthday party this weekend so everything revolved around that – not everyday you turn ten.

Saturday was glorious weather, the cook headed off to Cooma for a morning of sanity and retail therapy after two weeks of school holidays. I of course got stuck into the chores, making up a week worth of pigs feed and lugging water to the sheep.

We finished the clean up that James began when he was here. The old pig pens have now gone and all the mess has just about been tidied up. The garden had a good make over with a good mulching and marking out for new spring beds.

The kids had their sleep-over which went well. One of the boys nearly picked up a brown snake – so it’s THAT time of the year again.

Sunday was bens’ party and apart from cooking and cleaning not much else happened – except the toilet broke – there’s always something!!

Today’s photo is of Beccy, I only realised on Friday that I’d talked about her but never put her up on the page.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Whats the cook doing?

There was a major offensive on the Garlic front yesterday. A lot of weeding and replanting of accidentally weeded plants happened. The boys have friends over for sleepovers – usually they have more during school holidays but this time it’s been a little slow.

You wouldn’t believe it either. After yesterday mornings fox attack the stinking thing came back again about 10:30pm. The cook heard the chickens squawking as she went in for a shower, I raced up to see what was going on. It was a bright moonlit night, but I didn’t want to open the chicken house up before I had a torch. The cook brought one up and we went in, thankfully there were no dead bodies. But, one of the silky roosters was making noises from the bottom end. The Cook shone her torch in the general direction and spotted the fox trying to hide in a bush. I picked up a piece of wood and in a mess of flailing arms went after the fox. I connected a couple of times but I don’t think I did any damage. I threw a huge chunk of timber at him and missed – it was pretty intense for a time. The fox ended up escaping through a hole he pushed in the wire – the dogs saw him off this time and he didn’t come back all night.

After we’d calmed down I thought I’d take a look and make sure that he hadn’t killed anything. I bent down under one of the roosts, but failed to notice that Gob the turkey gobbler was sitting on it. Well he must have worked up a good one in all the excitement and dropped it right on the back of my head – lovely I thought, must wash my hair before I go to bed. I didn’t find any casualties so I hope the fox lucked out.

The Cook is reinforcing the chock pen at the moment. Due to her German heritage I can see this will be better then the Atlantic Wall. As long as it keeps the poor old chickens safe.
So the animal count for inside of the house is one guinea pig, two piglets, two injured roosters, a dozen incubating turkey eggs and twenty chicks - in others words, I now offically live in the barn.

Thursday, October 9, 2008


There’s always something. This morning I heard a commotion in the chook pen and doddled off in my slippers to investigate. We had lost eight of our new hatchlings over the past couple of weeks so I’ve been a little worried about foxes. Anyway I couldn’t see anything, the chickens were making a bit of a racket still, but I figured what ever it was it was gone.

Anyway, I was coming out of the house later, the turkeys were gobbling away and I thought every thing was fine. Then I saw a fox jump onto the roof of the chook pen! I thought at first I might be able to get a photo of it for the Blog, but the camera was in the car. So I tried to sneak up to the chooks and give it a good wack with a bit of wood. I thought I saw it jump down onto the ground, but then I saw it on the roof and it saw me and took off. Maybe there were two, I don’t know.

So I took a look in the chook pen and I was gob-smacked. I thought I’d seen the fox/foxes on the way in but obviously it was the way out. The pen was littered with dead chickens, all our Silky hens and a couple of roosters, our layers, Ricki the Rooster – Bens favourite, the last of the young chickens, one of our Pekin/Hamburg cross rosters and our last red Bantam hen. We only have a couple of Hamburg Hens and a handful of Roosters left. They didn’t touch the ducks or turkeys.

Unfortunately I haven’t been able to get organised enough to get a firearms license, which is obviously becoming more and more necessary. We were only talking about it last night at dinner. The sheep that are agissted on the hill have lost a number of lambs to foxes this year as well.

So – adding to the ‘to do’ list - back to the drawing board with fox proofing, get a gun license, hunt foxes and hatch more chickens.

Funny thing is, yesterday when the Cook went to kill the black rooster poor old Ben wouldn’t let her. So the rooster came back, the foxes didn’t kill him either. So I think we are stuck with that one. Ben did say it was a lot nicer to him yesterday afternoon.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Photo of the Week

Do I nose you?

The sheep are settling in well. The Cook has them on the Apple Vinegar Cider to clean them out before we release them to the paddock. The Apple Cider Vinegar is a Biodynamic remedy for worms and other internal parasites. We also need to give them a good spray of Neem oil incase they have any lice or external parasites.

The Cook and the kids tried to separate the young gilts out of the boars paddock yesterday with out much success, pigs 27 farmers 3, however, the Cook will get her own back. She's off to help the folks down at Ingelara to castrate their pigs today - and there's no way I'm having anything that looks like meat balls for dinner! She did mention taking the Black Rooster down with her to get the chop. He's been harassing her and the kids lately so I think they are pretty keen to get him on the plate and eaten.

BREAKING NEWS: Another six piglets born this morning - I'm not home and of course everything is a little confused - The Cook has to take the Jeep in to get the door re-attached this morning as well as going to Ingelara. The Black Rooster attacked Ben again and is currently under bag arrest awaiting the chop.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Pig love

Monday saw us return to the scene of yesterday’s fun and with aching bodies to capture the remaining sheep and transport them back to Bredbo. Whilst we were gone and again soon after we arrived home we got a good shower of rain, which ended up being about 5mm. The sheep have all been put into a small receiving yard, at the front of the property, for a few days until we can get them up to the yards.

When we arrived home we found the pigs had turned off the electric fence, and we had pigs everywhere. One of the sows, who was obviously in season had moved in with the Boar, and they were both very happy. Some of the growers had moved in with the mums and a number of piglets had swapped mums as well. This is what happens when nobody is home!!!

Once we sorted all this out it was time for a cup of tea and a sit down. It rained again for about five minutes, the temperature dropped suddenly and it was like winter again. Finally after feeding the animals it was time to get inside and warm up. Unfortunately on our way inside we noticed one of the ducks lying on the grass in front of the chook house, poor old Pong our first Peking had died. It looks like he just laid down and gone to sleep, he was one of the animals we had brought with us from Murrumbateman when we first arrived here.

This morning we had a fairly heavy frost which hopefully hasn’t done any damage to eth potatoes. We also had snow on the hills along the Western ranges – no wonder it got so cold last night.

Market day

Sunday was very busy – it was up early and off to the Markets. We had never been to the Farmers Market at Woden before and thought we’d take a look and see what the process was like, the types of produce and the atmosphere. The Market is smallish, but has a good atmosphere and there was a constant flow of people through for a good part of the morning. We ran into a couple of people we know, Michael Croft from Mountain Creek Farms who runs Saddle Back pigs and Belted Galloways. He’s a wealth of information and has been very helpful to us over the pas few months. We also ran into one of the Cooks work mates John, he’s a Biodynamic tragic like us, and it was good to finally put a face to the name. John also mentioned he reads the Blog – so hi John!

Produce at the Markets was a good mix of in season fruits and vegetables, lots of wood oven baked breads, meat, fish, eggs, honey and cheese. I would have liked to stay a little longer but we had other jobs to do.

From the Markets we went off to pick up some sheep from out the back of Gundaroo. The sheep were Merinos, a mixture of rams, lambs and ewes. When we arrived at the front gate of the property we could see that they had had a little rain, the track up to the yards was a little rough in places but the Jeep managed to drag the trailer up without too much problem. Once we arrived at the sheep yards the fun started – firstly the front drivers side door of the Jeep came off (I’ll come back to this). The sheep yards had no loading ramp so it was a manual job to get the sheep onto the trailer. The Boys thought this was pretty good, and both of them leapt into grabbing the sheep. My problem was, being the only man on hand; I was responsible for getting the sheep on the trailer.
Normally this would have been a challenge I would enjoy, but after having all that rain, and the sheep not being shawn for a year, they were heavy and awkward to lift. It took us about an hour to get the 24 sheep and lambs onto the trailer, leaving a dozen or so for another trip. We turned our attention to the Jeeps door and after a little swearing and a lot of jiggling we finally got it fixed enough so we could get home. We were all a little exhausted by now and a lot of snoring was heard coming from the back and passenger seat all the way home.

Sowing circles

Next on the list of activities was Corn planting. We are doing a little experiment with the corn to see how well it grows here, hopefully we can grow enough to use for pig feed. All the corn we get at the moment comes in bags as you would expect, so it’s off the cob and dried. We noticed last year that the pigs loved to eat the corn stalks and cobs just as much as the grain. Being easy to store – in the field – it may be just as easy, but less resource intensive to feed the corn to them stalks and all.

Anyway, we’ve planted a fair amount of the stuff now so we’ll wait and see. Of course the kids are just a great help when it comes to these types of activities and a very willing to come out and give as hand. Both Ben and Harry played pivotal roles in ensuring every seed was planted at just the right depth.

Spring oats

What a weekend, we are all knackered – I can hardly summons up the strength to type. One of the first things we did Saturday was check the Oats crop and see if there was any sign of life. I wasn’t expecting much, maybe a few indications that we were getting some germination. I was a little surprised to see it had not only germinated but was standing about 2 inches high all across the paddock.
Next I suppose we need to look at how much the kangaroos are going to affect the crop and what I can do about it. The crop across the river dosen't get any kangaroos so maybe the railway line will act as a barrier.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Macro economic chickens

The world is rushing past in over-drive as people try and fend off economic disaster and I just sit here and watch it pass. How come Countries and Governments have no problem forking out trillions of dollars at a moments notice to try and save capitalism and then be so frugal when it comes to investing in the health of the environment and mankind’s future?

Well it’s not macro economics but we did hatch about 20 chicks yesterday, lots of different colours. Calamity Jane, the former known as the Cook, was sitting by the fire last night with up turned chicks in her hand trying to sex them. I had to giggle to myself, the poor little chicks were squirming away and she was trying to peer up their ‘vent’.

The Greening Australia guy is out today doing some trial seeding. Nice to see some action in this quarter, hopefully we’ll get a result. They have asked to have a field day on the property to collect seed for them, Land Care and us. Of course we have given them the green light; however our share of the seed will be going to K2C or be propagated for planting on K2C properties.

I’ll get to see what is happening in the Oats Paddock this weekend with a little luck as well. I haven’t spoken to Denise yet but it appears everything has gone to plan. We are having a spell of warm weather here as well, up to 26 Deg today – which will hopefully culminate in a storm or two.

I have to start seriously thinking about getting some of the pigs off to be processed soon. I’ve got about six or eight that are at the 60 – 75kg mark and should dress out well. I just need to get a loading ramp built and organise everything down line from there. Currently we are thinking that we can sell most the meat locally to friends, neighbours and work mates. However, the end goal is to have them selling at the farmers market. I’ve heard that one of the major pork sellers at the markets has reached his peak production and is currently not attending one market and may not attend the other.

Garlic, I knew there was something else. A lady advertised organic garlic on the internet the other day so we contacted her to see if we could get some to plant here. She was nice enough to leave a bag full of seedlings at the servo for us. Calamity is down the garden planting it now. Hopefully we can get some good garlic stock from these for planting next year.

When I checked the site this morning I was the 999 hit, let me know who gets the 1000th hit, being a mile stone and all.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Say Cheese!

When I started my Blog I intended it to be a way I could pass on information about sustainable farming practices, our conservation efforts and how we were managing the two on the one property. Looing back on what I have done so far I see it has turned more into a diary of day to day life on the farm.

So, what I have decided to do is make a few changes. Firstly, from this week Monday will be diary day, Tuesday I will look at what’s new and topical in the sustainable farming world, Wednesday will be photo of the week, Thursday will feature topical issues and Friday will be a roundup of the weekly happenings – lets see how it works.

This week is school holidays, and on the TV at 6:00am – Yes I watch TV at 6:00am in the morning much to the cooks’ disgust, is a show on the Lifestyle channel called Cheese Slices. This program follows the adventures of some fellow travelling around the world investigating and show casing the world of cheese making. It’s not the most “entertaining” show on earth and it’s not Emmy material, but it is a good medium for showing the difference in old and new world thinking on one particular aspect of farming and food production.

I have, for a long time, been interested in cheese making. Growing up in a dairy farming area I always liked the routine and calmness that it offered. I like the idea of using raw milk for cheese making and I know that cheese making although far more time consuming and labour intensive then just milking, can be rewarding and enjoyable.

All this, of course, helps explain the Jersey cow in the front paddock. The Cook likes the idea of fresh cows’ milk for cooking and drinking, whilst I’m the cheese lover. I’ve been looking for more Jersey cows, or any milking cow for that matter, but these are rare to come by around these parts. And any I have found have been rather expensive, for example some went at a clearing sale the other day for $1500 each and heifers for $980. Anyway I may have had an idea this morning on the way to work which I will talk about next week. Of course a lot of people would think that dairy farming in an area like ours wasn’t such a good idea – but then they weren’t doing it as part of a closed farming system. Maybe I’ll try a blended cheese and use sheep or goats to supplement our cows – the possibilities!

The final Garnaut report on climate changes was released yesterday and suggests a shift away from beef and sheep production, to eating kangaroos. What a joke that this has become the focus of discussion in the farming community with regards to climate change! If the way people protested when the Defence Department wanted to cull some kangaroo’s in the ACT is anything to go by.

The whole farming system in this country needs to change; we need to become more sustainable, more regional and more disciplined. We need less reliance on chemicals, less reliance on energy, less reliance on resource intensive processes and more supportive for small scale local farmers, farmers markets and CSA’s. And what about reducing the amount of processing that is allowed? Do we need white bread? Do we need processed cheddar cheese? Can we live without fruit loops?