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

Friday, August 29, 2008

It's not always about us. You may have seen the comment - you may not. Our mob up Capricornia way have had their second litter of piglets - 12 little suckers! That's more than we've had in one litter so far -Come-on Snappy!!!! We hope everything goes well.

Earlier this year we had the Catchment Management Authority run a Soil Workshop on the property - they've just asked to run another here, which is great. These activities bring people in to see what we are doing and share some ideas.

The picture today is of the Capricornia clan going out to feed their pigs - I had the oppurtunity to visit them in March when I took this photo.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Group therapy

I thought I would give you all a little treat today – this is the vision that greats me every morning as I go about my feeding chores. These are the guy’s who make getting up worth all the effort – regardless of how cold or how much sleep I’ve had. Star and Rose are the two mums in the foreground, they’re never far from the action. I’ve been told that the TV series Dead Wood a Chinese laundry man had a pig that could eat a human in 2hrs 39 min – that’s why I’m always nervous before they have eaten! Pity I couldn’t put the sound they make up on the Blog – maybe one day I’ll do a video.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

No piglets yet

Yesterday we had a visit from the Bush Heritage and NSW Parks and Wildlife and have submitted our application for processing to have part of the property declared a Flora & Fauna Refuge. The rest of it is progressing along, but nothing new to report there.

Picked up another load of supplemental feed for the pigs – for which they appear very grateful. This mornings feeding frenzy was very modest compared to mornings we feed grain.

The cook is a little crook, bit of a cold, poor thing – hope you get better soon!!!!!!!!! Snappy still hasn’t popped, every morning I go out expecting to see her parading a new litter – but nothing.

Hello to all the guy’s in Rocky – didn’t realise you where visiting our blog regularly, hope you can sort out your free ranging pig before it eats a child! Our picture today is of Snappy this morning, you can see a slight smile on her face - that's because shes eating. The little pig next other is one of the runts from our very first litter.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Ruby Tuesday

Well, I missed yesterday - sorry about that. We got rather busy and hectic here, so I wasn't able to post. What a weekend, we had to pickup feed from down the road, it was bitterly cold and the cook was on strike. I spent most of the remainder of the day mixing feeds and loading straw into the pigs house. Sunday was a beautiful day, warm and sunny, the pigs spent the day lounging in the fields, sleeping and wallowing. I occupied myself with clearing away more of the scrap iron from around the place - I've nearly filled our fifth skip from the steel yard.

Good old Snappy is nearly ready to pop with her latest load of piglets, I was hoping to get a picture of her today but I took some of the sunrise instead. By the size of her there must be at least ten piglets coming. Rose, one of the other sows from the same trio, is close to farrowing as well, but not sure of the exact day.

The head gardener is keen for me to pig proof the garden area this weekend so she can get her potatoes into the ground, I've also been tasked to pickup a 50kg bag of seed potatoes from the feed store for planting as well. I might get two and use one for growing some pig food potatoes.

We are getting a visitor from the West at the end of the week, got a few good jobs lined up for him - might do some before and after shots. We have an old pig sty at the front of the property that needs demolishing to make way for some berries and pumpkins - not sure, but I think we may need to evict a wombat as well.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Come Monday.

It rained last night, we got about 3mm up until 7:00am, it was wet right the way down the highway. By the time I got to Michelago it was snowing on the road and things were pretty slow.

It’s been rather busy today so only a short post – I’ll catch up with everything on Monday.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Moon over Bredbo

The full moon has gone, that means it’s a month until we start to spring plant – how exciting. The overall trend this winter seems to have been for warmer mornings, with any luck this means we won’t have any late frosts. Our ploughed area adjacent to the house was given its second discing by the tractor man yesterday and now looks really good.

Our resident chief vegetable grower is keen to get started so I’ll be off to collect rabbit poo all weekend form down the road. But the forecast is for a cold one so I don’t know how much outside work will actually get done.

The eggs are moving well and seem to be a hit with people around the place, hopefully that will be the same with the pork when it starts. I have to pick up more feed today- which seems like a never ending job sometimes. The little chickens are doing well, we’re down to 12 I think, there have been a few deaths in the brood box, but the remaining ones all seem strong and well.

We have a wombat that keeps leaving “gifts” at the front gate, he must squeeze under it when he goes on his evening strolls. I don’t mind that he leaves these things lying around – but he does it right were I stand when I open the gate. Maybe if I spray the area with chillies it might move him along a bit. Maybe its just what wombats do during a full moon.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Pricilla - bell of our ball.

After yesterdays freezer, today is turning out to be very different, very mild this morning. The pigs seem to be enjoying their supplemental feeding, and the grain bin is not emptying quite as fast.

Today I’m introducing one of the cooks’ favourite animals – she brought it home, I had nothing to do with this one! Her name is Pricilla; she is an Angora cross Nubian cross Boer goat (I call her an Afro Nubian). She’ll eat anything, her favourite food is -anything, and, she’ll listen to anything as long as it’s loud. She escapes from her paddock all the time, runs around with the sheep all the time, and, trashes the cooks’ garden all the time.

Her escaping got so bad that I’ve had to put a cow bell around her neck so I know where she is. In response to this act of utter malice, every night she parades up and down outside our bedroom window ringing her bell. But that’s ok – the cook can’t hear it over my snoring!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


What a wintery old day! I had to go into town to pick up some supplemental feed for the pigs, it was a rather cool morning and as is usual for this time of year everything was frozen. I took the feeds out to the sows and tried to pour them on to the ground; out it all came in a lump strait onto my frozen toes – ouch!!! One of the sows decided that she would jump up and try to scoff herself stupid right out off the bucket and got her head stuck in it – I had to chase her around the yard and rescue the bucket. Finally I got off to town and picked up the feed, I needed to find out about summer barley and oats seed as well.

By the time I made it back it was dark and the kids were home from school. They had forgotten to tell the bus driver they needed to be dropped off and ended up in Bredbo, luckily our neighbour from across the river drove them back to the farm – which was really nice of her.

It snowed in Bredbo during the afternoon – so it was rather cold when I got home as well. But there was 2mm of rain in the rain gauge.

We started to unload the feed at about 7:00pm, in the dark, not that we our renown for doing things the hard way. By the time we had finished, and to the background gentle sounds of happy snoring pigs, the frost began settling and the fog was making its eerie way down along the river valley.

As I went to bed I could see from the bedroom window the fog had settled and was illuminated by the brightest full moon. None of this helped me get to sleep, I had been ‘warned’ by the cook that if I snored tonight I’d be one very sorry lad come morning.

To my surprise, I was awoken by the alarm at six AM and greeted by the heaviest frost so far this month. Everything was white, frozen or frosty in other words, brass monkey cold. Luckily the pigs can be fed late today and all the waters were filled last night.

Today’s photo is of the gate post down near the bus stop – it’s a good example of how cold it was.

Monday, August 18, 2008

The bottom 50

After feeding up yesterday we decided to take a look at the bottom 50 to see how the ploughing had gone earlier in the week. The paddock didn’t look big when it was covered in weeds and grass, but now it looks enormous. We’re a little worried about how we will be able to store all the grain we get. When we started we were going to grow summer oats, but we might try a mix of oats and barley. Either way, if we get a good harvest it’ll make next years feed bill look a lot better.

It’s still dry here, as you can see in the picture. We’ve only had on good fall of rain this month – however the forecast is for a week of good rain in early September, fingers crossed.

Flying Kites

There was a lot of catch-up done around the farm this weekend. Not having soccer or birthday parties to attend really makes a difference. The garden was mulched with straw from the pig pens, more manure was added to the compost heap and seeds were planted in preparation for spring.

We did a lot of cleaning up around the sheds, getting rid of the weeds and accumulated scrap steel, and finished the bottom strand of netting on the chicken coop.

Whilst we were working on the chicken pen a Black-shouldered Kite perched in the poplar trees along the gully and kept a close eye on proceedings. These birds are common in Eastern Australia but it’s the first time I’ve seen one on the property. We have also seen Wedge Tailed Eagles, Brown Eagles and Whistling Kites since we’ve been out here.

Today’s picture is of the Black-shouldered Kite that watched us working on the weekend, sorry for the quality but I couldn’t get close enough with my camera to get a really good shot.

Friday, August 15, 2008


Eggs are the topic of discussion at the dinner table at the moment. We are collecting them, hatching them, eating them and selling them. You know, our seven chickens must lay nine dozen eggs a fortnight to pay for their feed. That’s 108 eggs or 15.5 eggs per chicken per fortnight. Don’t bother doing the maths it doesn’t work.

Hopefully from our last hatching we can gain a few more chickens and not too many roosters. We want to incubate another lot in a couple of weeks to boost numbers more. I found out the other day that to buy a pullet, at point of lay - from the feed store, costs $16.50!!!!

The past couple of mornings have been fine and warm – well considering, yesterday was four degrees and this morning it was six degrees. No frost, no ice and hot showers!!!! This must be one of those early Spring traps we get every now and then.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Burnt at the stake

Well, bonfire season is little more then a month away and its time to start thinking about getting rid of more scrap wood, old fence rails and Poplar branches from around the place. The easiest way to do this is to get the kids to build a bonfire. these are great, by the long weekend in October we should have another huge pyramid of wood - and a scarecrow to burn. We only use wood that isn't suitable for the inside fire or has too many nails and things in it.

The last couple of bonfires have been a real hoot! We had Grandy over from Queensland for the first one and the Western Australian crew for the second, who knows who'll be here this time.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Viva Bella!

Yes, I'm late - sorry, but things are busy. Today we continue with the introductions to our farm animal stars. Today's star is 'Bella' the Cow. Bella is a New Zealand Jersey cow, from what we know she is about five years old and has had three calves. We have her fist two calves - neither of which have names. This is because we plan to sell one and eat the other - shock! horror!

Bella has been milked, but she doesn't like it - but that will change. Our resident milk maid, and girl with a bucket, assures me of that. Bella also has a nasty habit of kicking the bucket, switching the tail and gauging eyes with her tongue. We love her because she is her own women, as much as a cow can be a women.

So there you are - 'Bella', the Cow.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Pigs in a poke

Ever wondered what a poke of pigs looks like? That’s what today’s photo is, two sows lying nose to tail with piglets and weaners piled in on top. It was cold this morning, about minus four degrees, but no frost. The taps were all frozen and there was ice covering the water troughs, but no ice on the cars or grass.

More chicks hatched over night and I thank out of the 24 eggs in the incubator only three didn’t hatch and one died in the egg. This was with out doubt our best hatching yet.

Tonight there is a meeting at the Bredbo Inn about our rights to sell carbon credits from on-farm native vegetation. The notice that we picked up at the general store say’s that native bushland is likely to be excluded from the carbon trading scheme in favour of forestry plantations. It appears the Government is looking after its mates in organised crime, I mean big business, again at the expense of the farmers.

Monday, August 11, 2008

New clutch

The big news for this weekend was that we hatched a clutch of chicks in the incubator. It all started on Saturday morning with the first little peeps. So far we have over a dozen chicks which is the best result from the incubator yet. Our over population of roosters certainly ensured abundant fertility with more fertile eggs in this lot then we’ve had in the past.

Speaking of roosters, we had visitors on Saturday and they took one home with them in a wheat bag. They wanted a quite one, so eldest son walked into the coop and picked out a nice big black and gold bird for them; I don’t think it was too keen on being stuffed into a sack though.

Sunday morning saw our first snow fall at the house. It started snowing at about 7:00am and fell lightly for a couple of hours, not heavily enough to settle on the ground so there are no photos.

We've got a couple of injuries out in the pig paddocks. One of the pigs is not puting weight on its hind leg, not sure how bad it is yet, I had a good look at it and it dosen't appear to be broken. The pig seems fine hoping around on three legs, but I've isolated it with a mate to give it a better chance of healing. Another pig has had it's tail bitten. I noticed it on Saturday with blood dripping down its back legs, it must have got into a fight at feed time, we'll need ot keep an eye on it to make sure there is no infection.

The rest of the weekend was spent trying to stay warm, making pig feeds and carting kids around.

Friday, August 8, 2008

More snow

It wasn't as cold at home as it was in Canberra yesterday. The fog didn't lift until late but the clouds hang around all day. It started to rain just as the last light began to fade and by 8:00pm we measured about 3.5mm. The Bush Heritage visit on Monday has been postponed until the 23rd of August which is no big deal. Greening Australia are still planning to do a field survey on Monday afternoon.

There's lots of feeds to do for the weekend, and I hope to get more straw for the pigs. It's been cold the last few mornings with a minus five and minus four, and more of the same forecast for next week. This weekend we'll be starting the weeding of the ploughed field - looking forward to that!! And - while your on the net, go visit the ABC Rural web site, they have my picture of the TSR on their front page. They got the name wrong - there is no way I look like a Mary!!!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Gobble, gobble, gobble

A cold (minus 5C) and foggy morning greeted us this morning. The pigs didn’t want to wake up for their feed and the dogs were less than impressed about being tied up. I can’t believe how impervious to the cold that the ducks seem too be. After all, they fly across the world to escape winter in the wild. Ours just sit out in the open all night, quacking away, when they have a perfectly good shelter to sleep in.

We currently have a family of kangaroos living out on the TSR; there are four - two young, a Joey and a mum. In the morning it’s not unusual to see the kangaroos, the sheep, goats and cattle all grazing merrily on the flats.

I need to get the turkeys sorted out sooner rather then later as well. Currently we have three males and one female – always the way! At least we can eat the two white males, I promised the “Turkey Man” I wouldn’t eat the coloured one. The males have all been fighting for the last few weeks; several times I’ve had to break up fights and separate them. I do like the turkeys, it would be good to get a few more females so we could turn over a regular number each Christmas.

The roosters are still ambushing the kids at feed time. Eldest son was goaded into trying to catch one the other day by the youngest. He used his finger for bait, the rooster walked up and bit it and wouldn’t let go. When all the commotion died down, eldest held up a somewhat swollen and bloodied finger, youngest burst into tears of laughter. In my opinion I think that technically he had caught the rooster, by the beak.

Todays photo is of Gob, he's our male King Island Turkey. He's got beautiful colour and a rather mild manner for a turkey. He wanders about the farm keeping the rooster apart and a close eye on his partner Cybil.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008


21mm of rain last night, snow on the hills and a cold southerly breeze. The pigs are up to their knees in mud and loving it also!!!!!!!!!!!! Well, after yesterdays little drama things have settled down. The roads are open and the ski traffic is once again buzzing along the highway.

We had an unexpected call from the guys at ‘Ingelara’ yesterday, they area Biodynamic farm on the Canberra side of Bredbo. Our garden guru has been busting to talk to them about Biodynamic farming for months, so when they rang she was very excited. They want to come and have a look at what we are doing and how we are doing it, in other words – they want to check us out. They are coming out on the weekend so it’s a full calendar for the next week. Better get the cook on the job!

With the rain we are starting to see the first green shoots come through in the paddocks. It’ll soon be time to yard up the pony so she doesn’t get founder. We’ve also got a few little boars to castrate – our midwifes favourite job!!!! What doe’s she say about it – “As long as I don’t have to catch them!”

Tuesday, August 5, 2008


Well today didn’t start off to well, a major traffic accident on the Numeralla Bridge about 13km down the road had the highway to Cooma blocked all morning. I’d gone off in the other direction, towards Canberra, when I heard about it on the ABC. So there was no school bus!! Rang home to let them know something was up and that the kids would have to stay home.

Not deterred, the remaining adult at the house decided to take the kids to school herself – youngest has skiing with school on Tuesdays, which he loves, so off they went down the detour advised by the local Police.

OK, heading off in the direction of Peak Hill and Numeralla they go - maybe 60km or so. They need to be in Cooma by 9:00am for the ski bus. Did I mention that I drove the Jeep on Sunday? Hmmm, maybe I should have filled it up a little more, but there was only a trip to Cooma planned this week – quarter of a tank should have sufficed.

Anyway, they get up in the hills, there’s snow all around, the road is steep, windy and muddy and there’s not much fuel left in the tank. Of course this is the time I decide to give them a ring on the mobile. Eldest son answers, “hi Dad, were sort of lost up in the hills right now can you call back?” Yeah, right! So I wait a bit and call back, it’s now 9:15am and I get eldest son again “hi Dad we’re at the ski shop – no petrol left in the car and youngest son has missed the bus.” Great – I’m in for it when I get home! “Put your mother on lad,” I bravely say, knowing that if I get her on the phone in a public place I could possibly repair a little of the damage before we come face to face (I’m a coward!). Then, like the fool I am, I say “How’d it go?” “Oh, just great” comes the reply, “I’m at the counter I’ll call you back.” That’s it I’m dead!

So the youngest is off to the snowfields, with a friend. Big kid is at school and the remaining adult is stuck in Cooma until the road is cleared. Guess I’m washing up for the rest of the week.

Todays picture is of the mess in the chicken pen we had to clean up when we first arrived a year ago.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Organic scones and jam

I was on my way back from Cooma when I got a text message "Scones and Jam - where are you?". I thought blimey who's at the house, I never get scones unless there is a visitor. Luckily I was only a couple of hundred meters from the front gate. I shot down to the house as quick as a rat up a drain pipe and sat myself down. The little house smelt of baking scones, nothing like it in the world - and no visitors.

The cook wander out of the kitchen and plonked this incredible plate of piping hot, plump, golden scones down in front of me. Well, you could have knocked me down with a feather - not only was there scones, these were pumpkin scones! In no time I'd polished off a good half dozen, all topped in the most glorious black berry jam made from the berries the cook and billy lids had picked along river last spring.

Then this morning, there she was again, in the kitchen whipping up a fresh batch of her famous ANZAC biscuits for our lunches - crickey we've got a great cook!

Ploughing in the money

Nearly forgot, when the Boss got up on Saturday morning she went out and had a look around. Doing her usual thing checking the goats weren't in the garden, the dogs hadn't nicked off for pancakes, the piglets weren't in the chicken yard - when she notices that the vegie patch had been ploughed up. This marks the begining of our market garden expansion, but first we need to get all the Africa Love Grass out.

We hadn't noticed anything when we drove in because it was raining, and the kids hadn't said anything either - and they had fed the horses right in the middle of it.

Sunday snooze

Sunday was a beautiful day, full of sunshine and the sent of spring. Tiberius and Dahlia spent the morning sunning themselves in the in the Boars paddock. They just lie there and watch me go about my business. Wish I had his life, instead I just collect all his poo, feed and water him, make up his bed, pay his rent – I’m trying not to get depressed.

Somebody out here is excited; we have an eclectic group of visitors arriving in a couple of weeks - all involved with the Bush Heritage project. There should be some very interesting feed back from this one as there will be a number of grassland experts on site.

Strikers vs Nuggets

So it was up at the crack as the youngest had Soccer. It’s an away game so we travelled out to Nummarella. It’s about 22kms East of Cooma in the ranges. It’s a very pretty spot right on the Nummarella River.

The soccer pitch was a little scrappy, with the drought and all, some of the kicks didn’t quite go where they were intended. Anyway we came away with a win – go Strikers!!

Saturday at last.

Well the weekend started on another cold note with overnight snow falling on the ranges. Thankfully the day turned out to be just lovely. You casn see the snow under the trees on the hills in this photo. The snow didn't stay on the trees because of the windy weather.

Friday, August 1, 2008

1st of August - Happy Birthday Girls

No the horse didn't shrink in the dam - and that's Gayle, a friend of ours from Gympie, Queensland. She visited the farm in January and couldn't resist the oppurtunity to get some riding time in. And it's the only picture I've got handy of the horses. Anway, happy birthday girls, if your lucky there's a little something extra in your feed tonight.

Snappy - Queen of the Pigs

It was suggested to me that I introduce all the animals on the farm. Sounded like a good idea to me, so our first introduction is for the matriarch of our pig world “Snappy”.

Snappy is a very handsome sow, she’s a pure bred Berkshire and weights in at around 100kgs. She has an uneven temperament, big floppy ears and four white sox. We named her Snappy because she has a nasty habit of biting. She had her first litter on Boxing day 2007, at which time she delivered us seven gorgeous little piglets. She was such a sook! She spent hours laying around after the birth letting our resident midwife take care of the piglets. Not surprisingly her piglets have always been a little stand-offish.

Snappy is always the first too the feed trough and the first one to bed, often I have to wake her up in the morning for her feed. She is also the only pig I’ve ever seen yawn.

Snappy would like to say hi to all her fans in Western Australia!!!!!!

The pictures show her eating at the trough – her favourite, in labour – not her favourite, and posing – my favourite.

Snappy snaps