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.