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

Friday, May 29, 2009

No Cook

The Cook is off in Sydney for a couple of days break, so I’m all there is at the moment. Kids are really happy, they get lunch orders today because dad is too useless to make sandwiches. It didn’t stop them taking the last of the rolls that the Cook had made with them for lunch as well.

Late yesterday afternoon one of the neighbour’s cows managed to pull down the Boars electric fence and let out a large mob of pigs – luckily I think the Boars all stayed where they were. I temporarily fixed the problem in the dark but need to attend to that today.

We lost more piglets last night, I know one was laid on and there is nothing that I can do about that. We have the shelter set up so the piglets have somewhere to go when mum tries to lie down, but every now and then one is asleep or something. But another two have vanished with out a trace.

I hopefully have a couple of people taking some grown pigs away this weekend. Five pigs altogether – if I’m lucky.

I have a mountain of paper work to get through as well at the moment, water license renewal, CMA and DECC projects to read through and sign. If everything comes off I’ll be fencing all winter. The LandCare people have volunteered to plant trees for us which is marvellous. We have to supply lunch, which with the planting being in spring some time means it will all be fresh produce from the farm- and a pig on the spit.

We’ve had a little bit more rain, about 1mm. So far this year we’ve received about half the rain we received for the same period last year and less than a quarter of our annual rainfall. Our total year to date is 108mm some places in Northern NSW, on the same latitude received over 100mm in a couple of days this month. I’ve put together a history of rain fall on the farm over the last five years I’ll have to put it up one day.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

We regret this break in transmission

I’m back! Kind of busy over the past few days, Harry’s birthday sleep-over and a major computer disruption have left me a little behind. It would appear that we are in the market for a new computer, the one I usually use has thrown a motherboard and resuscitation is out of the question this time. I hope there was nothing on it I hadn’t backed up!!!!

Harry’s sleep over was a real success. All his mates had fun and everybody went home happy and very tired. They stayed up until 2am playing games and chatting about secret boys stuff. They had a bonfire as well which was nice on a chilly evening and has left us with a clean space in the middle of the back lawn. The Cook was kept very busy and lost count of the number of homemade pizza’s and garlic bread she made. By Sunday lunch she was well and truly glad to see the last young lad go home.

The Cook started tired. She had been out to a girls lunch the day before; she had to take the piglet with her because she needs to be fed hourly – the piglet, that is.

Saturday night I was baby sitting the piglet in front of the fire, I was watching it twitch and wriggle as it dreamt on its nice warm bag of wheat. It was dreaming about something and was very active, its legs where moving and it was wiggling from side to side. Suddenly, it jumped up in the middle of a wriggle and bolted, with its eyes still closed – and still asleep, across the box it lives in and slammed into the wire on the far side. It fell over and still wriggling remained soundly asleep. I burst out laughing, it was the funniest thing I’d ever seen a piglet do. Luckily she doesn’t seem to have suffered any injuries from this episode.

Saturday was supposed to be a NSF working party as well. But by the time I had taken Ben to soccer and gone into town to collect a few bags of acorns it was all over. They were putting in a contour line down the road and doing some work at Guises Creek.

We had the Soil Conservation people out to look at our erosion problems and see if we needed any remedial work done. Luckily most of our problems appear to be healing themselves and if we leave stock off the worst areas for a little longer we should be able to see huge improvements after the next good rains.

We had about 4mm of rain over the past week, all in small part millimetre falls. It’s hardly enough to mention – but it is better then nothing.

The next door neighbour was spotlighting for ferals last night. I watched him drive all over the hills across the river. The whole time I could hear a group of foxes yapping at each other on our side - there must have been at least six. I think they all cross the river as soon as they see the spot light come out.

Oh, and the dogs laid more mines – damned things – they are obviously getting into something they’re not supposed too…..

Thursday, May 21, 2009


I sat up late the other night to watch Late Line on the ABC, they had a Ralph Hillman from the Australian Coal Assoc and Richard Dennis from the Australia Institute. They where interviewed about the affect of coal on the environment and Global Warming – you can find it here . It’s an interesting debate and if you can hang out until the end when the camera cuts back to the two interviewee’s you’ll see just how uncomfortable Ralph Hillman was.

I may have found a retail outlet interested in stocking our pork. I was on my way home yesterday and I had to get the dogs a bag of bones. I dropped into the shops and in conversation and mentioned we had a free range pig farm, I told him about what we do and he seemed interested. I’ll have to have another talk to him soon. It would be nice to have a retail outlet.

The Cook is warming her heels in front of the wood stove again today – horrible wintry weather we are having today. She let one of the mother pigs out for a graze, the pig waited until she had gone and jumped straight into the trailer full of acorns. Last time the Cook saw her she was knee deep in acorns happily munching away – now I have to collect more acorns this weekend.

We have a soil conversationalist coming out next week to look at the gully. He’s going to give us some ideas about stabilising it and repairing some of the damage. The gully is about 2.7km long so it’s a considerable amount of work and time will be needed to get it back into order.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Solid Fuel

I was going to post yesterday but people wanted some maps made so I got caught up. Anyway, today is all about the Cook. I arrived home Monday night to find the Cook perched on a stool, novel in hand, in the kitchen in front of the wood stove. It’s fast becoming her favourite spot in the house. She had Monday off so decided to arc up the wood stove and do some more cooking.

She started out making some bread rolls; it’s the first time cooking bread in the oven and she slightly burnt them on top – no problem the kids ate them as soon as they arrived home. Not daunted she whisked together some French Sticks for garlic bread and cooked them up – this time her timing was perfect and they came out beautifully. We enjoyed them for dinner that night along with a home made Pizza. She even cooked up a meat loaf and more rolls for the kid’s lunches.

It is really noticeable that the food tastes much better from a solid fuel oven and a cup of tea from a pot boiled on the stove is just heavenly. Of course it helps when its made by an angel…..

Monday, May 18, 2009

Land Mines

Piglets having a play

Well, you live and learn. I’m never chasing a fox in bare feet again. I was asleep on Saturday morning, it was about 3:30am, very cold but the half moon was bright. I awoke to the sound of the ducks going off. I jumped out of bed and with little thought to my own well being raced outside. I opened the door to the mud room and raced to the back door – this is where the dogs sleep. Unfortunately for me, the Cook had fed one of them some left over curry and in return the dog had left a land mine in the middle of the door way. So bare footed I stepped right into it! As a kid we used to jump from warm cow pat to warm cow pat when getting the milking cows in, but this warm squishy feeling just isn’t the same – and it stinks. So I chased off the fox and returned to the house for an earlier then usual morning shower. The kids came in later in the morning and told me to be careful of the booby trap at the back door, I told them what had happened - they’re still laughing. Luckily there are no photo’s!

We did a raid on the Canberra “burbs” for more acorns on Saturday which was very successful. Mind you most of them are now gone because we’ve been feeding them out to the pigs for breakfast. Saturday morning was Soccer, on the way in we saw two of the weirdest things, the first was an enormous murder of crows on a oats paddock. There must have been in excess of two hundred birds; and secondly, a tidings of magpies with about eighty birds. I had talk to a bird fancier about what I saw and apparently there is a little understood phenomenon of small black crows gathering together in the highlands at this time of year.

I had a feed pickup on Sunday and spent three hours waiting on the side of the road for the guy to turn up. So little else was achieved.

Friday, May 15, 2009

I need another plan

The Bee meeting was really interesting. A talk was presented on the way that a Queen Bee organises the hive and lays her brood. The lecturer was Cecil Mercer a ninety year old Bee Keeper with more knowledge about bees then anybody I’ve ever met. He also spoke about the life cycle of the bees and hive – all very interesting stuff.

I’ve noticed a lot of activities lately focused on local producers and local produce. The ABC ran a program from Gundaroo last week covering a lunch featuring local produce, there is a dinner organised for June in Canberra showcasing local producers and a Truffle festival in June-July. These all follow the Harvest Festival and precede the Spring Food and Wine festivals.

I hope that by next year we are ready to start attending these and can start to make an impact in the local food scene.

I wrote a letter (I’ve been doing it a lot lately, one reason I’ve been a bit slack) to Don Henry at Australian Conservation Foundation. I wasn’t happy with the statement he made after the Prime Minister announced the postponement of the ETS, I thought I’d share his reply addressing my concerns,

Dear Martyn

Thank you for being in touch with us about ACF’s position on the Emissions Trading Scheme.

We are glad to have the opportunity to clarify our stance with you.

ACF believes the Government’s announcement to reduce carbon emissions by 25 per cent by 2020 as part of a 450ppm global agreement improves the chances of a good outcome at the critical UN climate negotiations later this year. We therefore regard the stronger conditional 25 per cent target as a significant step forward.

However, we believe much more needs to be done and ACF will continue to push for deeper cuts. ACF remains committed to achieving an Australian target of at least 40 per cent by 2020 in the context of a global agreement or – at minimum – an unconditional national target of 30 per cent by 2020.

We reject the Government’s unconditional five per cent domestic target for reducing emissions, and also its conditional 15 per cent target, as totally inadequate.

We oppose the Government’s one year delay to the start of the emissions trading scheme, the large and proposed increased payments to big polluters and the low fixed starting price of carbon of $10 per tonne.

We will continue to push strongly for improvements to the legislation at every step, and reserve the right to make a call on the proposed legislation as it progresses through the parliamentary process.

ACF is strictly non-party political and will continue to argue its case vigorously with all political parties to achieve the best possible environmental outcomes.

It is absolutely essential that Australia has moved from a position that could have damaged the prospects of a good outcome from Copenhagen. There is a critical lead-up meeting in Bonn beginning on 1 June, so it us useful that the targets were increased now. It is paramount that a good global agreement is reached this year.

The 25% target is viewed internationally as a reasonable Australian contribution to a global agreement to stabilize levels of C02 in the atmosphere at 450 parts per million or less and is the target recommended by Professor Garnaut. This is the bare minimum needed from the Copenhagen climate talks. We do however believe that deeper emission cuts will be needed and ACF will continue to work for stronger domestic and global targets.

ACF will also continue to urge improvements to the legislation as well as strong action to improve energy efficiency and boost large-scale renewable energy projects.
Working collaboratively, ACF played a pivotal role in getting Australia’s target range lifted from 15% to 25%. We do understand that more work is needed and hope that you will continue your vital support in this most critical year.

Yours sincerely


Thursday, May 14, 2009

By torch light

The tap that couldn't be found

I’m no plumber, in fact, I have problems flushing the toilet – just ask the Cook. On Tuesday I had to repair the broken pipe on the side o the house, which was made harder by arriving home in the dark.

The Trench behind the Cooks Jongles

As I’ve said before our house is more of a ruin then accommodation, and finding things like pipes and buried taps is a real hit and miss affair. So after an hours worth of digging, some tool throwing and just a little swearing I managed to find the buried pipe and tap in the dark. I must have made a bit of mess because the kids came in the next morning and told me the pigs had been rooting around in the back yard and it was totally destroyed.

Anyway, by the time I found the tap and turned it off it was really dark and I still had to get the pipe fixed. It took me a while to work out how to get the broken bit of poly pipe out of the old fitting, luckily I remembered I had a gas torch I’d bought to fix the copper pipe. I went around to the shed and grabbed the torch and called out to the kids to bring some matches.

As usual in our house, mention matches and Ben is the first one there. He was busting to have a go with the torch so I let him have a small turn. He gets right into it – can’t wait until he’s big enough to weld. I was surprised that the torch actual worked and I had the pipe fixed in no time – I’ve even been back to check and it’s still not leaking. Of course I will have broken something else somewhere – plumbing has never gone that smoothly at our place……

I was out early this morning and noticed the Wedge Tails out soaring the heavens. One of them looked a little odd and when he landed I decided to have a look and see what he was up too. When I got to the place I saw him land, down the road embankment I almost walked right in to hi. He was sitting in a depression munching on road kill. He sprung up the side of the embankment where I could get a good look at him. I don’t know if he was malting but he had not a single tail feather, which is why he looked so strange flying.

The Eagle on top of the embankment

We have moved the pig with piglets and haven’t had anymore go missing thank goodness. But because of the small number of piglets feeding off the mum they are all rollie pollie fat and full of energy. I watched them this morning playing with a piece of cloth in the straw, they where having a great time. Rosie the mum is holding her condition well too and I think we've finally hit on the best way to look after the sows.

und out yesterday, from the local paper, that a fellow I knew down the road had died suddenly. He and his wife ran a small farm with a great orchard and winery, they grew the most delicious cherries and made some splendid wines. Peter was a very generous man and had been going to teach me to make sausages Hungarian style and was also going to do some smoking for us. Their farm is up for sale now and I’m not sure what his wife is going to do after it’s sold. It’s sad to see such great characters like the both of them go – I only wish I had been around longer to hear more of his stories and learn some of his sausage making secrets.
There’s a Bee Association meeting tonight – I’m off to that. There was also a NSF meeting but I had to skip that. Hopefully I’ll have something for the Blog tomorrow

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

At least the lawn will be green

Tuesday, and off I went to collect the bread. Before I left I jumped into the shower, our shower isn’t quite what you’d find in a five star hotel – more like what you’d find in a derelict building, after all it is 100years old. The water pressure wasn’t quite as poor as usual – it was worse, even for a cold morning. So I had a quick shower under the dribble of warm water and ducked back into the bedroom. I told the Cook that if she wanted a shower she had better have one now, the water pressure was low and I think we’ve got a leak somewhere.

She jumped out of bed and darted off into the dark in here pyjamas – she’d forgotten to turn off the water o the garden. She came back in and jumped back into bed - lucky her.

Now – as you’d be aware things on the farm are never that simple. Latter in the morning the Cook is letting the chicken eating dog have a run around before he’s put on the chain. She notices that lawn is very wet and that he dog is actually getting bogged chasing the ball. Then she notices that one of the garden taps has been broken off at ground level and water is pouring across the yard.

Of course I’m in town today, picking up bread and other things, lucky I can try and get a part to fix the pipe. But, I won’t be home until nearly dark; I can feel it now - this isn’t going to end well at all……… Going on previous plumbing experiences I should be throwing tools by about 9:30pm tonight!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Half baked ideas

I was in the middle of feeding the pigs on Friday morning when the phone rang – it was the Cook; she had taken both the sets of keys with her to work. Well, that changed my plans for the day. I had to quickly get the kids off to the bus at the walk and then work out how I was going to get where I was supposed to be. So, I made a cup of tea, sat down and decided that I’d do nothing. Way too hard!

So I spent the day doing the small odd jobs around the farm. Fixing a hinge here and pulling some weeds there. By the end of the day I had accomplished much, but had little to show for it. Saturday I had to race into town to finish my Mothers Day shopping and pick up a couple of bales of straw. By the time I returned there were a dozen pigs out and grazing on the lower paddocks. I’d had a good run with the electric fence; it hasn’t gone down for at least a month. The problem was easy to find and once everything was fixed the fence was up and running again. I think the escapee pigs enjoyed their day in the paddock, but they all came running back at feed time when I called them – it was a still day so everybody in town could probably here me calling “piggy – piggy - piggy”

I’m pretty sure we have had a fox stealing piglets. I didn’t think that the sows would let a fox anywhere near the piglets and I thought that a fox wouldn’t be able to carry a piglet over the side of the pen. But, we lost four piglets over night and I can’t find any other explanation. It’s fox baiting season at the moment and I’m hoping that the foxes will fall away in numbers for the next few months. I don’t think I can enclose the pens for safety reasons I may have to try installing lights or try a fox proof fence around a nursery pen – but that may affect our free range claims.

The Cook had a wonderful mothers day, she received a lovely bunch of presents from the kids, including; DVD of “lost in Austin” and a preserving starter kit from the living green people – which went over really well, but not as good as the dust pan and broom from Ben, which she loved.

Speaking of Ben, he’s been banished from the computer for a couple of weeks and spent all week end entertaining himself by being a devil. The Cook spent Saturday cleaning the wood burning stove and after many weeks of no home cooked cakes and biscuits spent the whole of mothers day cooking. It had nothing to do with the cooker and kitchen being the warmest part of the house either. In a day she managed to cook biscuits, a chicken casserole, cooked chicken nuggets and calamari, baked a roast and veggies and a pot of Milo! What a woman!!!

The Bitch is on heat as well – I’m talking about the dog JAAAM. We had organised to get her to a chocolate colour Labrador near Yass for this year and hopefully we can still do this. The Cook desperately wants a chocolate puppy or two and Shadow is just dying to be a mum.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Happy Birthday Harry

Just got back into the house from morning feeding. Somebody left a gate open last night and the pigs are all mixed together. I’ll have to sort out that mess later. Bella the cow ambushed us as well and had her head stuck in the bread bucket, poor Ben was caught in the middle and mugged by Floppsy and another pig. I ended up having to send him inside to get changed out of a very muddy pair of school pants.

Happy birthday to Harry – 14 today!! He’s nearly 6 foot high as well and it won’t be long before he’s taller and stronger then me. I think the Cook has a party/sleep over planned for a weekend soon.

I was trawling the ABC web site and came across a poem submitted for Beef week, written by my brother. Well done young fella!!! Here it is….

Brahmans are survivors

By Matthew Noakes from Marlborough , QLD

Tuesday, 28/04/2009

The world talks 'Global Warming',Climate Change the common cry.

Brahman cattle will be the survivors,Hairys, Puffers and Euros will die.

Carcass quality is a meritFat cover at all ages guaranteed.No ticks, no flies, no worries,The environmental economic breed.

Droughties, Santas, Brangus and BrafordsDon't fill us with confusion.You wouldn't even be a breedWithout our great infusion.

The world's biggest bull sale is BrahmanWe influence half the national herd.Against Brahmans there isn't even a second,The next best breed runs a distant third.

Well, Brahmans ain’t as good as pigs – obviously.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Nearly Mothers day and I haven't got a thing!

What on earth is going on in the mind of politicians these day’s. Surely we have seen the economy survive world wars, recession and depression; drought flood and fire; earthquakes, cyclones and Equine influenza – why won’t it survive an ETS. Somebody will work out how to make money from it somehow.

So the dozy old sods in Canberra are willing to put the environment at risk, which we know from previous episodes, when stressed, turns to mass extinctions; which I rather think we wouldn’t survive, in order to heal its self. I’m so tired of the short sightedness and popularised nature of politics these days I wish I could proclaim myself King of my realm and declare independence from the Commonwealth – and don’t start me on the NSW State Government.
I was also disapointed in the ACF for their cave in to the revised ETS. Being a donor to the ACF I've written an email outlining my dissatisfaction - if I don't say anything they wont know I'm displeased.

It’s amazing how you can be sitting down and wondering why something happens one minute and the next somebody is writing about exactly the same problem in their Blog. I was only talking to people yesterday about why some piglets just die and others seem to thrive in exactly the same conditions. The guys over at Beginner Farmer where talking about just that, seems the same thing happens to them. I have asked other farmers about mortality rates but I never get a straight answer, I guess, people find it a hard subject to talk about as it might be misconstrued as a weakness.

I have finally been able to remove the piglet formula taste from my mouth – the Cook has to pick up more tooth paste tonight. It’s Harry’s birthday this week as well. Another thing that needs to be organised – probably a sleep over in the shearing shed, lucky them! And, then there is Mothers Day on Sunday – surely every mother wants a compact tractor with a post hole digger and a slasher??

Monday, May 4, 2009

It's Sunday.....

Get it together you Gaggle!!!!


A few people have asked us about the swine flu and if it was having an impact on us at all. Short answer is no, fortunately our pigs are healthy and from what I understand they have no impact on humans catching the influenza.

Of course one of the benefits for us about this whole thing is that pig farms and pig farmers are getting onto the news. I love seeing how other farmers operate. You get a good idea if you’re on the right track and how well you stack up against the opposition – even if it is only your opinion.

The pigs are a bit smelly at the moment however; I think it’s because there is a bit of mud around from the recent rains. I’m currently working on a plan to spread out the population. One thing that we need to consider is reducing the amount of nutrients building up in the soil within the pig enclosures. I think this is one of the reasons the smell starts. Most likely the lack of continual rain over the past months has led to a large amount of nutrients remaining in the top layer of soil instead of leaching down the slope towards the garden areas.

So, as we had piglets in the house for a couple of days the Cook made up some piglet formula and stuck it in the fridge. She uses an old 2 litre milk container and it usually has milk, goat milk powder, cod liver oil and an egg in it. She came in on Saturday morning and was looking in the fridge, none of the organic “house” milk had been used she’d bought the day before. She asked Harry if Dad had made a cup of tea the night before – he realised strait away what had happened and burst into uncontrollable laughter. He forgets that I don’t! What I didn’t tell any of them was that I’d also had breakfast cereal - I wondered what the fishy taste was…….. That reminds me of the time she got JAAAM with the chocolate dog wormer – but that’s another story.

Anyway, I saw something funny on the weekend. Gob the turkey was marching the geese around the house. I watched them for ten minutes, and then decided I needed to take a picture of what was going on. They looked a treat and reminded me of my ill spent youth in uniform listen to turkey’s yelling orders at me.

I did my RabbitScan duties on the weekend as well. I spotted nine rabbits in fifteen minutes from a spot just behind the meat house. I hadn’t realised they were getting that thick. After would I saw another four behind the shearing shed and two more in the gully – I hope the guy in town with the ferrets calls me back soon.