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

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

wasn't there pigs here yesterday?

I’m sitting at the dinner table watching Ben run in circles around the lounge with the kitten trying to catch him, every so often the kitten takes a short cut and launches herself from the top of the lounge at Ben – luckily there hasn’t been any contact yet, but it’ll come, and I’ll wet myself laughing when it does.

We had a good storm this afternoon; at a guess I would say more than half an inch – I was in Cooma with Ben when it rained, there is mud everywhere and the back room of the house has had water in it as well. So, after the kids left for school I spent the morning crushing grain for the pigs and making up feeds, I topped up their waters and made sure the chickens had plenty of water as well – it was going to be a warm day.

I spent most of out the back putting in the last couple of strainers, that’s 20 with another five in the trailer waiting for the holes to be ‘improved’. Tomorrow it’ll be time to start putting in the steel posts – I can feel the aching shoulder muscles already, I suppose it’s character building if nothing else, plus now I have blisters on my blistered blisters.

You know how sometimes you do something – then in hind sight you realise you’ve made a huge mistake. We had a couple of piglets in a box in the house some months ago. They needed some warmth and looking after because they were too small and the litter was too large. Any way these are the pigs we’ve been using in the garden paddock to plough things up. Harry went out to feed them this morning and they were gone (at first I had a dread that they had been stolen, I’d been woken by what I thought was someone driving up the drive at 3:45am – couldn’t find any sign and I checked the camera this morning but it showed nothing). I went to investigate what was going on and found the little buggers had dug a tunnel under the fence and escaped – so it was more a ‘great escape’ then ‘a wooden horse’ – we found them a short time later back in the big pig yard. We probably shouldn’t have watched Hogan’s Heroes when they were in the house.

oh well no tears and they've gone to bed - quite time at last.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Now it rains

It was a little wet and windy today – just what we needed. The day started off slow but soon with kids galloping off to school and pigs to feed everything regained its momentum. The Cook had a well deserved lay in and I looked after the animals. We’ve recently reduced our numbers by about a dozen pigs and it’s made a big difference. Most of the ones that went were bigger pigs as well, so the feed is going a lot farther.

I spent the remainder of the morning after feeding dodging the Cook and her jobs – she was on the look out to put me to ‘gainful’ employment. As there is nothing to eat in the house until we can get to the shops again I headed up to the back 500 acres to have a look for weeds. Of course I found more than enough to be depressing. I haven’t been right up in the back corner adjacent to the railway line much, there’s a lot of tussock coming across the tracks onto our place, luckily it shouldn’t be too hard to get under control (famous last words). I was also trying to find any trace of our second Jersey Bull – no luck there, I’ll have to go see the neighbour and see if he’s seen him.

On the way back I came via the back of the hill behind the house, I ran into the Wedge Tail Eagles who were hunting rabbits in the grass ,I managed to get a couple of quick pics before they disappeared over the ridge. I also spotted a couple of new native flowers, I still can’t identify them – they weren’t flowering properly so I may go back on the weekend to have another look.

I don't know if there was something in the water here but some of the animals are a little odd today. The kitten thinks it's a lion and has been pouncing on anything that moves in the house from behind cover - and after seeing snakes it's not a pleasant feeling to have a kitten sink it's claws into your ankle. The fat dog has been doing that crazy dog thing running around with her tail between her legs all over the lawn. Fatso has been following me around all day - getting in my way when ever it is convenient for her and lastly George - he's joning in where ever he can and being a real dag.

When the boys arrived home they were put strait to work cleaning up the shearing shed, earlier in the day I’d found a blue birds egg on the grass up there and left it on a table. Anyway Ben found another couple and bought them back to the house. He’s quite the survivalist and pestered the cook to be able to break one of the eggs open and see what it look like inside. I was thinking it’d be a half grown chic or that it would be rotten. But low and behold it was just a normal egg, Ben asked if you could eat it, to which I responded that you could if it was a survival situation – so he wanted to try it. Out came the frying pan and Ben went to work cooking his egg, once finished he and Harry divided it and put it to the test – they both ate their share and decided it tasted just like ........chicken!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Sshhhh - they're all sleeping

Finally, it’s all quite....... not a sound - except the soft patter of rain on the iron roof and the faint muffled snoring of a fat black Labrador in the mud room. Quite a contrast from the last 48hrs.

We had 18 young lads here over the weekend for Ben’s birthday sleep over and that’s a lot of growing boys to feed.
Hat off to the Cook, she has spent the past two days attached to the stove cooking pizzas, biscuits, cakes and bread. I think, with the exception of pork we’ve run out of everything edible in the house. It was quite a logistical challenge to get everything cooked on the wood burning stove – specially the pizza’s, I think the kids were still eating until 9pm then there was milo’s at 10:30pm. They all spent the night in the shearing shed, I wandered up about 11:30pm and they were all still up watching DVD’s – except our two who had both passed out on their swags, exhaustion had taken its toll I expect.

I can’t even remember Saturday, I think it started early with a dash to Cooma to get everything that the Cook hadn’t the day before in Canberra. We had the Land Care AGM, it was uneventful. The guest speaker was from DECC and spoke about the Atherton to the Alps project, this is a conservation project about linking all the diverse landscapes along the Great Dividing Range. K2C is part of this and we received funding from this for some of our conservation work. Saturday afternoon was spent spraying weeds – for which I have formally given up and decided to get in a contractor with a tractor and boom to finish – there’s just too much. Did I ever tell that we have had our status wildlife reserve Gazetted?? It happened a couple of weeks back and the property is now officially named ’Valley View Wildlife Refuge’.

Today I have to really thank the three people who turned up to help with the fence, Paul, Greg and Tanya. All of them are part of the NSF and have their own conservation work to deal with as well. The help was gratefully appreciated and I could never have finished so much without them – and Paul is coming out next weekend as well. Unfortunately I have bent my crow bar into an ‘S’ shape – I need to find a heavier one I guess.
We headed back to the house about 1pm and arrived just in time for parents to start arriving to pick up the. Then I hit the road, off to Canberra to drop kids back and a long trip home. By the time we fed the pigs and did the waters is was dark and raining heavily. The Cook had conjured up a chicken from somewhere and we all sat down wearily to decimate the poor soul.

Now ever body else is in bed and I’ve got five minutes to myself, I might have a cuppa, catch up with some blogs, feed the dogs and hit the sack...........

Friday, October 23, 2009

No Rain, lots of Wind and plenty of blisters

Swainson Pea

One day I’m going to actually have holiday, the last time I took time off was when we moved into the farm. It never slows down, and even this weekend is full, Ben has his Birthday Sleep Over, there is the AGM for Land Care and a trip into Canberra on Sunday.

The last two weeks have been fairly productive, I’ve been able to get a lot of the posts into the ground out the back in the conservation area, the last few have been soul destroying with solid rock down about 18 inches. My arms ache, I’m sunburnt and in desperate need of a shave - I’ll be glad to head back to work, the kids reckon I’m a real red neck now. It hasn’t been all my work, one of the guy’s from the NSF has come out and helped and some others have also offered which is really great – and I will take them up on it.

We had a Grass Lands expert Rainer Rehwinkle come out yesterday to do a survey of some of Grasslands. It was a little windy, but otherwise a very pleasant afternoon. Rainer found over 60 species of native plants including orchids. He was very impressed with the quality and the quantity. I thought this was amazing because he only saw a small portion of the grassland we have. He’s asked if we would donate some of our Swainson-Pea seeds to the millennium seed project. Some of the seeds will end up in the National Botanic Gardens and the rest will be sent to the deep freezer in Norway where they are storing a collection of seed samples from every plant in the world – sort of a huge bio bank. I forgot to take my camera with me so went back today, but the wind was up again and the little flowers are hard to photograph in the wind. Whilst I was out there I stumbled upon two Shingle Back lizards and an Earless Dragon – which was slightly funny as Lauren, the facilitator from K2C was with us the day before and she spent hours looking under rocks for the little blighters.

I’ve also spent a bit of time spraying the Tussock Grass in the paddock next to the highway. It’s a wonderful job; the long Love Grass makes it difficult to walk and hides wombat holes really well. The paddock is a nice shade of pink however. I’m starting to think there is more to be done here then I can manage alone – between the farm and the conservation work there is barely a free or slow moment. I am going to need to get the local contractor in to boom spray some of the larger infestations of Tussock otherwise they’ll just get away and the problem will only get worse.

The Cook was in fine form this morning, I was in the Chicken Coup turning on the water and she was bringing up some scraps to the chickens. I wasn’t watching but she suddenly screamed and I looked up – just in time to see two very large brown snakes slithering across the yard. She had nearly stepped on them (maybe interrupted them is more precise), luckily the dogs weren’t around and the kids had gone to school. I think she’s looking a bit greyer this evening.

The Cook has been preparing the garden for the Bio Dynamic Course. It’s looking really good and a lot of effort has gone into it. It should look really good by November – and many thanks goes out to Mrs Duck for her donation of seedlings, they are doing you proud Mrs Duck and the Cook is very happy with them all.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Who's the good looking rooster??

Another day out in the open air and wind, I’ve got blisters on my blisters and a few aching muscles. I spent hours digging rocks out of post holes, I’ve ruined a pair of gloves in two days and I’ve already started to wear the second pair at the base of the thumb. And I’ve bent my crow bar – that’s a real bugger.....

It’s amazing what you see out there, I saw two foxes, one saw me, but the other didn’t.

I’ve managed to get seven posts in to date and this should speed up in the next few days as the fence goes out across the flats. I still need to go back and cement one in because I couldn’t get the whole deep enough in the rock.

There are dozens of different birds, hawks and falcons can be seen floating around on the updrafts and the stubble quails keep scaring the life out of me in the long grass between fence posts. I spotted a white necked heron gorging itself on threatened species down at the river this morning – I tried to get a picture of it but it had gone by the time I got back with the camera.

Our sheep are looking well and all the lambs have survived the bad weather. I see them each day on my way out to the fence, they are fat and happy – we’ve got one that must have been missed at shearing time it has a double fleece which will make it a fly target when the weather warms up so we’ll have to get the shearer out early this year.

Big day tomorrow – somebody is having a birthday, not that you would know. He’s been reminding us for days. So we are planning a special dinner for him tomorrow night, the cake is cooked and his pressies are sitting here on the table ready for when he wakes up.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Here it comes again

Working hard

A few days ago we rounded up a dozen of the smaller pigs and put them into an enclosure (we call it a pigitentiary) on the garden area. They only stay out on one spot for a night and they plough it up enough to move them onto the next area, at this rate we’ll have the paddock ploughed before the end of the month. Everything is starting to look green again now, but we’ll have to wait and see how long it lasts, maybe we’ll get the wet spring we’ve been hoping for.

We’ve finally been able to get our electric fence problems sorted out as well. Our mains power energizer arrived back from repairs the other day and is now working a treat – no more loose pigs. The Cook is really happy about that.
The River is running well and the water is crystal clean. I was quite surprised when I saw it, I thought it would have been a little more turbid after all the rain.

I spent most the day on the hill side putting in fence posts, apart from the blisters, wind and rain showers it was a rather nice day to be out there – lucky, because there is more of that tomorrow. There’s nothing better than the solitude of a vast open space.

The other thing I really like is music – both types. Right now I ‘m sitting at the table typing whilst listening and watching the new Sugarland DVD – if you’ve never heard of them then do yourself a favour and get any one of their CD’s, they’re just great. Jennifer Nettles, the lead singer, has the most amazing voice and she has the greats Georgia accent – I love the Southern ladies when they talk like that... I’ve been really lucky to catch them in concert as well and they are as good live as on CD. I’m thinking of heading off to CMC Rocks the Snowy’s again this year, I’m just waiting to see who all the acts are. I know that Taylor Swift will be in town around then as well and if she brings her support acts with her I’ll go see them instead. Glorianna are touring with her at the moment and I’d really like to see them in concert – and Kellie Pickler is another favourite as well.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Back again

It’s been a while – I’ve got no excuses life has just kept us rather busy. We’ve had a lot happening – it has rained quite bit nearly every day without the drying winds’.

I won’t try and catch up right now, I’ll leave that for later. The important things first; a big thank you to Mrs Duck Herder for an incubator full of lovely duck eggs, they’re in and rotating and hopefully in a couple of weeks we’ll clutch of very special ducklings. She also gave us a load of Onion and Leek seedlings which have been planted. And sorry for busting in so late Mrs DH – I’ll try harder next time to arrive at a decent hour...

We’ve also picked up our first batch of natives for planting in the upper reach of our gully. The fencing has started in earnest and hopefully in the next three weeks the planting areas should be stock proof. If anybody has a spare couple of days of sunlight they could spare let me know.

We’ve had more snow as well, last week on Wednesday it snowed all the way down highway to Michelago. I was taking the kids to a first aide course in Canberra – I nearly turned around and had a snow day it was so heavy.
The River is high but the water is crystal clear, the rain has been enough to cause runoff but not a lot of silt. Up early in the morning to collect another load of bread, then back home for a little more fencing, some tree planting and if it’s fine a little weed spraying.

Still more to come - Bee and NSF meetings, weeds, piglets and all sorts of things. I need to sort out my pictures - they're all to large to upload, I need to get photoshop.....