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

Monday, May 24, 2010

Back so soon??

Another eventful weekend at Valley View. But before that – Thursday evening the Cook made her first Lasagne with homemade pasta sheets – how good was that?? I am a lasagne lover from way back and I’ve got to say it was the best I’ve had for years. Funnily, we were sitting wondering how long we needed to let it cook for when Italian Food Safari came on – and they were making homemade pasta for Lasagne – problem solved, thanks Maeve.

Friday afternoon I was in the feed store picking up some feed after visiting the local rural store. A bloke rocks up with a box under his arm and asks the guy behind the counter if he could task a rooster to sell. “Not a lot of demand for roosters in suburbia” say’s Jim, “you could advertise them in the paper maybe”

The guy looked a little worried; I asked him if it was a good looking rooster? So he gave me a look – he was a very nice looking young roosters. I said I’d take him, and the guy said “hang on and I’ll get the other two out of the car.”

So off I headed to Mrs D’s house trailer load of feed, fencing wire and three roosters. I picked up the new Khaki Campbell Drake and headed home. The drive gives a good amount of time to think up and rehearse what I’m going to tell the Cook. A number of reasons for increasing the number of roosters on the farm came to me along the way – all of them very lame. Finally I settled on the reasoning that if I keep collecting roosters soon there has got to be a shortage – and I will be able to corner the market, and yeah I know, she didn’t think it was a good excuse either.

So the kids settled in the roosters and drake – he took possession of the KC Ducks strait away, and I tried to make myself as small as possible whilst the Cook muttered something to herself. Funny thing was, she was cooking omelettes for dinner, which didn’t make it easy to change the subject – I even got heckled by the children.

Saturday I headed off early to the Love Grass workshop. It was an interesting meeting, managed to discover a new strategy for dealing with invasions but overall it was the same old same old and by the end I was wondering why I bothered.

On the way home I got to pull in at the local hardware shop and spend a little quality time window shopping for tools. I picked up a couple of odds and ends and headed out. I then pulled in to the supermarket to pickup date roll and milk. When I pulled into the car park I noticed two chickens scratching around in the bushes between the cars. I thought it was a bit strange, there aren’t many houses close by and the chickens looked well enough. When I came out they were still there and scratching around in the bush close to the car. So I walked over and picked up the bigger of the two – an Isa Brown. The other one was a Bantam – probably a Buff Orpington or something similar. I chased it into the bush and caught it also, so there I was standing in the bush with two chickens, one under each arm. What’s that saying – a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush – somehow I think it doesn’t apply here??

So I sat the two chickens on the back seat – on my jacket all the way home. I didn’t need to think up any wild to tell the Cook this time, which is lucky because I was all out of creative ideas after Friday. So this time when I rocked into the kitchen with two chickens under my arm I was greeted a lot more civilly.

Sunday was freezing – minus 8 Degrees C in the morning. I don’t go outside until it’s at least 5 Degrees C. Old Nev called us with some disturbing news - Matthew (my Brother) was off getting his Pony Club Instructors License this weekend. You'd need to know the family history for this but they must have got him drunk or promised him something to make him do that - I can't wait to see a picture of him wearing jodphers on his blog. If he doesn't have any I think the family should all chip in - can't have him doing pony club improperly attired, what would old Di say??.

It took a while to warm up – but by the time Land Line was over I was outside fencing. The ground remains cold, especially on cloudy days with out the sun, and by 6pm I was well and truly cold and ready to get by the fire. Luckily for me the Cook sent the kids out with a cup of tea and orders to give me a hand at about 4pm which helped me get the job done.

Of course, for me the weekend ends when I get the kids on the bus on Monday morning. So after chores I stuck the kids in the Jeep and headed for the bus stop. We stopped to feed the sow near the gate and as is normal I turned off the car to give Harry the keys to lock the gate. Unfortunately when I tried to restart the Jeep it cracked a sad and refused to start. “Quick - start walking to the Bus” I said to the kids and raced back up to the shed to grab the spare battery and jumper leads. In ten minutes I had the Jeep going and managed to reach the kids just as they made it to the gate, I got a couple of dirty looks, but at least they made the bus.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Yep - it's cold.

The cold weather is upon us – as usual for these parts it started with ANZAC Day. Unfortunately it also causes me problems with the pigs fencing – every year it’s the same, we get failed wires and shattering insulators. What’s made it worse this year is that the fence went down between the Boar and the Sows and now I’m looking forward to the first week of September as being a very “labour” intensive.

So we’ve had our first Minus 4’s, Monster Frosts and thick all morning fogs. Everything is damp or frozen and scraping ice off the windscreen at 5am is becoming a chore. But the days have been warm – after the fog clears at least.

We’ve only had about 12mm of rain since our big falls earlier and everything ha died right back. We still have some feed and the dams are almost full – but it won’t last the winter.

So what has been going on at the farm? We’ve had a Birthday, a 21st Wedding Anniversary, Mothers Day and our 3rd anniversary on the farm. Also the return of Doctor Who and Robin Hood on ABC always something to look forward to over the winter months.

The Cook scored really well on Mothers Day – a brand new Schnitzer Grain Mill. She’s been milling wheat for various meals ever since. A friend loaned her a pasta making machine and we had a great time making our own pasta, a little more practice is required – no wonder Italians had such large families.

She also got a hand cranked (Amish) corn schucker and her own scythe – she’s a little concerned about hidden messages.

We’ve also been selling a few pigs, some went to the Farmers Markets, some went to be fattened for Christmas and some are going to be breed. We have been pretty happy with the current condition of all our pigs going into winter and looks like it’ll be our best spring yet as far as the pigs go.

Unfortunately the fencing has taken a back seat the last few weeks – but that is about to change. Also, our weed program has been given a boost with the arrival of some new equipment to make our spraying program a lot more efficient and effective.

Ben has started Soccer – he’s the star Goal Keeper for the Cooma Cosmos. So far this season they are 2 wins and 2 loses.

Unfortunately we had a fox in the Chook Dome they other day and he killed a few of our chickens and four ducks – one was the drake we were given by Mrs D. Luckily she has a spare and I am picking it up on Friday evening. He was a lovely drake, full of character. We think he was taken protecting his girls from the fox as they were all fine. I hate foxes. It came back a couple of nights later, not long after I had gone to bed. It got a real shock when a large naked man sprung at it, with a stick cleaned in his hands, from the shadows as it tried to corner another helpless duck. Unfortunately I wasn’t quick enough to get a good swing at it – must have been the cold, and it got away. But I’ll be waiting – in the shadows, when it returns.

I’ve been told that the family is running a book on what the change is I was talking about – good luck guy’s – there’s no hints. Sometimes things just don’t happen how you expect they will. It’s been three years since we moved onto the farm – one of our goals was to be full time farmers by the end of five years, others included - pay off the mortgage in ten and be as self sufficient as we could before we retire – of course the Cook would put in  - renovate the house as well (she's a little over the Kitchen and Bathroom). We are on our way to achieving some of those goals, others might have to wait.  I think I might add getting rid of the rats in the cieling as well.

One of our biggest problems has been the transport of pigs back from the abattoirs. I think I approached this problem with a number of incorrect assumptions which tied me into a narrow mind set. Of course the principle key to success of any business venture is innovative thinking – and I fell into the trapped of trying to do it the same as everybody else. Having slipped the chains of imitation I can see my errors and am working on a new logistics chain for our product which should prove to be far more robust then the current method and a lot more efficient.

I have been participating in a pilot pig farming course run by the NSW DI&I (DPI in QLD). It’s been really interesting and this last subject was marketing. It’s funny how you sometimes don’t join the dots until you are explaining yourself to another person. That’s when I had my epiphany about our logistics train.