Bredbo Valley View farm - providing quality education in Permaculture and sustainable living practices.
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Most people wouldn’t have given it any consideration, it never crossed my mind until recently – but now it’s going to change the whole face of the farm.
Back in April I talked about change and renewal, about how we were reassessing what we do, why and how. We looked at moving the farm to somewhere with more rain, Tasmania looked nice, but for various reasons that didn’t work so we decided to stay put. So that change didn’t happen – sorry Dad, I’m not going into politics.
So, to continue in regard to change. We attended a talk at the Natural Sequence Farming AGM; it was about farm planning, trees, permaculture and general farm philosophy. We had always intended to raise our pigs as naturally as possible and we thought that meant free range, but included pens, straw, shelters, wire and gates. But then somebody, out of the blue, made a statement “you know pigs are forest animals?”
I didn’t know what to say, I’d never even really thought about it. But it made sense. And put it all together with planning, trees, permaculture and animal welfare and it made perfect sense. We’d even seen it, talked about it – but never put it all together.
As an example, the pigs in the front paddock. They have trees, and they love nothing more then laying in the shade on a summer’s day, both the Cook and I have talked about it but never really connected the dots. Additionally we’d also had a sow escape and have a litter in the bottom of the paddock a while ago as well, we didn’t notice until a few days after they were born that the pig was missing. But the piglets were the healthiest and hardiest we have ever had. They had no shed, no shelter just long grass, shrubs and trees. They survived frost, rain and possibly foxes huddled together in the nest mum built in the low shrubbery.
We now let mother pigs out into the paddock to farrow, there are only mothers and piglets in the paddock and we try for one sow at a time. And it’s working, better then we ever expected. The other night, Harrison accidentally locked a mother pig up; separating her form her litter. The next morning I went looking for the piglets expecting the worse – but there they were, camped under a bush totally hidden right were she had left them. Mother and piglets were reunited after feed time and every thing was fine.
Climate is the other consideration; it has become obvious that the rain in our area now falls in pulses. We get large amounts over small periods with large drying gaps between events. We need to condition our farm to deal with this and thrive, instead of standing back and praying it will rain before everything dies. Fortunately, it appears there is a relatively simple solution to all of this and the results will speak for themselves.
I’ll talk about our plan in my next post – til then.