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

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Going Slowly

Keeping moisture in the soil may not seem a real challenge if you live somewhere like Central Queensland, Kent or Maine. You may never have to experience the depth of Drought that we have just emerged from here in the South East of NSW. But it sends a clear message – use this time to prepare for the next one, because the next one will probably be worse.

The other day I talked about change and this preparation is all part of that. The solution we have arrived at is a blend of NSF, Permaculture, organics and biodynamic and, of course, our own experiences. The solution we are moving towards involves constructing a number of swales across the length of the farm paddocks, the swales are lined with deciduous trees on the up hill slope and fruiting trees, shrubs and bushes on the down hill slope. Between these swales we will run our pigs on a linear rotation with smaller paddocks for winter and larger paddocks for summer. This will also involve portable water and pig arks to complete the system.
The idea is that the pigs will live amongst avenues of trees providing both shade and a food forest for ourselves and the pigs. The deciduous trees and pigs provide the nutrients for the fruit trees and the swales transfer the water and nutrients back into the soil. The trees also provide the shade and protection from wind which decreases the amount of surface evaporation.
This is very close to the Dehesa Farm (thanks Emily) style from the Iberian (Spanish) Peninsula where the famous Spanish Bellota Hams are produced – start to see the idea. Unfortunately we’ll probably never get to the point where our pigs can roam between the trees – but the kids should. The Spanish use acorn trees, which we will also use, as well as, Hazel nuts, apples, pairs and persimmons. In thirty years we’ll have the most beautiful autumns you could imagine.
This, unfortunately, isn’t going to happen over night and it means a lot of planning, fence moving, tree planting and water pipe installed. Not to mention the earth works!
Thanks to Russell for his link to Sugar Mountain Farm as well, I read their Blog often and have watched some youtube videos they’ve done. I didn’t realise they ran their pigs in the woods however; again a little slow on the up take!
The Cook went off to listen to Joel Salatin from PolyFace Farms speak about his farming system, I had seen his DVD, read some of his book and seen a farm using some of his methods - so I stayed home and help feed the pigs. She was impressed with the apprenticeship and intern programs that farms like his run in the US, another farm I’ve read about called Nature’s Harmony Farm has a similar program. The folks at NHF, Tim and Liz, have a podcast which is really good and worth listening to as well.

We have totally underestimated the demand for our – now famous Bredbo Valley View Farm Christmas Hams. The Cook and I have been inundated with requests for more hams this year. Unfortunately our problems getting a butcher mean we couldn’t do hams this year. I’m trying to organise the means to get a pig or two processed so I can do my own – but it’s becoming a race against the clock.


Em said...

Sounds very exciting, but a bit daunting too with all that work! It will be well worth it though, I am sure. It is wonderful to imagine that one day the dry brown pastures will become a lovely green sheltered forest (full of yummy yummy pigs!) :D

Old Nev said...

Still reckon you should have gone into politics-no work and more money! I'm impressed by the big plan. Hope it all works out for you. The clutch on my tractor gave up the ghost yesterday-result tractor smashed into the wall of the shed and I'm sporting a badly swollen wrist. Three days icing to bring down the swelling to see if anything is broken. Hope you get some nice ham for Christmas/

The Duck Herder said...

Sounds awesome. I love the whole NSF thang, and the opportunity to combine it with a massive food forest, well, that is just lovely. I will come and wwoof for you anytime!

duckie xxxx