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

Friday, January 28, 2011


We are having a farm planning workshop with the NSF in a couple of weeks so we’ve started getting busy readying for this. If your reading this and interested in attending send me an email via the blog.

The aim of the workshop is to introduce people to the ideas about blending NSF with other alternates farming principles like permaculture and biodynamics. The topics we will addressing include;

1. Healthy landscape,

2. Healthy soil,

3. Sustainable production,

4. Drought proofing.

5. Food security

It’s taken me a while to discover the links between all these things, about how NSF, Permaculture, biodynamics and methods like pasture cropping are key to establishing a sustainable farming enterprise. And sustainability is the goal – in any type of season, which means all inputs have to be from on farm, non chemical and non petroleum based.

The map shows the area we will concentrate on for the project, after the workshop we will further cut it down into phases.
And why do we feel it’s important to create a sustainable farming enterprise, go here and read this - go here!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Yep – been fencing, a lot lately. Still need to get my electric fence up and running again. It’s been down for a couple of days now and it won’t be long until the pigs work that out. Weed chipping has been another priority this week with things drying out we need to get the majority of the weeds out before they go to seed.


This weekend is going to be a couple of days of spraying weeds in the conservation areas. The tussock weeds have really taken off this summer and need to be contained and removed before they spread even further.

We’ve had a couple of snake incidents this week as well. Both down in the Cooks garden and both brown snakes. One keeps getting into the chicken shelter under the compost tubs. I was down there the other day and a smallish snake had managed to get in with the chicks, the mother hen was fighting it off and the seven chicks had climb up to the top of the wire and were hanging upside down watching the fight.

I managed to get between the snake and the chicken, but trying to get the snake out, stop the dogs getting the snake and protecting the chook was a challenge. It ended slithering out under the pumpkin bush back to the gully. The other one was a little more exciting, I was going out to move some fence posts, luckily I was carrying the shovel, this one was laying along side the steel water pipe stainer posts and when I picked one up I disturbed it. Unfortunately the snake turned on me and I had no choice but to wacked it with the shovel before he had a go at me. I really hate snakes!

Floppsy leaving her bath
I got up the other morning to squeals of delight coming from the old bath tub water trough next to the house. It was a lovely morning, probably about 23 deg and still, I went out to investigate and found Floppsy the Pig taking an early morning bath in the trough. I tried to get a photo but she is a little shy and prudish, so I only got her as she left. I could just imagine her sitting in the tub wearing a shower cap and washing her back with a loafer.

List number 1

Here are the 10 things I’ve learned about pig fencing over the last few years –

1. You need to use twice as many steel posts as you thought.

2. You’ll never keep them all in.

3. You’ll need three times as many steel posts as you first thought.

4. Pig fences don’t have to be high – until they learn to jump.

5. You’ll need four times as many steel posts as you previously thought.

6. Don’t put a fence between a pig and its food.

7. You’ll need to buy steel posts by the pallet.

8. Don’t throw away the pallet – you can use it for pig fencing.

9. Pig wire only comes in 100m lengths – you’ll need 120m to finish the job.

10. When you think you’ve finished fencing – the pigs will have dug enough soil out from under your fence to make you have to move them all.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Work to do

Harry Cooking Breakfast
 It’s full steam ahead on the farm at the moment, we’ve managed to cut back our pig numbers, noticeably and this has allowed me to free up some money to invest into the Cooks Garden. We are extending the front fence and pig/goat proofing the whole area so the Cook can plant her orchard and not have to stress about animals eating everything she plants. I’ve also built her a brand new double tub worm farm, using old bath tubs. They are high enough off the ground that she can have a bucket underneath collecting the worm juice. And to finish it off she has a brand new barrel for her seaweed tea using the seaweed she towed back from their holiday down the coast last week.

The Rooster
I’ve just spent the last few days hobbling around the place finding it very difficult to walk. I couldn’t get out of bed on Monday. Of course the Cook doesn’t like me laying around the place making it look untidy, she had my crippled body out doing jobs which included digging post holes and mowing the lawn – albeit very slowly. And the culprit? Not a farm accident, not my old army injury or even a fall from a horse or quad bike, no, none of those things. Nothing even slightly funny, exciting or even dumb. Seems I have a Magnesium deficiency and all I needed was a supplement and everything would be better. A day later and I can almost walk again, hallelujah!

Our lawn whilst being mowed

The Cook has been busy in the garden and it looks great. I hope she is down there now filling up her brand new worm farm with lots of treats for our next load of micro livestock. She was telling me a few moments ago about how she had just about sliced off a finger with my sickle harvesting some Lucerne, the big cry baby, she had to hang up so she could try and stop the bleeding – I guess I’ll hear all about it tonight. At least its better she did it in the garden then the kitchen – I hate having to fish through dinner looking for loose digits. She runs the risk of the rooster grabbing hold of her finger and running off with it.

We got a little surprise in the mail today, a bunch o f books arrived I’d ordered on Amazon for Christmas. Most of them were for the Cook, but one was for me! It’s about building smokehouses and meat smoking – can’t wait to get stuck into it. The cook got books on Poly Tunnels, Preserving and small scale grain production.

Our experimental wheat patch has progressed, it’s full of Lucerne at the moment, we sowed it fairly thickly as the main aim is to enhance the nitrogen in the soil, the wee little pigs in the pen next door keep sneaking into the patch, but they’re currently too small to do any damage. We decided it was too late to plant summer wheat; we’ll leave that till next summer and maybe put some oats in the patch over winter.

The Rooster is keeping us all entertained. He continues to sleep on the front veranda and start crowing at 3:30am each morning. I think I’ve just about managed to ignore him now as he didn’t wake me up this morning, but the Cook did ask me if I had sharpened the axe since winter yesterday morning and we did have roast chicken for dinner last night – I wonder?

The farm dam
We had a bunch of NSF people over to help us do some more work on our leaky weir in the gully. We’ve suffered a small amount of new erosion with all this rain so working to fix it before our next deluge is becoming a priority. Luckily the weir we installed worked well and has silted up a lot quicker then we expected – probably due to the new erosion in the gully above. I think we’ll need to get some machinery in to do some of the work as there’s large head wall erosion close to the main dam wall.

Helpers at the leaky weir

Thursday, January 13, 2011


I hope everybody has survived Christmas; ours was quite and mostly restful. It did take me 10 days to mow the lawn with the brand new 21 inch cut, 190cc lawn mower that I bought the Cook for Christmas. Normally we buy second hand mowers from garage sales; I’ve broken three since we’ve been on the farm so this time I splurged on a new one. Apart from being able to start it first time every time, it mows twice as wide rows as the others. It’s made a huge difference to how long it takes to mow the lawn, but it hasn’t made any difference to how fast it grows back.

The lawn had grown so long that it was up to my shoulders by Christmas, Ben had been lost in the yard for a day and night and nobody noticed, we all thought he was doing the waters. He was finally able to follow one of the pigs out at feed time. By the time I made it to the last few rows I had to scythe the long grass first, hunt out the tigers and then mow it a couple of times.
As is tradition at Valley View we had a Christmas Day litter of pigs, ironically it was from the same sow that supplied us with our Christmas ham. She gave birth to a lovely litter of fine piglets ready for this year’s (2011) Christmas.

We have also had a great deal of chickens hatching with clutches of chicks all over the house and yard. Unfortunately only one of the Lavender Araucana’s green eggs has hatched so far. With any luck the other five or so eggs will hatch out over the next couple of days.
Our most exciting news was the first jars of Valley View Honey! The bees had built honey comb on the lid of one of the hive boxes and when I went to add an extra super to the hive I decided to remove the comb so the lid would fit again. I obviously need to put a mat on the top of the frames in that box. The girls did us proud and from just a small amount of comb we managed to extract three large jars of honey, almost enough to last a few months if the cook can stop giving it away. She did do all the extraction and received a sting on the finger for her troubles. And it tasted just divine. We are still only amateurs as far as the Bees, there’ll be a lot of learn as you go, luckily I have Mrs D’s number if I get stuck!

We sold a lot of pigs over the break; every other day pigs were going off. I now only have about 25 grower pigs left for next year. As the majority of these are boars I’ll probably have to take them down to the pig sales in February. We have about twenty piglets which we are keeping for hams for this years Christmas. I’m planning on having no piglets over winter this year and resting the sows.
Somebody whom bought pigs uttered a side ways word about their wife wanting goats, the Cook’s ears instantly pricked and she was off like a dog with a bone.

She had the goats organised the people over and all four loaded in their truck before you could blink, Bendy and Nudge even allowed themselves to be caught with out putting up the usual fight. The Cook waved them off and felt satisfied she was finally rid of them – until today.

The people who took the goats called just after lunch. They found that our beautiful, lovely, placid goats didn’t want to integrate into their herd (what ever that means) so have decided to bring them back – The cook has been bitten on the bum by KARMA! I hope they had a nice holiday, I’ll be there to welcome them back (I’m laughing to myself) and build their new paddock behind the house.