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

Monday, February 28, 2011

Fencing the Urban Homestead

Firstly I’ve got to catch up on the fencing. So far we have looked at where to fence and our tools – next is materials. These are the essential elements of a good pig paddock;

1. Hinge joint fencing – you need the 8x 80x15 wire. This means the wire is 8 strand, 800mm high with 150mm spacings. Pigs don’t jump so it doesn’t need to be high and if you need more height because of stock in adjacent paddocks you can always put on a top strand of wire. This comes in lengths of 100m.  If you are only fencing in your large pigs you can use one of the larger hinge joint sizes - which all come in 200m rolls.

2. High tensile plain wire – best off with the 2.5mm, it somes in 1500m rolls.

3. Medium tensile tie wire.

4. 165cm steel pickets, one for every two metres of fence.

5. Electric fence stand off’s – one every three steel posts.

6. End insulators – one for tying off the start and finish and one for each corner or bend in the fence.

7. I use gripples to tie my wire so you need one per join.

8. Gate and hinges. The larger the gate the better, you may need to get a tractor into the paddock or back up a float to transport a pig.

9. Gate posts and corner posts. I use the steel water pipe strainers, this is because I plan to move my paddocks around and want to be able to re-use as much as possible.  I almost forgot to mention stays - you'll need two for each corner and one for each gate post.

10. Insulated wire and joiners for the electric fence.

11. Cable ties, and

12. A good sense of humour or the ability to swear like a trooper.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Homesteading Humour

This came from a Queensland Newspaper after the recent flooding.

Our story this year is also about how ordinary people survive extraordinary events. Part of what it means to be a Queenslander is to laugh in the face of adversity. As I travelled through flood ravage towns I witnessed our sense of humour act as a source of strength.

At the Helidon evacuation centre I met an elderly couple from Grantham whose home had been taken by the waters. As they stood shivering before me the elderly gentleman was too overcome with grief to speak.

His wife, who was missing her top row of teeth, stepped in with all the tenderness of a lifetime partner and said; "Premier, this is my husband. The waters rose fast and I had to leave my teeth behind to save him. Right now I'm not sure I made the right choice."
They lost everything, but they still had each other, and they still knew how to laugh.

Stories like this that have been told and retold across the state. They have raised a smile amongst the misery and have they raised our spirits in our darkest hours.
These are stories told by Queenslanders, like Baralaba piggery owner, Sid Everingham, who was asked by a local reporter if he'd suffered any stock losses in the floods.
"I've had 30 sows and pigs go down the river," he replied.
The next day the front page headline said '30,000 PIGS SWEPT AWAY - PIGS FLOAT DOWN THE DAWSON". The locals wondered how they'd missed the avalanche of pork. Maybe pigs do fly after all.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Fencing Part 2

I made a decision when we moved to the farm to always have the right tools for the job. Fencing tools can be expensive but I’ve found that expensive doesn’t always mean best quality. Ask around for what people recommend, field days are a good place to compare both quality and price.

Here are the items I’ve found essential for building your pig fence;

1. Good fencing pliers. Fencing pliers can range in price from $25 to $100 and as time goes by you’ll lose a few. I like to have a pair with the rubber grips for doing electric and a set without for tying Cobb & Co hitches.

2. Wire spinner. I bought a good one of these from Waratah; problem was it took me two years to work out how to use it. Since then it’s been a dream, you can’t run wire with out one.

3. Wire strainers. I bought an average priced set of strainers years ago and they have never let me down, I also bought two sets of the waratah ones when I bought my hinge joint strainers and they are just crap. They don’t always chain, the jaw springs gave out after a couple of uses and the wire grips chew the wire – I would avoid them at all costs.

4. Steel post driver. I have two and a pneumatic one. The mandrolic version is good for quick jobs, but if you’re putting in a hundred posts nothing beats the pneumatic driver. Steer clear of the Chinese copies (about $599), I got mine from Marchant Engineering in Sydney (about $2000) with a petrol driven compressor, it works a dream. I’ll probably invest in more air tools as I go.

5. Steel post lifter. You can’t get steel posts out with out one. Make sure it has a good solid large foot plate other wise you’ll just sink it into the ground when ever you use it.

6. Fence post shovel. You need a good one, I like the wooden handle version, I’ve had mine now for twenty years.

7. Heavy crow bar. You’ll need one with a tamping end. Don’t get the light weight versions, they may be easier to pick up but they bend easily.

8. Bolt cutters. For cutting wire, much easier cutting wire with bolt cutters then fencing pliers.

9. Shifting spanner. For attaching hinges for gates.

10. Level or plumb bob. For getting those posts strait.

11. Tape measure. Make sure it’s at least 5m, you loose a lot of these – and I’ve buried a couple down fence post holes as well.

12. 10lb sledge hammer – everybody needs a sledge hammer, don’t go cheap here. I’ve broken the head of a Chinese made sledgy, a rather large piece sheared off and hit me in the face whilst banging in a post once, so go for quality with a good handle.

13. 20 Litre bucket – for wire off cuts and carrying tools.

14. Fencing clip pliers. These are used to attach chicken wire or mesh wire to your fence. There are two types, and we use both, made by white’s wires; the plier’s type is fine for small jobs. The other is a spring fed pliers; they hold about 50 fasteners and are great for bigger jobs.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Lets talk fencing - Part 1

Okay, let’s talk about fencing. I’m going to spread this out over the week so I can cover everything in as much detail as possible. So firstly here’s a list of considerations for where to locate a paddock or pen for your pigs;
1. Are you farming free range or are you just running them in a pen. This is important because it relates directly to paddock size and the amount of materials you will need. From our experience pigs are happier in paddocks then pens. They do less damage to the paddock the bigger it is, and as long as they are well feed they won’t try to push out of the paddock.

2. To minimise materials, pick as flat a piece of ground as possible, small pigs will take advantage of any weakness in your fence and undulating ground provides many.

3. Make sure it is close to a water supply or somewhere you can run water to.

4. Ensure there is shade in the paddock. Remember shade moves and changes through out the day, so check the area you are putting your paddock during different times of the day to ensure there is always shade available.

5. Make sure it is close to power, solar energisers are good but prolonged wet weather or a break down can get ugly if you don’t have a backup plan.

6. Keep your paddock close to your loading/unloading facility, vet crush and sorting yards – it’s probably best having them integrated.

7. Better to build the fences for the smallest size pigs you are going to have first. So if you are planning on breeding your pigs, it’s important to start by building a fence that will keep the piglets in and the predators out.

8. You’ll need to use electric fencing; there is no other option – honestly.

9. You need to identify an area to isolate any sick animal – you can use temporary fencing like sheep panels for this. But again it will need shade, water and electricity. Isolation paddocks are best located at the front of a property were access is easy and people, like vets, who may need to see the animal don’t have to come into contact with healthy animal and risk contamination.

10. Although a flat area is best ensure the area you pick has some drainage and is not located with in a flood plain or an area that runoff drains into a dam or creek. The high level of nutrients in the soil can cause problems, like algae blooms, for you after big rain events.

11. Pigs can cope better with the cold then they do with the heat, so it’s very important if you live in a place which has regular temperatures over 25 degs in summer to have a wallow. Wallows also help with the control of parasites and other skin conditions. We live in an area were lice are a real problem and the only way to control them with out chemicals is if the animals have access to a wallow.

Please feel free to ask any questions.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Some re-assembly required

It was really, really hot last night. Normally, when it’s that hot we have a fan in the bedroom to help keep things cool. The Cook decided that she was going to watch a movie so the fan was left in the lounge room and she promised to bring it in to the bedroom later when she came to bed.

After a while of laying in bed sweating, I decided to liberate the fan and forcibly relocate it to the bedroom – not hard she was asleep on the lounge with Dirty Dancing blurting out of the TV. At about 2:38am, the rooster started to crow, the Cook had in between managed to sneak into the bedroom and into bed. Something happened and the rooster startled her and she left the – walked past the fan, on her way out.

On her way back she trip over the fan and sent it crashing to the floor – boy, can she swear. The next half hour she spent, with a torch in her mouth, trying to reassemble our $10 pedestal fan from Aldi’s. She swore and swore, she couldn’t find parts and couldn’t fit bits back together. Finally, she stacked up enough of MY clothes around the base, a suitcase and other miscellaneous items that the fan stood on it’s own accord – but now it doesn’t rotate.

Some how she thought that all the swearing and banging and crashing hadn’t woken me up. As she very carefully climbed back in bed I rolled over and said to her – “If you had of asked, I could’ve driven a steel post into the bedroom floor and wired the bloody thing up, would’ve been quieter”

We’re still married.

And, Mrs Duck, after telling you the Ducks weren't laying the other day, they've layed two eggs between them in the last two days, isn't that a coincidence!