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

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A ton of pork

Honey Lotus
It’s been busy, we are down to 15 pigs – to think before Christmas I was worried I’d still have 100 by winter. My weekly 2am starts have finished and the lady down at the Sydney Markets has almost a tonne of Valley View Pork. By all reports she’s very happy with the quality of the product. This makes us happy about the way we are doing things – even if it is a little harder then the norm.
Thinking back over the past few weeks it’s all been a blur. We had a weekend of field days - that was fun. People were picking up pigs, tractors slashing, and new electricity poles going in, a lads sleep-over and day to day life.

I spent one weekend driving out to Griffith to collect two lots of pig feed. The car towed the two tonnes of grain well – unfortunately I had a blow out of a trailer tyre on the way out, fortunately I was able to get a new tyre in Wagga and continue the trip. I’ll be up for another one of those in the near future.

Our solar power station has been put back until August now due to a lack of photovoltaic cells. Luckily for me they have also changed the way they anchor the posts (our system is too large for the roof) so now I don’t have to dig 20 x 1m deep postholes.

Spreading Seed
Myself and Tanya a friend of ours from up the road at Jerangle (wave), went out to Lynfield Park at Gunning and had a look at the amazing tree plantings out there. I’m not much on which tree is which – but that’s all changing (sorry Matthew). I was really impressed by the modification that planting trees can have on the microclimate of an area. It was my first real encounter with fodder trees, something I’ve recently become very interested in. The man who runs the property, John Weatherstone was great, he gave us a great briefing on the history of the property, his vision and how he accomplished what he had. As a bonus - at the end of the day he filled the back of my Ute with wool packs of seed trash, which is the pods and stuff left over from seed collecting. The trash contains loads of seed still and is good for sowing across rip lines in a paddock; we saw the results of John had done at Lynfield Park. I was also lucky enough to be given some Palonia seeds for the Cook – she has been wanting to try growing these for years, she was very happy when I arrived home, seeds in hand.

During the week on the way home one evening I spied a grove of Honey Locus trees on the side of Adelaide Avenue. These are great fodder trees and resist cold better then the carob trees. Animals feed on the large seed pods they drop in autumn. I pulled over and filled a feed bag with pods and took them home. Unfortunately, the pigs have found the bag and I’ve lost some of the pods – but at least they like them.

So the next Saturday a friend, Paul, from the NSF and I spent the morning out on the quad bikes seeding the top gully, I think we managed to do about and acre or so – now we need to wait for spring and see what germinates.

I attended a presentation about the water/plant cycle and its affect on Climate Change. This dealt with the establishment of micro climates to help cool the planets surface and about how if we control the amount of solar energy used to do activities other then just heat the soil we can increase productivity and mitigate the some CO2 generating processes.

Rip Line
The kids had a group of mates over for a sleep over as well; it’s a highlight of the school holidays for them. On the Saturday before everybody was due to arrive I had gone into Cooma to get some supplies. Whilst I was out Fatso the pig knocked over a beehive which is located quite close to the house. The Cook asked me to go have a look at it when I got home. The lid had come off the box and it was laying in pieces on the ground, I walked over top it and had a look, the bees appeared to be calm so I thought I’d give putting it back together a go. But they weren’t quite as calm as I had first thought; resistance began to grow, so a deliberate withdrawal to the house was in order.

I got into my bee suit and ventured back to the hive and began putting it back together. No sooner had I got out there and bent down to pick up the first box when a very savage bee managed to sting me right on the end of my rather big enough already nose. I swear he took a run up – I saw him coming, it was like a kamikaze – it all happened in slow motion. I’ve been stung before – but this ‘really’ hurt.

Wolf Spider
The rest of the bees seemed to sense victory and in a few seconds they were all over me – a second withdrawal was in order, this time I was perused and harassed for some distance. I returned after a short break to regain my composure, I took a long walk around the paddock trying to avoiding bees which were still following me.

A little while later, after I had managed to break contact with the bees I went back and fixed the bee box and made sure they were secure. I went inside to ice my throbbing – now humungous nose.

All the Cook was do was look at me and laugh, she had me sit on the lounge and put a bag of frozen corn on my face – that didn’t help, but at least I couldn’t see her laughing at me, just hear it. Poor dogs got a couple of stings as well.

The Cook has had her fair share of pain and agony this month as well. Whilst I was away one day she had to help somebody load some pigs. One of them was an awfully pregnant sow. Now, we tell people to bring a trailer, that we don’t have a ramp and that it’s hard to load up a ramp. And then people turn up with 4WD’s with crates on the back and we have to try and lift 120kg moving, thrashing, squealing pigs into it. The only guy’s that have done it well were the two Police Officers just before Christmas – but they have a lot of experience.

Anyway, the Cook is helping this fellow load his pigs, luckily the tractor driver turned up to do some slashing and was able to give a hand. But, in the struggle, the Cook managed to get her hand jammed in the side of the crate and crushed her thumb. She told the guy’s she needed to get some ice and ran back to the house – were she nearly fainted on the floor. Once she had regained he composure she stuck the bag of frozen corn on her hand and went back out to help the tractor driver change a tractor tyre. How’s that for tough! That’s why I do what I’m told.

Other news – I’m off to do my Permaculture Design Certificate next week. Looking forward to this, I’ve had to do a lot of reading prior to the course – which I don’t really like, but it has been very educational. I must thank Tanya again for loaning me some great books from her library.