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

Friday, November 15, 2013

They're here!

I told you all - Zombies are coming!

      Well okay, that's what I thought when I first saw this on my camera.   But, apparently I was wrong and in fact it is Wallace.   Probably not the best picture he's ever taken.  

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Friday, September 6, 2013

Things at Floriade are getting serious

The Site
  This is teh third day of construction and assembly.  So far so good!  Danny O'Brien from The Farm Shop is doing a great job.   The building is being supplied by Jigsaw, a compnay specialising in sustainable building.  There is a lot of work being done by Josh from Easycare Landscapes are assisting with some really beautiful elements in the design.

This weekend as well as being at the Enviro Expo at Queanbeyan we are dong a weekend Cob building workshop to get the Flow Form and Rocket Stove into the design - big thanks to Tanya for doing this, inspite of the morning sickness.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Preparing for the Zombie Apocolypse

It’a unlikely, buit just in case we are planting our Zombie Apocolypse victory garden this weekend. I’ve been working on the garlic and onions for the past few weeks, keeping the weeds at bay. And las weekend went in the first of our beetroot in line with our moon planting calendar. It’s really important if you want only the best fruit and veg to go by the moon planting system. This weekend I’ll be

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digging the holes for the Cider Apple trees I received yesterday. I will now have eight Kingston Black Cider apple trees in my little orchard. I’m also putting in some Walnuts into this particular site and some Hazelnuts. The plan is to then plant out the spaces in between with berries and cane fruits. Under all the apple trees we’ve been busy planting asparagus – you can never have too much asapargus. And of course all this will come in handy once the Zombies Apocolypse starts and the National Food Retail Duopoly is rendered useless and people can’t buy food in teh cities any longer. Of course this will all be bought about by a mysterious gene ‘accidentially’ released into our food chain by you know who.
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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Floriade is on the horizon

Our new Guinea Fowl
It’s been really busy here lately, the project we are working on at Floriade is coming along nicely, it’s been such a privilage to work with so many great and talented people from so many differnet and diverse community groups and businesses. As construction of the project gets underway in the next week or so I’ll put pictures up of our sites progress.

A couple of weeks ago we ran an Introduction to Permaculture course for the Floriade volunteers. Together with Trish McEwan and ten other presenters we spent two days talking about the principals and ethics of Permaculture and demonstrating various methods and techniques for growing food in the urban back yard.

On the farm we have been struggling a little with a lack of feed at the moment. This year it seems a little different to previous years. We’ve not had as serve a winter as usual, but it’s been a little drier than we expected. Thank goodness all our pastures are starting to come out of their dormant period and tiny green regrowth is sprouting up everywhere.

On top of this, we have just been notified by the local Buttercup Bakery will no longer be selling their stale bread to farmers. The stale bread made up only a small portion of their daily feed ration, but we aill still have to replace it with grain or something similar.

On a much happier note we have been going gang busters as far as everything else goes. Our brand new shed with lock up work shop has finally been finished. This will be converted into a classroom over the summer as I have time. It’s so nice to have a couple of weather proof structures now where we can sotre all our valuable tools and equipment. We have started a market garden area above the pigs. I just recieved today another five cider apple trees to go with the five I purchasd earlier. The first lot were planted during a food forest course we ran in August. These trees will be interplanted with walnuts, and some perennial veg, hopefully I’ll get both asparagus and artichokes into this area.

Next on the list are some olive trees, I have still got a few chestnuts and hazelnuts to plant first – going to be a busy weekend.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Pigs in Compost

Pigs sleeping in compost - note the piglet on top the pile

Turning compost is a chore I love doping, but during this period of short days I need a hand.  I've been investigating different ways to make compost over the past months after I was asked to do a workshop for the City Farm on composting.

I've noticed that the Berekely Method of composting has it's draw backs in a cold climate.  Do what you might it is difficult to keep it hot enough in the -8 mornings.  I've tried covering in plastic and tarps - even a slab curing blanket, but nothing kept the heat going.  I also noticed I was using a lot of water, the constant westerly winds keep drying the compost out,  I started to worry about leeching nutrients from the pile because of the amount of water I was putting on.

So, after a lot of research I decided to give the biodynamic method a go and it's working really well.  I have introduced the pigs into the system to turn the compost every other day. They love it,  I just move them from one heap to another - it also keeps them warm at night - one of those permaculture win/wins.  So no more hour long session turning compost every other night , just move a few pigs from one spot to another at feed time.

Now I have time to weed between the onions I planted at solstice, lucky me;)


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Posting on the run

Lots of stuff going on at the moment, just when I was trying to get back into blogging. Wee are currently running a Permaculture Design Certificate with our great mate Trish McEwan. Trish is a really dedicated lady and puts a lot into the course. As usual we get to meet all sorts of interesting people with lots of different backgrounds on these courses. The information sharing is amazing and the depth of knowledge remarkable – and that’s the students.

Some of our PDC Students at one of Canberra's Community Gardens

We have had a fair bit of rain of late, which caused havoc with keeping pigs in for a couple of days. It would have been much easier had it not been for our neighbours cows. I can’t believe the things will get through a five strand wire fence, three strand electric fence to push over a sheep yard – and then just stand there chewing their cud.

Our new Holistic Management system is going well, but I should have seeded a paddock last week and ran out of time. Never mind, not much on this weekend anyway.
I had the opportunity to be interviewed by the local ABC radio station, on my way into the study I even passed our new Prime minister taking his early morning walk around the lake, the other day about our Urban Farm at Floriade project. It was a great experience and the interview went pretty well – the Cook even heard it and sent me a nice well done text message – aaahhhhh!

We managed to plant forty Chestnut Trees last Sunday into our pig area.  I just have to sit back for the next 15 years to see how they go.  It was a miserable afternoon when we put them in, luckily with all hands on deck and the soil being really soft the Job wasn't too onerous.  I will be muching them this weekend,  it ended up being too boggy to get in along the swales until then. 

So, one of the things I set out to do this year was to make a large barrel of Apple Cider, from locally sourced apples, for the end of year Christmas Party. We have a recipe we’ve used previously, and it worked well. But, alas, I seem not to have followed it to well and now I have 33 bottles of really good Apple Cider Vinegar. It won’t go to waste, if nothing else the pigs will drink it.

The boy’s were a little upset, they had tried the Cider before it turned and thought it was going really well, and is probably why I only managed 33 litres from the original 44 litres I put up.

Ben received the shield for academic achievement, for his year, at Monaro High again. His name is now on each shield from year 7 -9, he’s got his sites set on the end trophy now.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The word is spreading

We had a few farewells to do yesterday, so it was decided that we'd run our own soup kitchen in honor of those taking their redundancies.  It was a great event, I made a Pea and Ham, with Valley View smoked bacon bones.  In adition we had two venison stews, a pumkin and a wonderful potato and leek soup.  All provided by friends for friends. 

Monday, June 17, 2013

Our River Cottage Journey

River Cottage Australia's Paul West with Tilba pig farmer Martyn Noakes.
Paul West, myself and pigs at River Cottage Australia

Well,  it all started about ten years ago when we first moved to Murrumbateman,  I convinced The Cook that we could afford satellite TV.  One of, the first show we got hooked on was an English sustainability show called River Cottage.  After watching a few episodes we soon began talking about how good it would be to actually grow all our own food.  A little later the kids went on a scout camp that included a trip to a free range pig farm in the Southern Highlands.

The Cook came home and full of enthusiasm it was decided that we'd find a property and raise some pigs - we'd be just like Hugh.  Ten years along and, we have our pigs, the farm is moving along and we actually pretty much ffed ourselves.   Then one day recently, at work, somebody told me that there was going to be a River Cottage Australia, they were having auditions - that I should apply.  So I did, but nothing came of it and we carried on with our lives.

Then one day I had a phone call at work. Some how, through a friend of a friend, they found out about our pigs and we were asked to provide the pigs for the show.  It was being produced just down on the coast not far from home in a small town called Tilba.

Now, like that wasn't enough, being asked to supply pigs to River Cottage Australia was one thing, but to actually play a small part in one of the episodes was fantastic.  We were invited down to Tilba to have a look at the site for the pigs and meet Paul West the Australian Hugh.   The Cook took down one of her now famous Rhubarb Cakes and sat on the back porch and talked pigs for the afternoon.   Paul is a great guy and very passionate about what he's doing and very conscious about doing everything as well as possible.

We had no idea that we were going to be involved at this stage, but after a phone call from the production people it was pretty obvious.  Bredbo put on the perfect day, the pigs all behaved and everybody was really happy.

But, to top it all off I actually got to meet Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall - in person,  as Hugh said, we'd come full circle, me, Hugh and our pigs all at River Cottage.

Don't miss an episode - River Cottage Australia starts on June the 27th 8:30pm on the LIfestyle channel, I think we are in episode 2 or 3,  can't wait.

Canberra Times River Cottage Article

Friday, June 14, 2013

We've been doing some work on the pig paddocks.   Our local farm contractor has been deep ripping parts of the property with a Yoemans plough.  This has made a huge difference on the penertration of recent rain into the soil.  We'll be seeding and adding probiotics to the soil again soon which should prepare the paddocks well for spring.

This morning I heard noises outside from about 4am.  I shuold have got up to check, but it was wet and dark.   By the time I did get up, about 5:30am we had about 100 lose pigs running about the place.  I'd forgotten we had not had sun for about four days and the solar powered fence energiser had run down.  Luckily I had the spare charging and by the end of feed time, with a lot of help from the boys and the Cook (she was wearing heels and a skirt chasing pigs through the mud - I love her) we ggot them all back.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Starting small and slow

Our new Hiolistically managed pig system is worknig well, and with this rain our recent seeding should be cming out of the ground after the first bit of sun shine.


Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Back from the blogging wilderness

Well after more then a years break it's time to get back into blogging.  A lot has happened over the past year and there is so much coming up.  We've had our ups and downs, none quite as momentous as Sunday when our "Boar King" Tiberius passed away in his sleep.   He's been with us from the start and   his passing has left a large emptiness in the paddock.

I'll try and update the blog on what has happened over the past twelve months as I go along.  We start our first first Permaculture Design Certificate course on Saturday, this is really exciting, we have a bunch of keen and enthusiastic people just itching to get into the lessons.

The Cook has a new off farm job which she is really enjoying,  nine to five as well - no more shift work for her ;)   Harry turned 18 and is in his final year of school, how time flies!

Anyway there will be more, I just have to pace myself for the moment.