Life and death on the farm

A beautiful day to be outside working in the market garden. It is always an awesome and inspiring thing being outside, listening to the sounds of nature, the cows mooing, roosters crowing, wind lightly blowing etc… I did however get a little frustrated with all the corellas and cockatoos and galahs. They have caused so much damage to the lettuce seedlings I have put in garlic and broad bean plants. I am up to my 4th batch of lettuce seedlings and today I covered the entire lettuce area with bird netting. A painful job, but I don;t think I could handle seeing the lettuce being ripped up again. The garlic they have left alone since putting up some plastic strips on fishing wire and the broad beans, well, they have taken a hammering, but there are enough there for us and them, so so be it.

The potatoes started popping through the no dig beds and so I put on more manure and straw and re-buried them. Hopefully I didn’t get too enthusiastic, as they are well re-buried. They still should pop through, and continue to develop. Only another 6 beds to go and if I have the energy, another 6 beds!

After a great day of work, I decided to take a break and go down to the dam to catch the elusive trout. The sheep were down in the bottom paddock so I swung around to check on our newest arrivals. We had a ram lamb about three weeks ago and he is going strong, and huge! We also had twins about 5 days ago and unfortunately, I found one under a tree not moving. My only guess is that it did not suckle well enough… no signs of any kind of attack (Bill and Ted have been awesome protecting them all)… unfortunately we did not pick this up soon enough and the little thing died.

So many lessons to be learnt in the joys of new life, but also in the sadness of death.

Wet and Wild Weekend

The title says it all. Yesterday wasn’t too bad, plenty of sun, but also plenty of wind. Today started off pretty good, but man did things change! Wind, rain and biting cold, perfect weather for impending lambing… Ma is looking like she is ready to pop, so I moved our flock closer to the house.

Ma is looking mighty pregnant. We are hoping for twins!

I also spent the weekend cleaning out the chook house, making hot compost, prepping our market garden for the coming season, pulling out a ridiculous amount of horrible capeweed, starting the first of our no-dig potato beds and giving the lawns a much needed mow.

Also baked these:

These are 100% organic true sourdough loaves!

As the days start to get longer, you can almost see the pasture grow….almost…

Big Week

A very busy week coming up! With deliveries coming out of our ears, we were starting to worry that we would not have enough stock to fill all of our orders, but after a quick walk around the market garden, things are looking ok in terms of meeting supply for this week. That being said, if have many more weeks like this one, we will start to really struggle as winter has well and truely hit us here in our patch of paradise.

I woke up this morning and outside the thermometer was reading -2deg Celsius! Now that is cold! That being said, our market garden still manages to pump out the produce, but things have definitely started to slow down. My 3rd batch of corn, although ripening, is on its last legs. My 4th batch, well that will be a treat for the cows… All the tomatoes have been pulled up and so have our different beans. Peas are slowly going in as are the broad beans to make use of the trellis I put up and help nitrogen fix the soil. Still another 3-400 garlic bulbs to go in to reach my aim of 1000+ (may go for 2000 as we have enough plus some to spare). More carrots, lettuce, bok choy and brassicas as well as beetroot and turnips have gone in and this coming week I will hopefully get more alliums in like onions, onions, onions, chives, leeks and spring onions transplanted and get the next batch of various seeds started in punnets. My makeshift greenhouse is still doing ok, but I really need to get started on the large seedling and aquaponics greenhouse to help keep temperatures stable at night, particularly with the temps getting so low so soon.

I also managed to get another batch of hot compost started last weekend, hopefully it will be ready in 4-5 weeks. The pile was steaming all weekend and this coming weekend I will give it a turn and get things cranking again. The animals that have all contributed to the pile have also been looked after, the cows cell grazing paddocks set again for the week, sheep and alpacas moved and chickens in the Taj and newly completed Raw Bale chook shed pampered as always (except for the last remaining 3 roosters who will be processed this weekend – well they at least have all the food they want, all the grass they can eat, fresh water, safe housing and shelter from the elements, so I guess the are temporarily pampered too).

Work work, also pretty busy, aquaponics being quoted, more planting and tree orders, more regenerative projects, 10 (out of 20) raised garden beds on their way ready for a school mini farm, retaining walls and indigenous nature walk planned and quoted, marking, lessons to be planned, student teacher to mentor and debrief daily, department to run and streamline (now that is a big job!) whole school curriculum to be audited and altered and behaviour modification in the way of sustainable practice and education to be slowly implemented.

Ahhh, another day of living the dream.

Did I mention that this weekend we have a 7 year old party to organise….

Getting rammed by the ram and a new addition at Highland Heritage!

Rufus and I have an understanding, he looks after the girls and in return, I give him food, scratches and pats. Simple. Really I think he has the best end of the deal, so it would be fair to say that I’m a little bit annoyed that I scored a ram by the ram in the butt!

I was with the boys planting sunflowers in their little patch of earth and noticed the weather was closing, so I sent them inside and I quickly finished off and cleaned up and ran around to do the daily animal check. I was turning off the cow water and heard a little ‘baaaaa’. Sure enough ‘”Bent back”, one of our ewes, finally lambed!

Talk about drawing out the lambing! Mum and baby are doing well, with the little tailwagging like crazy when it is feeding. The lamb does not have a name yet, it will all depend on if it is a boy or a girl. If it is a girl then it will join the flock, if it is a boy, then in 10-12 months time…. So while I was down checking out the lamb, taking photos and a short clip, Rufus came up for his usual pat and scratch, however I was preoccupied with the lamb and the camera. Rufus thought that he would get my attention by ramming me, the checky beggar. Yes it hurt, however after a little rough headlock, Rufus and I are friends again.

On a chicken note, the 3 remaining have survived another fox visit. He did try to get into the cage once, but seems like he has given up. They are weighing between 1.56 and 1.7kgs, with 1 more week of growing to go before a taste test with a commercial free range chook, but that is for another post.

For now, it is welcome news that Rufus can still do what he needs to do and the girls seem to be all pregnant and due sooninsh (but I am not holding my breath). Hopefully Mr Fox leaves it alone. Better yet, Bill and Ted, earn their keep and we find a dead fox in the paddock (harsh I know, but that is the reality of living on a farm).

Mr Fox Take 2

So Mr Fox decoded to pay us another visit tonight. Although he did not get in the chook tractor this time, he did try by digging at a few spots. The alpacas were with the sheep (hopefully protecting them) so Mr Fox went to work trying to get in. He saw me coming and watched what I was doing from afar, so to be safe I moved the chicks into the shed again and tomorrow after work, will set about lining the bottom of the tractor with weld mesh, big enough to allow the chooks to scratch but small enough to stop Mr Fox from getting in if he keeps digging. I will also look at making weld mesh skirting for the tractor to stop him from digging in.

Message to Mr Fox “If you come again Mr Fox, don’t expect to leave without a few holes!”

Awesome Dog!

About 2 weeks ago, Hayley woke up to see a fox being chased by Bill and Ted over a fence. She went down there with Lightning, but by the time she got there the fox was well gone. Then Hayley noticed that Ma had some blood on her tail and legs and so thought she had been bitten. Turns out she wasn’t bitten, so we all thought she was going into labour, her udder was full, she was laying down all the time and her rear end had really dropped away. No lamb to date, so she most likely had a miscarriage which Mr Fox probably induced. Damn those foxes…

Fast-forward a couple of weeks and the sheep paddock is looking pretty exhausted! Time to move them into their new grazing area. Instead of herding them into the bottom paddock, we decided to rest that paddock a bit more and move them into the narrow strip between our paddocks and our neighbours. I have no real idea on how long they will stay in this small area, maybe 2-3weeks? We will be needing to water them by hand using buckets as there is no tap along this area, something that will have to be remedied by next year.

So today it was Lightining’s time to show us how good she really was. I filmed a little bit of her working, it is shakey sorry, but does show how good our Coolie dog is! Keep in mind that what you see is only the last little bit of the herding, she had already helped me get them out of the paddock and down and around about 75m in total. Rufus, Ma and the rest of their flock and the alpacas Bill and Ted, decided to try and escape around the back of the dam. Me with my still bung knee, couldn’t chase them back, but Lightning had them covered. She stopped a complete escape, by covering a pretty large area (made harder by being dotted with trees), to push them back to the correct side of the dam.

On a few occassions, Bill, Ted or Ma tried to get away and push through behind us, but Lightning was on the ball! Not letting them get through, and on the one occassion Ma made it past, Lightning lived up to her name by cutting her off and herded her back. It is great to see Lightning work, she is definately a quiet worker, and in many ways, I need to learn from her example! We are slowly getting the basic terminology worked out, come around, away, slow, easy, stay (well she does “stay” when she is not working, but when she is, she tends to come running to me… gotta work on that one). Other ones I am working on is “keep back” – when I want her walking with me, “up front” – when I want her at the front of the herd and, “to me” – when I want her pushing the herd towards me.

Anyway, here are the clips:

Free Fertiliser!

In the coming days and weeks, the yet to be named farm will recieve a bucket load of stuff to plant and get the market garden cranking! So for now, our plots need to be fertilsed and prepared in ready for a big couple of days of gettting our hands dirty! Today we had some visitors try their luck at fishing in the dam, but to no avail, and I was on the ride-on mower filling up the little trailer with as much free fertiliser as I could find. When I say free fertiliser, what I mean is, animal crap! That’s right, air dried, decomposed animal poo! Great stuff it is! We have cow poo, alpaca poo (they do their business in the one spot so it was easy to collect the mound of crap that had piled up), sheep poo (harder to find as it is scattered everywhere) and chicken poo. I filled the little trailer up half a dozen times and spread it out onto the recently tilled plot. I then went over with the tractor and tiller 3 times to really work it into the soil. Now to just leave it there and let the worms do their thing (and there are heaps out there which is a good sign!) until our stock arrives for planting. What a pooeautiful day 🙂