Happy New Year and a photo update.

A massive thank-you and best wishes for the new year to family, friends and customers, who have continued to support us through 2013!

It has been a while since my last post, not due to laziness I promise! The last part of this year has been as hectic as ever and unfortunately, blog entries have suffered. Now with renewed enthusiasm and recharged batteries, 2014 will be blogged to death ­čÖé

Here are some update photos and highlights for the latter part of 2013:

The sunsets in Darwin were amazing! Part of the travelling road show of Sharon McDonough, Rohan Bryan and myself presenting on Sustainability in schools at an ACASA conference.

The sunsets in Darwin were amazing! Part of the travelling road show of Sharon McDonough, Rohan Bryan and myself presenting on Sustainability in schools at an ACASA conference.

Yep, the termite mounds were epic!

Yep, the termite mounds were epic!

Nothing better than swimming at a waterfall:-)

Nothing better than swimming at a waterfall:-)

AHHHHHH!

The photo says it all!

The photo says it all!

Back into home brewing:-)

Back into home brewing:-)

Documenting the film crew documenting us.

Documenting the film crew documenting us.

My trusty little helper, helping with the electric fencing.

My trusty little helper, helping with the electric fencing.

After a week in torrential rain and gale force winds with 28 15 year olds, I went a little crazy...

After a week in torrential rain and gale force winds with 28 15 year olds, I went a little crazy…

Finally, we got Little-little one onto the farm to service the girls. He is a little out of condition - to much grass, too little exercise - but hopefully with a strict diet, he can back into shape and do his thing.

Finally, we got Little-little one onto the farm to service the girls. He is a little out of condition – to much grass, too little exercise – but hopefully with a strict diet, he can back into shape and do his thing.

Yep, the end of a school year and we all go crazy, especially when building wood ovens.

Yep, the end of a school year and we all go crazy, especially when building wood ovens.

These aquaponic tomatoes are going great guns in the greenhouse!

These aquaponic tomatoes are going great guns in the greenhouse!

Plenty of feed for the livestock this winter! No need to buy in hay this time, thanks to our friendly neighbours.

Plenty of feed for the livestock this winter! No need to buy in hay this time, thanks to our friendly neighbours.

Introducing Ari Quach, my new nephew! Congratulations Nam-Do, Liana and Sian :-)

Introducing Ari Quach, my new nephew! Congratulations Nam-Do, Liana and Sian ­čÖé

New cousin!

Home grown dinner! Highland Heritage lamb, garlic, rosemary, thyme and oregano! 4 hour slow roast. Divine!

Home grown dinner! Highland Heritage lamb, garlic, rosemary, thyme and oregano! 4 hour slow roast. Divine!

With our kitchen being commercialised, we now bake sourdough breads for our customers as well as part of our suspended produce and bread program.

With our kitchen being commercialised, we now bake sourdough breads for our customers as well as part of our suspended produce and bread program.

Nothing better than seeing all the family together.

Nothing better than seeing all the family together.

Ava-Li loves her Gramps:-)

Ava-Li loves her Gramps:-)

Dangling Christmas balls look awesome over amazing food being consumed by an amazing family. After giving cancer a good kick up the bum, it is great to see Nan Nan so healthy and with so much energy:-)

Dangling Christmas balls look awesome over amazing food being consumed by an amazing family. After giving cancer a good kick up the bum, it is great to see Nan Nan so healthy and with so much energy:-)

Gramps has much more patience than I! The boys loved working with Gramps to put together their Christmas pressie!

Gramps has much more patience than I! The boys loved working with Gramps to put together their Christmas pressie!

Yep, the tilte is not a typo! Frost damage last weekend... Unreal, middle of summer and we got frost. Tomatoes, zucchinis, beans, corn, cucumber.... all the frost tender plants, got frost bite...

Yep, the tilte is not a typo! Frost damage last weekend… Unreal, middle of summer and we got frost. Tomatoes, zucchinis, beans, corn, cucumber…. all the frost tender plants, got frost bite…

As part of our business and farm ethos, we want to give as much as we can to those in need. We have extended this opportunity to our customers and for every suspended dollar they give, we match it. It works similar to suspended coffee, but with produce and bread instead. Go to http://www.suspendedcoffeemelbourne.com.au/ for more info on suspended coffee.

As part of our business and farm ethos, we want to give as much as we can to those in need. We have extended this opportunity to our customers and for every suspended dollar they give, we match it. It works similar to suspended coffee, but with produce and bread instead. Go to http://www.suspendedcoffeemelbourne.com.au/ for more info on suspended coffee.

So now in 2014, I have begun a new role at my work looking at whole school sustainability, in buildings, grounds and curriculum, which will bring with it many new challenges. It will mean a reshuffle of the routines of managing the farm, the business and life in general, but hopefully will allow for a continued focus of sustainable practices across the board.

Thanks again to all who have supported us in our endeavors and journey in life. Bring on 2014!

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New addition and greenhouse update

Work starts back up again tomorrow and the jobs I had down to complete are nowhere near finished. Oh well, Rome wasn’t built in a day… Progress on the greenhouse timber frame has been slow, however, one bent is finished, ridge pole for the roof rough cut and one tenon done and second bent well under way. Tano-Li, my little padawan has been ever floating around the workshop area finding jobs to do. He came in the other day, said he wanted to help, grabbed the broom and started sweeping up! I then gave him a few little jobs to help with and we both had a great time ­čÖé Kobe-Li then got in on the action and so I stopped what I was doing (ran out of little jobs) cut up a few off cuts and pre drilled these for the boys:

These were cut out of off-cuts and pre-drilled for the boys to put together.

They had a great time putting them together, using a cordless drill, and sanding down the edges!

Tano-Li has also helped with the framing:

Tano-Li making sure the shaping was square and true.

Bit blurry sorry – bad light. This is the first bent finished. The rafters are cut and shaped ready to fit once the whole thing goes up.

I decided to bolt the frame together rather than timber pegs, just for that added bit of security and due to time constraints. Once this whole thing is up it is going to look awesome!

We have also┬áreceived┬ádelivery of a belted galloway 6mth old steer to grow out. Won’t be for another 18 months before we process him, but I am sure it will be well worth the wait ­čśë

He is fitting in well with the others after a tentative day.

Lastly, I caught sight of a massive – read freaken huge – fox down by the dam the other morning (9am), so it was time to sure up the chicken pen with hot wire. The chicken pen now looks like Fort Knox, hot wire above, between and 10cm off the ground to stop digging – and yes the hot wire does work….

Hot wired chook pen., will definitely keep Mr Fox away!

Hint: When moving cows, shut the gate!

Well I guess the title says it all! It was cow moving time again and this time I thought to myself, “I’ll let the cows into the winter paddock to have a good old run around while I set the next two cells up ready for grazing.” And a good ol’ run they had! They wandered down to the front fence and ate mouthfuls of lush green grass and kept wandering the fence line. Mean while, I was up setting the electric fence and knew that Lightning would easily and eagerly help me move the girls and boy back to the cells. Busy as I was, I forgot to shut the double gates to the winter paddock and the cows made their way to the orchard! As soon as I saw them I dumped my stuff and bolted up there to get them back in. Lightning made short work of them, but they got damn close to having a nibble on the apple trees!

So the moral of this story… shut the bloody gate!

Numb Bum

OK so the topic title this time is a bit dodgey, but tell you what, that is exactly what happened tonight! I got home from work and it was time to move the cows to their next bit of fresh pasture. So I turned off the electric fence, moved the cows into a temporary paddock and setup a new cell for them to graze. I turned the electric fence back on and moved the cows back out and man they were happy! Dang, forgot to move their water trough (an old bathtub). So I dragged the old tub down to the new cell and as I hate double handling, I decided to leave the electric fence on rather than go up the hill, turn it off and then back again to turn it on. I then dragged the tub under the hot wire… yeah well, that was a mistake… I thought I was low enough, but my BUT was sticking up too high and made contact with the hot wire! I have said before in an earlier post that this little solar unit kicks out a bit of juice and has floored me before – literally. Well I can report that feeling is slowly coming back to my rump and next time, I’ll turn that bloody electric fence off!

Late night fencing…

Last day of work for the next three weeks today. What a relief! It has been an eventful term for me, both professionally as well as personally. But now, it’s time for full time farming! I have been looking forward to this moment for a while and the next three weeks will give me a chance to get some uninterupted work done on our farm!!!

But alas, the farm couldn’t wait. I got a text this afternoon from Hayley saying that Silver Girl had pushed through the bottom paddock fence and was running free in the winter paddock! “Dang it” I thought. So as soon as I finished up, I went to pick up my chainsaw, which was getting serviced, and headed home before the fading light disappeared. The cows, (we are assuming it was Silver) had pushed on the fencing (which I have not yet electrified). One of the wires had rusted through and a bit of cow pressure and it snapped.

Silver was easy enough to get back into the paddock with Lightning rushing her from behind and her following me and her feed and the fence was repaired using my favourite fencing tool, the “Gripple”. 30mins later, all good!

Silver is not looking as pregnant as she should be by now and we suspect she isn’t. We’ll wait and see I guess, but if she isn’t and she pushes through and escapes again… well… anyone out there like beef?

Solar Electric Fencing

Our highland girls are coming today! To make sure that they stay in their allocated paddocks, we have invested in a solar electric fencing system. This unit is able to power up to 5km of multi-wire fencing and should keep the girls in the right spot! It is a portable unit and I will progressively wire up the remaining paddocks as we rotate the girls. The unit is also strong enough for us to hook up a series of cell grazing paddocks while still powering the other paddocks. Just got to make sure I don’t accidentally make a nature stop in the wrong spot!