Back to business.

Spring has truly sprung! The weather has been up and down like a yo-yo, with horribly wet, windy and cold weather last week and warm and sun forecast for this week! The vegies are really kicking off with the extra daylight hours and we are finally back into the swing of things. All the productive gardens, orchard, berries and herbs have had a good spray of beneficial microbes, seasol, fish emulsion and liquid compost and this should really give them a boost for the coming growing season. I plan on continuing the spraying regime once a fortnight and hopefully everything will thrive and set in for the summer. Our Highland cows will soon be back to their once daily rotation, with maybe another week or two in their current paddock. The sheep are being rotated each fortnight at this stage and are now not able to keep up with the quick growth of the spring flush. The lambs are fattening up quickly and “Gammy” our house sheep, is doing well.

In our market garden extension, the potatoes in the no dig beds are sprouting well and it will be interesting to see what kind of harvest we get from them this year. In between each bed I plan to lay thick layers of newspaper and large quantities of compost and manure and thick layer of straw mulch on top of that. The plan is to plant into the straw in a good handful of quality compost. The compost should then inoculate the straw and manure, allowing the plants to take-up all the nutrients they need. Once again we will see how well this method works compared to the more conventional way of growing. Also I will be trialling a green manure crop, sown between potato beds, allowed to grow until just flowering and then slashed and used as a chop and drop mulch and growing bed. The seedlings will grow into the mulch in a good handful of compost.

Speaking of compost, at my PDC course, we learnt about making good quality microbial compost based on a 30:1 carbon to nitrogen ration. Compost should be ready in 18 days. So far I am up to day 11 and it is really looking good! Maybe a little too hot, as I have some white powder growing, but easily rectified. By the end of the week, I should have beautiful rich, microbial compost ready to spread and inoculate the soil! Below is a video after the 4th day.

In the current market garden, I have been busily preparing the beds for our coming vegie crops. I have forked each bed to break up the clay panning of the rotary hoe and the difference this has made to the drainage has been amazing. We got 20mm of rain over the past couple of days before today and where I had not forked, water was pooling, but where I had forked, the water had drained away nicely. It was still a little wet to work too much, but I was able to shape another couple of beds today and seeded them with turnips and sweedes. Each bed is about 8 meters long by about 900mm wide. On the high side of the bed, I have dug a small trench, forked it to aerate it, lay down the weeds I have pulled up and then a thick layer of straw mulch on top of that. The worms will go crazy for the decomposing weeds and the trench will act as a mini swale, storing and slowly draining water through the growing bed.

Back to weekly sales now with weekly deliveries. The sun has been amazing, working listen to the children play just 5 meters away and then having them all join me to weed the beds and hunt for worms, or help me seed the trays has been gold. Ahhhh life is good on the farm:-)

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).