Working on a farm can have good days and bad days, sometimes the weather can be perfect, sometimes not. For us it is right. Having just returned from an evening walk to the creek with Daisy I am reminded of all the life around us. The creek is a hub of activity with its ponds, reeds and tree hollows where the sounds of life can be very loud indeed. We are privileged to be sharing this earth with so many others.
Sharing is not always easy though and we would be happy if the sheep would enjoy the company of the cattle just a little bit more. They look relaxed after they are moved onto the new area together, but without fail when we return the next day, the sheep have broken through the fence. Maybe the sheep consider themselves above the cattle and leave or maybe the cattle have the superiority complex and kick them out. Who knows? Patience is needed, we are dealing with many individuals!
The beginning of winter is a great time to reflect on the past year - what worked well, what can we do better (it’s too damn hot to do it in January…). The, at times, unquenchable thirsts of our cattle proved to be one problem.
We use portable troughs across the farm because it allows us to move the mob everywhere and means we do not have to rely upon the contradiction of dams; more grass cover means less water in dams. At times though, the flow of water from our water system could not keep. The solution is to pump the water higher using solar panels, increasing the flow and keeping the animals happier on the hottest of days to come.
It is also time to prepare the soil surface for pasture growth in spring. The cows are now grazing the dried material from the pasture, leaving their areas manured and the soil disturbed. Ideal conditions for conversion of sunlight to green grass when spring arrives as Daisy is demonstrating here!
Some of our white box eucalypts are heavily in flower now, a vital feed source for this time of year. These trees have attracted many birds and they are alive with rosellas, superb parrots and the loudest of them all, friarbirds. The chattering and cackling of the friarbirds will lead you to the flowering trees.
We received 21 glorious millimetres of rain at the end of last week which has been very welcome as you can probably tell. Especially because our grazing animals only ever eat the grass that grows beneath their feet - we do not feed any supplements, grains or hay. Rather, we attempt to drought-proof our farm by maximising the effectiveness of whatever rain does fall (by following holistic management principles) and matching grazing pressure to the conditions so that the land grows as much grass as possible. Basically, rain falling on healthy, living soils covered with a diverse range of grass, plants and trees will do more than rain falling on a desert.
It is not always easy, but this is what we aim for.
The last week has seen a definite change in season to cooler and (hopefully!) wetter weather. The pigs no longer need wallows and wet ground to cool down but they now love straw in their houses to keep them warm and dry - some would even call them demanding! To us, the straw seems somewhat magical and combined with constant fresh pasture for the pigs it means we do not have any need for medications. Prevention is far better than a cure.
Last weekend we collected another Berkshire boar from Allsun Farm. He is the full brother of the boar that was Champion pig of Adelaide Show in 2016, so naturally we are very excited to see what he can do. Granted, I am not looking at him with a pigs eyes but he looks beautiful.
We are excited to now have sheep at Boxgum Grazing. We recently purchased 72 ewes that are in lamb to a Southdown ram, with the little ones due to arrive in June. These sheep add another species to the farm with different grazing behaviours - nature abhors monocultures. And another meat product that will be available before the end of the year.
The beginning of May signals the first home fire of the year, unfortunately much later than usual. Autumn is at last cooling down and surely rain is not far away (hopefully in a few hours). Daisy has always had a habit of gathering her own sticks, and now she cannot believe that Sam is bringing them to her - right by the back door