Saturday, April 14, 2012

The farm. Need, want, dreaming

I can break the farm stuff into three distinct areas that occupy my thoughts. Things that need doing. Things I would like to have. Things I dream about. The last is important because it keeps the creativity going, and some good ideas come from dreaming about what seems impossible. Some dreams are far off but are good to have in the future as something to work to, like turning Lantanaland into a cooking school.

The need is easy, those jobs that sit in my forebrain, kicking me, telling me that I should be doing them instead of writing. The never ending fencing is the main one. The urgency on that is a little less now I know the guy that owns the 100 acre property behind mine where the cows escape to, and that it is full fenced. They come back eventually. Ideally this year I would fence the last third of Lantanaland that contains the dam. That would mean that I could do much better rotations of the paddocks and start to get some diversity into them, like pigeon pea and pintos peanut that take a little while to establish. At the moment I am just chasing my tail and none of the paddocks really get enough time to re establish good grass. The clover seed has been going into the cows feed regularly so that will get going again.

The other big need is Curtis and The Wife. While he is so small I really want to spend good chunks of time with him, so I am! I'm blessed in that I can spend time with him and I'm really enjoying it. I'm getting a fair bit of stuff done during nap time.

The things I want. There are so many! I'd settle for a decent vegetable garden, more fruit trees and a few more chooks. The chooks will be boosted hopefully by the donation of some fertile eggs and maybe some interesting day olds. A few new ducks wouldn't hurt either. I'd love to have enough surplus eggs to give some to the Herdshare and have that wonderful feeling that you have to have eggs for breakfast just to reduce the surplus. I'd have to do a bit of adjusting of the pens so they had a semi secure day area that had some electric fencing protection from opportunistic foxes, but the idea for that and a way to integrate it into my ideal veg garden is already kicking around. The problem, as always, is infrastructure and money for it.

Some peoples ideal vegetable garden is beautiful neat rows of each variety, order out of chaos. I fell in love with the gardens at Northey St City Farm, where years of plants seeding and growing wild has led to this chaotic wonderland of a garden, where things just spring forth. You plant the things missing in the space and once a year you let the chooks in to clear it all up and turn the soil over. To get to that stage I need to actually get something to grow and seed. I planted some snow peas today, secure behind a sturdy metal trellis. I'll try and get more of a seed raising system going as well, so that I'm planting plants not seeds.

Fruit trees is a matter of preparation and foresight to make sure I establish them in a place where they will get water and enough love to get started and not get eaten by cows. Sounds pretty simple hey! At the moment I have an apple, fig, mango, lime, finger lime, pomegranate, native plum, lemon and passion fruit that have survived the cows and my brownish thumbs. I'm thinking about only asking for fruit trees for birthdays from now on.

I dream of solid fences made of hardwood that could contain a few sheep or milking goats, of terraces cut into the hill, seeded with a variety of pasture for the cows, of a mowable path to the dam, of a series of water catchments in the hill to ensure every drop of rain, of a big stainless kitchen that was easy to make cheese in, of not so much bloody lantana, of a my shipping container shed/workshop/cold room. Dreams are bloody easy. I've got lots of them. I've got more jobs than dreams though.


  1. Was just looking out the back window at the wife's veggie garden and the chicken coop which is getting chooks later this morning... I think Dr Mrs Dr Yobbo either shares your dreams or reads this blog... not quite enough pasture for dairy cattle though, which is probably just as well

  2. I like your dreams and understand the needs and wants :-)

    I have an immense amount of respect/awe for the milking training you've done with your cows. I'd love to milk my cows but the sheer work and knowledge involved leaves me cowering in bed in the mornings instead of getting up and trying to work out how to get on with it!

    Get yourself a little thermometer for that incubator and I'll donate you some more chook and duck eggs when they start laying again.

    With the el-cheapo incubators you really need to turn them on and water them for a week in advance of putting eggs in and just watch what they do - you can't trust the numbers on the dial or the thermostat to get it right. Watching them for a few days can show the temperature you really get when the dial reads X and how much that fluctuates with changes in room temp. When properly watched and tweaked you can get great results.

    I just hatched out a bunch of quail eggs, with the intent of building portable aviaries that I can more around over some of my raised vege beds. It's a trial - on the basis that quails eat bugs and should do less damage to growing veges than chickens. I put half the eggs in an incubator just like yours that I've been using for years and understand all its problems. I put the other half in a newer better less dodgy but still quite cheap incubator. My hatch rates clearly proved that "better the devil you know"......

  3. Loved reading this. Aaaah, such dreams. I had them too when I first started out. Beautiful fruit trees, nicely staked and irrigated and mulched and growing. Then the neighbour's cows came along (I of course, had my sheep nicely paddocked). Nasty cows, bad cows! Very sad looking orchard.

    I guess I am saying, feel my pain? But continue the dream (I have), you know it is all so worthwhile. Well, you think you know ... 'tis true!

  4. Yeah i learnt my lesson on the cheap incubator. Cows escaping and making a straight beeline for the tastiest fruit tree on offer seems to be a common thing unfortunately.

  5. I was surprised the first time I caught my cows picking and eating the oranges on my I just wonder what all that orange juice does to the flavor of the milk (that they won't let me have) :-)

  6. I've got Chinese Cabbages growing in exactly the out-of-control fashion you describe. It's actually more than a little daunting. They're really tasty, but fuck, there's a lot of 'em.

    As for young Curtis and nap-time: enjoy it while you got it. Nap time is altogether TOO SHORT a period in their lives.

    Meanwhile: I thought pomegranates preferred a Mediterranean climate. And aren't you just inviting trouble from fruit-fly?

    Oh, and fences. God, how I hate fences and fencing. The love you have for your cows and their cheesy goodness borders upon the unnatural, I fear -- for only a deeply unnatural and disturbing love could overcome my utter hatred of fencing.