19 November 2014

CLEARING SALE



No we are not moving or giving up farming, but selling haeps of stuff we have collected over 15 years of farming.
We started as novices and have learnt and grown every step of the way. What that means in terms of farm equipment is that we have lots of things that we have outgrown or do not suit our farm anymore. Some are in good working order and some not.
So here are some of the things and I will keep posting others as we pull them out.

We will not have an auctioneer, so it will be more like a garage sale with prices listed on items.








MORE PHOTOS TO COME EVERY DAY.........


11 April 2014

The only way to Free Range





Last Saturday I packed up and headed off as if I were going to a farmers market. It felt very normal and intuitive even if it's been almost a year since I've been to one. The feeling and experience of the 10 years of doing farmers markets are some of the fondest of my life, and will never leave me.

But I wasn't headed to the Ballarat showgrounds to sell eggs or veggies or even apples. I was going to sell fences. I was there for the Weekly Times Rural Lifestyle Expo, and the trailer was loaded up with portable electric animal netting. It was a very different experience to a farmers market but it was a great day. My line for the day was that I'm not a salesman, I'm a farmer, and although that is true I did find myself doing the sales pitch. But I enjoyed it - I enjoyed starting to talk to one or two people and then slowly getting a crowd of up to 30 sometimes. As more people came I got louder and I think I enjoyed it even more. People were genuinely interested and I was happy to be showing them a product I believe in and use on a daily basis.


So here are the details for those who missed it:

The following is the newsletter I am emailing to all the great people I met on the weekend.

I don't have any glossy brochures but I do have years of experience with these particular fences. I have been using them for 10 years now and I can tell you that it I wouldn't want to free range poultry any other way.
At Daylesford Organics we have had up to 2,000 chickens free ranging on 50 acres of very varied landscapes with no permanent fencing whatsoever. We have found the netting to be very portable, flexible and resilient to all that we ask of it in the day to day workings on our farm. 
This is not cheap netting made with cheap labour. It is made in a factory in Devon, England that has been manufacturing fencing for over 40 years.
I have worked closely with the manufacturer to produce fencing that suits our conditions. These fences stand up high at 1.2m and have double-pronged steel feet that can be hammered in in very dry conditions and stand up well in the wet.
I have also incorporated 5 extra heavy duty posts in the fence. These posts are 1.22m high and 19mm thick instead of 15mm.
So all in all the fence is 1.22m high and 50m in length. The posts are UV-stabilised black plastic and the net is dark green. The net is manufactured from polyurethane with metal filaments through every horizontal except the bottom line so that it won't short on the ground. For the bottom 300mm the mesh is very close together (75mm x 50mm) for greater predator control and to keep young birds in. There are 14 posts incorporated into the fence: 9 of them are 1.2m high and 15mm thick, and 5 are 1.22m high and 15mm thick.


          

To charge the net an energiser is connected to the net, and to the ground via an earth stake. This forms an open circuit and when an animal comes into contact with the net and the ground it completes the circuit and gets a shock.
It is very important that the energiser is correctly sized for the fences. This will also vary depending on how many fences you use together. As a general rule you need an energiser with at least a 0.5 stored Joule capacity and preferably 1 stored Joule to be safe. I am happy to talk to you more about the right energiser when you buy the fence.

The fences come packaged in a cardboard box that contains:
50m of fencing
5 x 19mm poles
9 x 15mm poles
a galvanized peg set for securing the bottom line
guy ropes and pegs for corner posts
a repair kit

The cost of each 50mtr fence including the above is $350 inc. GST.
Postage can be arranged for approximately $35 anywhere in Australia.
You can purchase them online at our website with PayPal, or ring or email me to arrange payment and delivery.

If you would like more information or have any questions please don't hesitate to call me on 0411040412.

I also have a few videos of me setting up the fences in the forest and around a greenhouse that you may find interesting.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Cheers

Brendon Eisner

26 November 2013

BEES



What can I say about bees.

Barry the bee man who has been a beekeeper all his life has few words about them. He is still learning and surprised and intrigued.
Barry used to bring us bee hives every spring for our apple orchard pollination. We would pay him to bring them for a few months and then he would take them back, actually take them somewhere warmer for winter as he reckons they don't do too well here over the cold wet months. A few years ago I thought it would be a good idea if they moved in here permanently.

So we now have a few hundred thousand bees.

We are just beginners and are trying to learn as much as we can about a society that is so extremely complex that the more we learn the more our minds boggle. I think the reality is that we can never really understand what is going on


We listen and read and learn. 

Here we are checking the hives, and putting a new box on top of each one with a queen excluder between so that we can hopefully share some of their honey toward the end of summer. 

Oh by the way as part of my helicopter hobby I've also got a GoPro camera recently, and am loving it. This was all shot on this tiny little camera that can go anywhere.

Do you love bees?
Do you love honey?
Do you love GoPos?

Cheers 
Farmer Bren.







24 November 2013

Hobbies. A.K.A Not a blog about farming.

What is a hobby, what is a job , what is a passion and what is a waste of time?


I have recently picked up a hobby I had when I was little.

I just made a call to my mum and dad to ask them if they remember at what age I built my first remote control car. My Dad said he brought it back from one of his regular overseas trips and I built it in a weekend as soon as I got it. Mum worked out that I was probably 15. It was not a simple thing to make and I remember the satisfaction I got from building something like that and the enjoyment of using it after I'd built it. I also remember constantly tinkering with it, having built it from scratch I had the ability to fix it as well.
I think even in those days I dreamed of planes and helicopters but they were well out of the price range and ability of kids like me.

Not anymore.


In the last few years RC (remote control) helicopters have gotten cheaper and cheaper and easier and easier to fly. So I have bought and crashed (one still lies in the dam) a few over the years.

A big boy toy or hobby?

Well up until recently I think they have just been toys, and like a lot of toys they got played with a lot at first and then forgotten. Lately though I think I may have actually progressed to the level of hobbyist.



Wikipedia says a hobby is,".. a regular activity that is done for pleasure, typically, during one's leisure time."  

Now maybe the reason I have never considered it a hobby before is because I had almost no leisure time before.
That's not to say I didn't have breaks from farming, as we have always considered it important to get away from the farm for some time every year and worked hard to make that happen, so as to balance our family farming lifestyle.
But leisure time within our normal routine has been very sparse over the last 13 years. Now a lot of this would be to do with raising 3 kids which I think is the hardest job I've ever had and does involve a great deal of overtime. Couple this with moving to a 50 acre property and establishing an organic farm makes the notion of leisure time, just that, a notion.


So what has changed lately. Well we have made the decision to stop trying to grow our farm business. As a I heard a fellow farmer friend say on the radio recently, there are many different ways to grow a farm other than the traditional, size, stocking rates and profit, and we are on our way to exploring what that means for us.



Now that I think I have a hobby, I've got another problem. Can I leave my hobby as just that and why do I find myself thinking of ways I can earn money from it? Aerial photography is something that has always interested me and the aerial photo I bought when we first moved here has been invaluable in all our farm planning.



So should I approach real estate agents and farmers and offer my services? Wouldn't it be good for it to at least pay for itself? Or does that risk the hobby losing its status as that? And when does it start to become a job?


Have you got a Hobby?
Has you're hobby become you're job?
Do you want me to get back to farming topics?
Top Gun was on TV the other night, is that not one of the all time great movies?

Cheers
Farmer Bren.







17 October 2013

seeds



As I said in my first post I am happy to be led down the garden path by you guys on topics, and Kelli got me thinking about one of my favourites. SEEDS.

I am always in awe and amazement at what a seed contains. It is mind blowing that tiny seeds can hold all the information needed to grow into their full potential whether it be a humble radish (maybe not so humble when you consider this beauty), or a majestic tree.
The diversity and complexity of each seed is nothing short of magical, and as I think about how high my favorite scarlet runner beans will get by late summer, I can easily understand the origins of the story of jack and the beanstalk .


Sow how do we grow our veg here (not a spelling mistake just my sense of humour)?

We grow all our veg from seed and almost always have. The few times we have bought in seedlings we haven't really had any success with them.

I'm not saying you should do this as each gardener or farmer has to find the way of growing that feels comfortable with them. If you want to buy seedlings from the nursery then awesome and if you want to buy seed and then save you're own seed to plant again then awesome to you too. But don't get caught up in which is the best way, or the way you should do it, just do it.


We have tried many different seed companies and I would say that my obsession with diversity follows through to them too. I usually end up ordering seed from at least a few of them, mostly because not one of them has all the seeds I'm after. I also try and buy only Certified Organic seed as it is a requirement of our certification but it also means I am supporting other Organic growers.

One of my favorite seed catalogues would have to be Diggers because of their diversity and their commitment to sourcing heirloom varieties. We have had a lot of success and enjoyment from heirloom varieties. The flavours, vigour, colours and diversity are astounding and something to be cherished.

We have almost always sourced open pollinated seed so that we can save our own seed if we want to.

I just love planting seeds and patting them down and eagerly checking on their progress. Sometimes I just can't wait and I will carefully dig around looking for the seeds and checking for any movement. I shouldn't really disturb them, but I do love seeing the tiny shoots sneaking out of their cases.


Kelli also wanted to know about our "planning and preparation process - such as raising seedlings for transplanting and succession planting.", but I don't think we are as organized as we could be and rather than me give you a how to I would like to suggest to you some wonderful resources that we have used through the years.


Joyce Wilkie & Michael Plane from Allsun Farm are farmers that I have long respected and followed. I have been long a long time customer of their great garden-farm supply company and purchased their CD-ROM very early on in our farm adventure. It is an invaluable resource and I am always amazed when I suggest it to people and they haven't heard of it. I remember sitting on our porch surrounded by our first garlic harvest with the printed out pages from the CD-ROM learning how to make beautiful plaits.

Steve Solomon is a man who knows a lot about seeds. His book Growing Vegetables South Of  Australia has been one of those books I refer to all the time. It is about growing in Tasmania and our climate here is pretty similar, but there is so much other useful info in there it would be worthwhile wherever you are. He also started an online Soil and Health Library that has hundreds of great free ebooks, most of which are out of print and public domain.

Well I think that's enough from me now.
Please keep commenting and asking as you see I do take your suggestions on board and a quick reminder that I have been replying to a lot of your comments, so flick back and check.

Cheers
Farmer Bren.









05 October 2013

Free Range?

Free Range Eggs


An article in the Sydney Morning Herald a few days ago got me thinking. I don't actually read the newspaper or watch the news on TV. I call it the bad news. I'll never forget an interview I heard once with a psychologist who was not surprised at the the number of people who struggle through their day having been woken by their clock radio telling them all the bad things that are happening in the world.

Wow I can see how people can digress in this blog thing.



What are Free Range Eggs?

I should have the answers. Some of the facts are relatively simple:

Certified Organic eggs are always free range. Something that I find people still don't understand. There are 7 different certifiers and logos in Australia.

Free Range Farmers Association , FREPA , Humane Choice, and others have strict regulations limiting numbers between 750 to 1500 hens per hectare. Check the Sustainable Table's site for a good comparison table.

Stocking rate is important but doesn't actually take into account grazing management.

Certified Organic producers are independently audited and inspected every year. As for the others, it's not so clear.

Eggs that say Free Range but don't have any Accreditation Logo could be anything.

But even these facts aren't that simple to find, or to understand, and I'll admit I might not even have the facts all right, and I am an egg farmer.



No wonder the consumers are bewildered and choice has made a super complaint (great name) about the situation.

Understandably producers are scrambling to identify themselves, with new labels such as Pasture Ranged Organic, and Beyond Organic. But I'm not sure if this helps or just adds to the confusion. I mean what exactly is beyond organic anyway?

If you're waiting for my wise conclusion you might have to wait till I'm older and more cynical because as I heard Tim Minchin say recently to his old Uni;


"A famous bon mot asserts that opinions are like arse-holes, in that everyone has one. There is great wisdom in this… but I would add that opinions differ significantly from arse-holes, in that yours should be constantly and thoroughly examined.

We must think critically, and not just about the ideas of others.
Be hard on your beliefs. Take them out onto the verandah and beat them with a cricket bat.
Be intellectually rigorous. Identify your biases, your prejudices, your privilege."
I think these may be some of the wisest words I've heard in a while, and what this means to me is that I don't have the answers, I'm still trying to figure it all out.



I could tell you that the best thing to do would be to get to know you're local farmer, shop at farmers markets, do you're research, even visit the farms you buy from, and these things probably will help you make an informed choice.

Or I could say that you should raise your own chickens and that is the ultimate way to know where you're eggs come from.

BUT I don't believe I should tell you to do anything. Do what you want. If it's important to you you will try, like me, to figure it out for yourself and not be told what is best for you.

Well what a rant. When you sit down and start writing like this it can certainly open up a can of worms, but as the earth would not exist without worms, maybe that's a good thing.

Cheers,
Farmer Bren



28 September 2013

Electranet




Sorry about the typos in my last blog. I have since run it through spellcheck and found 10, (I can hear Kate cringing. She hates typos). But i will happily admit that I'm not a good speller and that I believe  spelling should actually be phonetic.

Thanks for all your comments, it was great to get so many for a newbie and I have posted replies to most of them in the last blog. I think that is what I will try to do if I can think of a direct reply and if not the questions will go onto a list that I will refer to for future blogs.

One last housekeeping thing and that is the blog layout. I'm not convinced it will stay, mostly because I can't get the photos as big as I'd like them, however there are some very cool features of this layout that you can try; On the upper left corner where is says classic there are another 6 layouts you can choose from to view the blog. My favourite is flipcard. Check them out and let me know what you think.

Ok, enough housekeeping.

I wish the clip above was a bit clearer and that I could have got a wider angle but I hope that it can still give you a bit of an idea of setting up of an enclosure for 200 chickens.

We have used electranets/electric netting/electric poultry nets, for close to 10 years now.


 I can't imagine keeping free range chickens without them. 


More later..

Cheers,

Farmer Bren.