25 October 2009

Ducks in the grass.

Last Wednesday morning when Bren went to change the water in the brooder he noticed a bit of blood on the wings of one of the ducklings.

Upon closer inspection he noticed that the ducklings, now five weeks old, are growing their wing feathers. The chicks must have noticed too because they were pecking these new feathers causing the duckling to bleed.

It was time to separate the ducks and chicks and as the ducks seemed much hardier and bigger they got to get out. Bren and Liam fenced off a large grassy area that surrounds the brooder.

Ducklings are so sociable always waddling around or lazing about together in one big group.

They did take a little while to get the hang of the faster group waddling and would trip each other up a fair bit at first.
My ducklings love watching the feathered ducklings.

They were so funny making several passes of the pool/pond but not actually slowing down or looking at it.

Then finally they stopped to have a drink.

And then a few dived in and splashed about.

After a while they decided it was time for a bit of a rest.

We still put them back in the brooder every night for warmth and protection but each day they seem to explore further and get more confident.

Thanks for visiting us at the market today Deb, Aaliya and family, it was ace to meet you.

I hope you are having a great weekend whereever you are, whatever the season.

19 October 2009

Farming secrets.

Last August Hugo and Helen from Farming Secrets paid a visit to Daylesford Organics.

Farming Secrets is a subscription based program that connects farmers and gardeners with experts in their fields.

They spent a few hours here filming their latest DVD which features an interview and farm tour with Bren and an interview with Clive Blazey founder of Diggers Seeds and promoter of heirloom vegetables.

Purchasing the DVD will entitle you to a phone consultation with Bren about your farm or home garden.

The DVD featuring our Bren will be available for sale later this year but they are releasing a few little previews first.

Click here to watch a couple of minutes of Bren talking about how we get the chooks to work for us saving us energy.

Click here to watch Bren talk about aerating your soil using carrots.

Click here to watch Bren talk about planting by the moon.

Click here to watch Bren talk about using as many different systems of farming as you find helpful and useful.

17 October 2009

Our new logo.

We've finally decided on and committed to our new logo.

We're so excited and can't wait to start the new growing season with our fresh new image.

The next step is to source and print the most environmentally friendly labels, egg cartons, business cards, t'shirts and signs. And then some fridge magnets, badges, tote bags....can you tell how much I love it?

16 October 2009

Ducklings and chicks on the move.

The ducklings and chicks are just over four weeks old and have been making a terrible muddy mess of their yard so it's time to move them onto some greener grass.

Liam drives the brooder over the pile of straw.

But had to stop when we realised one had fallen through the floor.

Got it!

Pixie helped round it up.

Liam drove over the straw, Bren made holes for the wheels,

and then Liam reversed the brooder into them.

They look pretty happy with their new patch.

Although some chose to stay inside (if I were a chook, I would definitely be one of the inside ones).

So far the chicks and the ducklings are getting along really well together but we are constantly amazed at how much quicker the ducklings are growing.

We are currently searching for another one or two adult maremma dogs that have been bonded to chooks to protect this flock. If you have any contacts for maremma breeders please email me

Thanks, and have a great weekend.

09 October 2009

Onions, onions, onions, ducklings.

At this time of year, in Central Victoria we find ourselves with an interesting dilemma.

We have a hot house full of seedlings but the ground outside will not be ready for a month or so to be planted into.

The first issue is that the ground is too wet to get the tractor in to pull up the beds. Working wet ground ruins the soil structure.

The second issue is that it is still too cold here for the delicate little seedlings to survive and thrive.

And the third issue is that we have done trials and found that seedlings planted in the ground now do not reach maturity any sooner than those planted out in the middle of November.

The seedlings are getting too big for the seed trays we planted them in so it's time to prick them out and replant them into bigger pots.

We plant seeds into seed raising mix. Seed raising mix has virtually no nutrients as the seed contains everything it needs for germination.

For their next stage of growth the seedlings need a bit of help so I make a 50/50 mix of matured compost (above) and soil (below), potting mix.

I fill up the little pots with the potting mix.

I give the seed trays and the little pots a good soaking.

I like to use a chopstick to prick holes in the potting mix where the seedlings will go but anything roughly the size of a pencil will do.

Carefully loosen an onion seedling. Look how intricate that root system is already.

Put each seedling in a hole making sure that the whole root structure is covered with potting mix or else the plant will dry out and die. Press around each one to make sure there are no air pockets.

The onion seedlings will grow in these pots for the next month. We will water them often and fertilise them with fish and seaweed occasionally.

In mid November, we will tap them out of their pots and plant them as a bunch. As the onions mature and their bulbs swell they will push each other out of the way to make more room.

We grow many different varieties of onions that will reach maturity in the first few months of next year.

I thought I'd leave you with a photo I took of the ducklings waiting outside the door to the brooder when it was getting cold outside and time for them to go in to bed.

Bren will be at the Collingwood Childrens' Farm farmers' market tomorrow, why don't you go and say 'hi'.

Have a great weekend.

06 October 2009

Ducks out.

Even though the ducklings are only three weeks old today, the time has come for them to spend their days outside the brooder.

Our chicks generally don't go outside until they are four or five weeks old but these ducklings are entirely something else.

From their first night here they knew their own kind and even though they were sharing the brooder with 300 chicks they slept by themselves in a corner. How do they know they are ducks when they are so young?

They are growing so quickly and seem like they need more space.

And they are making a mess of the water they share with the chicks.

So it is time for the pool to come out again to enclose them.

For now these bins will be their day beds.

We'll put them back in the brooder tonight as it is still so cold here at the moment. I wonder if they'll be waiting at the door to come out tomorrow morning or if I'll have to chase them and catch each one to bring them out.