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Farm update - Jan 2013

Happy New Year everyone!  I hope you had a good break.  For most of December I thought it was NEVER GOING TO RAIN AGAIN!!  Why does it always rain towards the end of the month?  We had about 30 mL at Nanango, over a few days.  PHEW!  It was starting to get really dry.  It stayed green for a little while, but with the following days being long, hot and dry, it doesn't take long to use up all that moisture.  To put that in perspective, December and January are usually our big rain months, we were expected 100-200 mL over the two months, but that doesn't look very likely now.  

At Kumbia we have had even less rain and realised too late that we kept the steers for a little too long, and over Christmas there is no market at which to sell them, so we had to hold them over Christmas and will sell at the first market in January.  Unfortunately this has meant that we were feeding hay to the Braford cows as we started to run low on decent grass for them.  The poor girls are getting a little skinny, but soon they will have some extra paddocks that the steers have just picked at, so that will help them, also our sorghum will be ready to feed off soon (if we get enough rain, it needs to get high enough to not contain prussic acid).  Our little weaner calves that we thought we might start to fatten will also go to the market at the next opportunity and then we might have our numbers down to a more sensible level.  

Our grand plan of over-grazing at first to get rid of the excess of grass has certainly worked, there's not much grass left in some paddocks and they have even stripped back some really overgrown areas.  We only kept the number because we were expecting rain and more grass, and the rain didn't come, so we really had too many cattle for our property.  Pasture management is a steep learning curve, and depends so much on the weather, it has been difficult to manage it from afar and I think we will do a better job when we can assess it daily instead of weekly.

We keep having to remind ourselves that some of our neighbours are real farmers, who depend on farm income and they are doing it tougher than us.  Sure we may lose some money selling these animals, but while we have full-time jobs, we won't lose the farm.  So when you see these weather forecasts of no rain (or when they forecast rain and it never comes), think of the farmers who don't have any grass for their animals, it can be very a very stressful time when you don't get the rain that you expect.

the steers showing off their plump rumps

one of our new baby brafords
the sorghum needs to be 50cm before we can feed it of in case of prussic acid poisoning
In the garden, the harvest is a little slower than last year.  I have a few beans, some lettuce (until the chickens got in and ate it all), some of the kale has gone to seed, the curcubits are safe in their chicken-proof netting and starting to flower, corn ears are starting to form (but the plants seem too short), and the tomatoes seemed to take forever to ripen but finally some of the yellow "taxi" tomatoes are ready (and I've lost some with blossom end rot even though I put lime in the soil for calcium).  My best harvest so far has been the pickling cucumbers, they grow so well and must be picked as soon as they reach a decent size as they seem to double overnight!  I have made two jars of fermented pickles already, yum!  And I think I will just use some in salad this year as we can't eat all the pickles.  I've been using my dehydrator to dry garlic and zucchini (neither grown by me) and lots of herbs.

leek flower

borage flower - taste them, they are so sweet!
I updated you on the house cattle before Christmas.  The chickens are doing a great job of laying and we were trying to decide when to start collecting eggs for the incubator, when I finally found some guinea fowl keets, only a day old, so in the brooder now.  They are so cute!  I hope they will grow up and eat all our ticks!

Deck chicken right before she laid an egg in the dog bed
 - we think they have an "arrangement" as we sometimes find egg shells from dogs helping themselves
Pied guinea fowl keets!!!  cute and very noisy
In December I discovered a new-to-me blog (that everyone probably knows about already) called Nourish Me.  I have a give away later in the week and I've decided to write more about permaculture - this month it will be about "Observe and Interact".  I also learnt how to make soap from the tallow that we rendered AND we started working on the steer hide that has been in our shed since August.  I will tell you all about it soon.


How was your December and what are your plans for January?


  1. You lead such a a busy life - doing all the farm work over the weekend and then both have full time jobs! Hopefully everyone gets plenty of rain soon - it is needed all over. I love your little guinea fowl chicks...

  2. It sounds like it has been pretty full on for you up there! It has been just as hot and dry down here and our lettuces are either going to seed (purple) or giving up the ghost (green). I wish I could find some guinea fowl keats here in Tassie...I might have to do some undercover luck on tasting borage flowers as the wallabies "tasted" them first and now we only have roots in the ground...they MUST be tasty! ;). I hope you get a great price for your cattle when you sell them in January :)

  3. Lots happening...... I hope all goes well with your guineas. We just gave ours away and I iss having them around. They were eating our garden though. They didn't seem to do it in the more productive times but then maybe I just didn't notice when there was enough for them and us.

  4. It seems as though you are being blessed richly! Its good to see!

  5. Hi, I've just stumbled apon your blog and think what you're doing is great. I love reading about like minded people in different countries and your farm sounds right up my street. I love how you've expanded - is the half hour commute difficult to your other patch of land? I'm looknig forward to reading some of your past posts.

  6. Liz I wondered who got the rain so far this month 1.5mm on our side of Nanago and everything is dying, including the weeds.

  7. thanks everyone. Yes we do have a busy life, but we enjoy having lots of projects. The 30 min drive is not so bad as its mainly on country back-roads, we hardly ever see another vehicle, and we only pop out there once or twice a week at the moment. The cattle mainly look after themselves :)


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