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Land

When we only had Eight Acres we had to make the most of it, and even though 258 Acres seems like a huge amount of land, it can currently only carry about 30 cattle, so we have to work hard to improve the carrying capacity if we are to make any money.  Apart from a general aversion to chemicals, we also don't want to spend huge amounts on herbicides and fertilisers, when we believe that fertility can be increased for free with appropriate management of land and water.



We base our system on Peter Andrews' "natural sequence farming",  Joel Salatin's Polyface farm methods, and Holistic Management.  Permaculture is also a big influence, particularly David Holmgren.

Our system at Eight Acres has been as follows, and this will be the basis for what we do on the larger property:
  • Fence the block into smaller paddocks (1-2 acres)
  • Remove weeds from the paddock that may harm the cattle (i.e. lantana), but leave everything else
  • Let the cattle into the paddock for a few months to clean up (eat and trample everything)
  • When it looks like they've eaten everything they're interested in, slash the paddock (and clean up all rocks and fallen trees) and let it rest for several months, obviously the tractor has been very important for this process!
  • Keep rotating the cattle to move around the fertility (dung and slashed weeds)
  • Also move the chicken tractors around when the land is clear enough
We've had a soil test done at each property, which has helped us to understand our soil and what is lacking from the diets of our livestock.





At Cheslyn Rise we have five dams for cattle water, and have set up a solar bore system, and lots of plans for more tanks and dams around the house yard.  We are working on a system to use that water to improve our pasture.  In the meantime, the dogs love to swim in the dams!






Joel Salatin's books

Peter Andrew's books on Natural Sequence Farming

Permaculture Principles



     
   







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What to do with eight acres

Behind the scenes of my blog I can see the search terms that led people to find my blog.  It can be quite interesting to look through them occasionally and see what people are looking for.  Most of them involve chicken tractors, but another question that comes up regularly is “what can you do with eight acres?” or “how much land is eight acres?”.  Today I will try to answer this question.

Of course it is a very broad question, there are lots and lots of things you can do with eight acres, but I’m going to assume that you want to live there, feed your family and maybe make a little extra money.  I make that assumption because that’s what I know about, if you want to do something else with your eight acres, you will need to look somewhere else.

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Getting started with chickens - Tanya from Lovely Greens

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Farmer Liz: You will remember Tanya from Lovely Greens from the first series, she lives on the Isle of Mann and added chickens to her garden about a year ago.  You can leave comments for this post on Tanya's blog.



How many chickens (and other fowl) do you keep, what breed and what do you use them for (meat, eggs, slug control etc)?
Tanya: Around the same time that we were initially thinking about having hens another friend beat us to the punch. She went to the local pet store and bought a flat-pack hen house and chicken run combo and found a local farmer who had dozens of semi-feral chickens running around his property. One night he pulled three down from the trees and my friend took them home in a pet carrier. She named them Miracel, Carmen, and Geraldine and though they’re probably related they were all…