Mysterious ‘rust’ on blackberries…

This rust is not only on our property but seems to have quite a wide coverage in the area.

Anyone familiar with ‘Myrtle Rust’ out there?

Whatever it is, it hasn’t affected the early harvest of blackberries but it could reduce the length of the harvest.  However we have got more this year already compared with last year.  It will be interesting to see what happens next season.

My little farmer boy and I were inspired by Kate over at Fox’s Lane and using what we had on hand came up with a blackberry and buttermilk cake.

Unfortunately he liked eating it more before it was cooked,and when my little schoolgirl came home


she told me it wasn’t sweet enough.  Oh well, more for me and my big girl when she gets back from work.

Now that school is well and truly underway I can no longer indulge in 12-14 hours of farm work 6 – 7 days a week.  Now it is a case of relying on that earlier effort and getting bits and pieces done when I can, with my little helper along for the ride.

We have been harvesting (and selling) zucchinis, squash, rocket and of course eggs.  We are harvesting tomatoes, broccoli, daikon, spuds and oodles of other mixed salad stuff for ourselves, the peas have well and truly finished and the beans are about to start.

We have possums getting into gardens, a rabbit about to kindle, ‘barber pole’ worm issues that have resulted in stock losses and a wedge tailed eagle that has become just a little too friendly.

Oh and for some reason I find myself researching RAW food diets and LGD training…



2011, Reflections (what worked and what didn’t).

Even though it is not the end of the growing season let’s reflect as it is traditional to do so at this time of year.

First cab off the rank would have to be this blog, from our perspective I would have to say that it has worked very well.  Certainly there have been many unwritten posts that may come in 2012: predators; stock rotation; Ethanol production and what it means to Australia; Pastured poultry?; to mechanize or not to mechanize?; the eternal optimism of the farmer/gardener; etc.

However the blog has kept friends and relatives up to date and has also kept me on my toes, keeping people updated without hindering the overall running of the farm.  The biggest bonus I would have to say from the blog has been the interaction with my fellow bloggers and fellow farmers/gardeners worldwide.

As always, the shining light/lights on our farm are our poultry.

Oh, and speaking of shining lights,

and the blog photographer was finally caught, by his brother.Using broodies instead of incubators is working well for us, so far.

By using a broody to raise young chicks we can do away with the need to feed the chicks medicated starter.  The purpose of medicated starter for chicks is to expose them, ever so gently to coccidiosis.  When being raised by a broody a chicks early days and weeks is spent avidly following their ‘mother’ around and scratching and eating everything she leads them to, this gives them a healthy exposure to coccidiosis without having to resort to any medicated starter.  It is working well for us so far, if we need to increase the flock drammatically by using an incubator we will indeed have to re-address the process.

Pastured poultry is working well,

they keep producing eggs like these that people are desperate for.

However, pastured poultry is essentially keeping poultry in slightly larger cages than caged birds.  In a few weeks time the majority of our birds will be ranged within electric poultry netting, in our version of a ‘day range’ system, whilst small groups of 3 or 4 will continue in the movable tractors for breeding purposes.  We have a handful of truly free range chooks that roam wherever they choose, not sure why they come in the house at every opportunity though.  Finally we have one traditional ‘coop’ of 3 or 4 ‘chooks’ that is part of a 4 bed rotation.  This 4 bed rotation is leading to plants like these –

I am quietly confident that the ‘Strawberry Fields’ garden is working, it has gone from this (please ignore the mug in the foreground)to this

Cucurbits with a daikon chaser.

Pink eyes and Dutch creams

What hasn’t worked so well…

the garlic in the weed mat wasn’t a complete failure, as can be seen here

Tas purple garlic curing in the shed.

however I did let it get a little weedy towards the end which must have reduced the vitality of the bulbs to a degree.  I am seriously looking forward to planting at least some of this year’s garlic crop into soil I have prepared beforehand rather than just covering lawn with plastic mulch.

Other things that haven’t been a complete success,

an early rabbit hutch design that worked well for a number of weeks before a fatal visit by a predator, most likely a dog.  We lost one of our does that night and as she had kindled only days prior we also lost 6 kits.  We also lost our ginger doe from an infected wound earlier.  The remaining doe has successfully raised 4 kits, 2 white and 2 black.  Possibly 3 does and a buck, we may keep the 3 does but the buck will either be for the table or for sale as a breeder.

Another thing that hasn’t worked as well as it could have was the Salad Garden

essentially the biggest problem has been keeping the grass down, between the rows and around the electric fence line.  Future plans are to start with a clean slate, rotary hoe the whole space thus eliminating/reducing the grass problems and also eliminating the need for the weed mat.

Other things that have worked

  •   compost and compost tea, Dr Elaine Ingham style, thanks again Woolyelot.
  •   seed raising under ‘glad wrap’ under fluoro lights, thanks to Mike from his Tiny Farm in Canada
  •   Pigs prepping market gardens, when they are inside the fence!
  •   Our bees, we have a massive amount of clover flowering at present and will be harvesting honey in the next week or so.

Other things that haven’t worked so well

  • agisting stock, it limits how we can graze them.
  • buying farm equipment online, 2 pieces of equipment have died recently, however both companies appear to be doing the right thing.

I think that’s possibly enough reflecting for now, thanks for listening.  Roll on 2012!!!