Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Holy Hammy Houdinis!

Welcome to another instalment of “Into the Good Life”!  Since we last updated we have been WWoOFing with a fantastic couple, Didier and Mandy, who breed pigs and cows for sale.  In addition to this they grow stacks of their own food, brew their own beer, make salamis and sausages, keep bees, raise chickens and ducks, and are incredibly “plugged in” to the property goings on in and around Huon Valley.  These guys are the sorts of people that everyone should know.

Chuck at work with pigs following along.

So we have been spending a bit of time fencing.  Ah, fencing.  Those little hammy Houdinis will take any opportunity to push their way under a fence and then the next thing you are chasing a bunch of piglets across a neighbour’s paddock looking like a right idiot.  This means that they need Fort Knox standard fencing, and Cor and I have been spending a bit of time so far getting to grips with this and earning blisters swinging a hammer.
Fencing time!

But we have also been pruning the orchard, helping get honey from the bees, spinning it, setting traps for possums, draining a siphon with an air-block, clipping chicken wings, cleaning chickens, feeding pigs, helping make beer and salamis, plus baking bread and gathering stuff from the garden for dinner.  All that and world-beating sunrises from our caravan (the WWoOF accommodation here) and brilliant meals to boot.

Our reading has moved on also.  I am still making my way through Peter Bane’s “The Permaculture Handbook” but Cor has read “Farm Animals” by Jeanie Peck Whiting and “Storey’s Guide to Keeping Pigs”.  Courtesy of Mandy and Didier’s library I am also reading Joel Salatin’s “Salad Bar Beef” and “A Practical Manual of Beekeeping” by David Cramp.  I will add all these to our ongoing reading list for reference in future.

It's a pig's life.

We also have some rather exciting news.  As previously posted, on my Dad’s suggestion we contacted Matthew Evans via his website.  Dad was reading that he had taken on new ground and thought he might be looking for help.  Matthew will probably be familiar to most Australians for “The Gourmet Farmer” TV series on SBS.  For those in the UK, think of him as Australia’s answer to Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.  It transpires that he is based here in Tasmania (right up the road in fact), and he and his lovely partner have agreed to have us volunteer with them for the month of April.  They have some fascinating things going on with management-intensive rotational grazing (of the sort used by Joel Salatin) and a bunch of other interesting things and it will be brilliant to help them in whatever way we can.  It is just a wonderful opportunity and we are very lucky to have it.  I have to thank my Dad for the great idea.  The downside is that we have to leave Mandy and Didier much earlier than we would have liked, but I have the feeling we will be staying in close touch with these guys and continuing to work with them whenever we can.  WWoOFer hosts, not just for Christmas.
Not the Hammy Houdinis, but their irresponsible parents!

We have another idea that we are exploring (thanks to Mandy!), namely the possibility of farm-sitting for people who would like a holiday.  We will be examining this as a way to continue our farming education while we are looking for a property when we return from Queensland in July.

Following up on the end of the previous post, we did go see that property that was privately advertised - owned by a lovely Dutch emigre couple with their two young kids.  It was a great plot of about 17 acres but a bit too small and far away from town for what we (potentially) have in mind.

So during the first draft of this blog I heard a squeal go past the caravan, and what do you know, those Houdini pigs were out again.  There is more work to be done for sure!

Stay tuned! Palya!

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