Sunday, 17 November 2013

Hail to the peeps!

Hi all, Coreen here.  We’ve been a bit remiss at keeping you all up-to-date.  Sorry about that.  It really has been getting exponentially busier in our lives as we came closer to completion and then finally completed the purchase of Our Mates’ Farm.  Not just with the (extra)ordinary business of buying a farm, but we’ve been through a learning curve with our increasing livestock, our social media identity is spreading, and Matt has officially come out as a “Geeveston orchardist”.

We experienced a circle of life loop at the farm.  From having to fish out a poor drowned wallaby from the lake and burying it, to releasing a possum formerly resident in the house roofspace, to little chicks hatching out in the incubator to some pretty excited clucking by us (yes, we were clucking), to the trauma of finding one of them dead in the brooder box later that night.

 Education never ends, there’s always something new to learn, whether it’s great advice from a neighbour and mentor, or a more formal course we’ve signed up for.  I went to a three workshop series run by Sprout Tasmania on marketing & social media which was great, lots to think about for our own business and having met some really passionate, savvy people.  Matt had a hot time at his Intro to Welding course run by LINC Tasmania, which covered both theory and some practical welding experience.  He was disappointed that the all-day practical course was cancelled the following weekend, but will try and follow it up at a later date.

So that was Cor’s contribution to our blog – she is now off to make cheese!

We have been busily preparing our apples for our first crop.  We purchased a second hand sprayer and have been spraying approximately 3 hectares (out of our 18) with organic chemicals to reduce the incidence of powdery mildew and apple scab or black spot.  It is important to us to use organic materials, even if we aren’t necessarily certified as such.  We want every visitor to our farm to be able to walk into every corner and see nothing that would make them unhappy to buy our produce.  Using organic chemicals still requires safety gear, but they don’t make me worry about going sterile from their use!
The sprayer at work.  Check out that grass eh?
Now you all know we have Bob the lamb, and Princess the dog, but we have been making plans for more animals.  We have bought 14 purebred Wiltshire Horn sheep.  The grass is growing so fast now that on a quiet sunny day you can almost hear it, and in some places there is a danger of losing the dog, even though she is growing like a weed herself.  So we need something to get it down, and the first solution out of the gate are some sheep that we hope to strip graze with mobile electric fences.  Next step: cows!

Some of the Wiltshire horn sheep we bought.  They are lost in the grass!
The eggs also hatched in the incubator.  We started with two dozen eggs, and only had nine hatch.  Unfortunately we lost a couple in the first couple of days, and two seem to have leg issues from the incubation.  The room the incubator was in really fluctuated in temperature a lot and this seems to have affected both our success rate and the chicks themselves.  That said, we now appear to have five healthy little chicks, and two in need of physio.  Construction on their home begins soon….
The survivors!
When a physio and an OT came to visit, we put them work correcting chick gait with rubber bands....
We have had our first house guests!  Cor’s brother flew in for a night’s stay during a conference in Hobart, and I took my Belgian cousins for a four day whirlwind tour of the East coast of Tassie before coming back here for a night.  Kudos to Cor for walking to the farm in this time (35 minutes) and doing so much while I was away.  We also had Rod and Karen pop in for a day of recuperation post the Cradle Mountain track.  Lucky for them it was raining so we didn’t put them to (real) work.  Instead as a physio and OT they were perfect candidates to implement our corrective procedure for our splay-legged chicks!
Casey and I at 6 in the morning before I drove him back to Hobart for his breakfast meeting!
Mia and Luc at Port Arthur

Mia and Luc at Wineglass Bay (such a goofy shot - I had to share it!)

Us and Rod (see chick physio photo for Karen!)
In addition to working our own farm, I have been carefully crafting more “work” for myself.  You see, in a moment of frustration I started a petition regarding the new egg-stamping rules that are coming for Tasmania.  We want to sell eggs at the farmgate of our new farm and these proposed rules were going to make it uneconomic to do so.  There have been newspaper articles (in which they call me a “Geeveston Orchardist”!!), radio interviews, and 7,000 signatures so far.  I have to say that I am a bit uncomfortable as an “activist”.  They were always the most boring people at a party, just a little too earnest for my liking, and normally given a wide berth.  It would seem that I have now joined their ranks but I will at least try to talk about something else!  We are due to present the petition this week so if you want to sign up or share it (and haven’t already), it is here:

So that is my long-winded explanation as to why we haven’t been posting much.  Hope it wasn’t too boring, there has been lots to catch up on!  Until we next time, if we haven't seen you we miss you all, and hope to see you down on Our Mates’ Farm.
I know, exhausting right?

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