Sunday, April 29, 2012

A Perfect Day At The Office

A WONDERFUL welcome awaits farmer Mark Killen every afternoon when he collects the eggs at Papanui, his 900ha property near Merriwa in the Upper Hunter Valley.

Mark Killen with his chickens and chook buses at his farm in the
Upper Hunter Valley in NSW.
Picture: James Croucher Source: News Limited

First, he takes the short drive from his homestead to a large grassy paddock. Here, against a backdrop of big Australian sky, sit two 1980s-vintage country school buses. Beside them, seemingly alone, lie two large, white, lupine-looking dogs, basking in the fleeting sun.
Suddenly, alerted by the ute's arrival, a groundswell of movement begins to whirr and the area becomes as busy as a Turkish village on market day. Running from the surrounding grasses, and pushing two by the dozen down the ramps from the buses, come hundreds of noisy, cackling Isa Brown chickens. The friendly birds flap, peck and cluck raucously about the ute, many perching on the bonnet before Killen has turned off the ignition.

Read the inspiring story of farmer Mark Killen and his sustainable property with chooks and cattle in this weekend's Australian ...

Saturday, April 28, 2012


“To forget how to dig the earth and tend the soil is to forget ourselves”
Our summer crop is all but finished, we
do have loads of spring onions and
shallots to swap, see you there with any
goodies you may have
April 28 2012

Weather permitting, the plan this Saturday is to
work on the berries in the North mandala area.
We will feed them with compost and manure
and aim for a good crop this summer.

This Sunday a group is going to Wolsley
Winery in Torquay to check out their pizza and
party, please come along if you’re free.
Wine and gourmet pizzas available at the show
- Lucie Thorn, featuring Victoriana Gaye!
$10 per person admission.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Corriander time

Yes, it's time to plant coriander!

Plant Coriander For Winter

For some of us it's coriander time all year long as the plant continuously self-seed, but autumn winter is best as the herb does not bolt as much.

Making music

Hot acts, cool music, warm sunny weather and relaxed vibe = ABMF.

ORGAN-IC FUN: Sam Upton, celebrating his 18th birthday, with Barry Morgan from the House of Organs and Sam's mother Robyn. Photo: ALISON APRHYS

Took a break from the gals for a few hours last weekend to attend the amazing Apollo Bay Music Festival - wow!

The 20th anniversary of this incredible celebration of Australian music was just great...

Celebrating local home-grown music is a great way to chill.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Chooks on air

On the airwaves
On ABC 774 this Saturday at 6.30am Libbi Gorr will be chatting with Amanda McClaren from the much celebrated Yapunyah Meadow Grazed Chickens.

Amanda and her husband, Ian, graze about 5000 chickens on their property near Graytown (between Heathcote and Nagambie). Farmers' market customers are raving about their delicious, grass fed chook for its fabulous flavour and texture and according to Amanda that's all thanks to grazing the birds on grass!

Soil health is very important to Amanda and Ian and in fact their business idea came about when they noticed the remarkable difference in the soil after their laying chooks had been rotated through their orchard.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Pruning without problems

My fruit trees need a haircut, but pruning is a delicate business.
Some peope go the whole og and look like they use a 'scorched earth' policy, while othersfresrful of errors,  make such delicate snips it ends up being ineffecive.

So who you gonna call?

St Peter of Cundall of course!

In this latest edition of the Weekly Times, he comes to out pruning rescue.

My advice?

Sharpen all secateurs and saws, so much easier, you make cleaner cuts and your chance of injury is much smaller.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Hens deserve better

Hens deserve better - yes they do.

Hens deserve better logo

The RSPCA is running a campaign Hens Deserve Better

Join them and take action to get hens out of cages.I love watching my little chooks running around their pen or the garden, eating bugs, scratching through he soil and straw, having a dirt bath or investigating a patch of nasturtiums.

Unfortunately, too many hens are kept in dreadful conditions.

Let's get hens into a better life.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Ride On

One way to live more sustainably, save money, get fitter and enjoy the commute is to cycle.

On my way into work this morning I heard an amazing frog chorus as I peddled past Armstrong Creek, saw parrots fly through the mist and a beautiful sunrise - what a great way to start the day!

Here's a link to my article in today's Geelong Advertiser.

So go on, with or without lycra - but always with a helmet - peddle on.

A cool bike image i found on Triple R's website...

Thursday, April 12, 2012

New Gardening Australia host Costa is a man who knows - and loves - his chickens.

Here's a link to Costa's chook tips.

He also talks about makign a chook tractor.

Me, I prefer to have my gals in a run with a secure hutch then let out to free-range when i am working in the garden.

At the moment the gals are loving the sunny, autumnal days, but are certianly fluffing up their feathers when they retire to cluckingham palace at night.

This weekend I will be putting a fresh bale of straw into their run.

It's always such fun to see their joy in leaping about and investigating it for unlucky insects!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Egg label debate continues

A report in today's Weekly times reveals a Victorian Farmers Federation official who criticised animal-welfare groups over "getting facts right" sold eggs using misleading information.

VFF egg group president Brian Ahmed sold his "Down the Farm" eggs carrying the picture and story of a third-generation Italian immigrant "Guiseppe" - complete with pictures - last year.

Read more here.

Another reason to have some chooks in your yard / community garden.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Check out the latest CRIKEY news on the misreporting of Ceres...

Freelance journalist Matthew da Silva writes: Based in inner-north Melbourne’s Brunswick East, CERES is a popular not-for-profit environment education centre and public farm that hosts farmers’ markets and sells weekly fruit and vegetable boxes to locals.
But after a report earlier this month by The Sunday Age on levels of lead contamination at the Centre for Education and Research in Environmental Strategies farm, sales at the CERES market dropped 30%, weekly orders disappeared and staff shifts had to be cut.
Problem is, The Sunday Age article relied on information from interim test results from Moreland Council, which had people testing for contamination at the site.

Read more here.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Cage egg ending?

THE animal welfare lobby has vowed to eradicate the caged egg industry by Christmas. 

In an article in the Weekly Times, it said radio advertisements, an internet video and a social media campaign were launched yesterday by Animals Australia, featuring singer Missy Higgins, The Australian reports.

Appealing to Australians to "Have a heart for hens" and "Help make the battery cage history", Higgins says she was amazed there were 12 million caged birds across the country.
Check out more info here.

Book 'em Dano

This morning the new hens had their wings clipped so I can safely allow them to free range the garden without fear they will take flight - and fright - and fly over the fence and potentially, into someone's casserole dish.
It takes just a few moments to clip them but 15 times longer to catch them!
So I after consulting my chook library to remind myself of the correct procedure, I then asked a kind friend hold the little madams and snip, snip, they are now free to roam.

Just came across an article I wrote for the excellent EUREKA STREET magazine a few years ago on the love of books and reading.
It is FREE to subscribe to this great online publication.