Sunday, September 30, 2007

Strange neighbour

This evening just after half past five a message was left on my wife's answering machine from our 'odd' neighbour, Peter Giles, telling us that two of our dogs were at his place and had just headed home. Why he thought they were our dogs is a puzzle - which wasn't resolved when I spoke to him a few hours later.
He's a man with a strange reputation and I don't know what this bloke's problem is (apart from what he might be smoking) because at that time all our dogs were being fed and they were all where they were supposed to be.
He's been a bit of a pain over the years making all sorts of outrageous allegations. Thankfully, most of the time he's left us alone, so I suppose it's our turn for a blast. For some reason he thinks he's normal and the rest of the world is out to get him!
Hopefully he'll feel better soon.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Farm visits proving popular

Visits to the Freeranger Farm on Sundays are going well. We now have a steady stream of people coming to look at how we do things. And it's much easier for us to keep the farm running smoothly if general visits are on one set day each week.

That doesn't mean we stop people coming on other days. We will have a group from French Island Landcare next Tuesday. They want to have a look at the practical application of farm sustainability.

What we do here is based on regenerative land management principles to ensure that our activities have little or no off-site impacts. Have a look at our page of regenerative agriculture on the Friends of Bass Valley Bush website at

With more than half our land maintained as remnant native vegetation (part of the only riparian forest left on the Bass River) we have always been very keen to ensure that making a living from the land doesn't destroy what's important.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

New Maremma helps with fox control

We now have a brand new six month old Maremma, Abbey (in the middle of the picture with a short lead).
She has joined our pack to protect the hens on the farm from fox attacks.
They are simply the greatest dogs for this sort of work and there's no doubt that we would be out of business as a genuine 'free range' farm if we didn't have our flock protectors.
Abbey was a bit unsure of herself the first day and was snappy with us and the other dogs - but she quickly settled in. The picture was taken just two days after she arrived.
It shows how well they all accept each other. Let me introduce (from the left) Lexie, Berkley, Abbey, Ducati, Umberta and Daisy. Not in the picture (because they are off with their chooks, are Bella, Monte, Flora, Angus and Chicca.
It's a great pack of single-minded dogs whose mission is to protect the farm from intruders! (Apart from Angus who likes to spend a lot of his time bouncing) He's a Heeler/Border Collie X.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Booming egg production

At this time of year - just coming out of winter - our egg production is often down. But right now our hens are laying like crazy.
The mild winter (which is a real worry for later in the year) has seen our lay rate continue at over 90% for the past five months.
It has dipped slightly from 95% to 92.5% in the past couple of weeks but we are still well up with our target production level of 400 dozen per week.
Feed costs are likely to again have a big impact on us this year with predictions of shortages of a wide range of grains caused by crop failures in many parts of the world (and the crazy diversion of grain into ethanol production)
It's hard to understand the mental condition of any Government that would subsidise the production of ethanol at the expense of food.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Freeranger Farm visits and field trips

We have just begun encouraging visits to the Freeranger Farm on Sunday afternoons. Each week we have enquiries about how we do things and there are always individuals and groups from all over the place, including schools, wanting to look at our farming methods and the way the farm has been designed to promote biodiversity as well as produce income.
Often we can meet people's needs during the week but if we can encourage most to visit on Sundays it will leave the rest of the week free to do all the things that have to be done around the property.
Many people have a virtual visit first on our website at - and then come for the real thing!
The visit needn't take long, but for those who want to wander through the native bush and take a look at the last remaining riparian forest on the Bass River, it will take a couple of hours or more.

Half price eggs

One of our best markets is the Cardinia Ranges Farmers' Market at Pakenham Racecourse on the second Saturday every month.
As well as fresh veggies there a host of other great food - cheese, venison, beef, free range pork - and of coure Freeranger Eggs!
To encourage buyers to get there early, this Saturday (September 8) we are offering a half price deal on dozen cartons of 60 gram eggs until 8.30.
Hopefully it will help to increase sales as our hens are laying so well at the moment.
Often the lay rate is reduced once the cold weather hits, but this year our production has remained pretty constant at over 90%.