Friday, December 29, 2006

Fuel Reduction Burns - are they any use?

The extent of fires in Victoria seems to have demonstrated conclusively that fuel reduction burns have little if any impact on the damage caused by wildfires in bushland areas.
Much of the vegetation which was deliberately burned two years ago as the required 'knee-jerk' reaction to fire safety has again been burned - so what was gained by the time and effort involved in the prescribed burns (apart from the inner glow it gave those who love setting fires)
Now one of the ludicrous actions of bureaucracy is the fire bombing of areas which survived the wildfire. They are making sure they get the lot!
There is a fixation with showing the 'assets' which which have been destroyed - houses, fences, plantation timber, pasture etc. But what about the native fauna and habitat values which have been lost.

Farmers' Markets and Free Range Eggs

We're in the middle of the silly season now with many thousands of holidaymakers on Phillip Island. Our regular monthly Farmers' Market on Churchill Island is now being held weekly which puts a heap of pressure on our production. To cope with the extra demand we have a new flock of 450 hens which are just beginning to lay and should be in full production in a week or two.
As well as our regular home deliveries and deliveries to health food stores, restaurants and other outlets, we have six markets over the next four weeks - so we needed to up our production from around 400 dozen a week to at least 600 dozen.
Thankfully the recent weather has been kind to us, with rain over Christmas (although that didn't impress those lucky enough to be on holiday) and cool weather since then.
There are still a few stalls selling illegal eggs, as there are at most markets. Buyers need to be aware that just because someone sticks up a sign saying the eggs are free range doesn't mean that they are!
The only way to be sure is to ask if the farm is accredited and check that it has a food safety program in place. There are many stallholders who simply buy eggs in bulk from a cage farm, stick them in second hand cartons and sell them as 'free range' at inflated prices.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

It's raining on Christmas Day

What a great day. It was 6 degrees celcius at six o'clock this morning and it's been raining on an off all night and most of the morning so far.
We've had 24 mm of rain in the past couple of days and that is just tremendous after the long dry spell. Most of our rainwater tanks are now overflowing.
It's a great relief for the firefighters who have been battling wildfires in Gippsland - some of them deliberately lit by people who should be removed from this planet!
The rain didn't stop Santa and my two grandchildren had great fun this morning ripping the paper off heaps of goodies.
I'd better head off and do some of the farm chores now (nothing stops just because it's Christmas Day.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

The summer is hotting up

We are surrounded by smoke today - from the wildlifes burning in Gippsland. Thankfully they are a long way from us but it's hard to breathe, even indoors.
The smoke means it shouldn't get too hot here today, probably around 34 - 36 degrees celsius so our hens won't be too uncomfortable.
On really hot days we have to spend time with them spraying water to keep their body temperatures down. A couple of years ago we lost over 40 hens on a 44 degree day and we don't want a repeat of that.
A new flock of 450 point of lay pullets arrived this week and they have settled in well with their dog for protection. One laid her first egg today.
The new hens should help us to meet the demand for eggs during the January holiday period when we never have enough! The restaurants we supply, health food shops etc all need more eggs for their customers and our direct sales at Farmers' Markets double or even triple (if we have enough).
I've spent a bit of time revamping my website in an effort to make it more search engine-friendly. And it seems to have worked. The site now has a far better ranking with Google, Yahoo, Alta Vista and Dogpile. Interestingly, we are still way down the list with Lycos, but are top of the heap on the Lycos subsidiary Hotbot! Can't work that out.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Aussie drought is biting

The drought is biting pretty hard in most parts of Australia and even here in South Gippsland we are not immune. The town water supply is dwindling fast and farm dams are running low. People on Phillip Island are starting to panic with the tourist season fast approaching.
One of the pathetic things though is the way some farmers just have to whinge!
One local was in the paper last week saying he had to sell cattle at a third of their market market value.
What a load of cr*p. He sold at the market price. If he'd had the sense to sell a month or two earlier he may well have received two thirds more for his cattle.
The biggest impact so far for us is the price of feed. It's already risen 25 - 30% and as feed is our biggest input in the cost of producing eggs we will have to pass that on to consumers.
For us the Christmas holiday period is truly the 'silly season' because the population increases so remarkably that we have no hope of meeting demand for free range eggs.