A Farming Life

It is three and a half years since we moved to this beautiful location and looking back, we feel proud of what we have achieved. Friends who visit, relish the tranquillity and the ever changing view from the veranda where there is always something to catch the eye. Recently that has been the arrival of twins to Jill, last season’s bottle fed lamb and Trudy’s third calf, as yet un-named until we determine its sex.

Jill & her twins, a white girl & a black boy
Trudy & her latest newborn calf
Maiden ewe with her lamb that only a mother thinks is beautiful!

During the winter months we needed to use the generator to top up our power supply more often, until one morning it finally collapsed. One of the batteries had died and the others were trying to compensate for this and they too were failing. After some considerable research we had lithium batteries installed which have made a vast improvement to the amount of power we have available. The old lead-acid batteries were recycled for their lead content, which offset our costs a little.

After a long wet winter, we are enjoying some warm sunny spring days, so the paddocks are lush and green, having responded well to the autumn applications of lime, superphosphate and some ryegrass seed. However the weeds are growing too and so Ken has been busy spot spraying the thistles. The early lambs have been weaned and the ewes are starting to loose their coats, rubbing it off on the fences. The cattle have also been pushing on the fences, so one of the latest projects has been to run an electric wire on them all, now that we have a reliable power supply.

The wood shed succumbed to an early winter storm, so Ken has used a lot of recycled materials to build two new ones. One is nearly full as we have been busy wood gathering from various sources. Quite a few large branches fell over our fences from the adjacent forest during storms, so these have been cut up, to dry out for next winter’s firewood.

Over the fence.

One of the necessities of rural life is an effective sewage system. This property has a Biolytix system where everything goes into a big tank filled with bags of coco peat and composting worms. The clean water is then pumped into underground irrigation pipes. With the wet winter, the ground containing the pipes became so waterlogged that the ground water was running back into the tank. The system has now been overhauled and a bypass irrigation system installed so that the pump is no longer trying to put water into an already saturated area.

Renovating the sewage system

Another improvement has been the yard/parking area at the house. It has now been topped with two loads of “scalps” from a local quarry so it is no longer an area of muddy puddles after a shower of rain.

Spreading the first load of scalps.

A frequent visitor is Sam, the puppy we gave to Catherine and Remo for their birthdays. He has grown into an intelligent, happy dog and great friends with Ella.

Sam at 8 weeks old.

Ken’s regular watering of the trees in the orchard was worthwhile, as did netting some of the trees to keep out the birds. We were rewarded with two varieties of plums and plenty of yellow peaches. With too many to eat fresh, they were bottled as well as made into jam and chutneys. Another peach tree is only a root-stock variety and the apricot trees do not set much fruit, so their days may be numbered. The olive trees produced some good sized fruit but which had to be picked green before the birds ate them all. These olives have now been processed and are currently in brine. The fig tree is also a disappointment, but it needs a good prune in the near future. However the citrus trees have mostly done well with an excess of lemons, limes and mandarins, though not so many oranges. There are several batches of marmalade in the cupboard as a result and even a batch of tangelo marmalade, as the new tree had just enough fruit. The cumquat tree got an unscheduled pruning when the sheep got into the orchard one day, so hopefully we will get fruit again next season. Two of the four avocado trees are starting to produce flowers for the first time this spring, so we are hopeful that some may set.

Avocado flower buds.

The vegie garden continues to keep Ken busy and he has started planting summer vegetables. Currently we are enjoying our store of pumpkins, as well as freshly dug potatoes, broccoli and lots of asparagus. There are beans of all varieties, sweetcorn and buckets of zucchini soup in the freezer. The tomatoes, peas and turnips did not do well however, so hopefully better luck next season. It is so nice to have such a variety of home grown produce to rely on.