We purchased our farm in January 2012.
The 30 acres of land is gently undulating granite and very typical of grazing land in the district, being open grasslands with simplified species diversity.
We started with one Eucalypt tree, a few half dead pear trees and an abundance of thistles. We made the decision right from day one NOT to spray the 'weeds' and to manage them as the soil builders they are.
In July of that year we started planting native trees/shrubs on the farm. We planted several dense windbreaks as well as many clumps, these plants endured persistent grazing pressure from the Kangaroos but survived and grew well.
It still somewhat amazes us how quickly things can develop and how the birdlife just seems to appear.
We engaged Somewhere Landscapes to help with the overall site concept plan and then in came the earthmovers to construct the dam, driveway and to level the site for house and shed.
Sometimes you have to make a mess to move forward.
We decided to erect a fairly large open shed, this has proven a valuable assest.
The shed is oriented towards the north to maximise solar access to the solar panels on the roof. The orientation allows sunlight into the shed during winter and full shade during the summer, whilst the solar panels are producing three times our electricity consumption.
In respect to our permaculture ethics we wanted to build a sustainable home and as such we decided to owner build a straw bale house.
The house has been designed for north orientation and uses local (waste) materials, double glazed windows, earthern floor. See section 'house'
Our passion for permaculture and sustainability once again drove our decision to go build a strawbale house.
Over 18 months, while living in town with 2 young children, still running our propagation nursery we dedicated our weekends to building the house. With the support of family and friends slowly but surely we built the first pavillion of our home.
Thoughtfully designed with northern orientation, double glazed windows, and an earthen floor have resulted in a comfortable home which is warm in Winter and cool in Summer.
As neither of us have building experience and choosing to build by hand has added little quirks to the house which contributes to its'character. Every time we look at these minor imperfections we smile knowing the work behind them.
Read about our owner builder journey in the Our House section
Just as animals need plants, plants also need animals for the soil to remain in a healthy state and to aggregate fertility.
Free Range Chickens:
Chickens are forest dwelling birds and thus to truly express their innate behavior need to be provided with a forest like habitat and not just access to grass.
Chickens love to scratch and forage in leaf litter, dust bathe and are very alert always looking for the next interesting adventure. They control our insect pests, eat weeds whilst building fertility and providing us with a bounty of eggs.
This spring will see our flock become of a commercial size but their husbandry will not change as we now have several hectares of forest like cover for them to forage.
We engaged the services of our pigs to express their 'Pigness' and prepare our garden beds.
If their is a better way to remove invasive grasses such as couch then I am yet to find it.
The pigs are like magical composters; they can make an overgrown Zucchini disappear in seconds. This not only recycles the fertility but also reduces the potential of insect pest populations building up.
Apart from escaping now and again they are a great companions, just happy rolling in the mud, eating, snorting and sleeping. Oh but they can move when food is coming.
We have a small flock of sheep whose role is to increase the species complexity of our grasslands. In just one spring/summer the sheep have been able to reduce the dominance of the wild oats and allow the perennial grasses a bit of sunlight to get established. The diversity is significantly greater already and will lead to greater biomass production and climate resilience.