Looking back to this time last year we were facing some challenging weather – 1/2 the field was flooded and there was a small river running down the lane from which we access our land. We did our best to keep it from flowing in, the result of which, would have turned a bad situation into a much worse one. It did finally dry up – but not until April.
This year we are again facing challenges. Not so much the weather this year, as it’s been a very dry winter so far, but from the restrictions imposed upon us due to the Avian Flu Outbreak. Looking after our birds is just made that much more difficult and time consuming. We’re having to watch closely for illness, as the conditions in which they are having to live are not ideal. The restrictions were announced just after we had agreed to buy a small chicken hatchery off some friends of ours. Perfect timing or what!
We had been evaluating the different things we do, those things that make up our core sales at farmers markets and how much time we invest in each. We had made the decision to change a few things and the opportunity to buy the hatchery came at about this time.
Our basic changes are as follows –
No more goats – although we still have a few left these will be our last
No more sheep – with the chickens coming we will have little or no pasture for sheep to graze
Less pigs – We have downsized to one sow who will give us 2 litters each year.
More poultry, ducks and geese – with the purchase of the hatchery which includes 9 beach huts, some of which are converted into chicken houses we will have the potential to accommodate up to 24 different breeds of chicken, ducks and geese. Egg sales are strong at farmers markets and on our egg run, but with more traditional breeds we will be able to work towards selling hatching eggs and point of lay chickens in the near future.
We still want to be able to grow our organic vegetables and have plans to set up a charity through which we can begin to provide food boxes to local families who need a bit of help. More details about this will follow.
We still hold strongly to the belief that we are stewards of our land and that we need to farm responsibly, growing organically and taking care of the health of our soil. Our desire is to create a stable eco system, which in time will effectively look after itself. For all our livestock we want to provide the very highest levels of care, allowing them to exhibit their natural tendencies. We find our animals benefit both physically and psychologically when they are able live this way.
It’s about knowing where our food has come from, how it has been grown, and being able to appreciate the changing seasons and the beauty and changes that each brings.