matilda may

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since Sep 16, 2015
vic, australia
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Recent posts by matilda may

Thank you Rose! You've given really great advice, thanks so much.

You're right about the weather. Much as I am itching to get things like apple trees in as soon as possible to reduce the wait until they mature, I should take a step back and observe so I can plan around the (changing) weather, rainfall, wind etc.

I'm hoping we can start up slowly and it won't be too much for us to manage at least at first. The next door neighbour has hay-baling gear and will do everyone in the area's paddocks in return for half the hay made, and the property has been using it's two biggest paddocks just for hay for a while. Plus I'm hoping I can speak to him and offer to agist some of his cattle, or get advice on getting a few of my own and play at cell grazing them or something.

I have little in the way of solid skills I'm afraid! Other than attending a talk by Joel Salatin and reading a bunch (Salatin, John Seymour, Fortier and a pile more to work through... I'll add your book recommendation to my growing pile) I'm subscribed to both Milkwood and Diggers which often have courses and such running which I'm keeping an eye out for.

Planning laws I keep getting excited about something I see and then learning that it's going to be impossible, such as living willow fences, given that willow is a noxious weed here.
3 years ago
Hi Permies, first post here so forgive me if I'm missing some standard etiquette or such!

I'm 21 and wanted to move rural and get back to the land and all that with my 46 year old mum. It'd be just us, with our host of pets and my younger sister and friends popping up and helping now and then. We plotted and planned and spoke of growing all our food, preserving, raising and slaughtering animals and so on. Lots and lots of idle plans that were fun to think about but which weren't immediate reality.

All of a sudden it feels like, we've bought our new property. 19 acres in Bullarto near the wombat state forest, cold cold cold. I feel like I'm being silly freaking out about the cold when I see Americans posting pictures of their snow, I think this area only gets snow every few years, but all the locals complaining about frost and the tiny growing season is a little unsettling. Diggers says heat zone 4, cold zone 9. People in the area keep telling me I won't be able to grow things like tomatoes or lemons (not that that's likely to stop me trying). Lovely rich ferrosol I think, reddish chocolately coloured stuff that's super friable (and a bit acidic). The whole area is largely dedicated to potato farming with a decent amount of cattle thrown in here and there. The property itself is fenced for horses, with recently built shelters and a stable.

As idle 'someday' plans have suddenly become 'in about two months' plans I've started to panic. I'm increasingly aware of the fact that neither mum or I have any hands on farm experience, and I'm worried that I'm going to mess things up entirely. The neighbourhood is lovely, everyone seems willing to lend a hand and check in on two confused city chicks, but I still fret we're going to plant things in all the wrong spots, or ruin the soil, or whatever else my anxious little brain throws out for me to fuss about. We have bore water along with a slightly pathetic dam that we may look into having redone in future if we have the funds.


I love animals, and would like to have chickens/ducks/bees/steer/lambs/pigs/goats(aka blackberry destroyers) and my ultimate dream was to one day have a beautiful jersey house cow and milk her and make cheeses and such, although given my current complete lack of livestock/dairy experience that may be a while off. Running gardens to feed ourselves and animals is a goal. The area is quite typical flattish/no extraneous vegetation farmland but I love the idea of mixed species native/food forest hedges to attract wildlife/make food etc, as well as some sort of silvopasture-y set up in the fields. We intend to have some kind of market business/blog etc etc which isn't specifically planned but I'm not too worried about, mum worked as a graphic designer before this and between us we have plenty of web design/social media/small business/branding etc knowledge, though we intend to dabble in different areas and work out what we can do well and enjoy before planning a specific business around it.

List of things I want:
-plenty of varied gardens and food production
-fruit trees aplenty (I adore apples and cherries and fully intend to go overboard with them)
-experiment with different forms of livestock
-rotational grazing systems
-convert land to more visually interesting/wildlife harbouring/varied ecosystem, hedgerows along boundaries and spots of trees/varied flora
-fair amount of self sufficiency. we're looking into solar energy and such. doesnt need to be 100% but a feeling of being capable and having a backup in case of emergency would be nice.
-future dairy cow?

I'm not even sure exactly what I'm asking for help-wise.
-recommendations for setting out the land, where to place things and/or how to work out the best locations to place things such as orchards, trees, hedges, any earthworks etc?
-priorities for the first year/few years there?
-help me refine plans/reassure me that I'm probably not going to somehow bring ruin down upon the whole thing?
-although not terribly slopey, should I think about keyline/swales etc design?
-how can I go about converting fairly widely spaced (electric) horse fencing to something that will contain calves and sheep?
-is it possible to have fruit trees with minimum intervention? people keep bringing up sprays and such that I really don't want to use if it can be avoided. can I select lower yielding but hardier heritage varieties or plant them in certain ways to discourage pests?

Big thanks to anyone who can lend a hand, bounce ideas or give suggestions for anything! I'm feeling a little overwhelmed by everything right now.
3 years ago