Belinda Roadley

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since Dec 04, 2016
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Southern NSW Australia
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Recent posts by Belinda Roadley

Hey there, sorry to hear of your situation. I have some less-than-selfless family members (putting things politely), and feel for what you're going through.

Be aware of cost. I did some thorough research when I was looking for low-cost living options. I found that a mobile tiny home was going to cost me around $150k+ (in Australia) if I was going to do it legally. Cheaper to buy a ready-made motor home. And like anything on wheels, it devalues with time. I'd rather build a simple house (simple = rectangle with plumbing clustered in one area of the house, for example) for the same amount of money and have to property value increase over time.

It could be different where you are, but for me the mobile home just didn't stack up.

As a side note, the Rhodes family did hint that their bus home cost far more than what they thought it would. But with tenants renting their house, a stable income coming through, and the generosity of their hosts, they're doing okay despite the initial blown-out outlay.

An option would be to see if any successful famers are looking for live-in farm hands. It's becoming more common for even small farms to have a farmer's cottage on the property.
6 years ago

raven ranson wrote:It's neat having someone from Australia join the conversation.  Pat Coleby did most of her work there and had great success preventing many of those problems with mineral management.  I wonder if any of her work still lives on in the farms there.  

Pat Coleby is living strong on our farm now, but I have no idea if the minerals were used back in the wool days. I suspect not. It's certainly another interesting morsel to add to the conversation.

One thing I do know is that our soil is stupidly high in copper. We don't add it to our mineral lick offerings (we used to, but the animals never touched it, and soil testing told us why).

Careful rotation keeps our sheep from getting internal parasite problems, and the flies don't seem to bother hair sheep in the slightest. Now I wonder how many of the wool sheep problems could have been reduced if they were on mineral lick?
6 years ago
To me, they look to be the wrong colour and not nearly deeply-serrated enough. ๐Ÿ˜Š
6 years ago

Travis Johnson wrote:
I was looking for some sheep handling equipment, and could not find what I wanted in the USA, but did in New Zealand and Australia and noted in those videos that they showed the equipment being used as they sprayed their sheep, and I was like, "huh, I guess they do that over there?"

The farm I work on used to do wool sheep a couple decades ago. Problem is, wool sheep are WOEFUL in our bioregion...

~ Our pasture quality is poor (even though it is quite lush due to grazing techniquss, it's lousy nutritionally), and the wool breeds don't cope well with that. This means we have to supplement feed,  increasing price.

~ The wool breeds are stupidly vulnerable to parasites in our area. Internal and external. And the fly plagues that blow in from the deserts each summer will eat wool sheep alive, literally  (dark and damp hideouts in wool = perfect fly brood habitat). This is where mulesing and sheep dip comes into play, just to keep the flock alive. There's still one paddock we can't use on the farm (we're certified organic now) because of the arsenic in the soil from those sheep dip days.

~ They get heat stroke in our harsh summers, even under constant tree shade and abundant cool water.

~ The wool sheep were lousy mothers- they would disown their young and wander off in rotational grazing systems, leaving the farmers with the extra work of trying to hand rear lambs or attempting to re-bond the babies with mum.

~ Good shearing hands are rare and get paid a lot of money. On top of that, you really need to find them enough work to keep them employed year round,  or you risk losing them to another farmer who can offer employment stability.

All of the above points meant that keeping wool sheep in my area is really tricky to do in a cost-effective manner. Kinda like growing bananas in Antarctica- it can be done, but how much money are you willing to spend? We decided that having wool wasn't worth all the downsides, and the farm switched to african hair sheep breeds. For meat production only. Haven't looked back- those critters are absolutely perfect for our bioregion.

As for wool production? Alpacas actually do really darn well on our farm, and they double up as "guard dogs" for our sheep. Alpaca wool doesn't make me itch like sheep wool does, too.

Hmmm... organic, hypoallergenic alpaca wool... I could see that as a boutique product.

I guess all this ^^^^^ is a long way of saying "it depends". If wool sheep thrive on neglect (within reason) on your land, and your labour input is very very low, it might just work. It doesn't work on my farm.

Random side note- organic, ultra soft lamb skins fetch a stupidly high price from mothers wanting to use them for baby rugs. Organic wool baby blankets are in a similar arena.
6 years ago
On the farm, we've found the pest control that works best for us is 1) growing food outside of the pest window (eg cabbages in winter to avoid cabbage moth) and 2) grow varieties that don't seem to get attacked.

Regarding birds as pest control- you really need to learn about your local birds. There's a native bird on the farm that is great for catching flying pests, but it will only fly out from tree cover a little ways for food. So the top of the market garden gets these birds but not the bottom (pastures attach the market garden at the bottom).

I've found that even when you plant loads of companion plants (perennial wherever possible), the garden will still take a few years to find equilibrium while the good bugs discover your plot and move in. And remember that the good bugs will only stay while there are pests to eat, so you will always have SOME bug damage. Start being okay with bug damage. ๐Ÿ˜‰
6 years ago
It gets pretty gloomy where I am in mid winter. I would suggest planting cold- hardy crops as early as you can so they can finish their growing before thd sun disappears. But don't harvest straight away- "store" your crops where they're growing and harvest as needed.
I honestly don't know if this'll work for deep shadow, but it works for my winter where the sun is perpetually hidden by grey clouds.
Otherwise, that might be a good spot for composting or water storage.
I don't seem to be having a whole lot of luck with genetics. First, I bought chickens from a local breeder who came recommended by a friend of mind. Those chickens were either 1) not the breed I actually ordered, 2) far from the breed standard (poor size, build, defining features), or 3) had knock-knee from too much inbreeding.
I got word of a different lady who bred Wyandottes. When I saw her operation and some of her stock, I thought they looked great, so I bought some eggs from her.
One of the roosters that hatched had good structure, so he got promoted to service the ladies at the farm where I work. He hasn't quite reached breeding age yet, and I notice that he seems to be developing knock knee (no other existing birds on the farm have it, so I don't believe it's diet related). I asked the lady how she managed her breeding program,  and not only did she do extensive inbreeding, but she wasn't even aware that knock knee was a problem worth breeding out of the flock.

So, I'm realising that I've done a woeful job of selecting my breeders. I would really like to introduce some good genetics to my home flock ( purbred dual purpose birds) and to the farm (currently a mongrel mix of Isa Brown, Sussex, Australorp, and unknowns). Mostly I want to select for healthy structure, robustness, non-aggressiveness, and foraging ability. Decent meat (we eat old hens and lousy roosters) and eggs come second, but still important, as we sell eggs.

Where should I go to get new genetics?? We've built up our flock from borrowing local roosters from fellow farmers, but there are only so many times we want to run that rotation.

Are there any of you fine folk with good quality mongrel or purebred chickens or fertilised eggs I could buy? Looking for locals or ability to post to the Albury/Wodonga region.

Thanks! ^_^
6 years ago
I'm for both, too. I figure that if the natural world around me has both, why shouldn't my farm? More importantly, I think a diet of purely perennials would be kinda boring.
6 years ago
I'm going to sound hugely clueless here, just sayin'! ๐Ÿ˜‰

I've heard of folk using some sort of hand-held device while hiking that uses GPS to keep them on the hiking trail. That's all I know about that- I don't even know what these devices are called.

My question is- is there some sort of device (within an obtainable price bracket) small farmers can use to plot GPS points of their own block of land? I'm thinking that being able to do this could make certain things a lot easier:
> Mark the location of certain plantings more accurately.
> Mark habitat, i.e. where we saw a koala or rabbit den.
> Use gps plot points of the land to digitally overlay a topographic map (or visa versa; designing on a digital topographic map then having that map translated to GPS coordinates on your property). I'm thinking this could help with plotting earthworks and the like.

Is this sort of thing even possible? Because I'd totally nerd out over such capabilities. ๐Ÿ˜‰๐Ÿ˜‰
6 years ago
Thoroughly enjoying this thread! My ideas for my future farm were to grow Tagasaste (don't let it flower) and mulberry as part of a broader silvopasture system. Happy to see some real life experiences being shared!
6 years ago