October has been a very exciting month, lots of new developments and things happening!
Forest Raised Pork
The month started out with mist and drizzle, usual Spring weather. On the rainiest, coldest day, 8 pigs and puppy came to live at Bramleigh! The eight little pigs were newly weaned and used to living inside. They began their adventure in the cozy newly built stable (that was awaiting baby goats… who are yet to be born…) to keep warm and acclimatise. These pigs marked the start of our forest raised pork enterprise. Read more here .The pigs were soon comfortable enough to move outside. They moved just next door into an unplanted area of the market garden and set to work immediately softening the soil, fertilising and removing any roots. Their diet consists mainly of forage but we supplement with milk from the dairy next door. After a week, the pigs were moved into a fenced off paddock, but still within an electro-net. The aim is for them to get to know the electro-net, but if they do manage to break through, they are still fenced in. The electro-net gives a short, sharp zap but not enough to harm them. (Many people are worried about the zap killing birds – since the net is flimsy, birds cannot perch on it, and it is bright green – easily visible if they are flying past. But the shock is too small to kill a bird – it is designed to even keep little chicks in, and we have raised plenty chicks within this net with no harm at all.)
Clockwise left to right: Piglets in their cozy stable with adoring farmer; Elliott intrigued by the pigs as they rootle in the market garden; pigs in their mobile shelter; enjoying green scraps, encouraging them to eat foliage
The plan is for the pigs to be moved around the forest within their electro-net. These are animals that deserve respect – they are small, pink and cute right now but they already pack a force when they want something! The electro-net will protect them from predators but once they are close on 100kg, we don’t want them charging full of excitement at us! The forest is the original habitat of pigs – dense, shady (they get sunburnt very easily!) and full of bugs, foliage, roots, bark and all those yummy piggy things. We ring a bell at feeding time and they have already learnt to associate the bell with food. The theory is that if they are free ranging in the forest, they will respond to the bell and come back. It has been great fun having pigs – any uneaten food is definitely not wasted, but converted to next year’s bacon. (The laying chickens are feeling a bit beak-out-of-joint about this though as they now have to share scraps!)
Check out the rootling action
We also welcomed Zoe, a playmate for Elliott, this month. A real sweetie but oh-so-brave against his rough and tumbles!
Pasture Raised Poultry
Our first batch of pasture raised poultry for this season moved outside in early October. They had to contend with some chilly and wet nights but they have done well. We are trying a new approach where, instead of being enclosed in spacious chicken tractors all the time, (Salatin style pens) we have lifted the tractors, put up a electro-net around two chicken tractors and increased the number of birds within the enclosure. The chickens therefore have the choice of sitting under the shelter if it is hot, rainy or windy but otherwise they can roam around with much more freedom. Standard free range chickens, that one buys in the shops, are crammed into hen houses and just by virtue of having a door to the outside (that many don’t even use because it is too small), they are considered free range. For ours, even if they choose to stay under the shelter for the entire duration, they are still outside, eating grass and bugs, and have way more room to move around. Check out this video of happy chickens roaming about.
Chickens out on pasture – who wouldn’t want to grow big and strong with that view!
Chicks in the brooder; chickens enjoying grass and sunshine… and a real poser!
Our order form went out this week – our next delivery is 2 November @ Notts Farm Stall – or contact us to find out about deliveries in your area https://goo.gl/forms/yYstSHulaDAqNDBW2
On the left is our coop front wall with Bramleigh logo; next door is the newly built stable which is now housing two mommy hens on eggs! A versatile little space – from goat pen, to pig pen to chicken nursery! Otherwise all is well in the coop. The hens continue to produce enough eggs for us, the guesthouse and a few for sale.
I had the pleasure of spending a morning broadforking new beds into shape. An easy job after the pigs had been through! Not a bad view for a Monday morning….
The Broadfork is an ergonomic, easy-to-use tool designed for softening and aerating the soil without turning it and destroying the microbes. The nice thing with broadforking is that you work backwards so you can only see how far you’ve come, not how far you have to go still. A good reminder!
We attended the VegBox Spring Fayre at the beginning of this month. Always a fun day out! Having only had Zoe a couple of days, she was roped into joining us for the day at the market. She was great at drawing a crowd, although she snoozed most of the day!
We have also recently started doing a pop-up market outside the local hardware store on Friday mornings, 7-9.30am. An artisan coffee guy parks his trailer outside the hardware for a couple hours every Friday morning so we thought we decided to join him with a pop up veggie stand to meet people and do some networking. Plus drink good coffee! It has been really fun so far. We enjoy chatting to people and educating a bit on our brand and philosophies. We have been amazed at the support – thank you to our supporters! Last week we rewarded our visitors with artisan bacon and egg rolls – homemade sourdough bread rolls, our own pasture raised eggs and bacon from a local supplier. The early morning means we leave home by 6.30am but because it is in the cool of the day, our veggies don’t wilt and we get home by mid-morning to continue with the rest of the day – usually preparing for guests to arrive for the weekend.
Out with the old… in with the new…
Other Spring happenings
– beautiful flowers and fragrances; logging of alien trees; Zoe and Goose decide on a truce and testing out our solar system in ideal conditions! It has been exceptionally hot and dry for the last two weeks. We’ve had some great solar production except every weekend that we’ve had full house to really test the capacity, it has rained! As I type this now, thunder is rolling around the valley and we may be in for some relief for the garden!