Sunday, February 27, 2011

Grazing Management

I went out and helped Kim move the cattle yesterday. It was good, as I haven't been out in the paddock for a while. There is so much feed around after the rain and it all looks just fantastic. We practice a form of grazing management called cell grazing or time controlled grazing. It's based on the growth rate of the plant and the cattle graze the pasture when the grass is actively growing and therefore at it's most nutritious. The grass has more sugars at this time and therefore has more chlorophyll. Therefore it has a good balance of Omega 3's and Omega 6's. The cattle are only in each paddock for a short while and then moved to another paddock, before they eat the grass down too short. The paddock then has a long rest, giving the pasture a chance to re grow.

Apart from being more nutritious for the stock, this is also very beneficial to the environment, as it stores carbon. During the process of photosynthesis, the plant takes carbon dioxide (CO2) out of the atomosphere, releases oxygen (O2)  back into the atmosphere and puts the carbon (C) into the soil, where an exchange process happens between the soil microbes and the plant roots. The microbes convert the nutrients in the soil into an available form for the plants to use. Cell grazing is ideal as it keeps the plant actively growing, thus photosynthesising.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

New Additions

Dixie had 8 piglets over the weekend, 4 boys and 4 girls. They are all very similar, except one that doesn't have a stripe over it's back. The pig breeds we have chosen are heritage breeds and are considered quite rare. It may seem strange, but by breeding them to eat, we can do our bit to preserve the breeds. We only have the one pair the same - the Boar and one Gilt are Berkshires. The idea is to get started this way and then as we build up, we can get more and breed the individual breeds. The Berkshires will be sold as pure breds for other breeders and the cross breeds will be sold for eating. So these piglets we have now will be the start of our Pasture raised pork business. I'll post some photos of them, they are very cute.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Eat food, not too much, mostly plants

The title of this Blog is the first sentence in a book I'm currently reading by Michael Pollen - "In Defence of Food". He wanted to write about the need to eat Food. It may seem strange, because we only eat food - right? Well, no some of what we eat is not food, it's "food-like substances". Food is grown and it is not grown in a packet. The "food" that most people eat on a regular basis is killing us. Most of the diseases today can be directly linked to the "food" that is eaten. Watching the news over the last couple of months, I've been horrified by the amount of overweight people (adults and children) that I've seen. I'm not a skinny thing by any stretch of the imagination, but neither am I overweight (well not much anyway!). The reason that I'm not skinny is that I LOVE food - and I eat too much of it. It's good food, but even good food needs to be eaten in moderation, which when it tastes really nice is hard! Taste - that's also something that real food has. When you compare a freshly cooked meal which includes really fresh garden vegetables, there is absolutely no comparison to the taste of Junk Food! Unfortunately junk food seems to be addictive and when you eat it regularly you actually don't notice that it's disgusting. I know this, because my children eat it too often! They won't be happy with me saying that, but they don't read my blog (much) so it doesn't matter. I am changing that mindset slowly and in fact have spent some fantastic times cooking real food with my kids.

Saturday, February 5, 2011


We moved Latesha closer to the house,  into a pen that has water laid on and a decent shelter and a floor above the ground if it rains. We thought that she may have been a little bit protective, as sows can be quite agressive if someone comes between her and her babies. Not Latesha. We loaded the 3 little pigs (sounds like a good title to a rhyme!) into a carry box on the quad and thought she'd either follow or we might have to lead her up with a bucket of feed. Well, she was so happy to be out and able to eat some fresh grass, roll in her favourite mud wallow, eat some more fresh grass, have another roll and just generally enjoy being unconfined for a little while. She obviously trusted us completely to look after her little ones. In the end, when we couldn't persaude her to follow us, even with us holding onto the piglets so that they would squeal, we left her and put the piglets in their new home. An hour or so later, she waddles up to the shed and you could almost understand her pig talk, mumbling "well, I suppose you better show me where they are". Have a look at the photos of them if you like.

Trust is an interesting thing when you consider it in relation to farm animals. Latesha trusted us to look after her piglets, which makes it a little uncomfortable to think about the fact that one day we will take them off her for good to wean them, and then eventually when they are big enough, we will take them away to be slaughtered. But, that is just part of eating meat. If we want to eat meat, we must kill the animal first. One of the advantages in raising meat like this, is that at least you know that they have been raised humanely and in a healthy environment. This is what farm friendly food is all about - healthy nutritious food, and where there is a connection between the farmer and the consumer. I like to know where my food has been grown and I think that the more people that want to know this too, then we will see a shift in the way food is grown and produced.