Tag Archives: animals

Time to borrow some pigs…

Pigs are something we’ve wanted to experiment with at Milkwood for ages. Piggies are way cool. They dig up and turn over ground, they provide valuable manure, process organic waste, and they’re great fun to watch!

But with all our other current agendas at the farm, designing a system and setting up the infrastructure for pigs permanently is not on the cards this year. However we do currently need to prepare the ground for our market garden. And why plough when you can use biology to do the job? Enter the pig tractor system! Continue reading

Allan Savory in the outback

A week or so ago Nick had the opportunity to hang out with Allan Savory, the founder of Holistic Management, way out west at Brewarrina. He was in the car and off before I could say ‘biological accelerators’.

7 hours of driving into the great flatness of the Aussie outback later, Nick and his mate Trev were in the middle of a crowd of farmers from all over the country. They’d all gathered to hear what this venerated pioneer of regenerative agriculture had to say. It sounds like it was an inspiring trip. Continue reading

High-rise chicken feeding stations

Within our gravity chicken run, we needed a way to feed the chickens up off the ground. Mainly so nothing would impede the gradual down-hill slump of mulch we’re hoping this overall design will provide. The answer? Recycled palettes and assorted fabulous junk. Continue reading

Good night, bees. Sleep tight till spring…

I am pleased to say that our emergency measure of combining two Warré beehive colonies at Milkwood Farm seems to have worked. The two colonies have made friends, combined,  and are now operating as one big family (or super organism, to be technical).

Time to bed the new uber-colony down for winter, following one last inspection as part of our first on-farm natural beekeeping course. As i write this, the bees are now tucked up against the cold, with an extra box of honey on top to keep them supplied till spring. We won’t bother them until then, for a couple of reasons… Continue reading

Gravity Chicken Run Design

Gravity and chickens are two of our favorite natural forces at Milkwood. Chickens scratch, poo, give eggs and good company, plus a trillion other benefits. Gravity draws things down. Great it you want stuff to end up down the bottom. Which, in the case of our gravity fed chicken house, we do!

For the past 3 years, our chooks have lived in our geodesic chook dome as it chicken-tractored its way slowly across our hillside. The result has been an emerging forest garden, its soil pecked of grass and ready for mulching and planting with edible trees and ground covers each time we moved the dome.

For this effort we thank our various chickens. Now, it’s high time to build them a permanent chicken run. Design time! Continue reading

Putting our honey where our mouth is: a lean year

Bees are amazingly resilient and adaptable creatures. In a good year, when there are many ‘honey flows’ happening, they can build comb and collect and store honey at an astonishing rate, to make the most of the bounty dripping from nearby plants. Tim tells stories of his bees filling 5 boxes full with comb and honey in a couple of days.

And in a leaner year, bees might only fill two or three boxes with comb and honey over the whole season. Which can be ok if you plan to leave them alone until spring, and let them winter on their own stores of honey. Sometimes, though, the bees just can’t find enough nectar. Which means they won’t have enough honey to see them through till spring. Uh oh. What to do? Continue reading

The way of the Bee: an intro to Natural Beekeeping

Tim Malfroy checking on a comb from one of his Warre hives

Bees just want to be bees. I’ve learned recently that, like most things in nature, a honeybee colony is most happy, calm and resilient when it’s left to do what it does best. For bees, this means forage for nectar and pollen, raise a brood, and make honey. And bees want to do this in their own time, on their own schedule, and with the freedom to respond to each unique season. Which is quite contrary to how we currently manage bees. So what’s going on here? Continue reading

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