I have been chasing water all summer here on the farm. Trying to get ram pumps to work and filling 1000L containers with water and carting them around in the back of various vehicles (melting a clutch in the process). The usual water holes have dried up and the small streams are all but a trickle. It’s definitely been a drought for New Zealand and I have been tested to the best of my very little knowledge about water.
I have been praying for rain for a few weeks now, all the grass has turned brown and the vegetables taste like concentrated versions of themselves. Tonight that will change. According to the weather forecast it is going to rain from tonight (Tuesday) to Thursday night and it will be torrential.
As I sit here in the kitchen I can see the sun setting on the Tararua ranges. These beautiful hills are also deadly and double as the catchment for the Waikawa stream which passes through our property and separates us, by a small river ford, from the breeding Pigs. It has rained like this once before since we have been on the farm and I was unable to get over the river for 24 hours.
Unlike cows pigs need feeding daily. In their lush green paddocks they have all the grass they can eat but they are spoilt and are used to the high-grade grain feed that I give them morning and night. So what happens when I can’t get over the river. Well in my normal, overly anxious, fashion I have already produced an Emergency Flooding Plan which comes into action as follows:
- Before rain arrives try to feed all pigs with 2 days worth of food. DO NOT try to cross the stream if flow is fast. Stream level will drop in 24 hours normally. In extended periods of raised river flow access to the paddock can be gained through Adrian’s back farm track which starts on the other side of the river.
Putting my own plan into action I have been to collect 100’s of kilograms of juicy apple pulp donated by the very kind Sarah and Jono at Organic Nature. I then left big piles, at least two days worth, of yummy apple feed in each of the paddocks. I have made sure the tractor is working and located near the house in case I need to use it to cross the Waikawa. I have filled all the troughs to the brim (although I suspect water is the least of our worries) and all we can do now is sit back and wait.
Farming is very much a learning experience for me and so is living with the Waikawa Stream. Everyday brings a new challenge. Luckily there is no one around to judge me on my mistakes, just a herd of pigs who expect me to prepare for problems and create solutions. Good luck pigs, see you soon..
It’s now April 2014 and we are 5 months into the farming side of the business, its time to start selling. As much as I would like to have a home for old and/or rescued animals we actually need to start making some money. When I started The Startup Farmer blog it was all about my journey from consumer electronics professional to farmer, from riches to rags and from Sydney to Manakau. In just a very short time all of those changes have happened and I am now the farmer and my old life is long gone. I will always be ‘The Startup Farmer’ because everyday I find a new job to do and a new lesson to learn but I am now the farmer at Woody’s Free Range Farm so I think its time that I rename the blog to Tales from Woody’s Farm.
Claire and I spent a lot of time discussing the name for the farm and after much deliberation over names that depicted the farm or the location we decided to name the farm after Woody, our dog, who in all honesty started me on the path to happiness and health. Woody’s Free Range Farm is committed to the health and happiness of all the animals on the farm and as such it seems very apt to name the farm after a dog. Additionally with love the way the brand is fun and not too serious, it tells you what we do without forcing our ethics down your throat, because at the end of the day we all make our own choices.
The next step was the logo, we knew we wanted simple and I have a fascination for round logos. I have to give all the credit to Claire’s wonderful friend Dean Pomfrett who put up with our indecisiveness and came up with a logo that exactly met the brief, I really hope you like it as much as we do.
The final step is to take all of this goodness and head off to the market. You will remember that on the 1st December 2013 Woody’s Farm welcomed the first of our pigs to the farm, we called them the Wanganui Nine. The Wanganui Nine are now coming up to seven months old and will soon have to be taken to the abattoir, it’s a job that no one wants to do but it has to be done. The upside to this is that we will soon have lovely yummy ham, bacon and meat. And after that, the Farmers Market. I have decided to focus on two Farmers Markets at this stage, the Hill St Farmers Market in Wellington on a Saturday and the Fielding Farmers Market in, you guessed it, Fielding on a Friday. Until we have more little piggies coming to market these will be the only markets we can serve. Additionally I will be talking to restaurants to get them to taste and try the meat for feedback and advice, lets hope it’s all good.
As soon as I have dates for the markets and produce to sell you will be the first to know…
Yummy, tasty free range Devon (Large Black) pork all wrapped up and ready for the farmers market.