Life on The Fanny Farm

19 01 2016

As the world unravels, my tasks here on our new piece of dirt slowly but surely continue. I haven’t had much luck with machinery since landing here. First, the Chinese chainsaw had to be sent back (and was replaced under warranty), then I managed to fall a tree on my Stihl replacement, totally screwing the bar and chain, then the used Husqvarna brushcutter I bought on impulse at a garage sale decided to shed its cooling fan blades, like an old man shedding his teeth….. it was going to cost as much to fix it as I paid for it, so I opted to shout myself a brand new Honda one from eBay, what I wanted to do in the first place, and should have done as soon as I arrived. Inexplicably, the trimmer guard which is made in two pieces fell apart during use, making me wonder whether it was ever actually screwed together? Five bucks worth of fasteners quickly fixed it, and I have to say, I much prefer four stroke motors to two stroke. I just wish Honda would make a four stroke chainsaw!

A few days ago, a letter from the Council arrived, telling me the ‘tall grass’ in my orchard was a fire hazard and would have to be cut within two weeks or I would cop a $3000 fine….. I strongly suspect my neighbours complained, they even mowed a strip inside my boundary as a fire break of sorts. it’s a bit sad when they can’t even ask you in person first.

20160115_170052I considered buying a rideon mower, but really, after my experiences with machines, and considering that my long term strategy for controlling the grass in the orchard consists of using ducks and sheep that require no fossil fuel inputs, I decided to ask my amazing neighbour if he’d cut it for me.

Being an orchardist himself, Matt has all the gear. He agreed to come over with his tractor and mulcher/mower, and had the whole job done in just over an hour. The tractor attachment is a neat piece of gear, as it slides sideways in either direction, allowing the tractor to remain in the middle of the row, while the mower slides right up against the trees for a clean finish. And rather than just mowing it also shreds the grass for mulch.

Two rows of apple trees were removed from the orchard by the previous owners, and replaced with several cherry trees, some black currants which I harvested and ate, a chestnut tree, three olive trees, some plums and possibly a pear, Matt wasn’t sure. I’m too new at these stone fruit to distinguish them, but they were obviously very neglected, and having to cut the grass gave me the incentive to clear the grass around all these lost trees and discover what else might be in there…… I haven’t finished yet!

It’s been hot, so I have to pace myself. And smoke from the bushfires up North in Cradle Valley has been blown all this way South making for very hazy conditions. I miss my ‘world’s cleanest air’ already

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I finally bit the bullet and bought six chooks, which are currently laying three to four eggs a day, more than I can consume on my own, so now I’ve joined the Huon Producers Network, I may even start selling my excess eggs at the market. The chook pen that was already here is working great, the hens are happy, and after a week locked up to ensure they recognised where home was, I’ve started letting them out to free range again.

20160119_081230The orchard is doing really well, and frankly, it’s the Geeveston Fannies that are doing their best, even in the dry weather and complete lack of any irrigation and fertilisation, they are bursting with fruit. So much so that the other morning I found them attracting a rather large flock of Sulphur Crested Cockatoos which caused a fair bit of damage. One of the tennets of permaculture is sharing with the wildlife, so I’ll have to wear it… DSC_2173they’ve gone to someone else’s orchard now no doubt, who may be less kind, as they are actually allowed to shoot them, or at least scare them away with shotguns!

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I’ve now decided to thin the Fannies and use the thinnings to make some cider. I’m told that thinnings make fine cider, so I’ll have a crack, watch this space. Surely I can harvest the forty or so kilos I need to make a batch of the stuff?

Speaking of Geeveston Fannies, I’m toying with the idea of calling our new heaven “The Fanny Farm”.  A play on words (Funny Farm, Geeveston Fannies) I think it’s catchy and cheeky and might attract tourists to buy my produce. Glenda’s not keen, thinks it’s too racy…. what do you think dear reader?

Sid will be back from his break in a couple of days, and hopefully he’ll move all the trees on the ground to give me space to fell the last six to eight macrocarpas that are too tall for my access to winter sunlight. let me tell you, I am really looking forward to reaching the end of that tunnel, I am ready to move onto stage two of creating zone one, earthworks...

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29 responses

19 01 2016
GeoffC

I think there’s about 80 fires across the state, so your haze is probably a mix of them all 🙂

I find sheep will still leave a lot of long grass behind, especially as it starts to dry off, so you might need to plan on mowing/slashing a bit, or staying good friends with the neighbours!!

19 01 2016
mikestasse

Hi Geoff……. I thought sheep notoriously ate everything including the roots!

Yes, I’ve seen the news re fires….. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-01-19/tasmanian-bushfire-warning-as-80-blazes-burn-total-fire-ban/7097260

Luckily, we’re not in Victoria…. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-01-19/victorian-weather-severe-fire-conditions-mornington-peninsula/7097326

And I just got back to the shed for a break and found the water’s off, apparently some Taswater problem in Geeveston…

19 01 2016
GeoffC

Sheep will go that far if pushed, but they wont be in good condition by that stage. Ours prefer the nice short green stuff. Hope you get your water sorted out soon, or it might be time to buy a tank!!

19 01 2016
mikestasse

I don’t need a tank with 20 ML of water in the dam…! The cost of a pump to get the water out, and 2km of poly pipe and drippers to irrigate the trees are the stumbling blocks at the moment. IF there’s money left after the house is built, I’ll be investing in that, otherwise, let’s hope it rains a bit more next season…….

19 01 2016
Kathleen Turner

I enjoy your blog. We are doing things on a much smaller scale. Much as I would like to share my produce with the wildlife, the wildlife are not very good at sharing some things, so we net most of them. Otherwise they strip the trees before the fruit are even ripe. This year I am experimenting with apple pouches. It would be nice to have a few quinces without codling moth and I am hoping I can have some nectarines as that tree is too big to net. Less trouble with some of the apples, though I have seen the Lorikeets strip my neighbours tree.

19 01 2016
mikestasse

My neighbour uses micro-bat houses for the coddling moths. Will definitely look into that before next season……

19 01 2016
MargfromTassie

Mike, your property looks great! Don’t think the tourists would understand “Fanny Farm” other than the obvious, but yes it might attract them…..I think I agree with Glenda.

23 01 2016
mikestasse

The thing about Geeveston Fannies is that they are rather scarce – when I tell people I have an orchard of them, they look amazed – and really delicious…. plus with ours being totally organic, I think I have a niche market and an opportunity to teach people about heirloom apple varieties..

19 01 2016
MargfromTassie

Look at that water! Great choice of land Mike.

19 01 2016
shirey goodbar

I enjoy following your “life on the farm” Mike. I used to live on a market garden and I miss it terribly. I’m stuck in a retirement home in the city now. Dullsville!

19 01 2016
Diana Tod

Hi Mike,

You’ve chosen a great time to move – driest (direst) year in living memory the farmers are saying here – SW Gippsland. Horrible!! I saw the photo of your beautiful dam today and it looks like you’re probably pretty safe! Great you have an orchardist next door – lots of handy tools like the mower/tractor…

Just to put my two bob’s worth in with the name – I’m with Glenda, only cos I’ve never heard of Fanny apples (grew up in Hobart) and so think it could be misconstrued – unless you call it “Mike & Glenda’s Fanny Farm” ….I like “Funny Farm”, but know it’s been used – overused?? There’s a farm around here called it, and I smile every time I see it. You might get a bit tired of explaining the Fanny name too!

Good luck to you both and all the very best in your new, courageous adventure – I haven’t heard from/of any of the old roeoz-ers, but hope all’s well with them all too,

Di

Sent from Windows Mail

19 01 2016
Don

Hi Mike,
I have a similar problem with the cockatoos They attack my citrus. They fly onto a tree, pick an orange, fly over to a post, dig out a couple of seeds and throw the remainder away. After eating the seeds they repeat the process, and with up to forty birds they can make a very large hole in the produce from 12 trees, especially when they pay us a visit while I am away for a short while.

The crows also take some of the fruit but I don’t mind sharing with them, because there are only four of them and they take a few a week and eat every thing, only leaving the skin.

The cockatoos used to be very rare in this area but the drought about ten years ago chased them east over the range and the locals feed them so they stay and breed up.

When we have to rely solely on our produce for something to eat, then I will also eat cockatoo soup ( have some river stones ready)

19 01 2016
Graham

Looks like paradise already.
We have had to close all our windows due to the smoke up here in north Tassie today.
Starlings are also rapacious pests stripping our unripe plum tree in one day. Then there are our neighbour’s Kerry Packers whose necks seem to be able to stretch further than their body allows and take anything vaguely green especially in this undeclared drought.

20 01 2016
pendantry

After a year away, I return to find a post on your site very different from what I’d come to expect. Good to hear that things seem to be going so well for you, ‘going to hell’ is clearly not your world, at this moment. The one thing I’m taking away from this is a reminder of how very different is the life you’re living from anything I’ve ever known, and how much I would have to learn were I to try to follow the same road. Doubtless I’m no different from any other ‘townie’ type: food comes from supermarkets, and when they no longer function, where will we be?

I just wish Honda would make a four stroke chainsaw!

I just wish there were more electric-driven gadgetry (plus of course the solar-collected power to energise it all). And of course less gadgetry altogether. My mother, in her 80s and locked to the advert-riddled idiot box all day long, persists in buying ‘labour-saving’ widgets that succeed only in gathering dust.

I’m toying with the idea of calling our new heaven “The Fanny Farm”. A play on words (Funny Farm, Geeveston Fannies) I think it’s catchy and cheeky and might attract tourists to buy my produce. Glenda’s not keen, thinks it’s too racy…. what do you think dear reader?

I think it’s inspired, and you should go for it. You’ll need a strategy for dealing with overseas visitors who are disappointed that they can’t find the brothel.

20 01 2016
pendantry

Tried to post this comment once already, it doesn’t seem to want to go. Maybe it’s stuck in a moderation queue someplace? So: apologies if this is a duplicate… /shrug

After a year away, I return to find a post on your site very different from what I’d come to expect. Good to hear that things seem to be going so well for you, ‘going to hell’ is clearly not your world, at this moment. The one thing I’m taking away from this is a reminder of how very different is the life you’re living from anything I’ve ever known, and how much I would have to learn were I to try to follow the same road. Doubtless I’m no different from any other ‘townie’ type: food comes from supermarkets, and when they no longer function, where will we be?

I just wish Honda would make a four stroke chainsaw!

I just wish there were more electric-driven gadgetry (plus of course the solar-collected power to energise it all). And of course less gadgetry altogether. My mother, in her 80s and locked to the advert-riddled idiot box all day long, persists in buying ‘labour-saving’ widgets that succeed only in gathering dust.

I’m toying with the idea of calling our new heaven “The Fanny Farm”. A play on words (Funny Farm, Geeveston Fannies) I think it’s catchy and cheeky and might attract tourists to buy my produce. Glenda’s not keen, thinks it’s too racy…. what do you think dear reader?

I think it’s inspired, and you should go for it. You’ll need a strategy for dealing with overseas visitors who are disappointed that they can’t find the brothel.

21 01 2016
mikestasse

I do own an electric chainsaw, but compared tpo the petrol ones, it really is a toy, and after less than two years of ownership, the Lithium Ion battery pack is losing so much capacity, it’s near useless, almost no power after barely five minutes of use. Which is what I think will happen to all those electric battery powered thingies using Lithium!

Let me tell you, there are ‘labour saving widgets’, and there are ‘labour saving widgets’….

Having now moved tree debris by hand, AND using my neighbour’s 100HP tractor, the power of fossil fuels is amazing. But I have to agree, all those kitchen gadgets are a waste of time, you end up spending more of it on cleaning after use than actually using them!

And welcome back BTW….. good to hear from you again!

20 01 2016
pendantry

(Second attempt to post that comment also failed. My guess is: I used a bad word, one that sent my comment to the moderation queue. Nice of the system (not) to provide me with feedback as to what had gone wrong… I swear, our complacency about misbehaving machines will be part of our undoing.

20 01 2016
Mike

None of my doing….. I’ll try to solve the problem in the morning.

22 01 2016
pendantry

Going to try three test messages… my bet is that some or all of them will end up in your moderation queue…

22 01 2016
pendantry

hell

22 01 2016
pendantry

brothel

22 01 2016
pendantry

Fanny

22 01 2016
pendantry

ok, I was wrong 😉

22 01 2016
mikestasse

Well that put paid to your theory about ‘naughty’ words! They all came through without any assistance on my part…..

Having said that, I just found another three in the sin bin…

21 01 2016
rabiddoomsayer

Re the name; above all keep Glenda happy. A happy wife is so much more important than a catchy name.

21 01 2016
rabiddoomsayer

Getting the same problem as Pedantry, comment just disappeared. No note of not allowed or gone to moderation

21 01 2016
mikestasse

I have no idea how WordPress decides what comment is spam, and what isn’t. I just went through the spam folder and found several comments which were from regulars, and which have now been put where they belong.

The vagaries of technology know no bounds……

22 01 2016
Idiocracy

Sorry Mike, another vote for Glenda here… “Fanny Farm” sounds like some old 1970‘s gonzo porno with a rural setting!

Fanny Farm 2 – If the barns a rockin’ don’t come a knockin’! 8-P

I’d think that one over a little more… 🙂

22 01 2016
Idiocracy

Same on the comment vanishing here, the WP comment system boggles the mind at times….

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