April 2011

Caravan eggs!  On a sublime autumn day the WOFWG visit to a unique family farm at Ellinbank provided some fresh concepts and valuable reminders.

Healthy hens lay organic eggs in old caravans parked strategically around dairy paddocks.  Cattle choose which minerals they want from a smorgasbord array.  Maremma dogs cheerfully live with and shepherd their allocated vans of hens.  Dung beetles ensure the rich soil stays that way.  In short, the Wallace family oversees a fascinating  enterprise.

Wendy and Peter, with Toby and Ashley, their sons, run this certified organic dairy farm, complemented by a free range egg business.  Both activities are carefully integrated so that the hens benefit from edibles in the cow manure and the pastures gain from the poultry’s contribution.

Further, due to the organic farming certification and the holistic values of the farmers themselves, artificial chemicals and fertilisers are not used.  In the dairy, for example, the medicine cupboard for the cows contained treatments such as tincture of garlic, cider vinegar, colloidal silver and various homeopathic remedies.

This farm provides both diversity and integration, but the foundation for the success of the activities is respect for the soil itself.  Further, wherever possible natural approaches are taken to animal ailments and nutritional needs.  For example, the diet of the laying hens is based on what the cattle eat and what grubs and bugs are unearthed from manure pats. These approaches are based on the fundamental values practised by this busy farming family.

WOF members enjoyed  an informative farm walk around this picturesque and hilly property, a contrast to the flood prone flats of Cohuna, where WOF had been the previous week to the annual state wide gathering.

Women of all ages are welcome to join Women on Farms. The key criterion is an interest in farming and farming women – you do not have to be a farmer to participate. Our next  visit will be on Tuesday 3 May to Powerworks at Morwell. 5 April – Ellinbank.  Phone the Secretary for more details – Jenny Stephenson 9 700 0282  or, for information about the 2011 calendar of activities look at the website www.womenonfarms.org
For enquiries about this article, contact: Mary Hughes, Ph. 03 5628 4195.