Summer’s Fiery Blast

Just when we thought the heat of summer was waning and that autumn was on its way…a final hot day for February and out of control bushfires to deal with!

Don’t you just hate the feeling when you are sitting at work in a neighbouring town and looking out the window to see huge amounts of smoke billowing into the sky from the nearby landscape…to hear the local firetrucks roar past – those AMAZING volunteers that don their heavy yellow jackets on 40 degree days to fight the fires and try to save our landscape, communities, houses and livestock.

What’s even worse is when you realise that the smoke is from a big bushfire and with the recent wind change, that it’s headed straight for your friend’s property where your llamas and horse are currently agisted!  What follows is a very quick exit from work, a very hurried drive to get home and grab halters, ropes, woollen blankets (in case I was caught out in the fire and needed to shelter in my car), hay and treats (getting 4 unruly llamas haltered in the middle of the paddock and onto a trailer alone was going to be interesting…) and my phone and then a very quick drive towards the towering plumes of smoke for Operation Animal Evac!

Mt Bolton Fire

Adrenalin had kicked in once I got to the gate of the property and raced up the driveway.  The llamas and horse were grazing in the front paddock, so I whistled and called them to follow the car up to the shed where the trailer was located.  Luckily, I have been visiting frequently and they are used to associating the car with copious amounts of carrots and treats and all came trotting up as I hurriedly put the trailer on the back of the car.  They were all still relatively calm as the hot wind hadn’t yet shifted in our direction.

Llamas to be rescued

Lilah, my friendliest llama was the first up for treats and I quickly managed to halter her and load her onto the open box trailer.  The others I knew would be more difficult, as they have been running wild across the 15 acres for a few months.  But, with surprising speed, I somehow managed to get both Brittany and Wildfire in halter and wedged them all on the trailer.  This was a fantastic reminder as to why I got Llamas instead of Alpacas.  Llamas will come up to you in the paddock, they will respond well to training, treats, commands and halter training.  They are much, much, much easier to catch and halter in an open environment than a skittish alpaca would be.  Their domestic evolution as a beast of burden certainly comes through with the right training and I was so grateful at that moment that I had invested in training them, for there was not a minute to lose.

Meanwhile, back at the fire front on the other side of the ridge, the blaze had made it into hillside bushland…

Mt Bolton fire AJeffree

Yuki, the final llama – who was incredibly difficult to trailer load in the past and the wildest of the lot was going to be an issue.  I couldn’t fit her on the trailer – I usually only trailer a maximum of 2 llamas at a time as they like their personal space, but today I had 3 squished in there, shoulder to shoulder.  I would have to come back for her.  And somehow get her on-board…

I made the dusty dash down the driveway with the llamas all jostling and bumping along in the trailer.  As I drove out the driveway, 8 more fire engines and CFA vehicles roared past me on their way to the fire front.  Teams were coming in from near and far to fight this blaze.  I couldn’t see the flames, just the huge billowing cloud coming up from the other side of the ridge.  I hoped that they were getting it under control. 48 trucks were there already and a number of large helicopters and water aircraft.

Mt bolton helicopters AJ

Back home at White Stone Farm (which was actually only 13kms from the blaze…but a damn sight further away than my friend’s property!), I quickly unloaded the llamas.  Wildfire, not used to being crushed between the two girls had spent much of the frantic ride home spitting at Lilah, whose face was now covered in green, rank stomach contents.  Poor thing, I had no time to wash her face, I just removed their halters and turned them loose.  I needed to race back for Yuki…and had no idea what I was going to do about Jess the horse.  I don’t have a horse trailer and my friends who do were pretty preoccupied evacuating their own animals at this stage.

By this time, Stace had made it home from work and met me at the front gate of the property.  The wind had shifted and yellow-grey smoke drifted menacingly across the landscape towards us.  Poor Yuki was in a bit of a panic with all of her llama herd suddenly disappearing, but we managed to coax her over and get the halter on her.  Now for the tricky part, getting her to step up onto the trailer! I don’t know if it was her desire to get out of there, our adrenaline or the urgency of the situation, but she stepped on with relatively little fuss (compared to last time where we had to practically LIFT her 100+kgs on!!). Ok, what about the horse?  Jess was up the back of the paddock hanging out with some neighbouring horses.  We drove up there to get her as she refused to come down.  I managed to get a halter on her with minimal fuss. I couldn’t put her on the box trailer, so I gave Stace the keys to drive Yuki home and had no option but to walk the 8 kilometres home with Jess in tow. I didn’t have a helmet, saddle or bridle with me and didn’t trust that I could be calm enough bareback to ride her home safely on the roads, so we had to leg it!

It was hot, windy, a little smoky and I realised that I hadn’t eaten nearly enough lunch for this amount of energy!  Jess moseyed along, it was her first big adventure outside the gates and other than a possible horse-eating old couch on the nature strip that she eyed suspiciously, she was absolutely fine. We made it into town where a friend saw me and offered Jess a paddock for the night, until I could float her the rest of the way home.  We reasoned that the blaze was getting under control and that the town wouldn’t be at risk now and could leave her there for the night.

Jess worried fires

With all my beasts safely relocated, we waited with bated breath to see if the firefighters could manage the blaze.  By now there were 93 vehicles attending.  With their amazing hard work, teamwork, talent, grit and determination they got the blaze under control.  We could see the fires still burning on the ridge that night from White Stone Farm. Ten days later it still burned, with teams managing the blazes as they reignited or smouldered.  Without any decent rain, these amazing crews are all we have to ensure that our homes and communities continue to be safe.

mt bolton landscape helicopter ajThe sad part is that this fire – and 2 more that were alight at the same time nearby, are believed to be the work of arsonists.  The Country Fire Authority do an amazing job, dropping everything to put their safety on the line in dangerous conditions to ensure that their communities are safe. Forget the Marvel Superheroes – these men and women are indeed real life Superheroes!

We donate to the CFA every year, as we are not able to volunteer for the brigade. It never feels like enough though when you see the tremendous work that they do. If you would also like to donate to this fantastic cause, go to the CFA Website.

My fingers are crossed that this is the last of the fire season for summer.

The amazing fire photos in this post were taken by the very talented Ann Jeffree. See more of Ann’s wonderful work at Ann’s Facebook page.

Mildly summer

Ahh…what a wonderful reprieve we have enjoyed from the fiery breath of summer! We braced ourselves for an onslaught of hot, windy, horrendous conditions for January…and yet heard whispers of ‘above average rainfall forecast for western Victoria for Jan and Feb..” Nah, not here, not for Clunes…we never get any rain…

But the skies opened and lovely, cool, wet rain dampened the earth.  9mm one day, 16 another, 30mm another time!  Happy Dances all round!  In a place like Clunes, where it is so dry that the tough conditions bond townsfolk together in a mutual hardship, there was literally dancing in the street to celebrate the downpour!  Giddy smiles at the thought of water tanks being topped up (many people were having to buy water in during December as we had such dismal rainfall in winter and spring), gardens soaked up the rain goodness and the landscape was flushed clean.

It was so wonderful to see puddles on the ground, to feel a cool breeze on your face, to get mud on your boots again…

Feather, Fez and puddles

My poor baby chickens didn’t know what to make of it – they had never seen rain before! It took a couple of minutes to coax them out from their house in the morning. But all of the wet, bedraggled chooks enjoyed the cooler conditions. The rain encouraged bugs out of hiding places and soaked the newly spread hay.  Yay for more soil creation with a bit of moisture!

What February will look like, who knows?  Maybe we’ll get more of the beautiful wet stuff and the weather forecasters prediction of ‘above average rainfall’ will come true or maybe it will dry up and we’ll receive that hot blast of summer again.  At least we enjoyed those magical days of milder weather and the green flush of growth that follows.

Stop! Hammock Time!

I’m a Planner.  I love to write To Do lists, make plans, set goals and tick things off those lists.  That feeling of accomplishment, of Getting Stuff Done.  Like many Planners, sometimes I think I like the planning and writing To Do lists more than I actually like doing the stuff on them!

But I’m also a Do-er. I like to be busy too.  Too busy, many of my friends and family would say. Following my redundancy from the environmental sector in 2013, the new time and space that was freed up allowed me to follow my passions here at White Stone Farm. To create my SAORI weaving studio and teaching business, Dyeing To Weave.  To immerse myself in permaculture and the workings of the farm here, attending to the chickens, llamas, cooking, learning and spending lots of time truly deciding what it was that I wanted to do. There are so many things that I am passionate about doing – sometimes the hardest part is working out where to put my energy at any given time!  And sometimes, I just try to do it all at once.

With a million things that I am constantly doing, a myriad of different commitments, business ideas and success as I head in a soul-driven direction for my businesses, it’s important to not only plan for what I want to do and achieve…but to also plan for Doing Nothing.  When running a small business, it’s vital that you take some time out just for YOU. Too many times I have pushed and pushed, to wring every moment out of the day and then fallen in a heap at the end.

Recently, I’ve been working with Leonie Dawson’s beautiful Biz & Life Workbooks. I first used them last year and they were wonderful to help me clarify what I was going to achieve over the year and how I was going to do it. Plus they’re fun to use! They have been fantastic to help me set goals, recognise achievements and plan for the goodness that I will create in 2016.

Leonie Dawson workbook graphics

The year goes SO FAST, so I want to make sure that I am using all of my time available effectively, with balance and efficiency. But one of the important parts of planning is to plan for rest, relaxation, reward and recuperation. So when Stace built our fantastic front patio in December, it became a bit of a sacred space.  The shaded, breezy environment is perfect for taking time out.  With the addition of a hammock, a gift from our beautiful friends, I have started to put it to good use! When I need a break, it’s time to Stop! Hammock Time!

Stop Hammock Time

Hammock Time might be for a much-needed nap, a cool drink and a gentle swing whilst listening to the birds, snuggling down with a good book (or something completely non-fiction and educational…I can’t help myself!) or a chance to catch up with a family member or friend on the phone.  Aaahhh…bliss!

So for all you Planners and Do-ers out there…make lists, do lots of stuff, achieve and be busy…but always remember to set aside time for yourself.  Find your own Hammock Time.

Joy of the Festive Season

I love the festive season! A time when our family gets together to celebrate the year, of love, giving, laughter, great food and gorgeous local wines.  We are so lucky to live in a country where we want for nothing regarding food and drink, safety and comfort.  That being said we now try to use as much of our own produce, particularly meat, as we can.  Another celebration, of the life that we lovingly raised and nurtured and acknowledgement of their final sacrifice for our table and sustenance.

As it’s awfully difficult (and a bit of an ask!) to get someone to look after our chooks and lock them up on Christmas night, we encourage the family to come up to White Stone Farm for a good ol’ country Christmas instead!  It’s a small affair, just my folks from Melbourne and my sister, which is just wonderful.  The years have passed where we travel around the countryside visiting a myriad of relatives and now that our oldest matriarchs and patriarchs of the family are no longer with us, we rarely get together with extended family for Christmas. It’s just the 5 of us and it’s lovely. I rarely get to see my family, so I love having them stay.

Stace worked hard in the days leading up to Christmas to complete a patio out the front of the house.  In just 3 days, Stace finished the concreting, erected the wooden supports and on Christmas morning, added the laserlight roofing…just in time for us to enjoy our lunch in the shaded outdoors!

Front patio structure

Front patio people

With the new exterior of the house now complete (and looking amazing!), the front patio provides a shaded, breezy entertaining space in summer, an extra ‘room’ to enjoy and with the addition of café blinds, will also be a great way to capture extra warmth on that northern side of the house in winter.

My parents arrive from Melbourne for the festive season celebrations with their babies in tow – they are wildlife carers for orphaned Grey-headed flying foxes, also known as fruit bats and December is a busy time for looking after these babies.

Baby Amidala

Yoda baby bat

Baby bat feeding

The bats need constant care for about 4 months – including 4-hourly feeds, constant heat when they are tiny and motherly love (yes, they see their human mothers as such when they are tiny!), so my parents have to take them EVERYWHERE with them.

Flying foxes are the most amazing creature – particularly when you get to see and interact with them up close. They have an intelligence similar to monkeys, gorgeous little personalities and bond closely to their foster mum (or dad!).  Having them stay during the festive season wistfully reminds me of the days that I used to be a bat foster carer myself – you can read more about that journey here, so it’s nice to play with baby bats as well as celebrate the season!

Prue and baby bats

My sister comes up to White Stone Farm from her beautiful seaside home, with lots of goodies packed in her car. Food, gifts, decorations – she is super organised and always has that vital item that I have forgotten to procure for the festivities.

We celebrate, give thanks for the year and all it contained and excitedly plan for the year to come. Invariably, I always convince someone to do some gorgeous SAORI weaving with me – complete with wine and cheese…the BEST way to weave!

Wine and cheese weaving NYE

We hope that you have all enjoyed a safe and happy festive season, filled with love and laughter!

The Importance of Time

They say that ‘all good things take time’.  But sometimes you don’t have much time to make a thoroughly knowledgeable decision – particularly when buying property.

Often when we buy a property, we have different ideals and dreams that go along with the purchase.  From our often brief inspection when buying the land, we might put our Potential Goggles on and look at the realm of possibilities. That area would be great for a market garden….oooh, I can grow lots of leafy herbs in this corner or this would be the perfect place for an orchard…so you buy the property along with the lofty dreams and ideals that you have for the place.

Then once you’ve settle in, you often get to know the place, a feel for the seasons and a true understanding of what the property is REALLY like.  The snapshot in time when you viewed the property will likely be vastly different to the rest of the year and the changing seasons. That area that looked perfect for a herb patch in summer is actually a huge frost patch in winter…that amazing orchard location is actually in a high wind spot…or that seemingly perfect location for your market garden is heavily inundated when it rains…

Inundation in paddock

But that doesn’t mean that all is lost, that the property is useless or that your plans were crap – don’t throw away your Potential Goggles just yet.

One of the key things about Permaculture is the idea of time.  Of taking things slowly, not rushing into planning and implementation but to quietly observe and get a real understanding for the place, the seasons, the energy flows throughout the property and how you can harness, overcome, utilise or minimise them to assist in growing and being super productive!

Some stuff you can change, alter, mitigate and avoid, but there are often other challenges that when viewed in the right way can actually be opportunities.  Is that frosty pocket good for a frost tolerant (or loving) plant like blueberries or apples?  Could you harvest some of that free energy in that windy corridor with a windmill or turbine?  Could that inundated area be turned into an ephemeral waterhole?

Sometimes what you need is a little innovative thinking.

And Time.  Rome wasn’t built in a day…a forest doesn’t happen overnight…and a functioning ecosystem from the soil to the tips of the trees, with all their interrelated parts in between doesn’t just happen in an instant…or a year…or sometimes 5 years.  This is particularly true in our area of Central Victoria, on our heavy alluvial clay soils with minimal drainage, dry and hot conditions in summer, flat topography and windy environment.  There are challenges there that will take time to overcome.

The fun part is working out how to adapt an area or change an idea to get the best out of it, or modify it to overcome the challenges.  That’s where Permaculture can really help in giving you a host of ideas, designs and tools to create the most amazing functioning property of efficiency and productivity.

In Permaculture, it’s a case of working with what you’ve got in the best way possible and making the best of the situation.  And understanding that good things always take time.

The Boring Stuff

I yearn for rain. Where has all the wet stuff gone? Our winter here at White Stone Farm has been very mild.  Our heavy clay soil that usually gets so inundated in winter is barely moist. Every rain shower that we do have brings on a happy dance, with the tap tap tap of rain on the roof mimicked by my tap tap tap of happy feet on the floor boards.

You see, here at White Stone Farm, we have found that we sit in an unfortunate rain shadow.  Clunes doesn’t get much rainfall to begin with.  But up on the plateau, just 5kms out of town, we get even less.  We will watch rain falling on the township and not get a drop as the clouds change direction and part ways before getting to our parched landscape.  Our beautiful view of Mt Beckworth to the south-west, that I absolutely love for its changing colours, diversity of landscape and forested beauty also has the ability to alter the course of the weather on a very local scale.

In the end, we made a big decision to invest in a bore last Summer.  Just before Christmas, we pooled all of the cash that we had from our wedding gifts and instead of spending it on a luxury holiday, white goods or home furnishings, we put it towards an investment in water. I had a few issues with tapping into artesian water.  If too much is drawn up it can cause problems with rising ground water and salinity.  But then we put it in perspective for ourselves.  We’re not the local potato farmers putting in hundreds of bores to draw out gazillions of litres. We aren’t going to be drawing huge megalitres of water from the earth, it’s a little extra assistance to help us keep the water troughs topped up and water some trees. The investment in consistent water as these trees get established will allow us to create microclimates as the trees grow, which will slow the wind and desiccation and enable us to use less water in some areas.  Once the trees are established, they will require less water.  It’s more of a jump start on a property where water is our biggest restriction, particularly when rainfall is low. It will also help to keep a large pond topped up for the local endangered species, the Growling Grass Frog (Litoria raniformis).  We are so fortunate to have these frogs present in this one waterbody on the property, but they need water all year round, so the bore will assist in keeping water in that pond and provide important habitat for our native residents.

Above all, it’s our safety net, for when rainfall is non-existent. We haven’t lived through a drought here yet.  I’m not looking forward to when we do.

So we called in the Murray family – the local bore diggers and they dug and dug and dug. And dug and dug, through layers of clay, bluestone, redstone, yellow, quartz, grey, red-brown and the eons of Earth’s creation were brought to the surface for display.

Murrays Bore drilling truck

Bore through fence

Earth Layer colours

At about 74 metres of digging, they found water. And the dirt became an amazing slurry of gorgeous clay, rock, quartz and water. It looked like melted neapolitan icecream…Bore drilling mudslide

Bore drilling slush

 

Neopolitan mud

It was fascinating watching the process and realising that I was seeing and touching clay and rock that had not seen the light of day for millions of years.

I also considered just how much this sort of mineral rich clay would be if I was at a Day Spa…so I did my own White Stone Farm Day Spa there in the paddock (after the drilling boys had gone home of course!)…

White Stone Farm Day Spa

Although we’ve had issues with the solar pump that we connected and have since had to switch to AC to get the pressure and oomph that we require to get the water from deep underground, we are only using it sparingly and are grateful for every single drop.  Particularly after such a dry winter and hot summer to come.

Find your Square…

Einstein worked for months on E = MC

But it wasn’t quite right – he knew there was something more, something missing. Do you ever feel like you are on the brink of something…that there is an epiphany just out of reach, that you start thinking a certain way, but there’s something more just hovering on the outskirts of your consciousness waiting to be discovered?

Sometimes giving yourself the space – the time, energy or silence to contemplate is important to finding that elusive part of the equation. In today’s society we’re all so rushed, so busy, so switched on and distracted by what’s happening outside of our thoughts. But finding some moments to contemplate the world within is important to answer elusive questions, ideas or future plans. To understand what drives us, where our passions lie, where we want to go with this one precious life. To be alone with our thoughts, mull over ideas that are gently brewing in the back recesses of our minds. The switch off, check out and enjoy some stillness to allow the pieces to fall into place.

Admiring the view in Japan

To ruminate – to thoughtfully chew over something. It’s one of my favourite words. Llamas ruminate. They spend the early part of the day busily eating, heads down, hoovering up grass as quickly as they can, getting their fill. Then as the afternoon wears on, they stop, sit in the sun or under the shade of a tree and chew their cud. They ruminate. Busy, busy, busy and then time to sit, ponder, regurgitate and relax. They sit in silence, watch the world go by and finish their meal slowly. They are still. A study on antelope on the savannah a couple of years ago showed that their brain waves change when they ruminate, from ultra alert to meditative, sleep-like waves. Who knew that antelope, llamas and cows could meditate?!

Llamas ruminating

As always, nature is an excellent teacher. So take a leaf out of the llama handbook. When you open yourself up to gazing within, you never know what you might discover.

E = MC doesn’t do anything, until Einstein discovered the Square. A little tweak, a tiny addition to the equation and BOOM – everything changes. A huge breakthrough. A complete change in how people view things.  And, in some cases, a huge explosion of energy.

Find some stillness and find your Square.

Sunshine in a jar

I LOVE preserving fruit!  Being able to bottle that fruity, sweet goodness when there is a glut of gorgeous growth to be enjoyed in the cold, dark months of winter (or any other time throughout the year!!) is wonderful.

We have friends that live amongst 100 fruit trees.  Their house is literally surrounded by an orchard of pears, apples, peaches, plums, loquats, citrus, nashi and a grand old mulberry tree with its gnarled form looks over the landscape from the hill above.  It’s a veritable treasure trove of fruity goodness.  But they didn’t plant it and after buying the property, they don’t use much of it either.  They welcomed us to take as much as we wanted.  We didn’t need to be asked twice!Mulberry tree

Fruit, glorious fruit.  Our own fruit trees have struggled with such a terribly hard existence that none of them are bearing fruit yet.  But here, we had all the fruit we could ever want!

Each week over summer we headed over to collect car loads of buckets filled with fruit. We ate lots, sold some, cooked with some, gave some away and I preserved and preserved so that we’d have lots to enjoy long past the season’s end.

Peach tree

Preserving is such a lovely way of bottling sunshine in a jar. On those chilly winter mornings, there’s nothing better than a slice of freshly baked sourdough bread with a generous helping of Peach, Pear & Ginger jam or lashings of Mulberry jam with its deep burgundy colour to chase the winter blues away.

Peach preserves

I was invited to teach a few preserving workshops at the Clunes Community House.  It was a great way to bring together the community, a glut of fruit and get our preserving on! We made jams and preserved whole fruit for enjoyment later in the year.  I love being able to pass on these time-honoured skills so that people can better learn how to utilise the produce they have access to and extend the life of the seasons for good health and vitality.

Teaching preserves workshop

You don’t have to own fruit trees to enjoy preserving either!  Often friends, family, neighbours or colleagues have a fruit tree up the back corner of the backyard that drops prolific amounts of delicious fruit.  I used to get bucket loads of plums and kiwi fruits from my colleagues at work that had already had their fill from the huge amount that came from the tree.  Ask around in the warmer months, see what’s out there.  Check your neighbourhood – is there a heavily laden tree up the road that is the bane of old Betty’s existence now that she is in her 90’s?  Help her out while you help yourself (ask permission first of course!).  She’d probably love a jar of jam as part of the deal. Who knows – she might even make you jam tarts with the jam! Now there’s a win-win situation!

Homemade Jam tartsAnd if not, here’s the recipe below…

Easy Jam Tarts

110g plain flour
50g unsalted butter, chilled, cut into small pieces
1 cup jam
Chilled water
Icing sugar, to dust

Preheat oven to 180°C. Sift flour into a bowl and add a pinch of salt. Rub in butter until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add 1 tablespoon of very cold water and use a fork to mix together, then add a little more chilled water until the mixture forms a smooth ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Roll out on a lightly floured surface and use a round pastry cutter to cut out 6 circles.

Grease a shallow muffin tin. Cut out circles in the pastry to line the pans.  Line the pastry shells with baking paper and fill with rice or pastry weights. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove the paper and weights, fill the tarts with jam and bake for a further 8 minutes. Allow to cool before dusting with icing sugar. YUM!

 

One door closes and another opens…

After an amazing year, the time has come to shut the doors at Sketched, Spun & Warped studio in the main street of Clunes.  We were granted the wonderful opportunity to have this creative space in the township as part of the Empty Spaces Initiative and have enjoyed the last year in the space.  Empty Spaces aims to revitalise vacant buildings that are for lease or for sale, to give them a new vibrancy and hopefully help them sell or at least, maintain a dynamic energy for the town.

The space has been a wonderful place for creativity, workshops, community learning and interaction, social engagement and skills sharing.  It was a place to highlight the many amazing artists that inhabit this town but don’t have an outlet to display and sell their work, a chance for people to learn new creative skills and for the resident artists to promote our work through sales and workshops.  Hundreds of people learned about Saori weaving by visiting the studio and I am happy that I was able to be the driving force behind this creative community space.

Saori studio class

But all good things must evolve.  New owners have purchased the building and it is destined to become a restaurant in town.  Our gorgeous little creative space has had its day.

Losing the space will open up my time and ability at the farm more.  A chance to properly combine my Saori weaving with my llama fibre, wrapped up in the sustainability at White Stone Farm. A chance for me to put all my energy and intention into Dyeing To Weave as a stand-alone business.

Sometimes change seems like a bad thing, a source of disappointment. But often these changes are just a new evolution unfolding, towards a bigger or better direction. Losing my job in 2013 was shattering, but after the initial shock and loss, I realised that it actually was the push I needed and opened up a myriad of other doors and opportunity for me to follow my passions of Saori weaving and sustainability.

Closing the doors at Sketched, Spun & Warped studio is now giving me a chance to open my doors at my new studio in the Big Shed at White Stone Farm.  Exciting times ahead!

Prue Simmons, Saori artist

Look out for my Saori weaving and natural dye workshops coming up at the farm and through mobile classes throughout Melbourne and regional Victoria. And if you’re keen on finding out more, head on over to the Dyeing To Weave website: www.dyeingtoweave.com.au for more details about upcoming classes, gorgeous handwoven items and equipment available.

Hope to see you at the farm studio soon!

Spotlight: Chook of the Week

This week we’d like to introduce you to one of our wonderful girls, Bentley. Bentley has been with us from the start, one of our original girls that we bought as a pullet from a guy who sells Hyline Browns. Hylines are an Australian breed and are reputed to be good egg chooks, being bred for maximum egg delivery and robust health.  We’d have to agree, as Bentley has been a fantastic layer over the last 3 years, with a great temperament and a strong and healthy chook in the outdoor free range environment.

Bentley the chook

Bentley has enjoyed raising a few broods along the way too.  As with most chooks, at some point they tend to get clucky.  If the timing is right then we are more than happy for the girls to raise some chicks. It’s always a wonderful journey to watch them raise their young fluffy charges.

Bentley & chicks

Bentley is a very attentive mum, finding them yummy food, teaching them how to dust bathe and protecting them from the other rowdy chooks.  If there is food available, Bentley is the first one to it and is a prolific scratcher, so she has taught her children to forage well!

bentley and chicks

Bentley & Cardigan

She’s one of our best chooks, helping to teach all the young up-and-comers a thing or two about life in the free range chook yard here at White Stone Farm!