Paddocks that make you go “meh”

Driving along our roads I can tell who is competent at managing their paddocks, their livestock and ultimately, their immediate community. Fireweed –amongst others, is the number one indicator of such competency, or lack of. There are two dead simple ways in tackling it, for good.

Pull it

Yes, it’s a mind-numbing exercise, bent in half like if you’re working in a rice paddy, empty feedbag in hand, bending, pulling, bagging, bending, pulling, bagging…

Make a party out of it. Invite your mates. Feed them well and stock the fridge with beverages. Drive the ute in the paddock and put the music full blast. Be creative.

Don’t wait for the plant to be in full bloom. Get it when the flowers are just about to bud. Then pull it and leave it on the ground.

If you left it too long and the flowers are formed, then pull it and bag it.

If you leave that pesky plant to grow flowers and seeds, you’re only going to be successful at reducing the profitability of your paddock (and at aggravating your case with your neighbours). Your livestock won’t eat that weed and gradually, the weed will have outcompeted the nutritious grass. Your livestock with loose condition, and your land, value.

Rotational grazing

Put five cows on 5ha and let them graze at will, what do you think they’ll eat? The tasty, juicy nutritious new blades of grass of course! That grass gets knocked down then starts growing again, then gets knocked down. And grows again (but less vigorously), and again and again… Meanwhile, the bad quality grass and the weeds grow at will, undisturbed, completing their lifecycle and inoculating the land with seeds…

Reduce your livestock grazing area (that increases the stocking rate) and move your livestock to fresh new lush grazing cell once they knocked down hard the previous one…

Drive along our roads and observe nearby paddocks. Some will make you go “Meh! Horrible!”, while others will make you want to roll with glee in that lush weed-free pasture!

Insect hotel for habitat and resilience

We recently hosted a small party of permaculture aficionados who came to spend a few hours with us here, share a meal, tools, skills, conversations, friendship and fun…

Kids played together, hammering nails into wood and going to and fro the sand pit, patting baby chicken and rabbits along the way, brushing against the plants in our veggie patch and orchard, harvesting flowers, sun and oxygen…

The basis of this gathering was to learn how to make an insect hotel from scratch and why we might need some in our backyards. It was also to play together and have fun.

What is an insect hotel

Insect hotel by TG

Insect hotel by TG

An insect hotel is an infrastructure that welcomes beneficial insects in a certain area of your garden, orchard or backyard, providing them shelter and a place to nest, close to their food source.

These infrastructures are made of absolutely any material you can upcycle or repurpose – wood, logs, stump, bricks, besser blocks, pipes, pallets, terracotta pots, corrugated cardboard, straw, etc.

They can be made into a simple structure which you hang in a tree, such as a large bamboo pole cut to size and filled with sticks or bark… or it could be an elaborate structure requiring wood work, tools and a construction mind-set!

What motivates us here at Valley’s End is to ‘make things with what we have’…  and for these things to be functional and pretty too.

We scavenged sticks and bark from our farm driveway and old fence paling from a council clean up pile. Jaz brought pine cones, Andrew cordless drill and other tools and Di large bamboo poles.

Functions of an insect hotel

  • Mini insect hotel to hang out in the garden - by Isa

    Mini insect hotel to hang out in the garden – by Isa

    Increase biodiversity

  • Integrated Pest Management
  • Habitat: nest, hibernation shelter
  • Pollination
  • Education
  • Fun project for kids (and grown-up!)
  • Upcycled garden art

Insects it will attract

  • Parasitic insects
  • Solitary bees and wasps
  • Decomposers
Diversity of materials for a diversity of insect species, functions and beauty

Diversity of materials for a diversity of insect species, functions and beauty

Beetles  – Bark laid onto each others
Centipede  – Decaying wood
Earwigs – Bundle of dry grass or straw
Hoverfly – Hollow stems
Lacewing – Rolled corrugated cardboard
Ladybugs – Twigs, hollow stems, leaf litter
Native bees – Hollow wood, empty coconut
Slaters – Decaying wood
Solitary bees – Hollow stems, pipes, bricks (with holes), bamboo
Solitary wasps – Hollow stems, pipes, bricks (with holes), bamboo
Spiders – Any dry nook and cranny

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We think, therefore we eat

A major ingredient in simple living is mindfulness… this means to pay attention, to engage our mind, to be aware, switched-on, to think and deduce. It also means to make informed choices, and sometimes to accept some compromises.

When it comes to eating, we’ve now come to doing it robotically, without thinking. We blindly believe that the manufacturer cares for our health and well-being and we stop being aware. Nineteen century French gastronome Brillat-Savarin once wrote “tell me what you eat and I will tell you who you are.” How relevant is this now that we buy our food in a pre-packaged form, ready-to-eat, imported, adulterated and fake! Continue reading