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Filming Trip 2010


Before We Leave



In six days time we leave our little farm and travel overseas for six weeks. It is a very long time since Mike and I have been away for so long and this is the first time that we have left both the farm and the tool business up and running in capable hands.

In the past we have shut down completely at Allsun Farm and simply walked away unencumbered. This time it will be different. Emrys our younger son will be living here and taking care of the day to day chores.  Rory our oldest son lives and works in Canberra but has agreed to help with posting out tool orders.

Early every week Helen and Matthew will be out here working in the commercial garden and also managing the office. We will stay in touch but only by email, sms and the occasional phone call.

Worrying about leaving the farm

The trouble with leaving  a market garden is always the things that are screaming at you “we are urgent”. In fact leaving the farm accelerates the pace and lots of urgent and non urgent job seem to get done. Maybe we should leave more often?
Just like leaving people that you care about it is also difficult to leave a place that you love. Will the garlic be eaten by rabbits and cockatoos? Have we set up enough sprinklers and drippers if winter is dry? What will Matthew or Emrys do if it gets so cold that  pipes freeze and burst? Should we plant a few things now or leave it till we get back?
I reassure myself that we have left before and we have coped when we returned and this time we are leaving in late autumn and will return in mid winter so the chances are that all will be well. We should return to a very slow and stable farm. Cold weather and short days will keep growth to a minimum and we have organised our uncomplaining chicken workforce to do a lot of cleaning up while we are away.

Last Minute Planting

Today is a garden day. The last day that Michael and I will be down in the commercial garden working with Helen and Matthew before we leave.
All the garlic is planted and the earliest varieties are up. Matthew and Helen got stuck into removing a few of our perennial (annual!) winter weeds – nettles.
We then took turns on the tractor. Here is Matthew hard at it spading in some limestone on the area that the chickens cleaned up last summer.

I have been re-reading Gene Logsdon’s ‘Small Scale Grain Raising’ and although vegetables go into recess at this time of year cereals, green manures and broad beans do need to be planted before the days start to lengthen again in July. I want to plant an area that has been really worked over by our chickens last summer to oats. Enough oats to harvest as hay which will mulch next years tomatoes and capsicums. We also have a dear friend that likes spelt. The seed is sitting here in a bag screaming to be planted and I dream about harvesting the bursting heads next summer and baking a loaf of bread. What a lot I still have to learn!
Helen spreads limestone ready for Mike to spade in. Behind her are the beds of early red garlic that have been mulched with straw.


Because we cannot travel with a lot of books one of the jobs that I have to do before we leave is go through some of the books that we have and extract background material and some quotes. Tonight the location I am working on is Berkeley, California. We will be visiting both Chez Panisse, Alice Waters’ famous restaurant and the Edible Schoolyard which is the main benificiary of the Chez Panisse Foundation.
There is plenty of zesty text for me to scan but I had forgotton just how charming the little children’s cookbook ‘Fanny at Chez Panisse’ can be. And powerful.
Alice Waters writes in the first person using the voice of her daughter. History, philosophy, recipies and humour – it has the lot. If you have never read it do treat yourself to a copy. You will read it to yourself and then to children, delightful!

Winter is on its way!












Around the house

Cool late summer weather together with rain is giving us a stunning show of autumn colours.

Protected inside our solarium the tomatoes are heaving a sigh of relief and putting on another flush of fruit and no matter how cold it gets outside the warmth in this wonderful north facing space is enough to ensure a picking of chillies.

Meanwhile I am inside packing and doing some last minute emergency repairs!