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Small Farmer's Journal
PO Box 1627
Sisters, Oregon 97759
800-876-2893
541-549-2064
agrarian@smallfarmersjournal.com
Mon - Thu, 8am - 4pm PDT

Mayfield Farm

Mayfield Farm, New South Wales, Australia

Mayfield Farm, New South Wales, Australia

by Sandra Bannerman of Hernani, Australia

Mayfield Farm is a small family owned and operated mixed farm situated at 1150 m above sea level on the eastern edge of the Great Dividing Range in northern New South Wales, Australia. Siblings, Sandra and Ian Bannerman, purchased the 350 acre property in October, 2013, and have converted it from a conventionally operated farm to one that is run on organic principles. Additional workers on the farm include Janette, Ian’s wife, and Jessica, Ian’s daughter.

Our winters are usually cold and dry with overnight temperatures dropping to as low as -80 C with cool to mild summers reaching maximums in the late 20s or early 30s. We can receive an occasional snow fall during winter but not sufficient to settle for a prolonged period of time. Our rainfall is predominantly during summer and autumn, although spring rains provide a very useful start to our pasture growth. 40% of the farm is covered in forest which provides shelter for our animals during the heat of summer and the cold of winter. Our first frosts normally occur around 25 April and continue through to September when we are looking for a spring break to provide some green feed for our livestock.

When we purchased, our farm consisted of one large paddock. We have created permanent laneways (the main one runs from north to south and then two shorter lanes run east to west) to assist with the movement of stock. There are now 18 permanent paddocks all of which feed into our laneways which has made it a lot easier to move stock around the farm on our rotational grazing system. Electric fencing is used to subdivide paddocks into smaller areas.

Mayfield is fully solar powered with no connection to the grid. All electric fencing is either connected to the large solar systems on our homes or run on 12 v batteries. Rain water is harvested and stored in tanks on all of our main buildings and although most paddocks have dams in them, we have installed an extensive piped water system throughout the farm as well. A 55,000 L rainwater tank (with gutter) is situated on our highest point of the farm and it is kept filled by pumping from one of our dams which at this stage hasn’t been dry. From the tank, the water is then gravity fed throughout all of the lines to provide stock water as well as water to our orchards and vegetable gardens.

Although we originally started with beef production, we soon discovered that it would not be financially viable and had to look at additional enterprises to support the owners and families as well as providing our communities with access to locally grown, clean and safe food. As most of our livestock is sold to our customers we make little use of our local saleyards.

Mayfield Farm, New South Wales, Australia

Our mixed herd of beef and dairy cattle.

CATTLE

Our small grass fed beef herd consists of 14 Angus cows, 1 Limousin heifer, 2 Fresian/Angus cross cows, 2 purebred Jersey cows and a Limousin bull. The bull is now running with the cows all of the time so that we are able to provide beef products all year round. Due to our usually cold, dry winters, our cattle’s diets are supplemented with hay.

Our cattle are not chemically drenched and have constant access to mineral licks which assist in the control of both internal and external parasites. Rotational grazing principles are employed both to break the breeding cycle of worms and to enable their manures to be spread over the whole farm. An over-nighting shed is being planned for the cattle to help in maintaining body condition during the winter and to create our own compost which will be spread on the pastures.

During summer, Buffalo flies present a problem but we have used a vegetable oil and sulphur mix applied as a backline and around the rump and tail area which provides relief to the cattle. Our dairy cows provide the households with raw milk, cream and butter. Unfortunately, as it is illegal to sell raw dairy products in New South Wales, our many customers remain disappointed at not being able to buy raw milk.

Mayfield Farm, New South Wales, Australia

A group of grower pigs taking an early morning dip — mobile hutches and self-feeder in the background.

PIGS

Our second enterprise involved the purchase of two young gilts and a boar to initially provide pork for us. However, after an amount of research we soon discovered that few farmers were growing free range pork and that there was a growing demand as consumers were seeking an ethically grown meat which was not being provided by factory farms. Ours is a farrowing to porker operation and we currently have 26 breeding sows and their progeny, replacements gilts and two boars, one of which has his own paddock while the other runs with the dry sows. We purchase in a commercial grower pellet which is free from genetic modification and is fed to all of our pigs.

Our farrowing paddocks are 1 ha in size and in each of these we run 4 sows and their litters. Each sow has her own farrowing hutch, on weaning she is removed from her litter and is returned to the boar while her litter is put into a weaning paddock until all piglets from the paddock have been weaned. At this point, all four litters of piglets return to their farrowing paddock where they grow out to point of sale. All of our growers are now on self feeders which has reduced our work load as we were feeding morning and evening, which we still do for our sows and piglets up until eight weeks of age when they are weaned.

Mayfield Farm

The dry sows enjoying breakfast.

We sell our females between 70 and 80 kg and our males (which are not castrated) between 60 and 70 kg. As each paddock is emptied of growers, we have sufficient farrowing paddocks to rest each one for a six month period before it is reused.
The pigs are confined to a 25 ha area on the farm which enables six monthly rotations for the sows, piglets and growers and a two monthly rotation for the dry sows in their paddocks. Again, our pigs are not chemically drenched and have access to their minerals as they fossick around their paddocks.

Mayfield Farm

Ian feeding and watering our laying hens.

LAYING HENS

We started with heritage breeds of hens for our own egg and meat supply (we still have a small flock of Indian Game birds) but have now changed over to specific laying hens for our commercial egg enterprise. We are currently running approximately 160 birds who supply us with sufficient eggs to meet the needs of our customer base. They are housed in mobile sheds placed within electric netting and are moved twice a week. Over the course of a year, they have rotated around most of the farm, manuring the paddocks for us as they go. For our replacement layers, we buy day old chickens which we grow out to point of lay. After brooding and having grown their feathers they are pasture raised in mobile cages.

Mayfield Farm

Young laying pullets in their mobile shelter.

We purchase an organic grain mix for our hens and to assist in the control of parasites, they have apple cider vinegar and garlic in their feed and water. Their laying boxes have lime and diatomaceous earth added to the nesting materials.

Mayfield Farm

SHEEP

Our most recent venture is the production of lamb. Our initial purchase of Dorper ewes was not the correct choice for our climate so we are now in the process of changing to the Romney breed, which have greater resistance to parasites and foot rot. Our plan is to build our flock to 40 ewes which will enable us to supply our local markets with organically grown lamb. Ewes will lamb in the spring time which is when our pastures are starting to renew after a cold winter.

Mayfield Farm

Our flock of Romney Marsh Sheep on a foggy winter morning.

The sheep rotate around the farm with the cattle. They are shedded overnight to protect them from predator attack, which includes wild dogs, dingoes and foxes. A bigger shed is underway to cater for the expanding flock. They have access to mineral licks on a daily basis and once a month they have a mix of diatomaceous earth, sulphur and garlic with their evening ration of organic feed.

Mayfield Farm

A great year for potatoes.

FRUIT, POTATOES AND OTHER VEGETABLES

Our annual crop of organic potatoes includes Nicolas, Desiree, Royal Blues, Coliban and a few Dutch Creams. We normally try to have the crop planted during November but for 2015 they have only just been planted in mid December. Our customers are already asking when they will be available for purchase.

We grow Red Aztec and Painted Mountain corns which help supplement the feed which we purchase for our laying hens.

Mayfield Farm

A heavily laden Pink Lady apple tree.

Our orchards consist of apples, pears, peaches, nectarines, plums, cherries, blueberries and apricots. Bordeaux mixture is used as a fungicide and is an allowable organic spray. Cages have been erected over our orchards to keep the wild life out – unfortunately, this year a possum managed to get inside the apple cage and chewed all of the new growth including buds and leaves. A big disappointment for Jessica as she had customers lined up wanting our apples and pears.

We have erected one hoop house with two more planned so that Jessica can commence her organic fruit and vegetable business. She is currently experimenting with different vegetables and already has potential wholesale outlets wanting her produce.

Mayfield Farm

Reuben in training with Ian.

WORKING HORSES

We have 4 Suffolk Punch/Percheron horses being trained for farm work. The goal is to use them as much as possible and to this end we have imported a Pioneer forecart and Homesteader and a Lancaster manure spreader. Pioneer have been extremely helpful and a pleasure to deal with. The horse drawn equipment that we have been able to acquire in Australia is very worn and very heavy so we are looking forward to putting the new equipment into operation. We do have a potato planter and both the forecart and homesteader come equipped with a potato digger so the potatoes will be one of the many tasks that the horses will be involved in.

Ian is hoping to develop a small organic market garden where all work will be undertaken by the horses.

The horses are rotated around the farm following the cattle and sheep. Again, they have unlimited access to their mineral licks to assist in parasite control.

ABATTOIR

As mentioned previously, most of our stock is sold by us directly to our customers. We have a small truck which makes a 7 hour round trip to the closest small animal abattoir every Wednesday with a mix of beef, lamb and pork, subject to the weekly demand. The abattoir has its own distribution network so the carcases are freighted to the various wholesale and retail outlets that we supply. For the products that we sell ourselves, our butchers cut, smoke and pack our meats ready for sale at the markets or to our data base of customers who deal directly with us.

MARKETS

Sandra and Jessica attend a growers’ market each week, one of which is organic and/or free range held every second Friday while the second is on the alternate Saturdays and has conventionally grown produce as well as free range and/or organic. Attendance at the markets involves a 4:00 am rise and a 1 hour 15 minute drive to Bellingen, the town where both markets are held. We sell all of our produce at the markets – pork, beef, lamb, eggs, seasonal fruit and vegetables.

Our farm is Humane Choice accredited which certifies that our animals are ethically raised and have a wonderful life where they can practise their normal behaviours. All of our small goods (bacons, smoked and fresh sausages, corned beef and smoked hams) are nitrate and preservative free and, in addition, our sausages are gluten free.

OTHER OUTLETS

In addition to the markets that we attend, we supply our pork, eggs, fruit and vegetables to several retail outlets which includes Sydney as well as local organic, biodynamic and free range businesses within a 2 hour radius of our farm. Our database of individual customers who deal directly with us continues to grow with the support that our local communities provide us with.

For our local customers, we provide them with the opportunity to come and visit us on farm when we hold our 6 monthly open days, normally held in May and November. These are well attended and enjoyed by all. While morning tea is being consumed, we give an overview of our farm, what we do and why. This is followed by our farm walk for the adults while the children ride around in a trailer pulled by a quad bike – apart from little pigs this is the highlight of their day! We normally commence at 9:30 am and the last visitor is usually gone by 3:30 pm when it is time to start our afternoon chores.

LUCAS MILL

We own a portable saw mill which has been very useful in providing sawn timber for farm structures including house extensions, stock yards and shed renovations.

A lot of trees on the farm were logged by the previous owners leaving little saleable timber. Opportunities exist for milling to be done for neighbours.

Mayfield Farm

Reuben pulling the slide — as a matter of interest, Reuben is now being used with forecart and trailer to feed the pigs.

HAYMAKING

Our goal is to be able to bale enough hay off our farm to enable all of our animals to be fed during the winter months. With the pigs’ autumn farrowing paddocks we hope to make hay while the spring farrowing paddocks will be used for planting cereal crops, which could be fed off during winter or used for hay making in the spring, subject to the season. Other paddocks will be dropped from the rotation system for additional haymaking, again subject to the season.

Our ideas are not original but we have modified and adjusted the methods used by Joel Salatin and Polyface Farms. We would like to thank him for sharing his farming methods with the world.

As you can see, our farm is running at full capacity, as is the family. No other family members are interested in following on the farm (apart from Jessica) so no more enterprises or expansion will be occurring. Once we have finished off the last few infrastructure tasks, we will hopefully be back to maintenance.

Should anyone wish to see more photos of our farm, our web address is: www.mayfieldfarmproduce.com.au

Spotlight On: How-To & Plans

Livestock Guardians

Introducing Your Guard Dog To New Livestock And Other Dogs

When you introduce new animals to an established herd or flock, you should observe your dog’s reactions and behavior for a few days. Since he will be curious anyway, it is a good idea to introduce him to the new animals while he is leashed or to place the new animals in a nearby area.

The Tip Cart

The Tip Cart

by:
from issue:

When horses were the main source of power on every farm, in the British Isles it was the tip-cart, rather than the wagon which was the most common vehicle, and for anyone farming with horses, it is still an extremely useful and versatile piece of equipment. The farm cart was used all over the country, indeed in some places wagons were scarcely used at all, and many small farms in other areas only used carts.

Horseshoeing Part 2C

Horseshoeing Part 2C

The wear of the shoe is caused much less by the weight of the animal’s body than by the rubbing which takes place between the shoe and the earth whenever the foot is placed to the ground and lifted. The wear of the shoe which occurs when the foot is placed on the ground is termed “grounding wear,” and that which occurs while the foot is being lifted from the ground is termed “swinging-off wear.” When a horse travels normally, both kinds of wear are nearly alike, but are very distinct when the paces are abnormal, especially when there is faulty direction of the limbs.

Soil, Vegetation, and Acidity

From Dusty Shelves: Audels Gardeners and Growers Guide teaches us about soil acidity.

Farm Drum #30 Blacksmithing we Pete Cecil Basic Techniques

Farm Drum #30: Blacksmithing with Pete Cecil – Basic Techniques

Pete Cecil demonstrates basic blacksmithing techniques through crafting a hook in the forge.

Blacksmithing

Blacksmithing

from issue:

Modern farm machinery is largely of iron and steel construction, making an equipment of metal working tools necessary if satisfactory repairs are to be made. Forging operations consist of bending, upsetting, drawing out, welding, punching, drilling, riveting, thread-cutting, hardening, tempering, and annealing. Heat makes iron soft and ductile. Practically all forging operations on iron can be done more rapidly when it is at a high heat. Steel will not stand as high a temperature.

Log Arch

Log Arch

by:
from issue:

The arch was built on a small trailer axle that I cut down to 3 feet wide and tacked back together. This was done so that I could keep the wheels parallel. I cut the middle out after construction was complete. I used heavy wall pipe from my scrounge pile for the various frame parts. It is topped off with an angle iron bar for added strength and to provide a mount for the winch and some slots for extra chains.

Swallow

Rotation As A Means Of Blight Control

Every farmer knows that when a crop is grown on the same field year after year, it becomes inferior in quality and the yield steadily diminishes.

Sleds

Sleds

by:
from issue:

The remainder of this section on Agricultural Implements is about homemade equipment for use with draft animals. These implements are all proven and serviceable. They are easily worked by a single animal weighing 1,000 pounds, and probably a good deal less. Sleds rate high on our homestead. They can be pulled over rough terrain. They do well traversing slopes. Being low to the ground, they are very easy to load up.

The Craft of the Wheelwright

The Craft of the Wheelwright

by:
from issue:

In these days of standardization and the extensive use of metal wheels you might think there is little call for the centuries old craft of wheelwrighting, but the many demands on the skills of Gus Kitson in Suffolk, England, show this to be very far from the truth. Despite many years experience of renovating all types of wagons and wheels even Gus can still be surprised by the types of items for which new or restored wooden wheels are required.

The Milk and Human Kindness: Making Cheese

The Milk and Human Kindness: Making Cheese

by:
from issue:

Yogurt making is the perfect introduction into the world of cultured dairy products and cheese-making. You are handling milk properly, becoming proficient at sanitizing pots and utensils, and learning the principles of culturing milk. Doing these things regularly, perfecting your methods, sets you up for cheese-making very well. Cheese-making involves the addition of a few more steps beyond the culturing.

Horseshoeing Part 2A

Horseshoeing Part 2A

As there are well-formed and badly formed bodies, so there are well-formed and badly formed limbs and hoofs. The form of the hoof depends upon the position of the limb. A straight limb of normal direction possesses, as a rule, a regular hoof, while an oblique or crooked limb is accompanied by an irregular or oblique hoof. Hence, it is necessary, before discussing the various forms of the hoof, to consider briefly the various positions that may be assumed by the limbs.

Plans for Hog Houses

Plans for Hog Houses

by: ,
from issue:

Missouri Sunlit Hog House: This is an east and west type of house lighted by windows in the south roof. A single stack ventilation system with distributed inlets provides ventilation. Pen partitions may be of wood or metal. This plan takes the place of the original Missouri sunlit house since many farmers had difficulty in building it.

Basil Scarberrys Ground-Drive Forecart

Basil Scarberry’s Ground-Drive Forecart

by:
from issue:

I used an ’84 Chevrolet S-10 rear end to build my forecart, turn it over to get right rotation, used master cylinder off buggy and 2” Reese hitch, extend hitch out to use P.T.O. The cart is especially useful for tedding hay. However, its uses are virtually unlimited. We use it for hauling firewood on a trailer, for pulling a disc and peg tooth harrow, for hauling baled hay on an 8’ x 16’ hay wagon, and just for a jaunt about the farm and community.

Horse Powered Snow Fencing and Sleigh Fencing

Horse Powered Snow Fencing and Sleigh Fencing

by:
from issue:

We were planning on having our cattle out in a sheltered field for the winter but a busy fall and early snows meant our usual fencing tool was going to be ineffective. Through the grazing season we use a reel barrow which allows us to carry posts and pay out or take in wire with a wheel barrow like device which works really well. But not on snow. This was the motivation for turning our sleigh into a “snow fencer” or a “sleigh barrow”.

Posts

Driving Fence Posts By Hand

Where the soil is soft, loose, and free from stone, posts may be driven more easily and firmly than if set in holes dug for the purpose.

Disc Harrow Requirements

Disc Harrow Requirements

by:
from issue:

One of the most important requirements is disc blade concavity, that is, correct concavity. Further along we set forth the purposes of disc concavity. We feel it is important enough to devote the extra time and words in a discussion of the subject, because seldom is disc concavity talked about, and very few know that there is difference enough to cause good and bad work.

Small Farmer's Journal

Small Farmer's Journal
PO Box 1627
Sisters, Oregon 97759
800-876-2893
541-549-2064
agrarian@smallfarmersjournal.com
Mon - Thu, 8am - 4pm PDT