brass tacks

You know that moment when you think, oh well, it can't get worse than this? 

We lost the remainder of the mature batch of meat birds last night, the ones due to go for processing tomorrow, the fifty we hoped might at least pay for the feed and incubation costs of the lost birds. 

We think we're up against more than one wiley fox that's figured out the electric mesh fence, the tested and trusted fence which has kept all our birds safe for two and a half years so far. The shooter we hoped would come last night couldn't. We double-fenced, used the fox lights, and set the fox trap. I left very early to visit my Mum in hospital in Sydney, recovering from an operation (she's doing very well, thank you), and I checked in mid morning to find Adam pretty much sans sense of humour. There's just no words really. So that's not why I'm writing. 

This happens to farmers all the time, all over the country. Whatever you're doing and on whatever scale, you find yourself down to small change and brass tacks. The difference is this. 

I got to bring home the cavalry. 


We tried to say no thank you, obviously stay with Mum who isn't being discharged for a number of days, but the combination of the two of them, my parents, when they've made their mind up, is formidable. And it's Dad. He's awesome in a crisis. And has a gun licence. And can find fox tracks in the grass like a magician and has all sorts of solutions we'd never think of.

He's home for the night and the shooter arrived as well (with extras) and the layers are locked down and everything's going to be OK. It really is. 

Because the other major difference is that we're not doing this on our own. Many, many farmers feel like Robinson Crusoe. Like lonely solo worker bees, incredibly vulnerable to guilt and despair and a sense of failure. What you've given us, every one of you reading this, every comment here and across social media, is a feeling of community. Like this really does ultimately effect all of us, every dairy farmer who stands over a cow down with milk fever, every market gardener looking at a crop of cabbages that were perfect yesterday and lie shredded after last night's hailstorm, everything that effects the person trying to grow the food we eat effects all of us.

And that is the sound of the food revolution in motion. 



We don't want to eat industrially produced food that suppresses animals into systemic misery and ultimately poisons us all. We don't want vegetables that have to be washed in bleach to remove the poisonous chemicals they've been doused in to reduce bugs and maximise shelf-life. 

The change is here. People are growing food differently, on small and large scales, and people are connecting with it. 




So over here we are held up by the wave of compassion you sent at us. Friends and strangers have offered help and advice. We're a tiny little farm. But it turns out people seriously care whether small farms fail or succeed and this can only be marvellous. 

And when it comes down to brass tacks, we've got the cavalry here. 

We won't be eating chicken for a bit but we've got veggies. We'll never be hungry. I hope you won't be either. 




Just when you think the sweetness has gone out of it and your heart is a drone, how about that, you find oranges at the back of the coffee grove. 



I am so, so thankful for oranges. You rock. 


16 Comments on “brass tacks

Cathy Law
June 23, 2014 at 9:10 pm

That fox doesn’t stand a chance. Keep on keeping on, you wonderful people.

Sue Lee
June 23, 2014 at 9:20 pm

Out fox that cunning thing!

We love you W family 🙂

June 23, 2014 at 9:30 pm

Oh NO!! That’s awful!!
Could you raise them up high somehow like Hugh Fernley-Whittingstal did at River Cottage UK?

June 23, 2014 at 9:49 pm

Devastated for you – and worried about our own chooks “safe” behind feathernetting!

June 23, 2014 at 11:01 pm

Our hearts go out to you.

June 24, 2014 at 2:28 am

Ugh. What a blow. Another one. Glad to see that you feel buoyed by community, though. That is a blessing amidst the pain. It will be a story one day. Maybe not a particularly funny one but it will be just another story in a life of many! Good luck.

Kim Fenn-Lavington
June 24, 2014 at 7:21 am

Hey guys, I’m a local and have been following you on FB. What a bugger those foxes are. I was once told that geese are the greatest guard dogs to have on a farm with chickens. They can live together and make a heck of noise when under threat. Good luck with your future plans. I’m hoping to take one of your classes sometime in the future

June 24, 2014 at 9:12 am

Oh honey, my heart and thoughts are with you.
So frikkin heart breaking at time this farming stuff.
Can I suggest a Maremma or two?
We used to be responsible for feeding chicken to the entire fox population of this area until we got our dogs, never lost another chook to a fox since. The combination of the electric mesh and Maremma works perfectly for us.
Lots of love xx

Becs :: Think Big Live Simply
June 24, 2014 at 6:05 pm

Ah crap. Sure it’s a fox? What about a ferret? Hope whatever it is, you manage to solve the problem 🙂

Trudie Hood
June 24, 2014 at 8:52 pm

Even at times like this your drive and commitment is something very special we read your blog because we believe in what you do. You will fix the foxes and have plenty more chickens we are sure of that. Reading your blog always allows us to take a moment to be grateful for what we have each day and that you remind us to dig deep and and keep fighting for a better future with clean food. We hope tomorrow is a better day x

June 27, 2014 at 9:52 pm

Bloody foxes, you wouldn’t mind if they just took one here or there, but when they just kill everything, it’s heartbreaking. We lost 40 hens and guinea fowl in 1 night to a fox/foxes, it was heartbreaking as they were all my heritage breed laying hens, they just took the smaller ones and left the rest laying dead in the pen…you’ve just got to start again…and I haven’t made the mistake of getting so attached to my girls again…farming hardens us up that’s for sure…good luck, you do such fabulous things there..

June 30, 2014 at 11:14 pm

How’s Mum, hope all is well with her? Have there been any more signs of foxyloxy?

Liane Munro
July 5, 2014 at 6:35 pm

I agree Kate, I farmed free range organic chooks on a commercial scale (1400 give or take) back in the ’90’s and Maremma flock guardian dogs and electric fencing worked perfectly for me too.

All the best for the future Buena Vista Farm.

August 2, 2014 at 3:27 pm

I hope your trap was successful, There is nothing more devastating than seeing this type of destruction. For us the culprit was our own dog. Obviously she was not Maremma. 🙁 Keep going with the chickens though, I agree a man and a gun is not ideal but, better than a slow poison. On a brighter note, thank you for sharing your stories; I am always inspired to read your column on your lifestyle, and recipes and when we get back home from Dubai, I hope to be able to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle also. PS I hope I can read your articles again in House and Garden. Your articles were always the first to be read. Kind regards jacky

August 5, 2014 at 7:40 am

I also suggest maremmas, they could roam the farm outside the fences and would chase the foxes away. There’s a movie about them coming out soon about how they introduces them into an island to save penguins

August 28, 2014 at 9:29 am

I’m feeling your pain. We lost 2 hens to a fox in the MIDDLE of the day on Tuesday . We wre devastated but not as much as Beckham our rooster..he stood in the place where his favourite girl was taken for two hours. It broke my heart. Ours are safe at night but no idea how to free range them during the day now.


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