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FARM YARNS Autumn 2014

175 years from 1838

of farming to 2013

We would like to acknowledge generous support from the following organisations:

The Collingwood Children’s Farm are proud to acknowledge the Wurundjeri of the Kulin Federation as the traditional owners of the Abbotsford Precinct Heritage Farmlands, the land we respect, care for and farm on behalf of all Victorians. The Farm thanks all Wurundjeri Elders past and present, for their guardianship of these lands.

Farm Patron - Mrs Elizabeth Chernov, Government House

2013-14 Committee of Management Cheryl Cameron

Mikyla Hart

Netta McArthur (Pres.)

Helen Semmler (Sec.)

Lachlan Fitch

Lily O’Neill

Jessica Gillespe

Greg Sparks (V.Pres.)

Richard Ginsburg (Treas.)

Jane Ogilvie

Lachlan Turner

Cr Stephen Jolly

Alex Walker (Farm Manager) Farm Yarns is a quarterly publication from the Collingwood Children’s Farm (CCF). The CCF, a not-for-profit, educational small-holding city farm was established in 1979 as a “country experience for city folk”. The Farm is sited on the Abbotsford Precinct Heritage Farmlands, the oldest continually farmed land in Victoria (since 1836). The CCF is guided by a Committee of Management, elected annually. Front Cover photo - Piglets sleeping, snuffling, nibbling, running—it’s great fun! Rear Cover photo - Jerusalem Artichoke in all its glory in the Early Orchard.

175 years


of farming

Farm Manager

Alex Walker

Managers Report Wow has it been hot. With extreme heat

important jobs, plus many others are all done


by volunteers and it is their wonderful





officially experienced the hottest year since

combined effort that keeps the Farm going.

records began (and Melbourne its hottest consecutive weeks), it’s a tough time to be a

Amazingly, in amongst the heat we have had

working farm in the middle of a capital city.

quite a remarkable season for weddings at the

Because with all the built form that a city

Farm. So many couples are choosing to have

contains, heat does not dissipate as rapidly

their special day here; it is great to see them,

(especially in the evening) as if it was

their friends and family enjoying “the country

dominated by greenery. So as farmers we have

in the middle of city” for their big day. As

to carefully balance management of the limited

word is spreading and the Farm becomes more

resource that is the heritage paddocks that

popular, if you are considering having a farm

provide home, shelter and food for the animals

wedding please give me a call at the office. Be

that our visitors and the community benefit

quick, as we already have bookings for 2015.

from experiencing. Another amazing fact for this year involves the Without any substantial rain and the constant

number 35. Because it was 35 years ago that

heat, the paddocks have all browned off and


we are feeding out more grass hay than usual.

founded to serve the community by a socially-

However the Farm’s Integrated Paddock

minded group of individuals. And like the

Management Plan (IPMP) means that when

Sisters of the Good Shepherd responded to in

the rains do come (and please quickly thanks

the 1860’s-1870’s, this group were responding

weather gods) that the subsoil is in good

to local conditions at the time - poverty, crime,

condition to respond. As well as caring for the

unemployment and youth disengagement.





soil, we of course care for all our animals. During the recent heatwaves we ensure paddocks have adequate shelter, waters are

Below: Danny the Dorper sheep looking like he’s in the desert—actually he’s sitting on the sandpile!

topped up twice daily and any distressed animals are immediately attended to. The pigs get extra-full wallows and the guinea pigs iced -water bottles to sit next to. Volunteers have once again been doing some outstanding work across the Farm, from Peter helping in administration, to fencing work, gardening and cleaning it is a mountain of tasks these willing workers complete. These



175 years

of farming

And just like the Sisters 112 years before them, their response was to found a farm to positively address these issues. What incredible vision it must have taken to envisage the benefit of a city farm for young people at this point in Australia’s history, because





establishing the first such “experiment” in the country. And if they had not acted, the surrounding area might be very different to the open paddocks and grazing animals everyone experiences and benefits from now. So we give a huge thanks to this group of pioneers and the many supporters, volunteers and workers who came after; you have all contributed to make the Farm the vibrant community resource that it is today. Our close neighbour, the Abbotsford Convent

Above: Gary making sure Ivy drinks plenty of water during the recent heatwave (image Sam Imbrogno)

arts precinct is also celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. It is worth remembering

Anita has been working with the parents and

that the community rose up and fought for the

carers of our Young Farmer’s and has almost

combined survival of both Farm and the

completed a roster for the year to help at the

buildings of the former convent. That the site

Farmer’s Market and Family Day. Thank you

was not substantially turned into a sea of

to all for your support, as the funds raised

boring box-apartments is a testimony to true

through these events supports the program.

people power. We wish our immediate Regular visitors and users of Saint Heliers

neighbour a happy birthday.

Street will notice there have been several The Young Farmers are back, which is great.

changes to its layout, and operation of the

The staff miss their energy and enthusiasm for


the Farm when they are not here. For those


who commenced the program this year, along

stakeholders, have removed on-street parking,

with equine care and farm chores there is

installed a turning circle, extra seating and

expanded garden space, so there will be a

increased bicycle rack numbers in order to

competition to see whether Saturday’s or

make Saint Heliers a much more people-

Sunday’s group grow the best vegetables.



City with




of local





in and


175 years


of farming

Foundation (ACF), which runs the carpark has

eighteen Melbourne University Veterinary

installed new equipment that aims to create a


more equitable payment system (as most

experience and they have fitted in well.






visitors were found to be paying the full-day price for a short-term visit). Please feel free to

The European Federation of City Farms

provide any feedback on the works to either

(EFCF) has had another international city farm

the CoY or ACF.

become an associate member. As we were the first, this is a very exciting development—it

The Summer months saw many visitors

means we are not alone! Perhaps one day there

through the gate (approximately 20,000 across

will be a world-wide association of city farms,

this time) which is up on what we had across


the same time period last year. All the events

member is located in Oregon, USA, and you

held over Summer worked well. We have had

can find out more about them on pages 18-19.





Below: Hot-air balloons drift silently over the February Farmer’s Market—a bit too early to do any shopping though ...



175 years

of farming

Family Day’s have now commenced for 2014; if you have any input

March’s should have all the regular fun as well

on the Farm’s planning.

as a visit from a rabbit shelter (in May it will be Donkey Day). So pop down on the first

Team Leader Bridget Bainbridge is working

Sunday of the month and enjoy the barbeque,

with consultants Jim and Josh from Sinclair

pony/tractor rides and perhaps learn about

Knight Merz (SKM) on a plan for sustainable

caring for bugs and his friends.

management of the agribusiness aspect of the Farm. They have already spent a day visiting

Speaking of events—even though it is several

and walking the Farm with Bridget.

months away, don’t forget to purchase your Winter Solstice Bonfire tickets online at as none are available for

Below: Just some of the tasty fruit and vegetables recently spotted in the orchards and garden beds

purchase at the door on the night. Planning for a sustainable future The Committee of Management (COM) are excited to announce that the Farm will be developing a ‘Plan for the Future’ to establish and embed good governance, work practices and programs that will support the ongoing sustainability of the Farm. We would love your input into our plan. To support this the planning process has been designed to be inclusive and collaborative. Some of the activities planned to facilitate this include: Planning workshops for all staff (including volunteers and casuals), COM and Planning Sub-Committee




organised from March to July Regular updates to our Farm Members, Farmers Market, volunteers, visitors, the Abbotsford Convent, City of Yarra and the Department of Education and Childhood Development (DECD) Please feel free to contact me, Alex Walker, Farm Manager on 9417 5806 (or email


175 years



of farming

175 CELEBRATION WEEK PHOTOS Local band The Orbweavers delighted everybody with their performance 2 Wurundjeri Elder Bill Nicholson guiding the smoking ceremony during his ‘Welcome to country’ 3 Master of Ceremonies Rod Quantock opening ‘Future Farming” evening 1





175 years

Team Leaders

of farming Bridget Bainbridge/ Nick Karavokiros

Over the last few months we have had a few

He is very friendly and inquisitive and is

changes of staff. We welcome our new staff

currently sharing a paddock with Zac. Olly

Tomas, Andy, Nick Evans, Jacinta and Ellie.

replaces Ted the big black horse, who has been

You will see them around the Farm in different

leased out currently to have a break.

roles and might be lucky enough to have them taking a party or educational tour for you.

Last week we took delivery of a new calf. Her name is Finna (pronounced Fiona), she is a one

We say a sad farewell to Charlotte and Emma,

-month old Ayrshire, who we hope will one

both of whom have moved to the Mornington

day become our next milking cow. Once she

Peninsula. They both tried commuting but

had worked out where the milk came from in

have found a 2-hour car journey to work a bit

this strange new place, she settled right in and

much! Thank you both for your dedication,

is currently happily in Tag Paddock (this

hard work and good humour over the past few

morning she was running laps). When her skin

years. Good luck for your futures by the beach,

condition heals she can go and live with B2 for

we will miss you here. Another staff matter is

some bovine company. At the moment she is

that Nick Karavokiros our other Team Leader

simply enjoying discovering her new home.

is finally back full time. Hooray! Other new faces around the farm belong to

Below: New calf Finna, happy in Tag Paddock (especially now she knows where the milk’s coming from) (image Bridget Bainbridge)

animals not people. Our new cow, B2, has settled into her new role as Farm milking cow as though she has been doing it for years. She is very focused on her food, which makes her easy to reward. Like our other dairy cow, Biddy, she is also an Australian Dairy Shorthorn. B2 is kindly on temporary loan to us from Malcolm Douglas (a dairy farmer near Shepparton), as Heather the Ayrshire had slipped her calf which left us without a milking cow for demonstrations. A great opportunity for children to learn about the lactation cycles of dairy cattle! Olly (Orlando) is our new horse. He arrived just before Christmas and has also settled in well, although is still learning the ropes. Olly is a 15.1hh, part Arab, part Australian Stockhorse and is also very focussed on food!


175 years

of farming

Danny the “lamb/goat” has been and gone and what a cutie he was. A hand-raised Dorper lamb, he is officially a sheep but did seem to possess quite a few goatish qualities (for instance he liked being patted, was into everything and very very curious). He has now returned to the farm he was born on and planning to be a lead sheep (one who other sheep will follow into yards, new paddocks, etc which makes handling the flock quicker/ easier and less stressful on everyone). The orchards are growing plenty of fruit and vegetables. This year we have had fantastic crops of apricots and plumcots, however the apples got sunburnt in the recent heatwaves. The corn is looking fabulous, zucchinis we can Below: Tomatoes—very late but looking amazing (image Bridget Bainbridge)

Above: The garden beds, where the corn is a high as an elephant’s eye … well a horse’s maybe! (image Bridget Bainbridge)

hardly keep up with and the cucumbers beautiful (they were a washout last year and I’m still not quite sure why these ones are so good!). The tomatoes are late late late but looking very luscious ripening on their vines, and the beans (planted around a cubby) we hope with both produce lots to eat, as well as forming a living-roof in time (this will make a really good hiding spot for smaller people). We have also removed the central dividing fence in the orchards (with quite a lot of trepidation) but I’m glad we did, it makes the area much easier to move around and more inviting. Thanks to everyone involved in this making and supporting this change. Everyone keeps asking us “where is Ivy?”. Well, Ivy has gone back to Katie the dog




175 years

of farming

trainer (who is her favourite person in the

Recently we had a meeting with an agronomist

world) to begin her training to become a

and a riparian waterways specialist to look at

“super dog” (aka autism assistance dog) for a

ways we could improve the Farm and increase

child. I felt very sad she was leaving me and

its self-reliance. The discussion was very

the Farm until Katie told me she was going to

fruitful and I am looking forwards to our next

be boarding (during her training) with a

meeting with some more concrete plans we

family with four children. I knew that would

can implement to improve the Farm.

be so exciting and so much fun for Ivy, how could I feel sad about that?! She has settled in

Finally, the newly planted native revegetation

with her new family very well by all accounts

along the river bank is going well. Regular

but is still trying to work out a way to get into

watering has helped a lot survive over the dry

their chook pen, not to chase the chooks, just to

and hot spell. I am hoping for a reasonable

eat the eggs ... Ivy!

outcome in plants surviving into next Summer.

Below: Walnuts in the Late Orchard—pity that the possums and White Cockatoos have been harvesting them early!


175 years

of farming

Community Gardens

Toni Phillips

After such a long and very hot Summer the

in fact Leonardo Da Vinci designed a

plots have shown how resilient gardens not at

helicopter with the rotor blades copying the

home can be. It becomes increasingly obvious

propulsion mechanism of seeds.

the variation in the plots, some are very productive and lush whilst others look much drier and barren. To seed or not to seed, that is the question Gardening in a public space is very different from private gardening at home because we have to always be mindful of the broader community and neighbours. Letting plants go to seed and self-sow can be a very good way of determining where seeds will germinate and grow best; I like to call it plants growing themselves (humans are so redundant).

Above: Seeds can be useful and productive or prone to spread and become invasive (image Toni Phillips)

Meet the plotter - Ivan Hextor. When Ivan (pictured on page 12) was allocated a plot last December he thought that it was the best Christmas present ever. Ivan, who lives in Clifton Hill and is a media maker, waited only seven years for his name to come up. He loves to bring his grandchildren to the Farm and involve them with the plot. One of them, Zac, is so keen he asks if they better go and check However, here at the Farm we must always be

on the veggies. Ivan loves everything about

mindful that your neighbours may not have

the plot - the new friends and neighbours, the

the same taste and desire for particular plants

experience and most of all eating wonderful

as you. Seeds can spread over great distances,

organic self-grown produce.




175 years

of farming

Above: Meet the plotter—Ivan Hextor happily watering in his newly-allocated plot (image Toni Phillips)

GUINEA PIG NEWS Regular visitors may have noticed a swish new “retirement apartment” in the Guinea Pig Room for two of our oldest girls, Nutmeg and Ginze. Having earned a quiet retirement after being cuddled for many years, both girls are enjoying themselves in their new accommodation. If they are your favourites, please ask a staff member so you can still give them a little cuddle.  UPDATE  Sadly Nutmeg passed away a few days after this article was written. We miss her but are pleased she spent her last days living in peace and luxury.


175 years

of farming

It’s that time of year!

Poultry sales have commenced at the Farm for 2014. As always, there are limited numbers of breeds available so the early customer gets the bird! Please see Reception or call 9417 5806 to discuss prices and collection details.




175 years

of farming

An unexpected visitor ... history! The history of the Abbotsford Precinct Heritage Farmlands (APHF) since European settlement in 1835 is of course inexorably tied to the Sisters of the Good Shepherd farming the land for 112 years. Their agricultural tenure is unique on a local, State, National and world heritage level. Throughout this period the Sisters utilised farmland to support their socially-positive community works. Their farming use (and therefore protection from development) means today the APHF are the only example of Melbourne’s inner-city 19th-century agricultural landscape remaining for us to understand, interpret and enjoy. A positive, powerful and enduring legacy. The APHF are also the only example of the Sister’s Melbourne agricultural heritage. They actually established two convent farms, Abbotsford and Saint James. Located in Oakleigh and established in 1883, Saint James’ thirty acres of agricultural land was sold in the 1950-60’s to allow for the Chadstone Shopping Centre. Tragically, in 1984 the entire building complex of Saint James was demolished to extend the Chadstone Shopping carpark. Nothing of it remains today. As many of the “original” Good Shepherd Sisters are now becoming quite old, it is increasingly difficult for them to visit the Farm and enjoy their legacy. We were therefore thrilled to be visited by Sister Val, who was active at Saint James before its closure. Sister Val thoroughly enjoyed her walk through the Farm and took time to say hello to Biddy, one of our Australian Dairy Shorthorns.

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PHOTOS Strolling towards the Barn, a timeless moment Sister Val and Biddy the milking cow meet, each inspecting the other


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175 years

of farming

Recent Farm Weddings

Clare & Phil




175 years

of farming

The long and short of it

Andrew Phillips

Over the past two months Farm visitors have


been able to enjoy a glimpse into the past and future of the Australian sheep industry. Not the part that produces silky-smooth, high micron-density





catwalks of Milan or Beijing, but rather the future of what might end up on your dinner table (if you are so inclined). The Farm has been providing temporary


accommodation for a Dorper lamb, Danny (although confusingly at this stage he looks a bit like a goat). Dorpers represent a broad movement towards both embracing breeds that are better suited to the dry (and getting dryer) Australian continent, plus tackling the critical sheep welfare issue that is Flystrike. This is due to the fact they have a bare-breech rear, and are a self-shedding wool breed. Dorpers have been farmed in Australia since

Africa (a cross of the Dorset Horn and Black

1996 and were originally developed in South

Persian). They are an extremely hardy animal, being able to survive off rough country and still convert good bodyweight. Ewes are fertile with excellent mothering characteristics, and the breed requires no or little chemical interventions (so are very popular on organic farms). Standing alongside our rare breed English Leicesters or Shropshires, Danny presents a great opportunity for comparison.



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PHOTOS Danny’s bare–breech rear will ensure he is never worried by Flystrike, unlike many other sheep breeds common in Australia Ovine past, present and future in the one photo Danny’s flank, showing where his coat will selfshed (twice every year)


175 years

of farming

Help build a better farm! Are you a carpenter, bricklayer, stonemason, solid plasterer, architect, engineer or surveyor? The Farm would like to hear your good advice and occasionally ask for physical help on a working bee. You can do this by joining the Farm’s Building Sub-Committee. We meet once a month. Come and join with us to improve the Farm with your thoughts and actions! Greg Sparks, Chairperson Building Sub-Committee

Farmland since 1838

Based in Olinda, Rabbit Run-Away is Victoria’s only specialist rabbit rescue shelter. They have a no-kill policy. Its aim is to educate people about proper rabbit care and behaviour (often contrary to most things pet stores inform). They visit schools teaching children about looking after pet rabbits, and last year took part in the Melbourne Show. As they receive no funding, they are always looking for volunteers and donations to assist running costs. They are visiting on March Family Day, and will be bringing rabbits for children to meet, touch as well as setting up a stall with educational games and talks to teach children about keeping rabbits. You will have the opportunity to ask any questions and talk to some of the carers about the rabbits, volunteering/adoption and visiting the orphanage. FARMLAND SINCE 1838



175 years

of farming

A growing international family

Andrew Phillips

When the Farm became an associate member

of the European Federation of City Farms


(EFCF) in 2012, we became part of a family of over 500 city farms across Europe. Becoming

Salem is the State Capital of Oregon, located

the first “international” member of the EFCF

on the West Coast of the USA. It has a growing

was an incredible achievement for the Farm,

population of around 150,000 inhabitants and

and hopefully marks the beginning of an

surrounding metropolitan area, over 350,000

expansion that could see the eventual creation

residents. The area’s economy is primarily

of a world-wide association of city farms. But

focused on agriculture and food-processing.

someone had to be the first! We are therefore very excited to share that another city farm outside of Europe has become the second international associate member of the EFCF. Where you might ask? In the good old U-S-of-A! Located in Salem, Oregon, the Marion-Polk Food Share and 4-H Youth Development Youth Farm (MPFS4H) is part of a 100-strong network of direct service charities whose aim is to “end hunger [in their local communities]”. Towards achieving this

Above: Where you will find Salem, Oregon, home of the latest international EFCF associate member

goal, they annually distribute an incredible 4.5 million kilograms of food. They also operate a

The goal of 4-H is to “develop citizenship,

food-recovery program, community kitchen,

leadership, responsibility and life skills of

community gardens, grow substantial food

youth through experiential learning programs

crops as well as running their 4-H Youth

and a positive youth development approach”.


Operating in over 80 countries today, 4-H





amount of work!

began in the USA in the early 1900’s and is administered by the National Institute of Food

And like the Farm, the MPFS4H produces a


quarterly newsletter, “The Harvester”, as

Department of Agriculture (USDA).







way of sharing information, stories and inspiration about their important work in the

So to our new international family member all

community they serve. Please find opposite on

the way in Salem, Oregon, we say a big

page 19 the front page of their latest (Winter

‘gudday’ and very much look forward to

2014) edition—you can go to their website and

developing the relationship between our two


positive social organisations.







175 years

of farming




175 years

of farming

The Farm & the environment Pigs in paddocks? Whatever next! Regular

pigs benefit directly from having a large

and new visitors might be wondering why

space to express healthy physical activity, as

the boar Jacob and one of our sows, Greta,


have been moved down the back of the Farm

discovering a new environment away from

to Aleisha’s Paddock. There are several


important reasons why this is happening.

different mental challenges is common










practice in Zoos across the world). Firstly, pig are intelligent and sensitive creatures. And just like humans, their living

Secondly, is the Farm’s Integrated Paddock

environment can strongly affect overall


physical and mental health and wellbeing.

embraces and supports this natural porcine

Every animal has an innate series of natural

behaviour to benefit both animal and the

behaviours that should be allowed to freely

land we care for. How exactly does this

occur for them to have a full and positive life.

work? Working as living bulldozers, when

These natural behaviours are called “animal

pigs hunt through the soil they perform a

expression”. For example, one way chickens

variety of positive functions.




express themselves is through scratching in dirt. Remove the potential for this natural

They break up compacted or hard soils,

activity from a chicken’s environment and


you greatly diminish its quality of life. Stress

themselves. Often they will disrupt the life

will then result in the chicken becoming

cycles of invasive weeds, allowing native

unwell, depressed and aggressive towards

species to compete on an equal footing. The

itself and other birds.

digging action of their snouts also allows for



plants to establish

oxygen to reach the sub-soil (vital for soil A major porcine expression reveals itself in

health). Plus the myriad of holes they make

the desire to turn over soil (using their

dramatically slows the speed of flowing

snouts) and search for edible wild foods such

water, so when it rains more moisture is

as grasses, roots, fungus and invertebrate

retained and erosion is reduced. When they

life. Driven by their incredible sense of smell,

defecate, they fertilise and improve the soil

pigs have strong facial muscles that can turn

as this composts down.

over a large amount of soil daily. Those with long, pointy snouts (such as Tamworths) are

Across Australia, many farmers are using the

the most proficient at turning soil. Shorter-

power of the pig to improve the lives of both

snouted pigs (like the Kune Kune from New

their animals and soils. It allows them to

Zealand) are better at grazing grasses. The

have a healthy and fully expressed life. And

Farm’s rare breed Berkshires fall into the

just like many of our country cousins, at the

middle ground—quite good at both grazing

Farm we make sure that all our animals have

and turning the soil. So here at the Farm our

the best life possible we can give them.


175 years


of farming




4 1 2 3 4

PHOTOS Greta getting busy snuffling and digging ... ... then showing us how beautiful she is Close-up showing what an effective bulldozer a pig can be (almost 20cm deep in parts) One of several pig “quarries” in the paddock



175 years

of farming


3 2 PHOTOS (1-4) Two lovely large Clydesdales, Carlton and Alley, visited the Farm as part of 175 Celebrating Farming Week. With owners John and Simone they expertly raked Ricky’s Paddock and delighted everyone who saw these gentle giants in action.


(image 1 Sam Imbrogno)


175 years

of farming

Diary of an urban chicken fancier Poultry owner Jenni Rice has contributed the

them. So I feel like a rare breed myself. To me

following article:

poultry are not only about eggs and they should not be in battery cages—ever. Anyway, I digress.

DIARY OF AN URBAN CHICKEN FANCIER I am serious about chooks even though I live in the

For the last ten years, to continue keeping some

city, in Northcote. I was born and bred in the city.

examples of the purebreeds I used to purchase day-

Until ten years ago I used to breed Barnevelders (a

old purebred chickens from other fanciers on the

beautiful rare purebreed of poultry originating in

rural outskirts of Melbourne; and I then had to

Holland over 100 years ago) in my backyard. I held

dispose of the cockerels. Mostly they were donated

a Rooster Permit from the City of Darebin, which

to a friend who was prepared to slaughter and dress

required that all my adjoining neighbours annually

them before they became of crowing age, in

signed off an agreement which acknowledged that

exchange for the delicacy of a gamey, free-ranged

there would be crowing at dawn from my two

bird (which is also now a thing of the past through

roosters, and that they were prepared to accept it.

regular stores). He was always excited to receive them, whilst for me, although resolved to their fate,

This was an agreement that had been sustained for

I quietly mourned their loss; both the beauty of the

about ten years at that stage (with goodwill and free

birds, but also the loss of potential because they

-flowing eggs) until one of my neighbours moved,

may have matured into fine specimens and

and their house was then occupied by a new family

progenitors of a next generation of quality

who would not sign. Not only would they not sign

offspring. But it could not be.

they complained loudly and regularly to the Darebin Council until they succeeded in having my

Last year, a lot changed. On two occasions over the

permit rescinded. My roosters had to go and there

Summer of 2012/13 my urban chicken run was

was nothing I could do about it.

visited by foxes. It seems foxes don’t recognize that they are living in the city where council has told

At around the same time, Darebin Council put in a

people not to breed chooks in their backyards! In the

by-law which prohibited the keeping of roosters by

space of three months, my flock was decimated. I

any householder in the municipality. This spelled

was left with only four of my most aged and least

the end for all backyard poultry breeders in the City

productive birds; and I was bereft.

of Darebin (it is my understanding that these laws have been since reproduced throughout the whole of

I now had the practical problem of how to rebuild a

larger Melbourne). Hence these days it is nigh

purebred laying flock at short notice. So I followed

impossible to secure quality purebreed poultry

up a few breeders on the outskirts of Melbourne

within 100km’s of the city. And even then the range

only to find that birds of my preferred breeds,

of breeds is quite limited and diminishing, because

Plymouth Rock, Blue Australorp and Barnevelder

it is only crazy fanciers like me who value the

were very hard to locate and source at point of lay

heritage purebreeds of chook for their beauty and

without driving to Mildura, Swan Hill or

their distinctiveness, and who wish to preserve





175 years

of farming

All these locations of course involved very long

liberated at auction, where they could have an

drives, and even then the numbers of good quality

opportunity to enhance the quality and the gene

point of lay pullets were low. It wasn’t worth the

pool of breeding flocks on Melbourne’s outskirts! I

petrol or time. There was no alternative – I would

didn’t know what to do, but this time I also didn’t

have to return to breeding and incubating my own

want to let my friend have them for chicken dinner.

chicks. But I needed eggs of course and that was the next obstacle ...

As an old-fashioned baby boomer luckily I have friends who like me are aging hippies and greenies,

I am a modern baby boomer. So the internet and

dedicated to sustainable agriculture and farming,

Facebook came to the rescue. Fertile eggs from show

slow food, etc but who also like me have never

breeders were available in Queensland, Tasmania

moved out of town (yet!). One of these friends,

and happily for my Barnies, not far out of Ballarat.

Greg, is also a friend of the Collingwood Children’s

So around July 2013, a dozen Plymouth Rock eggs

Farm. When three weeks ago I let my situation and

(from Queensland) and a dozen Blue Australorp

the feared plight of these three cockerels be known,

eggs (from Tasmania) winged their way by express

he offered to help.

post to my door and into my incubator. There were of course cockerels as well as pullets which hatched.

I was amazed but also hopeful, and then very

So in September 2013 I sold at auction in Bacchus

relieved and happy. They are very lucky chooks!

Marsh six ten-week old Black Australorp cockerels

They will now be able to crow to their heart’s

which are now destined to breed.

delight without disturbing anyone. Whomever buys them at auction will be buying city celebrity

I retained two Plymouth Rock cockerels and one

chooks. As a way of thanking Greg I intend to

Blue Australorp cockerel in order to grow them to

donate the proceeds of the auction to the Farm and

adolescence and allow them to reveal their form,

offer my help to it in the future.

with the full intention also of putting them to auction at the end of February 2014 as “working”

I have not only written this story because Greg

cockerels ready to reproduce.

thought it would be interesting to others, but also because I need to express my gratitude for getting

However I ran into a snag because they all started

me (and the boys) out of a tight situation. Without

to crow about six weeks before the next poultry

this assistance they may well have had to be

auction at Bacchus Marsh. They all started to crow

slaughtered. All without regard to the quality of

just after New Year, right on cue at the normal age

their breeding or potential contribution to the

of five months. It was very bad planning on my

protection and survival of rare heritage breeds of

part. I became uneasy, even panicky. The spectre of

poultry which are becoming scarcer every day. It is

my rooster-phobic neighbour reared up in my

now much more likely that they will go on to breed,

nightmares and I envisioned the council ranger

so I wish to say a big thank you for supporting my

taking away my handsome purebred boys to

small efforts to conserve heritage poultry.

slaughter. And just when they were about to be

[submission edited for brevity purposes]


FARM YARNS Next edition due out 1st day of Winter

Collingwood Children’s Farm PO Box 80 Abbotsford 3067


Farmland since 1838

Farm phone: 9417 5806 Email: Website:

Family Fun Days First Sunday of the month (no Family Fun Day in January)

Also enjoy hay rides and pony rides (when available), and other farm activities all for price of standard entry.

Farmer’s Market

Where to find us St Heliers Street, Abbotsford Melways Ref 44 G5 Open every day of the year Entry: $16 Family $8 Adult $4 Child

The concept of a supported held the second Saturday of volunteer program is unique to every month for beautiful our farm. Originally it was fresh,as quality produce. Proknown the Disability gram, but we prefer to focus on abilities rather than the lack of them … just like the renamed RDA riding program! You may ask why the program exists and what are the benefits of it to the participants and the farm. In the case of special school students, both in class groups

COllingwood Farm Autumn 2014 (1)