In our local area, (Macedon Ranges), Josh's Rainbow Eggs are well known. Initially being sold at farmers markets and then making their way into the stores, Josh, aged 12, offers a local, free-range alternative to the mass produced eggs on offer. Sister Jess has branched out into flowers and sells her vibrant coloured blooms at the markets along with brother Jack, aka Sugar Snap Jack, who is growing his own beans and peas to earn a bit of pocket money.
It was so interesting to wander around this beautiful farm and take in the extensive infrastructure that goes with it...
The family raises four flocks of hens a year from day old chicks. Three of the flocks are laying hens that keep the eggs in good supply with the fourth being a meat flock for the family's own consumption.
The chicks are kept inside the fully fenced and netted espalier fruit orchard, safely out of harms reach of the foxes that roam the valley..
In the five acre fox proof run that houses the 900 laying hens, twelve year old Josh, a natural at addressing a group, explains the intricacies of his egg business...
Attendees are invited to collect their own eggs..
The chook tractor is a fine piece of work and cleverly designed with roosting quarters in the center and nesting boxes lining the outer edges. Eggs are collected twice a day and the tractor takes half an hour to move, which is substantially quicker than the family's previous set up.
Hens are kept on a commercial organic diet which is supplemented with home sprouted barley grass and garlic infused cider vinegar. The hens are also free to dust bathe to keep parasites at bay. Everything the family does with the hens in mind is kept as natural as possible, "Letting the chickens behave exactly like chickens" as Josh so eloquently puts it.
The tour winds it's way out of the fenced hen area to Tamsyn's vegetable garden.
The family is completely self-sufficient in fruit and vegetables, with the exception of bananas, which according to the children, a childhood just isn't complete without!
Moving on to the glasshouse, we are shown how the seedling are raised for later transplanting..
The berry area with sturdy supports for the scrambling canes. Blackberries, raspberries and youngberries are grown, along with blueberries in the adjoining plot.
Walking up the hill a little way reveals the polytunnel. No ordinary plastic lined polytunnel, this one has adjustable sides which are raised or lowered in a moment, depending on the weather conditions and the plants' needs. The addition of the polytunnel has significantly lengthened the growing season for the Murray family.
..making harvesting a whole lot easier!
Aside from tomatoes, the polytunnel is home to members of the squash family including tromboncino, gem squash and buttercup pumpkins. Not to mention sweet potatoes and the most delicious looking passionfruit I have ever seen!
The tour wound up with James' coverage on the Dorper sheep and pig experiences the family have faced recently along with down to earth, honest advice for those thinking of taking up food farming themselves.
It was a fantastic day out and I have come back with so much from the experience.
Thankyou to the Murray family for being such gracious hosts and allowing us a glimpse into your fascinating and inspiring lifestyle.
Click here for more information on on Seven Hills Organic Farm