Hazelcombe Farm Scything Plus Workshop Festival April 2013

I’ve marked this one in my diary for 2013.

A Celebration Of Traditional Crafts

Horses arrivingDates: Friday 12th April to Sunday 14th April 2013

Location: Hazelcombe FarmTotnes Valley, NSW (40 km north east of Mudgee).

Weekend fee: $200 per adult (all meals included). Children 6 to 14 $50, and under 6 years of age free. For those who can only come on the Saturday $100 (all meals included). Early bird discounts apply. If you are skilled in a traditional craft that you wish to pass on, talk to us – we are offering discounts for craftsmen and women who can be fitted into the program.

Registration: Of necessity, numbers will have to be limited so first in first served. For the first time we are offering an Early Bird Discount if you book before 28 February 2013. You can book on the website here. No dogs please … we’ve enough here already.

Whippets relaxingDescription Of The Weekend

During the weekend we hold numerous demonstrations and workshops of traditional crafts. Because of the number of craftsmen and women contributing, there are generally several activities going on simultaneously. Some activities, such as scything and scythe sharpening, will be repeated.

A “Blade Shearer” from New Zealand will hopefully be here to demonstrate sheep shearing by hand.

Workshops And Demonstrations For October

Dan peeningIt is a bit early to be able to firm up the workshops and demonstration that will be held, but there is a strong likelihood that these ones will be on (scything, sharpening, milking, bread making, market garden and sauerkraut making will be held come rain or shine!)

All aspects of scything and sharpening the bladeMax scything
This will include selecting the right blade for the job at hand, fitting your scythe to you for best mowing results, peening with a jig, with the anvil and table, and introduction to freehand peening, honing with a whetstone, mowing techniques for different kinds of grasses and plants, tips on maintaining your blade and how to avoid damaging your blade. All ages can scythe … Max Ward is 6 years old and working with a snath (scythe handle) made by his Dad!!

Learning to ploughHorse drawn ploughing and soil preparation
Donny Hobbs will be working a small section of our land with his heavy horse and horse drawn implements. Often he has a young horse in training. The implements he uses are a plough, a scarifier, and a harrow to prepare the seed bed. He then gets some of the kids to walk around broadcasting seed, after which he harrows the field again. He instructs people on how to guide the plough while he controls the horse. Be prepared – it’s hard work! To find out some more about Donny and have a look at some of the old tools and equipment he has collected over the years, follow the link … Don Hobbs

Making sauerkrautMaking sauerkraut
Sauerkraut is one of the healthiest and tastiest foods we can add to our diet – and it’s easy to make. We’ll be making a batch of sauerkraut and talking about how to do it and how to avoid things going wrong. Help grate and mash the cabbage, and taste a batch that was made several weeks previously. The sauerkraut is made in our traditional salt-glazed fermenting crockpots from Germany. An ingenious yet simple design with a well of water around the lid that makes it air tight, but allows the carbon dioxide produced during the fermentation to escape.

Tilly's birthMilking the family cow
Actually we have 3 milking cows and 2 milking goats. We are milking one of the cows and by April we will also be milking the two little does. You’ll meet Nellie and her calf Tillie, and our two heifers Katie and Maggie. These are all tiny little black Dexters. The grown cows only come up to my waist. And then there are Gabrielle and Genvieve, two beautiful young Saanen does. We will be milking them too. You can see the milking stall we’ve build and get ideas for building one yourselves if you want to start on the milking adventure.

Making fosfitoMaking 3 different biofertilisers
Ian Moy, biodynamic farmer from down Canberra way, demonstrates how to make 3 different biofertilisers. Originally designed by a group of Mexican scientists to help farmers escape the clutches of the big agrochemical companies, each of the fertilisers can be made from either farm waste or products readily available to the farmer. They have been designed to strengthen the plant’s immune system rather than attack the pest or disease.

He makes fosfito, which is a silicon phosphorous fertiliser, lime sulphur which deters pathogenic fungis from attacking the plants, and Biofert, a fascinating concoction that is reminiscent of some of the biodynamic mixtures – very fresh cow manure, whey and yeast to name just a couple of the ingredients. You’ll learn how to make them, how to use them and what they’re good for.

You can also talk to Ian about setting up vegetable gardens and lots more. He provides courses on his farm Kalyarni Natural Farms. Ian also brings along natural cleaning products for sale so stock up while you’re here.

BlacksmithingOur blacksmith
Peter Birchall is a passionate blacksmith from Sydney. Last workshop we only managed to get him away from his forge to sleep and eat. He’ll show you how to light the forge, how to judge the heat of the metal by its colour, and he’ll probably make a tool or two. We have one forge and two anvils so a couple of people can be working at the same time. Last workshop one of the participants made a hook for the new rocket oven – the first time she had ever tried blacksmithing!

Ed sharpening knivesTool sharpening (other than scythe blades)
Most people peen in order to scythe. But a very few special people scythe in order to peen. Ed Adamthwaite is just such a person. He has a passion for sharpening tools. Not only will you be able to watch and learn from him how to sharpen your scythe blade, he will also take my kitchen knives or any other tool we have lying around and bring them up to a superb level of sharpness.

I watched once while Ed sharpened a classic pocket knife. Feeling it wasn’t quite right, he finished the job with a final polishing with a 6,000 grit paste!

Growing vegetables naturally
We have started a market garden on our farm – well, Christine Corner and we have. Christine is an experience organic market gardener who sells both locally and into the Sydney market. Over the next few months, we hope to get a whole lot planted. The jerusalem artichokes are in. So are the potatoes and horseradish. Christine reckons we need to grow green manures because the soil in the paddock we are converting to a market garden needs a lot of help. We’re also going to regularly put out worm juice and worm castings. The trick will be to stop our wonderful bird life from eating every green shoot that comes out of the ground. The beds will probably have to be netted.

Christine hopes to make some money from the market garden and we hope to get all the vegetables we need for our workshops.

Come and have a look at the market garden and let Christine explain to you how we’ve achieved it and where she’ll be taking it from here.

For the last workshop, I not only baked the bread myself, but used our very new rocket bread oven to do so, which is capable of holding 24 x 1 kg loaves at the one time. Nothing like homemade bread!

A rocket bread oven is a highly efficient thermal mass oven that is powered by kindling. This has been built in the “kitchen” we have added to the new workshop shed in which we all gather for meals and socialising. So the bread baking is incorporated into the workshops instead of tucked away in our small farm kitchen.

You can help knead the dough or feed the oven with kindling. Come and have a look at our oven, or if you are interested, check out the internet to find plans. This is where we got ours from …http://www.rocketstove.org/index.php/bread-ovens. Or ask Ed Adamthwaite about the oven – he built it for us!

herbsHow to use herbs and weeds from your garden for medicinal purposes
Jeanette Bunter will be talking and showing us how to use herbs and weeds from our gardens for medicinal purposes. Working with herbs is in her blood. Back as far as she can remember, when she was a tiny child in Switzerland, her grandmother was collecting herbs and showing Jeanette how to use them. It was part of the lore, passed on from grandmother to granddaughter. Since migrating to Australia, Jeanette has furthered her study in Herbalism with Denis Stewart (Southern Cross Herbal School) and with Pat Collins ( Total Health & Education Centre) in Muswellbrook.

Other workshops and demonstrations that have been held in the past and could be held this time, and ones that we are talking about including:

  • green wood woodworking – a “Bodger” from Wodonga may be here (see photo of Adam at shaving horse below)
  • tanning a hide
  • slaughtering and dressing a chicken (see photo of Donny below)
  • making biochar
  • cheese making
  • fly fishing (dry land – without the water)
  • making compost toilets – we have a couple of different styles for you to choose from
  • making a compost heap
  • making hay
  • making a chicken tractor
  • making a mobile milking stall
  • starting a fire with ancient tools
  • cell grazing (time controlled grazing) explained and demonstrated
  • David George’s collection of axes. If he can come, he’ll also show you how to fit an axe handle and sharpen an axe. Here is his website so you can see the wonderful array of tools he has and sells …www.axeoexa.com (see photo below for some of his many axes)
  • shaving with a cut-throat razor (see photo of Paul taking his life in his hands below)
  • growing mushrooms
  • renewable energy – we are all solar – off the grid. For the last couple of workshops, we’ve been trying to get a dear friend down to talk about renewable energy. Lyndon Field wrote the first NSW TAFE course on renewable energy so he knows what he’s talking about.
  • aquaponics – another couple of dear friends, Matt and Shannida Herbert, have written one of the defining books on Aquaponics. They’ve been to a couple of our workshops, but have hidden their own light under a bushel. We’ll have to get them to talk about aquaponics next time. Check out their website … www.aquaponics.com.au
  • beekeeping – a friend who is also a commercial beekeeper is coming to the workshop and bringing us bees for our beehive. I’m sure we’ll be able to convince him to talk about beekeeping while he’s populating our hive and settling our new bees in.

Cut throat razor shavingGreen woodworking

Killing a chickenAxe display

As activities firm up, we’ll update this website.

Our workshops weekend grew out of a need to show people how to use and take care of their scythes, but the weekends have become so much more. They are a celebration of traditional crafts, a place to see them being practised and to meet others fascinated by these skills. I hope that you come away from the weekend with your mind buzzing with possibilities and with a whole new network of friends.

Watching the kettle boil oven Katie and Edie

Accommodation: Please bring along your own tents. For those who are really uncomfortable with the idea of “roughing it”, there are a couple of huts in the valley belonging to neighbours, who rent them out for very reasonable rates. Talk to us.

lunchCampingWashing dishes

Edith having a bathFacilities:We have composting toilets and possibly a very rustic “bush” shower. We’ve been promising the bush shower for a couple of years now, but it always seems to slip in priority as the workshop approaches. Somehow people get through the weekend without suffering too much from not having a shower. Some even learn to like it! We will get there – eventually! Please understand though that with or without shower, we have become habitual water conservers due to the frequency of drought in our country, and expect the same of guests. As you can see from the photo, at least one of our guests managed to fit in a bath last time …

debMeals: Meals will be simple, but wholesome with simple breakfasts and lunches. Last time Deb cooked up a storm for us with lots of salads, roasts, soups, and desserts. The meat mostly came from our farm. This coming workshop we, hopefully, will be able to supply most of the vegetables from our market garden. In fact anyone who is interested can help harvest the veggies needed.

If you have any special dietary needs, please let us know and we will try to accommodate.

Arrival time: Any time Friday afternoon to set up camp. Dinner will be at 7 pm. If you are only coming for the Saturday, be aware that Dan starts scything at 7 am and breakfast is at 8 am. Scything will be repeated, but early mornings are best. Also, if possible stay for Billy Bush Dog’s cook-up. It’s worth it!

Departure time: After lunch Sunday afternoon (approx. 2 pm)


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