Fay and Charlie moved to Fat Goose Farm in 2007 with the objective of becoming as self-sufficient in food production as was practical.
We have achieved this objective and now live a life where over 90% of their food comes off the property. Our primary objective is to provide an environment where we can survive and thrive despite future scenarios of rapid climate change, possible global financial collapse and a world without oil.
To do this, we have concentrated on establishing a variety of food-producing areas and then providing the infrastructure to support these. This means providing enough water for current and future needs, using our waste as a resource and not having to rely on outside agencies for disposal, creating ornamental vistas incorporating many varieties of fruits and vegetables, and then providing the storage facilities to ensure that we have a year-round supply of food.
Our home heats water via a solar heater connected to a cast iron stove, which does the bulk of water heating through the winter.
A 4.5kW grid-connect PV system allows us to feed excess power back to the grid, with the added bonus of a sizeable annual cheque that normally covers our property rates.
All our sewerage and greywater is processed by a worm-based waste management system that converts all organic waste, including lawn clippings and cotton shirts, into water and worm castings. This can then be reticulated throughout the garden where required.
Last year, we purchased an adjoining five acres and are developing a rotational, or holistic, grazing program. This entails grazing our Wiltshire Horn sheep on one piece of land for a short while before moving them to the next paddock. The grazed land is then free-ranged by chickens and the cycle is repeated throughout the year. This system has been shown to improve soil fertility and water retention. So far, we haven’t introduced chickens into the grazing cycle as we are obtaining a Maremma guard dog as protection from foxes.
In the quince orchard we free-range over 40 chickens, where they can provide an organic means of pest reduction, reduce grass growth without mowing, fertilise the fruit trees and enjoy the shade of the fruit trees during the hot summer months.
We have seven beehives to facilitate pollination of our crops, to provide enough honey for our personal consumption, and to use in the production of jams and apple cider and other value-added produce.
We believe that our home is probably one of the cheapest to run on the entire planet, because:
- PV cells provide all power and the feed-in tariff pays for a large percentage of council rates
- The Beechworth climate means that food production is possible all year round
- We save vegetable seeds for next year’s crops
- We work very hard!
Please note that, while we discuss our solar hot water system, PV system, wood-fired oven (and water heater), the house interior is not open to the public, but we have extensive gardens and external features (such as two worm-based waste management systems).