‘We arrive at Mandy and Ian’s Graytown farm on a cold winter morning and we’re greeted with the cheep cheeping of 300 brand new baby chicks.
“It was a cold night last night, so we’ve kept them inside by the fire until they’re ready to go outside,” explains Mandy, who is also Mayor of the Strathbogie Shire.
Ian says the noise drives him mad, “They’re hurrying me to get their new homes ready,” he laughs. A bit like a crying newborn.
The love and attention that Mandy and Ian give to all their animals – the farm is also home to pigs, cows and turkeys as well – is just like that of someone with a new baby, and the pair work around the clock to ensure that all (including their two sons of the human variety) are well looked after.
Ian and Mandy always wanted a farm. They’d looked around for some time, but nothing seemed right or the parcels of land were too small. Ian received his agricultural diploma and their search took on more meaning. “We saw a little ad in the Weekly Times for this property – over 400 acres and it was pretty rough – but we knew it was the one,” he says.
The couple purchased the property before the kids arrived; back in 2001 as the country headed into a decade long drought. “The drought meant our dreams of running cattle weren’t going to happen,” Ian explains. “It’s definitely been hard – farming with limited resources. This is really our first good year. Even as recently as the summer before last, we spent the bulk of our time chasing water.”
Ian had always loved poultry but he didn’t want the huge sheds, both from an ethical and financial standpoint. “I attended a lot of biological farming events and then did a course in soil science. I’ve always enjoyed growing things and I was keen to try new ways of doing that.”
They discovered American farmer, Joel Salatin, who has developed a global following after turning his once degraded Virginian farm into a profitable, organic business. Joel’s model at ‘Polyface Farm’ makes use of rotational grazing, as opposed to set grazing. He has large cages for chickens and they are moved daily throughout the pasture. This gives the soil – fertilised by the chickens – opportunity to regenerate.’
An exert from the recently published book, ‘A Sense of Place’, written by Sonia Anthony and Amy Doak. To read Ian and Mandy’s complete journey and the story behind Yapunyah, purchase the book online here: https://oftheworldbooks.com/product/asenseofplace/