In an earlier blog post we outlined some of our Guiding Principles. While that is a very helpful document, we decided we needed to go further and outline a set of Acknowledgements and Farm Rules – our Farm Philosophy if you like – the principles we could always come back to and check our activity against. At the time of posting these were our farm acknowledgements and ‘rules’. Some of them overlap, we are ok with that.

We acknowledge:

  • that Highfield is on unceded Wiradjuri Land.
  • that we must perceive Highfield as a deeply complex ecology. Solutions to problems are therefore not easily or productively reducible to focussing on soil or grass or any other aspect of the ecology having primacy.
  • the science of climate change and the extinction crisis realising that, as landholders, we have a responsibility to do the best we can.
  • that every action taken by us to manage this land has consequences for the systems and organisms that rely on this ecosystem.

Our rules

  • Make no distinction between the ‘farmland’ and ‘conservation area’. Manage the entire property for biodiversity enhancement and landscape health.
  • Manage to ensure increasing biodiversity (soil microbes, grass diversity, plant species, farm animals, wildlife).
  • All decisions to be made jointly to ensure maximum involvement of both of us and maximum commitment to implementation.
  • Observe actively. Reflect. Question. Try. Repeat if successful, if not, observe, think, change.
  • Learn more about the Indigenous Heritage of the property to ensure it is protected. Engage with the local Indigenous Community whose land we are current custodians of.
  • Learn more about Cultural Burning / Cool Burning; do it in accordance with what our land is telling us. Aim to include Wiradjuri knowledge holders. Learn to burn, burn to learn.
  • Realise that you can only do so much and that all land has a legacy of past practices.
  • Doing nothing is sometimes doing. Don’t do something just for the sake of ‘doing’. There are many things you could do and usually only a few things you should.
  • Realise that managing Highfield isn’t about us and our egos. It’s not about what we do or how we recover land. It is about facilitating the ecology to heal itself. In some cases we should do nothing, in other cases we should do nothing more than ‘nudge’ Highfield and let nature do the rest.
  • Manage Highfield to ensure maximum ground cover to protect our soils and soil biology and to prevent erosion.
  • Minimise food miles. Feed local people. Play an active role in developing a local food economy. There is no point in adding carbon to your soil if you use more carbon than you store to package and transport and sell your produce.
  • Ensure that workloads are sustainable to maximise enjoyment of the property. Take time to observe and enjoy Highfield.
  • Continue to learn.
  • Create an environment that people, farm animals and wildlife can enjoy and thrive in.
  • Don’t forget beauty. We don’t want to live on a farm that looks like a production site.
  • Ensure ethical treatment of animals by considering the 5 freedoms. Enable animals to express their full range of behaviours.
  • Our animals are not just ‘stock’ or ‘assets’ or ‘tools’. We are in an intimate relationship.
  • Use biological energy (eg. ecological succession, biocontrols) rather than industrial energy (eg herbicides) wherever possible.
  • Maximise use of renewable energy sources.
  • Maximise rainwater collection from building rooves. Maximise the water holding capacity of soils. Minimise run off. Encourage infiltration.
  • Manage Highfield to ensure that Box Gum Grassy Woodland and Temperate Native Grasslands and their dependent species survive the Anthropocene.

We may alter our rules from time to time, to account for new things we’ve learned, new observations, new research and new ideas. But our headline acknowledgements should keep us on track to ensure our rules do not get watered down.

We’d love to hear your opinion – what have we forgotten? What would you add? Do you have a Farm Philosophy? What keeps you on track?

More reading:

Ancient Paddock Trees and Succession Planning
Talking Grazing Sheep and Paddock Rotation

YOU MAY ALSO ENJOY READING…

Wort Work – Eradicating the Weed Naturally

St John's Wort is by far the most prevalent weed on Highfield. Introduced from Europe, Asia and North Africa, it was brought to Australia in 1875 as a garden plant and for use in herbal medicine. St John's Wort has become a severe weed in parts of NSW. A perennial...

Ancient Paddock Trees and Succession Planning

When you look at an ancient paddock tree you are looking at a tree that will most likely be dead in 40 years’ time taking with it its important role in the ecosystem and a whole raft of biodiversity.

Restoring Native Grasses – Kangaroo Grass

We take seriously our obligation to protect, enhance and restore the important natural biodiversity that remains – not just in our conservation area but in our grazing paddocks as well.

What We’ve Learned About Thistles

TYPES OF THISTLES During the first couple of years at Highfield, we learned a lot about thistles - we had to, there were just so many of them. “Are there different types of thistles?”, I hear you ask. “Aren’t they all just Scotch Thistles?” Ah, no is the short answer....

Revegetating Sheep Camp Hill

Sheep Camp Hill grew nothing, nothing – it was too poisoned even for weeds.

Farming with Habitat – Bird life at Highfield

Some of the greatest bird diversity can be seen where the edges of different habitats are found – where forest meets woodland meets grassland.

Farming with Habitat – Wombats

Our visitor asked if we had any wombats. My reply was “loads of them!”  “Do you mind them being here?”, she asked carefully not knowing what response she might get. 

Farming With Habitat – Carex Sedgelands

Carex isn’t loved around here, on the farms of the Snowy. It’s missing from most farms landscapes now. In fact it’s so uncommon that it is now considered an endangered ecological community.

Farming with Habitat – Messy Paddocks

“Plenty of firewood here – enough for a lifetime, how come there is so much wood in the paddocks”, they asked.

FOLLOW OUR ADVENTURE

SHOP OUR FARM PRODUCE

BOOK OUR ACCOMMODATION

READ NEWS & MEDIA

MEET YOUR HOSTS

GET IN TOUCH

Subscribe to Highfield Farm & Woodland exclusive update