David Bray and Louise Freckelton
We (David and Louise) are escapees from Sydney. We ran away for a better life close to our beloved Snowy Mountains.
We are really 'foodies' that have become farmers by accident in search for great tasting and ethically-raised food. We believe in slow food right from the moment our animals are born. We have a strong commitment to the welfare of our animals. We use low-stress stock handling techniques to move our animals, we don't feed our sheep or cattle grain to 'finish' them, we don't hurry their growth. Good food takes time and with time it tastes better.
Shhh, don't tell anyone, but we are also 'greenies'... We believe that small-scale farming and environmental conservation can go together. We are so delighted to be custodians of our conservation area which provides habitat for rare and endangered birds.
Our Maremma Dogs (our own 'oddballs')
We have three amazing livestock guardian dogs, Pepe, Sylvie and Orsa. They are just like 'Oddy' of recent movie fame. They guard all our livestock from predation and help during lambing and calving season even telling us each morning where the new lambs are and protecting abandoned lambs. So far they have certainly prevented the loss of many lambs to foxes and wild dogs.
The Hooded Robin (Melanodryas cucullata)
Hooded Robins are classified as vulnerable in NSW because their habitat is now rare. They are found in lightly timbered woodland dominated by acacia and/or eucalypts. Just the kind of habitat Highfield protects. Even though they are vulnerable, we see them pretty much every day.
Adult males are black and white with a black hood and back, white underpants, black wings, white shoulder bar and wing stripe. Females are similar to males but greyer with a brown-grey head and a dark brown wing with a white stripe. They are usually seen in pairs or small groups and are rather shy and quiet.
'Hoodies', as we call them, sit on exposed perches such as dead branches and stumps and pounce on insects. They forage on or near the ground. We leave some fallen wood in our paddocks so that the Hoodies have handy hunting perches. This dad Hoody is supervising bath-time for a baby Hoody at one of our bird baths.
Kangaroo Grass (Themeda triandra)
Kangaroo grass is a native perennial grass that was once very common across Australia. Bill Gamage, author of The Biggest Estate on Earth, says that this was once the most widespread grass in the country. It is much less common now as it is vulnerable to over grazing.
We are fortunate that Highfield has a fantastic large patch or sward of kangaroo grass and a recent walk through the area has shown us the sward is spreading with numerous other patches of this tall grass popping up in new places. It is a wonderfully tall grass which thrives under high temperatures and low rainfall, and it grows and flowers during summer when few other grasses thrive. It's a magnificent dark tan colour, too.
We carefully manage the grazing in the paddocks where the kangaroo grass persists, to ensure it remains and spreads on Highfield.