Looking out over fields dotted with fat pigs, woolly lambs, and free-range chooks is all the confirmation Tim Somes needs.
This menagerie and its rewards are affirmation for Tim Somes that he did the right thing leaving the mining industry to spend more time with his family and build a thriving sustainable farm business: Eggcettera.
“We were living on the farm, but I was working in the mining industry; working five days a week in Brisbane CBD,” said Somes. “I didn’t enjoy the time away from the family. My youngest son had about 30 chooks here, and he was selling eggs into my Brisbane office, so I was the mule transporting eggs each way. We got a real good reception with them, and I thought we had something there.”
Somes sat down with the family, had a few chats, worked out a few sketchy rough drafts, and took the plunge. They started with 80 hens and gave each hen a full eight square metres of land; a vast improvement on the free-range industry standard of one square metre per hen.
This gives the birds much greater access to the fresh worms, bugs, seeds and grasses that keep them healthy and strong while laying delicious eggs. The chook eggs were such a rousing success that they increased their flock, then branched out into other animals as well, making sure that each addition was provided the very best grazing and feed options.
Using a mobile hen house and fencing ensures the safety of the hens and a consistent source of fresh grazing land. Rotational grazing of the other animals simultaneously regenerates parts of the land while other parts are given a rest.
“We try to have a point of difference with all our products. The chooks are free-range, our pigs are pecan fed, and the lambs are fed on saltbush pellets.”
Last year they added beef cattle, supplementing their diet with spent malt from Brisbane brewers that gives the meat a uniquely fine flavour. “We’re working with goats now.”
“They’re foragers rather than grazers so we’ve been experimenting to get a good fat cover. We found that by using box gum tree branches plus supplementary feed we were able to get a nice fat cover.”
The family also has dogs, two horses, a cat, and two alpaca security guards named Bruce and Victor.
Their dedication to ethically sustainable farming practices and passion for teaching their customers about the benefits of seasonal farming via social media, sets them apart from factory farm businesses. “It’s all seasonal produce affected by the climate and the weather. The beauty of social media is our ability to educate people and make them fully aware of seasonal farming. It’s been very pleasing to get a positive response. It’s just telling the story.
“We appreciate everyone’s support to date. Just the fact that people are working out that factory farming is not the be all and end all. They do recognise the seasonal factor.”
Readers may also be interested in this story on wind farming.