Introducing our next CommuniFoodie! This incredible family has a big story to tell and an 'egg'cellent future ahead! On top of the beautiful hill range in Lambs Valley live Peter, Lisa and their daughter Ada along with their 4 legged friends Zeus, Maia and livestock guardian dog Kawa. Though, there is one more family member to add to this mix, well, maybe more than one…
“We have 600 chickens!”
The family, once Sydney’s Hornsby residents have had quite the journey that has
brought them here today.
The young family had what a lot of Australia’s depict as 'the good life'. They shared a beautiful daughter, careers and a huge house on the 500sqm block of prime real estate in Sydney. What could possibly be missing?
“We went on a trip to Tasmania and it made us realise we wanted something different, more space, a better life for Ada. We had a aquaponic system in Sydney that did okay, but it wasn’t enough to sustain us.” -Lisa
The family looked into getting chickens, but with so many rules and restrictions it just fueled their motivation to change their lifestyle.
“I remember driving back to Sydney from Tasmania and the closer I got the more anxious I felt, then I hit Sydney traffic and I thought ‘I’ve had enough’.” -Peter
So, the pair found themselves purchasing the beautiful 110acres in Lambs Valley. Surrounded by dense bush land that had not been managed before, they knew they had their hands full. Their move was fast paced and the method may shock you…
“We moved from the massive house small block, to massive block and a tent. We went from 3 bathrooms to none, then to one”- Lisa
The young family and dogs packed up their life in Sydney and moved to the top of their mystical land, in yes, a tent.
“I didn’t think we would be in the tent for too long, but I was wrong. Everyone warned us of the wind that we get in September being placed up so high on the hill, well we moved in February and by April, the wind evicted us from our tent living."
The family hired a site shed and remained there for the better part of 10 months. The development of the land was something they didn’t want to rush. Learning from specialists, experts and groups that they had joined in order to regenerate and rebuild the land so that it would work as it’s own eco-system. They signed up and became part of the Regrarians group, Peter and Lisa can not fault the support they receive from being apart of a community that share an interest and common motivation in regenerative agriculture.
“It has been hard, but it could of been harder. We gained so much support from from the 'Regrearians' group. There is always someone who knows something and if they don’t, they are willing to help you find out about it. It has changed the way we look at our land. There isn’t a one fix resolution for everyone, all land is different and requires its own regeneration plan, these guys know that and they are so supportive, no ego involved, just a real community.”
One of the biggest comparisons from Sydney to the Hunter Region was how quickly the family felt the sense of community.
“We lived in the same street in Sydney for 13 years and we were never invited to dinner at our neighbours once. We were here for a week in our tent and we had the families from near by inviting us out and over for dinner, even not letting us leave until we had used their indoor showers. The support from the community was incredible…”
The family team were nervous about taking the next step to introduce the girls to the property, 600 of them to be exact.
“We talked about it for so long, to actually do it was a lot of work, the fencing that was required and the kick up the butt to believe we could.”
Will a little inspiration from Sophie Hanson from My Open Kitchen, a community of support and after the construction of the perimeter fence, the family welcomed the 600 new additions to the family, well 601 as only 8 days after the hens arrived, so did Kawa, the working guard dog.
“We have never owned chickens before, so we did our research, asked around and learnt as much as we could. We put in the right infrastructure to ensure their safety and that’s where Kawa came in, she is integral to this place. She is with the chickens 24/7, she keeps away the birds, wild dogs and foxes. If anything comes to that fence, Kawa is waiting for them on the other side.”
The Family rehomed Kawa and she was trained by Erin Williams from Livestock Guardian Dogs Australia, who has done such an incredible job and has made a true livestock guardian with a heart of gold.
At Kapsali farm it really is a Chickens paradise, they truly do have the life. The ‘cell’ is a large mesh electric fence providing protection and a large free range ground for the Chickens to roam. The ‘cell’ is moved regularly so that the chickens are always on ground that provides them with luxe living, minerals and opportunity to tend to the ground.
The ground contains several feeders, which the chickens help themselves too at their own pleasure, the middle ‘van’ a nesting and roosting area for the Chickens. The nesting areas is opened all day where they can lay their eggs that then places them onto a conveyor belt that the family wind manually to reveal the eggs. The roosting and sleep area is another appealing factor as the Chickens are allowed to put themselves to bed at their own accord, giving them more freedom with the perks of protection.
Just beside the feeding stations you will find the ladies at their day spa, called Chicken Dusting. They use the dust to clean in between their feathers and helps prevent parasites by building a protective layer on the skin; now we all know where mud bathing comes from.
A special sub-section, Ada likes to call the Queen Section, is for the hospital hens. Hens that have lost feathers or have been injured are given time to heal in a space of their own. Ada spends a lot of time with these Chickens, giving them special attention and special names.
“I call this one Miss Blondie…” - Ada
As the sun started to set on Kapsali Farm, you could see the golden grass light up and the patches of greenery shine. One of the benefits to the Chickens is how much they have aided in the regeneration of the land. It was evident as I was shown the chickens previous cell areas, from forest overgrazing and grey ground, to clearings and green sprouts, the Chickens fertilize the paper bark with their ‘waste’ and are constantly turning the soil proving they do more than just provide you with eggs.
One of the most magical things to see was the interaction between Kawa and the Chickens. A true asset to Kapsali Farm, she had the opportunity to perform when birds were near by.
“The Chickens and Kawa have this unspoken language. They understand her noises, barks and know their boundaries. When Kawa barks softly, it may be because there is a small annoying bird around or it's just a reminder to the Chickens ‘I’m still here and I can see you’. When her barks are more intense it is usually because and eagle or something is nearby, the Chickens know this and run for cover and Kawa takes control.”
The family spoke of a time when 4 Eagles were attempting to steal Chickens all at once! Kawa was so agile and aware that she protected the group in their presence. Though it looks like butter wouldn't melt in her mouth...
“It looked like war, with fighter jets swooping all at once and Kawa just running in between each target!"
Sometimes the occasional Chicken will fly the coop and find a little area outside the cell to lay an egg. Kawa monitors this closely, but does not fret, because the relationship goes ‘you lay an egg outside the boundary, I get to eat it’.
The Kapsali Farm Chickens produce around 500 eggs a day.
“The girls lay every day. There is no Christmas day off or public holiday. We are out here every day, but we love it.”
The eggs are so unique. They are large, with hard shells and range in colour. Some of their customers are known to share stories of many of them receiving double yolkers and the size and quality incomparable.
“A client of ours explained that before he had our eggs, yes he was purchasing eggs at a third of the price, but when they would arrive, half the order was broken. He knows when he received ours, he will get to use every egg. Other’s tell us of how they had to use maple syrup to stop other providers eggs from sticking to the bottom of the pan when poaching, with ours; you don’t have to do this.” - Lisa
There is something to be said for proper ‘Free Range’ quality hens and eggs. When you do some research into what ‘free range’ means in the Australian System, you will find loop holes and ways that large manufacturers can get around the authentic ‘free range’ meaning. At Kapsali Farm these Hens are truly ‘Free Range’, full of ‘love’ and produce incredible eggs that are full of nutritious qualities.
You can find Kapsali Farm eggs at various market stalls around the Hunter Region or in some of your favourite café’s and commercial providers. Get in contact if you would like to purchase some and support a local family that are doing incredible things in regards to regenerating the environment, sustainability and food security. The Kapsali Farm recognise a need for environmental sustainability, community spirit and a positive future. They plan to keep growing, learning and playing their part in the regeneration of the land and community around them. The Kapsali Farm Family are one of a kind, on top of the ranges in Lambs Valley, in the Hunters Backyard and are kind, loving and a 'pecking' good time!
Where: Kapsali Farm, Lambs Valley What they farm: Eggs! How they farm it: Chemical Free, Pastured, Free Range, Cruelty Free with Love and Protection. Where to find them: www.kapsalifarm.com.au or Facebook https://www.facebook.com/KapsaliFarm/
The CommuniFood Quick 3
Favourite thing about the Chickens?
The fertility they bring to the farm. We just love to watch them! Dustbathing, foraging, hanging out under the tree’s, always busy doing something.
What time do you start each day?
Best way to eat the eggs?
Poached, all the chefs agree!