Thursday, 28 June 2012

Crazy weather !

It's going to rain, then it isn't, then my breath is puffing in the air so I have to put buckets over the sweet potatoes. Cover the salt block, uncover the salt block. I need to make a salt block house.


Feeling a little under the weather. Not sure if I have a persistant cold or something stress linked. Taking honey and cayenne pepper for ulcers... surely aloe vera juice would taste better ? I will give it two weeks then try and find the juice if the cayenne has made no difference. I'd try apple cider vinegar, which is credited with curing everything up to and including sunspots (why aren't they treating global warming with ACV ?) except I drank it neat by accident one night and ... I was throwing up and coughing and trying to breathe only to suck in fumes... Still not quite back with the idea of drinking it on purpose again, even mixed with honey and water.




Looks like Poppy is making up an udder. Poppy is one of the "Medea Clan", the girls descended from my lead milker, the herd matriarch. Poppy has no fear, she is very certain of her place in the universe. And it seems to be at the very top of the pecking order.

When she was born her mother's teats were positioned very low, Medea has short legs and a big udder and it seems Poppy couldn't locate the teats. She was born at 7pm, and by 7am was limp and weak. I bottle fed her at 7 am and had to trickle the milk down her throat. At 9 am  she drank avidly. At 11 am we penned her mum and showed her how to get down on her knees and drink. We did the same again at 1pm and she never looked back.

Perhaps because she was hand fed when she needed it most, she has never had any fear of people. She would go to sleep on my lap, or even being carried to and from the pen. She can be picked up and patted all over, and just fronts up to any visitor expecting to get affection. It's contagious, people just love patting her.

She dominates the steers, they gave up trying to move her out of their feed tubs as no matter how hard they pushed her she simply gave with the movement and returned instantly to plonk her front feet in the food. If there is mischief to be had, she's the ringleader, but never in a wicked way. Poppy just gets right in there because she expects the world to work her way, and astonishingly it mostly does.

I'm not sure if she is smarter than Lassie or dumber than a box of hammers, but whichever it is, it works for her.

Friday, 22 June 2012

It's been a mixed week of sun and rain, warm and frost. There is a confused wattle tree by the front gate which seems to be deciding whether to burst into bloom or go into hibernation. The chooks are completely flumoxxed and have been laying right through, today being the shortest day of the year. I am not sure what prompted the extended laying as they are all heritage breeds and should have gone off the lay sometime in autumn.

This afternoon was a true pleasure. To the south a sweeping grey green cloud with shifting veils of rain,  to the west a golden afternoon sun slanting through a delicate rain, to the east a rainbow against steel blue clouds, and to the north a pile of white thunderclouds gilded underneath.As I walked back from feeding the geese the sun caught the three male cattle sharing their supper tubs, and the light rain had just tipped their coats, making a sparkle that shifted as they moved. Breathtaking. I found a chair and just sat out in the paddock for a quarter hour enjoying the sky and the light.



Burke & Wills are a pair of (at best guess) emden geese.  They are named after a pair of Australian explorers who died on an expedition because they are, quite simply, terrible at exploring. When based in the house yard they didn't even wander around to the other side of the house. They had to be carried down to the dam in the back of the ute. I am at a loss to explain how their relatives migrate thousands of miles yet these two couldn't find their tail feathers with a road map.

There are apparantly more people scared of geese than of dogs, and I have seen visitors terrified of this pair. I can assure you that it's all bluff. They do, however, make terrific watch-geese simply for the volume of noise they produce at the slightest excuse.

 BURKE, the male goose

Burke is the braver of the two, and has managed a few flights from the top of the hill down to the dam. The end results include both a lovely sweeping turn and landing on the dam, and a full-on belly landing in the mud.

 WILLS, the female goose

Shyer than Burke, she seldom achieves more than a flapping run. Given Burke's track record at landing we might assume she is the smarter one of the pair.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

 It seems we've settled down into a routine with the milking. I mostly get between 1 and 2 litres and no fuss. Ziggy even seems to have figured out what to do when I pause in the milking and go to get him.
Sheep are all looking like bowling balls, except for old Max who is a little light on. I might seperate her and give her a bit extra now the weather is cold and the grass has dried off. I was assuming that the others were all pregnant, but news has me wondering if they are all just very fat...

I loaned Boof to another farm in September/October last year. Ran into the gentleman yesterday and he advised that there were no lambs resulting ! Not a one... Could the old guy have hit a wall ? He's certainly been courting the ladies here, I hope it was just homesickness.

I have a sick chicken. No scouring, eye boogers or nasal discharge, she just looks miserable. So I've locked her up in the chickie hutch where she has somewhere warm to sleep (she's normally a tree chicken but can't jump up right now) and food and water she doesn't have to compete for. Next step is to worm her, and might as well do all the others too.


Bandit was the first lamb born to Cocoa, the damara in the top left of this photo. He was a big lamb and fast to get on his feet and get going. He grew quickly and was very solid. For these reasons, and his striking markings, we left him intact and sold him as a ram to a family in Gulgong.

What we didn't know was that he was more than a fast grower, he was a fast worker ! He managed to serve the three damaras before they went to their new home, Min before he went to Gulgong, and immediately the two ewes on his new farm. At the age of 4 1/2 months !! We know it was Bandit because Boof was on loan elsewhere.

This is Bandit's new dynasty, he certainly throws interesting coats !

This is Flash, 1/4 damara 3/4 dorper, Min's little girl. She doesn't miss a trick and is making sure she is standing in the first feed tub in the line so she gets her share.

 Two ram lambs, sons to Pinkie the damara.

A little ewe lamb from the Taffy the damara.

Twin ewe lambs, Ebony and Chestnut, daughters to Louise at Bandit's new home. 

Thelma and Cocoa the damara are due to lamb any day now.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

It's a lovely Sunday afternoon. Big Moo has found the trailer of hay I bought yesterday and is circling it, taking one bite out of each bale. She doesn't realise yet but it's harder work than the opened up round bale she has access to... but hey, it's stolen hay so it tastes better :-)

The guy I bought the hay from is also a state govt employee, or was. He has been given his marching orders and his wasn't voluntary. They were told to shed 60 staff and only 17 put their hands up so the balance had to be picked. He's not feeling so great.

Moved the sheep to the Country Energy paddock, so named because the power poles go through it. They knew something was up when the removalist (stepson in farm ute) came and picked up all their belongings (feed tubs and lupin block) and left the gates open so they could follow. There was much excitement and speculation until they knew which gate they were headed for and then the stampede was on ! For some reason they love moving to a new paddock, no matter how often they have been there in the past.

DH and SS moved the two portable greenhouses to a spot that actually gets some sun. Tomorrow I will buy some pots and transplant the tomatoes and put the lettuce seedlings into the bed the greenhouses came from. And check out the new Petbarn that has opened next to the hardware store. Chances are they won't have any cow or sheep toys, but the cats might get lucky.

Ziggy had his first big boy meal last night. Just a cupful of calf pellets and sweetbulk. He's been sharing with the steers and his mother since he was about a week old, but this is the first time he ate by himself and it's more a token than a meal, his mum still provides what he needs. It's the first step in socialising him to handling as working full time means I haven't had a chance to halter break him, the early dark in midwinter means there's time to feed and that's about it.



From the front ...

From the back, where most of the traffic actually happens. 
(this one is a bit older, the garden alongside the path is full of herbs now)

Friday, 8 June 2012

That calf !! Three nights ago, no milk. Not a drop. And calf not interested. Hmmm, could he have nursed through the fence ? Next night I powder the teats with one of the minerals. Nope, still on there at milking and there's plenty of milk. Maybe it was the cold and being in heat, just a blip on the radar.

Last night, no milk. And the slime on the teats was a dead giveaway ! Tarngabbit !!

So tonight he goes in the stable pen because that has the shortest fenceline with the area she's seperated to. And some sheep yard panels a couple of feet out from that fence. Are we up to plan G yet ?


After getting excited about a redundancy and then figuring out it wasn't enough, I find out I have access to part of my superannuation if I am made redundant and start getting excited again.

I am having trouble finding out how much and what tax is paid, the best case scenario pays the car and house and leaves me $85k in hand. The worst case leaves me $100k short of paying off the house. And I have to wait for people to give me the numbers because everyone seems to have taken an extra day off on Friday to enjoy the long weekend.

I'm on a roller coaster !

Monday, 4 June 2012

It's been a long weekend, we drove 4 1/2 hours each way to attend the 50th birthday party of a good friend, and I am very tired. I didn't even hear the highway traffic metres away from our motel room, but I am certainly feeling the night spent on a normal mattress instead of my water bed !All was in order when we got home, thanks to my neices who fed and watered all the animals.
I did have some time to do some thinking on the drive, and it looks like I am going to have to apply for one of the jobs transferring up from Parramatta. The redundancy payout, being very much less generous than they have been in previous restructures, is not enough to clear our mortgages and I would have to find another job straight away. So if I have to remain employed I might as well keep doing what I know with a good team of people instead of working the same hours for much less and not knowing what I am in for.

I feel bad for the staff at Parramatta who are going to have to make the call on whether to uproot their families and move so far, or lose the job. The staff at Orange are in just as bad a position, there are 10 staff there and they've lost 7 positions. And then there are the offices which are just closing completely.

The department is going to lose alot of experienced and skilled staff, it doesn't make any sense. Whatever they are putting in the water at Head Office is certainly given them some strange ideas.



From left to right we have Cocoa, Taffy and Pinkie at six months old. These girls were purchased from an essentially wild flock at Narromine at weaning. Unlike the dorpers they never really warmed to domestic life and caused some issues simply by being alot more flighty than the dorpers. A push light enough for the damaras left the dorpers unmoved, and heavy enough for the dorpers sent the damaras to the hills.

Cocoa was the wildest and also the ringleader. Taffy was the quietest, she would at least take a little food from your hand if you stretched right out and so did she. Pinkie was just really scatty, she spent six weeks with another flock after getting through a fence and forgetting how to get back.

In the end we found them another home, but not before they started their own dynasty, chief among whom is the redoubtable Bandit. More on him later :-)

Here are the girls (Cocoa, Pinkie & Taffy) just before going to their new home, where they settled in happily at a farm where the owners don't necessarily want to be able to cuddle their lawnmowers.