Sunday, 26 August 2012

Little Moo has settled into the new location, after initial galloping and wild mooing he discovered a red heifer about the same size as himself and they are now buddies. Ruby might go to the show with him, as she has been trained to lead in the ring. This would suit him, he is very definitely a follower.

The herd seemed small without him tonight. I guess he is 25% of the population...


Here we have goose eggs and goose digs.

Two goose eggs hidden under the mulch. Wills was sitting on them this afternoon, jury is still out on whether she knew where they were all along or stumbled on them while poking around.

This is the new paddle pool in the goose "hoose". While there are steps (how thoughtful am I ?) Burke spent the afternoon clambering over the edge to get in and have a bath. He had four or five baths, and splashed alot of water around. The little orange tree is really going to like this. Wills is yet to try it.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Little Moo went to Boot Camp today. He's gone to the lowline farm in Trangie to room with the other little steers and get primped and preened and practiced for the Narromine Show next weekend. No, it's not the Hoof & Hook competition, he's just going in the led steer class for the kids. He's very dubious about the whole thing, but has a six week old calf buddy to show him the ropes.


Burke & Wills have now laid four eggs up in their new digs. One got frosted and one broken, the other two appear to be hidden under a pile of hay. Either they got careless and lost them or geese cover eggs to keep the temperature stable. I don't know enough about geese to venture a guess either way. They are not the brightest of creatures, it will be interesting to see if they manage to hatch a clutch.

At least they now have a paddle pool in their quarters, which should keep them out of the stock water tub. Burke got stuck in it yesterday and I had to dump 50 litres of water to clean it out.


Big Moo has made a bit of  a mess of her ear. She popped her white NLIS tag not long after she moved here and I replaced it with an orange secondary one. Last night she caught the orange one on the round bale holder while trying to walk it across the paddock and it didn't come out as cleanly as the other one. There aren't any flies around yet, but I'll keep an eye on it.


DH is out at the moment  mopping up a grass fire. It seems that some kids on motorbikes lit it up around dusk. There's so much moisture around at the moment that it had sputtered out by the time the fire truck got there. It'll be a different story in summer though.


I've chosen the bull that I'll be using to AI Big Moo and my new purchase, a five year old lowline called Flora. Flora and her current six week old bull calf will come here in the next month, the little guy will go back to Trangie when he is weaned.

You can check out his scores here : Bull Proof

Hawthorn Grove Zeus

The catalogue says "Zeus daughters have exceptional udders and very desirable temperament. Excellent Somatic cell score, OAD index along with A2A2 status should make this bull desirable to Jersey farmers or anyone looking to cross breed."

He has the best udder index in the catalogue and the best temperament scores. He also throws small framed cows, all good ingredients in a house cow. The somatic cell scores mean they are less likely to get mastitis and the A2A2 means the proteins in the milk are the newly popular A2 which is supposedly more digestible, the same proteins that are in goat milk instead of the ones in modern commercial cow milk.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Wills the goose laid an egg today, in the hay mulch of the orange area. She and Burke the gander are a little protective of it, but will probably get far more defensive when she start to sit seriously. She left it sitting for a few hours while they grazed, I assume it's like chicken eggs and is "on hold" until she gathers a clutch. I was worried a crow might take it, but it's probably too big a load for even a crow,


Swapped Medea and Max between flocks today. Max has put on enough condition to run with the main flock as they have access to the round bale all night. Medea is close enough to lambing to warrant keeping a close eye on her.

The sheep are used to being moved in and out of groups and all get on well enough, but the swapees are always confused for the first half day or so. Medea does love being in the house paddock though, lurking by the yard gate for treats and scratches.


Ziggy had another halter lesson today. He's not hard to handle, and has mostly figured out not fighting the rope. Leading is another thing altogether, he's much less interested in walking that in standing quietly. I handled him all over and brushed him, and fed him a treat once he was relaxing. He still doesn't feel I have anything he really needs, as his mother provides all.


Today's eggs

The white one is from the spanish hens, the green one from the araucana/wyandotte cross, the dark ones from black barnevelders and the speckled from brown barnevelders. The paler ones with a pink tinge are from the rhode island red, the cream one from a wyandotte and the soft brown from the australorpes.

I sell the eggs for $3.50 a dozen at work, it helps buy the scratch mix and they are half the price of (alleged) free range eggs in the supermarket. The buyers like the rainbow cartons best :-)

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Moved Burke & Wills today, back up towards the house. They've been trying to nest, but each night a fox is harrassing them until they run to the water and he steals that days egg.

They've been making it clear that they are feeling very insecure and wanting rescue, even going so far as to march all the way in with the sheep at the end of the day. I haven't had anywhere safe to put them that isn't going to be in the middle of all the activity, no place to try and raise goslings. Until today. I had a brainwave ! While the majority of the vege garden is off limits (geese may not scratch like chickens but they enjoy eating leafy greens) the small area with the orange tree is perfect !

I did a bit of tidying up before I moved them in, chair out to under the grapevine and a small gate installed. The orange tree has had a much needed prune, the spiky shoots from below the graft have been removed and there is now a two foot clear zone underneath. That end has been weeded and mulched like you can see in the pic of the eastern end. The area is maybe 10 feet by 25 feet. I've also put in a sheet of plywood leaning at 45 degrees against the wood fencing at the eastern end so they can have some rain protection as well as the shade from the orange tree.

The western end

The eastern end

Like most of the contruction that was here when we moved in, the garden is pretty makeshift, but I think this will be an ideal nesting site and night pen. The outer gate (behind the seat in the western pic) opens into the stable yard, which has a good cover of soft new grass for grazing. I don't know if they have any eggs left or are going to make another attempt at sitting, but this might just be the best solution short of an island in the dam.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Phew, big day !

First, a lady who'd been recommended to me for house cleaning came to discuss doing one day a fortnight. DH & I decided that him paying for a couple of hours cleaning to assist me was preferable to either a) me doing all the housecleaning by myself or b) me nagging him to do his share. If's he's willing to cough up some cash to save himself some work I am more than happy to let the professional do the job. Likely she'll be faster and better anyway ;-D


Then the lady who owns Ziggy's dad came by to show me how to start Ziggy under halter. There were some theatrics and some sulks, but in the end he stood quietly while tied and did a reasonable approximation of walking in the right direction when lead.

Little Moo had some "show leading" lessons and apparantly aquitted himself well. Big Moo was simply grouchy and unco-operative, but she came into heat today so that's probably to be expected.

L - R Big Moo, Ziggy & Little Moo. 
 Jack is off to the left with his head in a feed tub.


Once the cattle lady left we whizzed over to the fire shed for monthly training. Today we pored over maps and aerial photos of the brigade's territory and then went for a drive to look at the same places from ground level. There are some roads we won't be driving down if there is a fire coming ...

DH and his youngest son spent a couple of hours mowing the pastures around the house to make a firebreak. The tree line is well back, but the long dry grass can carry a fire to the house. Especially the long steep slope to the northwest. Keeping that grass down this summer will be a priority.

I was finally signed off on my qualifications and went to get my PPE. Trousers, jacket, helmet, flash hood, boots, goggles and gloves. All nice and shiny new, I'm going to stand out like the proverbial at my first fire unless I can find an old pile of ashes to roll in !

Speaking of fires, our next door neighbour had their chimney catch fire on Monday night. They rang 000 then went outside to watch (they assumed) their house burn down. We got the alert and DH was over the fence and there as fast as he could run, and had the fire out before the trucks reached the house.

They weren't short of assistance, five trucks and two utes showed up. The sheep all lined up along the fence to watch the blue and red lights and listen to all the radio chatter. Once the guys in the breathing apparatus had made sure there were no lingering sparks in the ceiling DH cut out the burnt wiring and rewired the house circuits so they could have the power back on that night.

Yesterday the home-owner bicycled over to give DH a box of chocolates and a gift card to say thanks. He was quite tickled :-)


The two ewe lambs are coming along boistrously, and have been named Salome & Sukie. DH and the farmer looking after Dave have now attended to Dave's testicles and our next sheep-operation will be vaccinations.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

The ups and downs continue...

I went to milk Molly on Thursday and found one teat hard and swollen. My heart sank... mastitis and she has twins. What now ? So I slathered the teat in honey and cayenne pepper for the night and figured I'd call the vet in the morning for some antibiotics.

Thankfully by morning the teat was less swollen and the lambs were drinking from both teats. Both had honey and cayenne pepper on their noses so clearly it didn't deter them from looking for breakfast ! I'll continue to monitor the situation, but she's a healthy girl and the lambs can keep the milk moving so I have my fingers crossed.


Big Red, the rhode island red chicken, wasn't so lucky. I missed her at afternoon feeding on Friday and on recollection couldn't remember seeing her for breakfast. Big Red has always had a gammy leg, she walks like Quasimodo and runs like a boat on a big swell, but she's a real sweetheart and a good layer and her rooster makes sure the guinea fowl don't get away with harrassing her, so he must be fond of her too.

Well, I found her on her side under the shipping container, wedged where she couldn't get her feet under her. She was cold and had lost feeling in both legs and wings, and I was suprised she was alive. There was one egg behind her so she could have been there at least 24 hours, maybe up to 48.

I took her back to the house and cleaned her up and gave her food and water, which she devoured eagerly, and she started looking alot more cheerful. She came inside for the night, feet tucked under her in a basket lined with towels in the hope that warmth and proper position might help.

By morning she had regained the use of both wings and one leg, so I found a nice sunny spot and set her up with food and water in the hope she'd start to work on the other leg. Unfortunately it became clear the leg was gone. I guess it was one stress too many on legs that had never quite worked properly to begin with.

A chook that can't walk is the proverbial sitting duck. Raptors, crows, ants, foxes, blowflies, even other chickens. She can't even move away from her own waste, and she would have developed sores on her paralysed leg. So, tempting as it was to try and set her up in the house yard in a moveable cage, it was better to end it quickly for her than come home some time in the next few weeks and find her suffering.

RIP Big Red, I hope both legs work really well for you where you've gone and the grasshoppers can't outrun you  now.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

More good news today ! Star has lambed, a little ram lamb that has been named Dave. Only one, it seems all the young ewes have carried singles. Here they are in the stable yard of the farm where the girls are based for the time being.

He was born about 8.30 am we think, as he was mostly dry and was walking around. She was licking him and loving on him, she talked to him and he talked to her. She wasn't so happy about him looking for food though and was spinning round every time he went looking for the udder. We were worried we'd have another rejection !

We put some food in a corner and (since she is a dorper after all...) managed to show Dave where the teats where while she ate. All that work getting the girls used to their udders being handled while they ate paid off as he was able to get a couple of short drinks.

By late afternoon he was still bouncy and didn't look sunken so we had to assume he was getting some milk here and there, and finally we saw Star stand and let him drink. Not a long drink, but the main thing is that she stood. My friend will check on him before bed tonight and again first thing in the morning, and if he's a little weak we can give him a drink to tide him over until they work it all out, but with some luck it's all good from here.

I suspect Medea is pregnant, but could be more than a month away, so that's all the action over for the time being.

It's hard work being a baby !


On the home front, I set up the sheep milking stanchion and fed Molly in it last night. It has a rubber floor (to stop the girls kicking dirt up) and it must be warmer than the ground because she parked the lambs in there to sleep !

This morning I fed here there again and handled her udder, and this afternoon I gave her a wash and massage and milked out a tiny bit of milk. She's never been the let-down queen, but it's clear she remembers the routine and isn't bothered. The lambs just watched dubiously, this whole outside world thing is a little confusing. They are already sampling everything mum eats :-)

Saturday, 4 August 2012

The two little ewe lambs are doing just fine. They seem to have two speeds, drink and sleep. Which is pretty normal for 24 hr old lambs. I expect to see some play beginning over the next few days and plan to spend a bit of time with a cup of tea just watching.


I'm resisting the urge to name them, waiting for DH to get back from Wilcannia. He's off with the RFS doing a hazard reduction burn to get some experience with grass fires before summer sets in. They've asked for volunteers from all over the state so that if things get bad more people have had some kind of experience with the big grass fires that can sweep across the open country.

It's not that long since large parts of the west have been flooded, so the soil moisture is high, the temperature is down and the grass is really hard to get started. While no-one wants a burn to get away because it's too wild, something beyond a controlled smoulder is useful. They're using up alot of accelerant trying to keep things rolling.


The weather has been great, sunny and mild, with a gentle breeze. I am down to a t shirt while gardening, midwinter here is often delightful. Spring and autumn are lovely too, it's just summer we need to have fixed. If I had enough money I'd have summer quarters somewhere closer to the south pole.

Friday, 3 August 2012

Good news and bad news.

Little Friday passed away. Some kind of tummy bug we think, but after such a hard birth it's hard to say. Everyone is saddened, and we are sad for the two little lambs, and Harley who wanted a baby to love and Poppy who should have been able to love her baby. Both girls are doing well and hopefully next time will be different for them.

Star is still holding out and all extremities are crossed for two small, slippery boy lambs.

The good news is that today Molly gave birth to two lovely ewe lambs ! I came home to find them up and dry and feeding. Knee sagging relief. The little family is now in the house yard and Molly is being a great mum :-)


Ziggy had an appointment with the vet last night, he is now a steer. He's had a sedative and a local, and antibiotics and a tetanus shot, but was far more indignant about being sat on than the procedure. Being winter there are no flies around to bother the site, and he is up and about and looks just fine.