Sunday, 16 September 2012

I finally have some photos of the lambs born last Monday. So, without further ado I would like to introduce :

All five lambs and their mums

Medea & Harriet

Medea's ram lamb Zeke

Lilly, Tiger & Abigail with Min

I am milking the ewes twice a day and taking about a litre each time, to mix with the formula. Medea's lambs are drinking entirely from her and Min's lambs are getting about 50% of their needs from her. Once they can get their mouths around the second bigger teat I won't need to milk her or feed them.

Not that it takes long, about ten minutes to milk each ewe and about three minutes for the lambs to demolish their four feeds a day. They are very efficient :-) They are having alot of fun as a group and specialise in chasing chickens.


Burke, the male goose, finally had a meltdown today. All his frustrations at having a farmyard happening around his nest finally broke loose and he attacked and demolished a plastic bucket. He bit it, and threw it, and beat it up with his wings and even jumped up and down on it with his big webbed feet. He pulled the handle off and knocked the bottom out of it and when it stopped fighting back he threw back his wings and trumpeted his glory to Wills. I hope she appreciates his bravery.


DH and his son have been mowing more of the pastures. They have finished the first ring of the paddocks close to the house and are now down in the forest paddock doing the meadows above and below the dams. They came across the shed skin of a six foot brown snake so are watching carefully for the owner.

We also spent the afternoon direceting car parking at the caravan and camping show in town. The fire brigade does it and the show society donates a fee to the brigade, which is then used to purchase things for the trucks and fire shed.


While the boys were mowing I spent a day juicing oranges and freezing the juice (from the little tree in the goose yard which has borne quite heavily) and steaming and freezing flat packs of spinach, and freezing big rounds of surplus sheeps milk for making cheese later. We have three freezers and they are all full. I think I need to plan some meals to empty them out a bit.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Was going to do an update last night, but I've been way busy !

Yesterday we had five lambs born, to two ewes. Medea had twins, a boy and a girl. Min had triplets ! Two girls and a boy.

Medea's pair are big and sassy and the only problem there was that they both wanted the same teat. So I milked out the other teat until one figured out there was dual service. My beautiful Medea let me milk either eating or just standing. She is so tolerant :-)

All that colostrum came in very handy as Min's three are teeny tiny and can't get their mouths around her big teats yet. Her bag is huge and it needed milking too so we don't get a repeat of last time's mastitis. Between the two ewes and the cow colostrum I froze from Big Moo I had enough to give all three lambs four feeds of colostrum. That has to be a big help.

Both the girls have switched to making just milk now, so there have been two feeds of straight ewe milk and now I am shandying 2/3 ewe milk to 1/3 formula. I'll go to 50/50, and then when the lambs start to take the milk themselves I'll just supplement the smallest lamb.

I'll try and get pictures tomorrow. Medea's two are Harriet and Zeke and Medea's are Abby, Lilly and Tiger.


DH got a look at the goose nest last night while Wills was having a bath. She is now sitting on six eggs. This knowledge cost him a goose-bite on the leg, from Burke of all things. Maybe he just likes me more than DH.


DH finally fixed the ride-on mower. I've been asking for two years, but he was worried the tyres would spread cathead burrs. I think mowing the first half of the inner paddock ring for a fire break with the push mower weakened his resolve.

The mower is named "Methuselah" because it's as old as. But it goes like the clappers and really chews up the dense tussock grass. It does not have anything remotely approaching suspension so the trick isn't so much steering as staying on. I had to learn to brace with my feet and not my hands on the steering wheel or I'd have had horrifically sore arms and shoulders.

This mowing has three advantages. 1. It's a much needed fire break between the tree line and the house. 2. It will bring the green shoots on really well IF it ever rains again. 3. It will discourage snakes from coming up to the house.

I spotted and relocated three shingleback lizards and let a blue-belly black snake relocate itself.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Boof managed to get an ockie strap hooked into his ear. I think he must have been trying to wriggle his way into the chook pen for the scratch mix. It took a bit of wrangling to get it out without hurting him, but he is now hook-free. On his first night here, three years ago, he managed to get his head stuck in the base of a wheelbarrow. One of the legs the barrow rests on. Getting that off him was an adventure too...

As he was already crabby he wasn't going to back down when Flora decided that sharing with sheep was beneath her. Never having seen sheep or chickens she's trying to assert her place on the farm. The chickens sqawk and flap and scatter. The ewes can't be bothered with all the fuss and just melt away in front of her and reform behind her. Boof was in the mood for a fight and I think it came out a tie.

Edo is proving to be a delightful boy. He's up for a scratch and brush and likes to lick your face in appreciation. Given that a cow's tongue is like a giant cat tongue in texture it makes for a very exfoliating experience !

I was patting him in the stable yard this afternoon, where he had been entertaining himself by stirring up the geese through the fence. I heard a cow come into the yard behind me making "ello ello ello, what's going on here ?" sounds and expected to see Flora coming to see what was going on with her baby. Instead it was Big Moo ! She ordered Edo to follow her back to the herd and he meekly trit trotted off behind her. Not sure what that was all about.

This is Min in "anytime now" mode. One thing you do alot of when raising livestock is look at behinds. Are they scouring ? Are they making up an udder ready ? Are they on heat ? Are they getting floppy ready to lamb or calve ? Are you following them waiting for a fecal or urine sample ? Do they have mastitis ?

You might glance at eyes and ears and noses and teeth, but the real business of life and death happens at the padded end of the animal. I can tell the sheep apart as easily from behind as in front !


The geese are now about half way through their sitting. Burke is deeply committed to honking at anything in the general area of the nest, but remains a gentle goose at heart and only bites watering cans and sheep's noses. Wills, on the other hand, will not only bite, but will hang on and shake the bitten appendage. Ask me how I know...


The chickens are laying well, several of the pullets have come online and are laying cute little beginner eggs. I suspect the crows are getting a couple of eggs a day, but I am not sure which nesting site they are stealing from. They are taking my fake eggs too. These are used to encourage the chooks to lay in a particular place, as they notice when all the eggs disappear from a nest all the time and deem it a bit unsafe. Leaving a fake egg reassures them.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Well... worryingly we have had another maiden ewe miscarry. Emmaline lost a little ram lamb.

I had to help her, as he was coming "top of the head" first. It took me a while to figure out what part I was seeing, as I've never heard of that before. Once we got the legs lined up he slipped right out, and it became obvious he'd passed away some days ago. The smell was really bad...

So she's got antibiotic shots once a day for five days, which neither she or we are loving, but she seems to be ok physically. I left the lamb with her for a while so she would figure out he wasn't going to get up, but she's spending her time camped as close as she can get to the lambing site, guess she's still grieving.

Jack, the lowline steer, freaked right out and hid in the bush all day. I had to go and find him and bring him in that night. He doesn't handle the smell of blood or death at all well. I wonder sometimes what happened to him before he came to us, as the other cattle couldn't care less. He spent the next 24 hours watching for lions and jumping at any noise.

We still have three ewes left to lamb, it's now looking like Min is well and truly in the family way. Min and Medea are experienced mothers, so I'm not too worried there. Cleo is the last of the maidens left and I will be watching her like a hawk.

Sometimes it's hard not to take the losses personally. "These things happen" just doesn't cut it when three out of five maiden ewes have lost their lambs this year. I would dearly love to know why.

Monday, 3 September 2012

We went to the Narromine Show on Saturday, where Little Moo was making his debut appearance. We missed his class, as the cattle went through faster than expected, but by all reports he acquitted himself well. He didn't win a ribbon this time, but fingers crossed for his next outing !

Flora is the cow I have just purchased. I will be picking her up on Wednesday.

Here are some photos of the girls and their charges. I won't name the girls for their privacy, but the three are not part of a formal school cattle handling program and are learning on their own time.

 Little Moo wins a heart

 Ruby - Mary : a half grown red lowline heifer 
and Little Moo's new girlfriend.

 Flora : a four year old lowline cow with her bull calf

 Edo : Flora's six week old calf

Little Moo pauses for a moment with his handler