Saturday, 23 August 2014

We did think that the sheep and cattle might start their journey this week, but I guess they've decided to wait another week. That's ok, they're making the decision based on the ability of the lambs to travel so I am happy to defer to their experience.

In the meantime, we have prepared the receiving areas. The sheep will need to be drenched on arrival and then held in quarantine overnight. Both species will then need to be introduced to the lush pastures gradually. This means holding them in yards overnight and making sure they have a good belly full of hay before being allowed out to graze.

So I've set up the sheepyards in this gateway for easy unloading. It won't be the permanent location for the yards but it will allow a livestock truck to remain on good gravel footing.

Once unloaded they'll be drenched and released into this run-in area, the former boatshed. There'll be hay and fresh water and bedding for the lambs, and a small sacrifice area for nibbling grass and sitting in the sun that won't be grazed for a while afterwards to avoid picking up worm eggs.

The cattle will be accomodated in the former dairy area. Cattle don't suffer from parasites to the same extent as sheep, and the backline applied in Dubbo should be good enough in this case.

They can be unloaded via this ramp if the truck doesn't have its own ramp. The tree in front is apparently an elderly plum tree. It's the biggest, gnarliest plum I've ever seen.

The sleeping area is this old calving barn. Dry, out of the wind and soft sandy footing. Apparently it used to be bedded two feet deep in sawdust when the timber mills were operating and sawdust was a waste product. At the end of winter it would be removed and composted. Finding a comparable bedding for at least one corner (only six cattle) will take some thought.

This is the feeding area. Connected by a doorway the cattle can come and go between the two. Hay is fed in the racks on either side, and the concrete troughs underneath are a good place for mineral blocks. The tubs are for grain or sweet feed, a few handfuls to bring them in at night.

Looking back out from the entry to the feed area, a courtyard for sunshine and a water trough. They will be let out onto the grass each day once they are topped up with hay. All the concrete should help wear their hooves to a better length, they all could use a trim. Once they are used to the pasture they can come and go for water and hay as they please.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

The unpacking continues. I would like to say "apace" but it isn't. I am a bit burnt out so I am doing two boxes per day. There is a finite number of boxes so I have to reach the end sooner or later. Right ?

Here is a about one third of the butchers paper, still waiting to be folded. I am doing an hour a night in front of tv. I think this will take another week to get through. Now I know where all our wood pulp is going !

Cheri is about the same age as the other two cats (16 - 17 years old) but she is showing her age less. She has plenty of energy and has now become boss of the house. If I'd put some sort of cat bed in front of the heater her life would be perfect, but since it's in the kitchen she's out of luck. The floor is carpeted anyway.

Today I started planting the orchard. This is the first tree to go in, an apple. Yes, I know it's an almost invisible stick, it'll get leaves soon. Or flowers, can't remember which comes first with apples.

I did four trees today and I think I overdid the hole digging. Two a day maximum from now on, soft dirt or not. Mind you, it's probably easier digging without Poppy wanting to inspect the hole after each shovelful.

Now that the trees are in she can get on with guarding them. As you do when you are a guardian dog. Livestock ? They're alive aren't they ?

Plant next to Poppy on the left is a blackcurrent, the one on the right is a redcurrent, kinda over her head is a cox's orange pippin apple and the one at the back (and the first planted) is a pink lady apple.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

In the interests of fairness I will point out that not everything has turned out perfectly. The second time I used the oven I had a major ant relocation occur. That's right, the second time. They apparently set up shop between the first use and the following one. Why ? Not a clue. And they haven't appeared again since.

This is the interior of the big machinery shed. I think a mezzanine floor would make the best use of the enormous space. DH is convinced this is the new man cave. It was hand built by the last owners and they built it to last, those are whole tree trunks. Stringy bark I am told.

The cats have settled in well, the front yard is a perfect sun trap for them. That black blob under Asante's head is Tenchi's head. Nothing better than a brother for a pillow.

So we have now been here two weeks and I thought I should start getting some photos from the farm up for you to see. A handful of scenery ones to start with ...

This is the view to the south from my bedroom window :

Those furthers peaks are on the edge of the snowfields and they tell me sometimes you can see a little snow on them. It doesn't snow here in Scottsdale.

This is a photo of two maremma sheepdogs hard at work in the driveway loop making sure the grass is growing in an orderly fashion :

Poppy in front and Alvin at back. Poppy does most of the barking and greeting, Alvin only bothers if he sees the visitors are dog people.

This is the view to the southwest from the back of the house, with Willy in his little pasture knee deep in grass :

That's the hay shed at the back and the implement shed in the front. The locality of West Scottsdale is sort of over the top of Willy.

And a bit round to the south, he has a lovely view from his digs :

It's hard being a sheep in paradise !

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Eventually we closed in on the docks, a bit of "hot" and "cold" back and forwards and we were parked in the public lot with an hour to spare.

We cleaned out Willy's bedding hay (DH mulched the garden in the parking area) and put in his hessian bed to sleep on and gave him two biscuits of good lucerne hay to eat. Got the paperwork for the dogs and lamb out, emptied the jerry can into the ute's fuel tank and got rid of any apple cores or fruit.

Just as we finished it started sleeting and hailing and the dogs and Willy decided the ute wasn't so bad after all.

They opened the gates for the quarantine and security screening of cars at 4.30 and we started the process of loading

I was in the garage at the very bottom of the ship, and got through first and took our gear up to the cabin. DH put the dogs in their (small !) kennels and made sure Willy had all he needed on the kennel deck. He baad for a good half hour apparently, but eventually settled down. The dogs were very unhappy with the kennels. Poppy was trembling a bit :-(

We went upstairs and tried to make a booking for the nice restaurant rather than the bistro, and got put on standby. So we went and bought some Tasmanian beers and watched the lights of Melbourne slip by while sipping the beer. We got called in at about 8.30 for dinner and I had a tasting plate (pate, smoked quail, terrine, antipasto) followed by a fork-tender piece of beef and DH had a smoked salmon salad followed by a vegetable linguni. All Tassie produce, and I had a glass of white with the tasting plate and a glass of red with the beef, both Tassie wines.

The sea was smooth enough that you'd never have known we were on a boat during dinner, and we got through the shower and into the bunks before we started to roll. Since we were laying down with eyes shut neither of us got seasick. We woke at about 5.30am and packed ready, then went up for a basic breakfast before going down to the cars.


We went down through Cowra, Young, Wagga Wagga and Albury, crossing the Murray River and the state line into Victoria there.

We stopped regularly to let the dogs stretch their legs and Willy eat.


I had printed out maps, but the scale was unhelpful, the signposting was woeful and it was that time of day when the sky is still bright and the ground is dark so it's difficult driving. So we got lost in Wodonga, and lost on the freeway (I assumed they'd be country highways like into Canberra, and wasn't prepared for freeway traffic or the poor signposting so we ended uptaking the "scenic route" and reached the B&B at about 6.30pm instead of 4pm.

The B&B was great, they made us a delicious slow cooked pork belly for dinner and a tangy lemon tart for dessert. The accomodation was warm and comfortable, including a carafe of Rutherglen muscat that we both had a small glass of before bed. Willy refused a bottle (he'd been thingy about it for the last few days) so we settled them all on tethers (oleander plants around garden) and slept like the dead.

Woken then next morning by Poppy barking and Willy bleating, two guys in high vis were leaning over the fence talking to them. Breakfast was pancakes for me and full english for DH. Then back in the cars. Even the dogs were a bit relucatant this time.

Back on the freeway and this time it's DH's job to navigate and my job to stick close. The freeway chaos the night before has dented my confidence...

Smooth sailing all the way in following the signs straight to Melbourne. Alvin's head all the way out one window, Poppy's nose out the other. We pulled up at a truck stop to let the dogs stretch their legs and Willy do some eating and a guy had his horse out of the trailer doing the same thing.

As we got closer and closer in the traffic got heavier and heavier and the lane changing more scary. DH was following the signs for City of Melbourne and looking for Port Melbourne turnoffs, or even Spirit of Tasmania (the name of the ferry) signage. What he WASN'T looking for was a ruddy great boat sillhouette on the sign...

Just as I saw the boat and thought "Yes !!" DH went left with the City of Melbourne signs. "No !!" I wailed...

Deeper and deeper into the CBD we went. Slower and slower the traffic moved. I offended about half the people in the traffic by refusing to merge alternately because if I lost DH things were going to get ugly. I got stranded across the tram tracks and just about pooped myself waiting to get hammered amidships by a tram. I met the infamous "hook" turns where you have to pull into the left lane and wait for a signal if you want to turn right.

I did the creep forward three car lengths at each change of lights. We did mad flying u turns in intersections, asked passers by for directions while stuck at lights. And the whole time the dogs had their heads out the windows sniffing like mad and looking at everything and people were lining the sidewalk pointing and taking photos of the dogs. I wished we'd have had Willy's tarp lifted so they could see him too. Bet we'd have made the news ... 
The morning of the Great Migration dawned and I packed the cars and trailer while DH filled the skip with all the leftover rubbish. He was still throwing the last things in when they came to take it away. The carpet cleaner did his thing, and the new owners came out with the agent to do their inspection, they seemed happy. I gave the keys to the agent while he was there, saving one job on the way out of town.

One of the fire brigade couples came back out and took away the desk and lounge suite we had to leave behind (need to get a modular setting for the smaller house in Tassie) and brought out pizza for lunch. While we were all having a pizza picnic lunch I got the call that settlement had been completed, it was all official !

We packed the dogs into the back seat of the farm ute, put Willy into his special crate with custom made tarp cover, and hit the road.

 Farewell to Oaklands !

The first leg was a short one, an hour and a half to my parents' place at Molong. We unloaded everyone and took the dogs for a walk and left Willy in the house yard. A tactical error, we thought he'd be happier not walking in a strange place after dark because sheep don't get more rational in the dark, but Dad says he spent the whole time racing up and down the fenceline baaing hysterically.

Willy got to wander the yard but the dogs were tethered (fence too low) but all passed the night peacefully. We had a lovely meat fondue (old family favourite), a great visit with Mum and Dad and a good night's sleep, and then set off on the longest leg at about 8.30am the next morning. This time Willy went on the pre-loading walk.

The dogs were happy to get back in the ute, one head out each window, but Willy wasn't so keen on the crate. He spends most of the time sitting down sleeping or chewing cud so we have to make the stops long enough for him to eat a bit too. 
So, here's the story of our journey so far !

The removalists were fast and friendly, and when they said they pack tight they meant it ! All my worldly possessions went into two twenty foot shipping containers. With the last container one guy was pushing against the stuff to hold it in while they wedged the doors shut.

They were so fast they packed a few things I'd wanted to keep out, including the usb cord for the camera and the keys to the gun safe. DH wanted to wrap the gun so it wouldn't rattle, but couldn't open it to do that so he filled the safe with expanda foam through a bolt hole... he's going to have something to do on long winter evenings cleaning that out !

They packed on Monday and loaded on Tuesday, and went to leave at about 3pm, only to find their truck wouldn't start ! That took about half an hour to fix but they did get going. The containers won't reach Scottsdale til the 11th of August apparently, so we're camping for a bit. We've organised to pack the essentials in the trailer.

So, that left us standing there in the gathering gloom realising we had only that evening and the next morning to clean the whole house and farm and pack the cars and trailer and do the last minute drop offs... That was looking like a "work til the small hours" task.

Then within 15 mins we had my sister and her husband and two of their kids, two couples from the fire brigade (one brought the tanker out to blast out the compressed poop and pee and hay from the carport where the sheep had sheltered after shearing) and two of DH's kids all arrive and the place looked like a scene from renovation rescue (except it didn't end up any prettier, just clean :-)) as people were all madly cleaning and sweeping and vacuuming.

They had it all done by 8pm so we had time to take DH's kids for a quiet dinner and then crawled into bed (two air matresses on the floor).

Thankfully the cats had flown out Monday morning before the removalists arrived so they weren't caught up in all the rushing and chaos.