Sunday, 28 September 2014

We've done a bit of consolidation this week, getting set up rather than new building. First off the mark was the sheepyards so we could check and trim the sheep's feet. In the damper climate and softer soil we've been told that dorper hoofs, designed for dry rangelands, can overgrow. They weren't too bad, all things considered.

We also set up the feed room and animal husbandry area in the old cutting room. It has a concrete floor, and power, lights and water. Everything needed for preparing medications, mixing feed or storing gear.

At the front of the yards you can see the tipper, which rolls sheep over with their feet in the air. In the foreground the well padded sheep graze an area delineated by the smart fence. The fence is moved each morning to give them a new patch of long, lush grass.

DH decided to mulch the orchard, to give the young plants less competition from the grass. First stage is to exclude the light using cardboard, which should break down as it rains. We will then use something like sugar cane mulch to keep the grass down in the first year. Once the trees are bigger the proposed geese should graze around the orchard and keep the grass trimmed.

I've been cleaning the cow accommodation and gathering the manure and waste hay in anticipation of the garden prep. It should compost fast in the damper weather. At Dubbo it simply dried out and mummified...

This is our new second hand Cub Cadet mower, while it doesn't have the character of old Methuselah, it does pull my little trailer and it is a cheerful colour :-)

Next door is a dairy and the cows come down the laneway each afternoon to new grazing. Here are some of the first finished milking. A combination of friesians and jerseys and crosses of those two I think. It's nice to see them grazing over the fence.

The current tenant of the other house (right) and DH (left) working on a mower. It took a while and the mower didn't end up ever working, I think it was more an excuse for a natter.

I think the unusual light in this photo is a result of the reflection of the sun off the white wall of the house. Gives the scene a bit of a glow.

This is the tenant's dog, Ellie. I think she is some kind of english sheepdog. She certainly has an obsession with the sheep. She and Poppy spend hours playing and running every day. Ellie is faster and more agile so Poppy has learned to cheat and cuts the corners of Ellie's big circles to keep up.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Last Saturday we went to a slide show and field walk with the North East Field Naturalists to learn about the local burrowing crayfish. The two that are local to this area are Engaeus mairener (Mt Arthur Burrowing Crayfish) and Engaeus spinicaudatus (Scottsdale Burrowing Crayfish). The Scottsdale one is endangered.

These two little guys were found at North East Park at Scottsdale. They are E. mairener.

This is the type of mound the burrowing crayfish produce. They dig a burrow and roll pellets of earth up and out the top of the entry. The mound looks like a little chimney made out of sheep pellets.

This is a Button Grass plain, where the NE Field Nats were looking for E. spinicaudatus. They weren't lucky enough to find one wandering about (they spend most of their lives in the burrows) but they did find some mounds.

DH among the more seasoned Field Nats.

Plover eggs, lovely camouflaged eggs in olive greens.

It seems we may have some prime E. mairener habitat on the farm, in the big seep with trees and tree ferns. I plan on hiking down for a look this week.
Hasn't been alot to report. A bit of rain, a bit of sun, a bit of wind. Two sheep with bacterial arthritis, once completely recovered, the second still malingering.Cattle and dogs are fine, one of the 17yo cats is looking his age.

DH picked up some ug boots while he was in Dubbo. From the Westhaven ug boot factory, hand made, great quality. Think of these guys when you look for warm uggies next winter. Money goes to the sheltered workshop.

We slipped up to Bridport one afternoon but missed the light, will have to take a trip during the day.


Got some business cards distributed around town and an ad organised for the Northeastern Advertiser (the local paper) so hopefully some work will come our way.

Organised a local hay contractor to come and check out the large pasture to see if we can make hay, and a local builder to quote on securing the foundations of the big hay shed so it can be turned into a barn and stall area.

Also got a lead on a number of the chook breeds that are on my wish list and on a plucker and scalder. The seller of the latter also offered all his roosters, between us and the dogs we should be able to eat a few !

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Spring is sprung, the giant thornless blackberry has broken into leaf and the redcurrants aren't far behind. The other various berries are all showing green tips, but the baby trees are holding their buds tight.

This is a plant in the second house with a beautiful scent. You can click on the picture to enlarge it, any identification would be welcome. It has a slightly lemony scent. These are the flowers :

And this is the bush, showing size and growth habit :

The paddock trees are in full flower, if this is a fruit tree there are going to be some livestock sweating on the windfalls come autumn !

If you can tell what it is from the photos below I'd love to know. The leaves :

The blossoms :

Either way the bees are thrilled.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

They're here !!!!

They arrived just on dusk, so I was glad I had everything ready ahead of time. No photos as it was too dark, but here are some from this morning.

Having been brushed and backlined, and having had a good breakfast of hay, the cattle get to sample the grass. They are a bit shaggy and poopy, but with regular brushing their coats should get shiny again.

Big Moo has lost some weight and a little bit of skin and hair, but she is still my beautiful herd boss.

Little Sieka is now about a year old, I look forward to getting back into the training routine. Leading, picking up feet and basic milking manners.

The sheep come with three lambs. Molly had twins before we left, one has been sent to be bottle raised. The other, a little ewe lamb called Bella, is doing fine on mum.

This fancy lamb is Emmaline's. A ram lamb, name of Shiney. Have to see if there is any demand for awassi genetics down here. Going to be a very impressive little boy I think.

And this little one is Cleo's lamb and I think a ewe lamb. Already taller than Bella, Cleo throws tall slabby lambs, laid back and solid. If it is indeed a she, the name is Nefertiti.

Checking out the new digs. They've already eaten the grass in the pen, lucky for them it's a portable pen and they will get new grass every day.

Staff from Elders in town came out and gave them an injectible wormer that will give them three months protection while they acclimatise to the pastures. Very much appreciated as I wouldn't have been able to inject them on my own, DH being in transit back from Dubbo.

Boof is feeling the effects of the long journey and is holed up in the shelter. He's had a dose of aspirin and is tucked in hay, so hopefully he'll rally soon.