Sunday, 21 December 2014

Gardens and Orchards

A new friend has used his little Fergie tractor to rotory hoe the yard behind the second cottage. This area was a vege garden in a previous life so the soil is very soft and friable, and with the addition of some manure and mulch will be very fertile.

In this area I have planted corn, potatoes, tomatoes, bush beans, peas, brown onions, leeks, garlic, chickory, pak choy, strawberry spinach, rainbow beets, capsicum, eggplant. globe artichoke, mixed lettuce, zuccini and green button squash.

I have watermelons, red pumpkins and borlotti, kidney and haricot beans, comfrey, borage and scarlet runner beans to go in yet.

I also have lemon basil, sweet basil, thyme, chocolate mint, lemon balm, olive herb, pennywort and carraway in pots up at the house.

There is a bay tree to go into the centre of the driveway loop, there are already golden nugget pumpkins there, and there are pumpkins and potatoes in the yard around the greenhouse.

The fruit trees in the orchard have thrown leaves, the redcurrent is in the middle of fruiting and the blackcurrant is about to start ripening. The thornless blackberry is flowering (as are the blackberry stands down in the forest) and I have a yellow peach ready to plant in this area too.

The plum trees down on the boundary fence are starting to show colour and the two trees near the dairy seem to be cherries.

Five of the six cider apples are in the ground with the hole dug for the sixth. You can see two chooks visiting at the dog water bucket, I think I will plant mint under the tap there.

We are late starting the vege garden, but I have chosen early maturing varieties where possible. Hopefully we will get at least half the plantings to eating stage before the first frosts. Next year I will be better prepared (or even for the autumn plantings !) and we should start seeing a continuous crop of leafy greens.

* First two photos C. Turley

Sunday, 30 November 2014

It's been a while since the last post, but we have been kept busy with new arrivals.

Macey, a little heifer was born to Di. At about ten days old she caught a tummy bug and we nearly lost her, but prompt action by the vet pulled her round and she is doing fine now. Here she is the day she was born.

Here are photos of Erg (top) and Macey (bottom) more recently.


Five dairy cattle arrived from Bungendore ahead of their owner, who will be living in the other cottage.

Twiggy, an illawarra shorthorn jersey cross.

Taurus, a jersey bull calf.

 Fifi and Blossom, jerseys.

Rosy, also jersey.

Two local cows, the black girl is a dexter named Heidi and the red one is an angus dexter cross named Jaffa. Jaffa is pregnant and due in April.

Seven hens and a rooster, here are four of the hens lounging in the door of the henhouse.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

This past week I purchased two lowline cows. Di and Daphne had been running with a bull for 18 months and not calved and the seller suspected his bull was a dud. They were delivered on Tuesday afternoon and seemed to settle in ok.

About the middle of Wednesday afternoon I noticed a commotion among the sheep and went to investigate.

Daphne !!

A little wet black bull calf ! I was able to watch the birth from a distance and all went smoothly until he dropped out, he fell tangled up and his head was tucked underneath him. So I sidled over and sorted him out and it wasn't long before he was up on his feet and wobbling around.

By the time he was 2 hrs old he'd figured out how to get under the rope fence behind him and (the actual smart bit) how to get back!

Here are a couple more photos of him and his mum from today. Dried off, eating well and as cheeky as you could want in a calf :-)


It looks like Di is also due very soon so he will have a companion to play with !

Thursday, 16 October 2014

There's been a few adventures in Tassie, which I'll post about shortly.In the meantime, here are some random photos.

The mower and trailer are very handy for mucking out the cow areas. I can back them right down the concrete and flick the waste hay and manure right into the trailer. From here it goes to the vege garden to become compost.

The old plum tree hasn't died, it was later flowering than the other trees but put on a lovely show. It will be a good shade tree once the leaves come in too. And perhaps fruit ?


I've set up the livestock food and medicine dispensary in the old cutting room. The hanging rails are quite useful for rugs, halters and fly veils. With lights, power and running water this may end up being a cheesemaking room once the old milkroom is refitted for all this gear.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

A couple of freebie dog photos...




We co-ordinated with our over-the-road neighbours for some roadworks. The little bobcat is about the most useful machine I have ever seen. Apparently you can get something like 80 or 90 attachments for it ! The experienced operator had it whizzing around like a polo pony.

26 ton of sand and 26 ton of gravel, delivered by the neighbour who works for a truck company. He emptied the back trailer first then tucked it to the side so he could empty the forward section.

The end result. The red areas are where he lifted the overgrowing grass off already gravelled areas, which were most of the shed accesses. I think there are a few more formed drives on the place so we may get him back for half a day once we've identified them. The grey sections are where the sand and then the gravel were laid once he'd graded the ruts out.

The removed turf added up to quite a pile, it will be mixed with manure and waste hay from the cowshed and used to fill the raised garden beds for veges. In the meantime, it's Poppy's command post.

Monday, 6 October 2014

A Day in the Life of...

Today I made yoghurt, baked and iced a brownie, made oxtail stew in the slow cooker, fed the kefir jar ...

Cleaned and dubbined boots ...

Picked up dog bones and mowed the back yard with the manual mower ...

As well as the usual : move the electric fences for the next ration for sheep and cattle, mucked out the cow area, 30 minutes of paperwork, mulched some more of the front garden beds, put out three loads of washing, swept out and prepped the central bay of the chook house ready for roosters, moved some tadpoles from the cow trough to the sheep trough to eat wrigglers and algae, mixed sheep snacks and answered emails.

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.