Saturday, 29 December 2012

It's a couple of weeks since the last post and nothing has changed with the weather. We have had a tiny 4 mm of rain and day after day of heat and wind. We have eight weeks left of house water and the vege garden tank ran out yesterday. We have to decide whether to allocate water from stock and house use or let the garden go for this year.

Trees that previously survived ten years of drought are dying this year. Kurrajongs (which are normally drought fodder because they keep their leaves well after everything else is dead) have dropped all their leaves and pods. We've lost all the nectarines and apricots, the olive trees are even dying. The cactus plants have gone yellow. It's been really hard and it's not even January yet...

I am feeding the chickens wholegrain bread soaked in whey twice a day, as there is no green pick and no insects to forage. At least the whey adds some protein, calcium and fats to their diet. Though the scratch mix is supposed to be a complete feed, it does contain mainly carbs.

The sheep are all up in the house paddock. They are essentially being drylotted. The house paddock is a small area to sacrifice while attempting to keep some ground cover on the rest of the farm to hold the soil down. They have a round bale and some supplements and I am essentially hand feeding them now. We need to cut the numbers, sell the ewe lambs etc.


The neighbour's paddock, that should have carried the cattle all year round with any kind of rain at all, will be exhausted in about a month. Then I'll have to dry lot the cattle too. Other than the cost, it would be an awful lot more convenient to just walk out the back door to milk.


This is my current milking "parlour". I have to pasteurise anything that I use for cheese because there is so much dust, carrying all sorts of wild yeast and bacteria. DH bought me some hair nets. At about $5.00 per hundred they are a cheap and easy way to keep some of the flying dust and debris out of the milk. I soak them in sanitiser first and then they just fit over the top of the bucket, kept in place by the elastic.


This is the most recent equipment investment and I think it's really been worth the money. This little trailer hitches on behind Methusela as if it were made to match. It carries 300 kg and has a tip function as well. The sides can drop down for carrying bigger stuff, but in this configuration will fit more than a full bale of hay.

I use it every second or third day to carry hay or mixed feed down to the cattle. It will also come in handy for collecting firewood and carrying fencing supplies or water.


The rooster that showed up (photo on the last blog entry) has been found a new home with a flock of hens that had no patriarch. He is very full of himself now, but did think he'd been snatched by a fox when we grabbed him late at night to relocate him. Oh, the noise !!

A sheep walked in the front gate the next day and stayed for a couple of days. No-one nearby had lost any, and she had no eartag. Eventually we sent her next door (the other side to the cattle pasture) with that neighbour's consent, to join her little flock of ewes. She seems quite happy now.

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Just posting a few catchup photos and notes.

Frank & Pippi, the light sussex chicks, are reaching teenagehood. I can't wait until they are too big to sneak through the house yard fence and I can rehabilitate my herb garden !

This galah is one of many species of birds that find our birdbath a good place to visit on a hot day. In the peak of summer we can have up to nine different species and fifty individuals all waiting their turn in the "pecking order" for a go at the water.

We've finished the sun break for the central bed, just in time. It cuts down both water usage and leaf burn. The beans in the bed to the left are burning off even though they have shade from 1pm onwards. I may plant some more in this bed.

Jack is now wearing a fly mask too. I didn't think he'd accept something on his face because he's partly blind, but he stands quietly to have it put on and taken off so he's now got fly protection too.

This young rooster showed up from nowhere. He seems to be a crossbred, barred plymouth being one part from the striping he has. The rest is anybody's guess. He has been following the hens around, much to Shadow and Bruce's annoyance, but has yet to have been in a fight. I think we might need to find him a home soon though.

This is Ziggy with his weaning ring. It slides in past the septum and sits like a clip on earring, not piercing the nose. When he tries to nurse the spikes poke mum and she kicks him off. It seems mean, but it lets the calf stay with the cow and she can still mother and lick him. Otherwise you'd have to seperate them, much more traumatic. He's now about nine months old and she'd be weaning him soon anyway.


Flora went into heat on Thursday morning. There was much reciprocal  mounting and our hard-working vet came out and AI'd her with semen from the jersey bull Hawthorne Grove Zeus at 8.30 pm. He said she was pretty ready so fingers crossed !!

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

It's been a while since I've had a chance to update, but I've been getting to bed after midnight every night so it's just had to wait.

All is well with the animals. Boof has had his course of four shots of pentosan for his arthritis and we are now waiting to see what difference it makes. I have just bought seven round bales for the sheep, there is very little on the ground already and summer is just starting. I think I will have to sell more ewes and try to keep just the core of the flock.


I am now milking Big Moo again, having put a weaning ring in Ziggy's nose. It took a few days to get back into the routine, but she's doing well. I get about five litres a day, so I have been making either fresh cheese or mozarella, or yoghurt, every day. One of the reasons I've been getting to bed late. The other is having to water everything because we seem to be back in drought.


A lovely lady in the US made some cow-shaped fly veils and sent them over for my herd. Here are the ones I've fitted so far. I put them on in the morning and take them off in the afternoon.

 Big Moo


Ziggy & Flora

Jack is partially blind and I haven't tried one on him yet. I am waiting for a quiet afternoon in case it worries him.


The vege garden is now under review. I am pulling out anything that is not producing, is suffering from insect attack or is unlikely to survive the heat. We don't have the water to carry all that is planted now, so I'm just going to go with the things that grow best. This year it seems to be potatoes, pumpkins and tomatoes. The borlotti beans are potentially big producers, but seem to be struggling with direct sun. I may plant some more in a shady bed. We do have some jerusalem artichokes that appear healthy, last year was too wet for them. I need a root cellar to store all this !