Saturday, 21 December 2013

Now, moving onto the cattle.

All are sleek and shiny. And just as bored as the sheep. They are trekking into the forest after breakfast and dinner to look for something to browse on and are coming back with red ticks. I am not sure what kind they are, not paralysis or cattle ticks, perhaps bush ticks or dog ticks. I need to take one into the vet and have it identified. They never seem to be able to fill up on the cattle, perhaps their skin is too thick. They do cause an allergic reaction and nasty little sores though, so I inspect twice a day and put purple spray on the sores.

It looks like Sieka's brown baby hair is growing out and being replaced by black. She's likely going to be that ultra-dominant angus black, none of the jersey colour or her father's white patches. Never mind, she's beautiful as she is.

Little Moo is back ! Cindy-Lou Moo has gone out to Trangie as she has reached breeding age and is now going to rendezvous with the little red bull. He is looking well, and settled right back in within 24 hours.

Little Moo and Ziggy are about the same size, though Ziggy is three years younger. They have fun wrestling and  being big boys together. Jack outweighs both of them and has the role of the herd bull despite not having the necessities. Since he's very easy going the herd is quite relaxed.

Here is the Christmas greeting from the cows, Big Moo with one ear cocked back to hear the little bells on the antlers and the other pointed in my direction because there had better be a good explanation for this !

Friday, 20 December 2013

 Alrighty, lets see if we can get caught up !!

First, the sheep. While old Max is really hitting the wall and some hard decisions will have to be made soon, most of the sheep are doing just fine despite the drought. My hay guy makes sure we have good quality hay and while they are spending the day bored and destructive, they are being well fed.

Here is an recent photo of little Halley, she's going to be a solid ewe, but it's her patterning that everyone sees first.

This is Medea's latest lamb, Stewie-Chicken-Chaser. He's very confident, mischievous and is already sold as a ram and will go to his new home when weaned. He was big and took a bit of birthing, and we had to milk Medea for a week until her large milk production and a single lamb balanced out, but he's the fastest growing and most energetic lamb. He has good genes and I hope he behaves himself !

Wonder Sheep Molly recovered completely, here is a sunset photo with just that last little thatch of wool to shed. She's since completely shed out, she has a lovely soft hair coat.

Boof is also finally slowing down, and appears to have wrenched his shoulder. Being on three legs for an already handicapped sheep of his weight is no fun so we are watching him closely in case he does more damage.

Here DH is plucking out itchy tufts of shedding wool, much to Boof's delight.

Speaking of being a Wonder Sheep, Molly gave birth to twin boys on Wednesday ! The timing means she was pregnant just before the operation and carried them through that and all the treatment afterwards !

They were, as is the way of things, born at the beginning of a heatwave. Temperatures ranging from 39C to 42C. Lambs this young have trouble regulating their heat and take time to figure out things like shade and sun. They were really struggling so I brought the little family into the house yard around by the tanks so they can get the benefit of the cooling effect laying against the tanks.

I also dug out the gel cooling bandanas. The bandanas have pockets of water absorbing gel, you soak the whole thing until the gel has absorbed heaps of water, then you tie on the bandana and the water evaporates and cools your neck. Same process works for a lamb :-)

The little guys and their mum were pretty bemused, but they do make a big difference.

And a Christmas greeting from the sheep :

Boof wonders just what it's going to take to get us to leave him to his breakfast in peace :-)

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Our lovely Flora, she of the wide load, has had a calf.A baby girl now named Sieka, or Squeaky on an informal basis.

Born on the 12th Sept, this is the little lady and her mother the next morning. She was born in the forest and I was struggling to herd her and her mum back to the house paddock when DH waded right in and picked her up ! Flora started bellowing and shaking her head and slinging snot everywhere, reminding us that more people are killed by cows with new calves than by bulls ... DH just told her to pull her head in and set off for the house with Flora in hot pursuit.

About 2/3 of the way the madam realised that the other cattle were already at the hay and charged off ahead, bellowing back over her shoulder as if to say "Hurry up !! Bring my baby faster !!". Not that she's food motivated or anything ...

A little closer. With her big belly button, when I first saw her I thought we had a bull calf !

This is at ten days old, with a lovely red colour happening. In the right light you can see stripes so I hope she'll end up brindle instead of the usual lowline colouring of brown at birth and then going black. As lowlines are polled, which is dominant, I expect her to be polled too.

She's already learned to tie up and to lead, to wear her very own teeny fly veil, have her feet picked up and her ears cleaned out. I brush her every day and try to incorporate a short lesson into each evening.


She's a jersey cross, this is her dad, Hawthorne Grove Zeus. She didn't get any of his fancy colouring, but hopefully she'll carry his excellent udder and temperament genes. Important for a house-cow-to-be. I hope she and I are going to be a great team.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Alvin has been a bit of an enigma.

All was going swimmingly, as you can see from this photo of a maremma hard at work on a sunny afternoon...

Then something changed and Alvin and the sheep went their separate ways. The love affair fizzled, the passion died, the sheep smell funny and Alvin wears army boots.

I have no idea what went on, but I guess the only thing to do is start again. In the meantime, poor Al is lonely and bored and I am weighing up getting him a female pup of some soft-mouthed gentle breed as a companion and keeping him on as a pet rather than a sheep guardian.

I need a maremma-whisperer ! Where's Cesar Milan when you need him ? I hate not knowing what to do.

We've also installed an e-fence to stop him roaming and getting shot or run over, though he doesn't seem keen on patrolling any more.


The chook family is growing. A friend brought up four chooks that she needed to rehome before moving across the country. They've settled in well and have bonded with the flock, going to bed in the new chicken hoochie. Of the chicks, we lost the sebright (hawk) and the welsummer (mareks) and the barred rock turned out to be a rooster. He was taken home for breeding and replaced with a silver spangled hamburg and the welsummer with a barnevelder. When they are all clucking instead of peeping they too will join the main flock.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

An update on Molly.

The vets ended up doing a mastectomy on the bad side of her udder, the infection was walled off from her body successfully, but would not drain. So after a long and bloody surgery followed by another two general anesthetics during the next week to pack and unpack the wound, the long slog of healing the surgery site began.

For six weeks I've irrigated and cleaned and sprayed and watched. The wound being on the bottom of her udder meant that she filled it full of dirt and muck whenever she sat down.

Here's a photo of her with her wearing her protective bra just after the surgery. This didn't last too long, as I'm not the world's best seamstress, but this lingerie bag and elastic contraption kept the dirt and flies out of the wound after the surgery for long enough to start the healing well.

All the treatment following the surgery was done on my hands and elbows in the cow headbail, in the cold or wind or rain. We even dealt with a maggot attack. Molly can turn around completely in the headbail and could have trampled me. She didn't even have to go in twice a day, there's no way to force her into it. I owe our success completely to her tolerance and co-operation.

She's now on the last leg of healing. From an eight inch long opening into an empty space the size of a grape fruit, the wound is now barely an inch long and more like a groove than a cut. I am sad she lost that side, but really, really pleased we saved this gorgeous girl.

Saturday, 28 September 2013

I'ts been a while since I added to this blog, first three weeks with no internet and then two weeks of data-molasses, too slow to upload. Now that we have something approaching normal access I'll bring this up to date over the next week or so.


We lost our lovely Ryo Okhi. 14 years old and looking like 5 until the last few months, she astounded the vets at her yearly checkups with her health and condition. She finally succumbed to stomach cancer, and I miss her little face peering over the dinner table every night.

She knew the difference between putting stuff on the table and setting the table, and the moment the table was set she'd be occupying one of the seats ready for a share of whatever was on the menu.


We've been hand feeding for what feels like forever, but is probably since early summer last year, making it coming up to 12 months. That has meant alot of hay being brought in, which is probably a real bonus for the soil since it's very much a net import of nutrients. Fifty years of this and some decent rain and we might actually have soil instead of sand. You soon realise the difference generations of enriching a farm can make as opposed to generations of stripping it...

In the meantime the sheep love to assist with unloading each batch of hay. They frantically eat as much as they can reach before it's all stored and then climb all over the trailer and ute looking for the scraps. As you can see they're not actually starving (bowling ball being the average body shape) but I think it's all about having something to do. Or "enrichment" as they call it in zoos.

This is Tiger wondering whether Geoff is more interesting than the hay.


Cleo was the last to lamb in this batch. Benny, her first lamb, is a big lumbering un-fussed wether. His little siblings are Joseph and Pogo, a slightly more flighty brother and sister pair. They both have the family ears :-)

Monday, 12 August 2013

A couple of new additions :-)

Emmaline, who lost her first lamb stillborn, had  her baby on Friday.  A little ewe we've called Halley after the comet discoverer, as she has a trail of stars on her back. Halley is bright and bouncy, already taking on the bigger boys and joining all the games.

Halley is 1/4 white dorper, 1/4 awassi and 1/2 dorper. Her mum is lots of caramel, gold and cream shades, but all dorper cross babies take on the black and white colouring. Halley is unusual in that she has fancy patterning from her mum's side.

And over in the cow department, Bella Cinderella Countessa. That's her stud name anyway. At the moment she's getting CindiLou Moo or Honky Cow, depending on whether she's being demure or letting loose her foghorn moo that is double the volume of the grown up full size cows next door !

This little lady is a one year old lowline heifer staying with us while young Edo is weaned out at Trangie. He's at the same farm as Little Moo.

And the next door sheep have a pair of tiny twins ! A boy and a girl born on the most cold and horrible day. They are a couple of days old now and it makes me smile every time I see them playing together.

Friday, 2 August 2013

The days are slowly but surely getting longer. Minute by minute. Now I am getting the chores done by dark instead of still going after dark, and today I spent a quiet five mins just sitting with Alvin after everyone was fed, watered and cared for. Perhaps things are getting easier from now :-)


Flora is about six weeks from calving and she is in training to be a milk cow. We trimmed the long hair from around her udder and she's been getting the full "wash/dry/milk/massage" treatment. I haven't been taking much milk, perhaps a cup, and it's time to dry her off now so she can make colostrum.

In this pic you can see how short she is :-) I normally sit alot closer to milk, but I wanted the shot to show the bucket a bit more clearly. Like most of the animals on the farm, if there is food involved the sky could fall and she won't notice.


Last weekend I picked up five new pullets. 3 months old and very calm and confident. This is their pen for the next six weeks. We've put up bird mesh to discourage hawks.

Top to bottom, a barred rock, a welsummer, a wheaten araucana, a lavender araucana and a sebright.

Monday, 29 July 2013

Today we have the latest lamb and some more Alvin.

Little Morgan was born on the 15th, half an hour old in this pic. He was born breech, which means his back legs came out first. When that happens they can suffocate because the head is still inside when the umbilical cord parts and they can't start breathing like in a normal birth. Seeing back feet rather than front I slipped in and helped a little. It was a good feeling to see him start to breath and shake his head :-)

His Mum, Max, is our elderly sheep. So old she has no teeth. I thought she was too old to get pregnant again, but where there's a will there's a way. She's in great condition because being hand fed means she doesn't have to work to find food, so she will be able to raise a single lamb easily.

Alvin is gradually convincing the sheep that he means no harm. His habit of galumphing through the middle of the flock has slowed this process somewhat, and he recieved his own fright yesterday when he got in the way of a sheepalanche and wore a ewe fair in his midriff.

The main components for his e-fence arrived today and with a little luck we may have it installed by the weekend. If his training goes well he will have the run of the farm without the risk of leaving the place and getting run over or shot.

He has such a friendly face, but with some bad dog attacks on sheep fresh in everyone's mind, there is little tolerance for a strange dog crossing other people's land.

Still to come : New chickies and Flora.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Been a long couple of weeks. Have a few updates that I'll do over the next couple of days.

First is Molly.

This was her udder on the Monday morning after the vet visit (have to love a vet that will come at 10pm on a Sunday night).  See that big black blister near her leg ? It got worse ...

 This is now :

We've lost the production on that side, but we beat the gangrene, stopped it from sloughing off, staved off blood poisoning,  and saved her life :-)

In the race having her special feed, where she's been doctored morning and night for four weeks. She still paws at the gate to the yards if I'm late, talk about food motivated !

And her lamb, Sunny, having his special feed :-) He's become very quiet and confident, following his Mum in like he's been doing it all his life. When you come to think of it, he just about has !

Even after all the shots and all the messing around and drenching and milking out that painful udder, she still loves me :-) Here she is waiting at the gate for some scratches :-)

 More to come : Alvin, Morgan, Flora and some new chickies ...

Monday, 8 July 2013

I haven't updated in a while because we've been busy nursing Molly, who has developed necrotic mastitis. It's a nasty infection of the udder and we may lose her. At the very least we will probably lose that side of the udder.

 We have sent one of her lambs (the little ewe lamb Elf) to be a bottle baby at another farm to reduce the stress and drain on her. Luckily her brother still has the other two boys to play with.

Any prayers, good thoughts or well wishes are appreciated.


Lamb races are a wonderful part of dusk at the moment. They race up and down the driveway at full tilt. My camera isn't good enough to capture them in mid leap, but this shot of all four lambs in a race will give you an idea of the fun.

One of the favourite shrubs for the sheep are the wormwood bushes at the front of the house yard. Used to make absinthe, the drink of the green fairy, the leaves are very bitter. I'm not sure if they love them for the anti-worm action or whether they do get a hallucinatory effect ...

Here is Benny having a munch.



This is the latest addition to Oaklands, a 4yo maremma named Alvin. He has come to be the livestock guardian dog for the sheep and chickens.

The chickens are a bit ho-hum, the sheep think he's a wolf in sheep clothing and the cows think he's the scariest thing since the plastic bag blew across the paddock last year.

They gather at the shared fence to bellow at him and mill around pretending to be bulls. In the lower photo you can see his reaction to all the ruckus ...

Saturday, 15 June 2013

The night of my last post was a busy one. Lambing at 2am ! Lucky I woke because the second twin needed to be pulled. One of her front legs was caught back. The photo below is of the ram lamb the next morning, I didn't think to take pics in the wee small hours ... The little ewe is there, on the other side, but I haven't caught a decent photo of her yet.

Dorpers are hard enough to photograph at the best of times as their black faces seldom show up well. When mum is determined to stop the paparazzi it can be almost impossible to get a portrait !

The maternity ward was my carport, which has been filled with hay and turned into a lambing jug because the weather was just nasty. Today was the first day with some sun, so the little family was released into the house yard to soak up some rays.

Molly with her ewe lamb on the left and ram lamb on the right.

About an hour after Molly and her babies departed the carport, it was obvious Min was going to need the accommodation fast.

Her first lamb arrived within minutes, a ram.

The second was well late and she ran out of puff, so I straightened the legs and eased the nose out. Another ram :-) 

Normally Boof throws girls, so three to one the boys' way is unusual. I always enjoy when the lambs arrive close together because they form a gaggle and do everything together, racing, napping, king of the castle ...

Max is the only other ewe close to lambing, but she's always a tough one to guess. Last time she was "any day now" for three weeks. She was the size of a house and only had one small lamb. I hope she's not far off so her lambs can be close in age to these.

The little ewe has been named Elf, still thinking about the boys.