Tuesday, August 31, 2010
The troughs are where they are, and it takes two to sate the ewes now, so that I can just tip the nuts out unmolested from the other side of the fence. You may think it awkward to have the troughs so close to the fence but actually it's a lot less awkward than putting them in the middle of a paddock where you have to make a dash to them, holding heavy buckets of feed out of sheepy nose-reach. It can be really difficult to walk through a sea of pushing, jumping, woolly, pregnant, clumsy, hungry beasts. They're lovely, but downright dangerous. They'll mob you. It gets ugly. Which is why alpaca guardians Ori and Siri remain aloof and dignified well away from the melee. They don't like sheep nuts anyway.
Monday, August 30, 2010
Plans to widen the pond and perhaps build a refuge island plus the planting of rushes and other water plants may have to wait. We don't want to scare them off. The amount of rain recently means the water is constantly renewed and a lot of frogs have also moved in. They sing about it in the evenings. Ducky Decoy however has been washed against the overflow so many times he is now in temporary dry dock.
Sunday, August 29, 2010
She's also in a good position to sight anyone walking past with an armful of hay and is ready with her hind leg to "accidentally" trip them up.
Saturday, August 28, 2010
He never seems to display to the hens when they are freeranging. Perhaps hens out on the town in a group scare him (they seem to scare most blokes). The presence of Silver Boy, the aggressive Araucana rooster may or may not have something to do with his sudden shyness when meeting hens in a more informal setting but whilst the hens are confined to quarters he's all dazzle and confidence.
Silver Boy may not be impressed but whilst the peacock is showing all his eyes all other eyes are on him. The hens all crowd forward to the viewing area making appreciative cooing noises or suggestive cluck cluck clucks and watch for the duration whilst Silver Boy hovers behind hissing at them to be ladylike and behave.
Friday, August 27, 2010
...and turned to follow her. The Feline Bureau of Investigation.
Thursday, August 26, 2010
It's hard enough to feed everyone at Celestequest without the neighbour's cows joining in. Placid as they can be, they eat an awful lot. Including our precious pasture. We're trying to make it last all spring so this lady had to go home. Fortunately this wasn't far. Unfortunately there was only Snowy the unruly beagle and myself to drive her. Fortunately there is a connecting gate to the neighbour's place. Unfortunately the cow turned uphill instead.
That's the open gate behind her, all she needs to do is go down the track and through it. Yes, it appears simple. A lot of scrambling and yelling later, sometimes even with waving hands when they were free of keeping balance on the muddy hill, and she was home.
Snowy enthusiastically made sure she was well through the gate and then, finding herself in a new world to explore, kept going. Beagles do that. At an excited, cracking pace. The neighbour's property is all one big paddock, but fortunately it's only about 40 acres of gullies, steep slopes and scrub. A short extraction mission later and Snowy was out of the restricted zone and back on home turf. The next job was to find where the sheep had got to.
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Warping a loom is the most difficult aspect of the whole process, requiring lots of long, even, straight, untangled lengths of yarn ready to be put on as the basis for the weaving. Not tested as a possible musical instrument by the cat.
Those yellow threads are ment to be neat and straight, looped around the chair, not played like a harp.
It didn't work as a guitar either, or even a hammock. It was useless as a bed to lie on, and although Jeremy did try to straighten out the mess, having three out of four paws caught in it made this impossible.
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
More of this type of creature, captured here wondering why this tree didn't provide the same shade as the other trees. It was a good scratching post anyway.
This was a neighbour's young steer, in with about 30 others. The storms lately have had us all out checking fences, checking trees, checking no trees had fallen on fences, but mostly checking no animals had got out through the gaps caused by said trees falling on aforementioned fences. By some miracle we have escaped this event so far. Still, there they were, a group of rather large four footed animals where no domesticated animals have ever been sighted before.
The forest is approximately 100 acres giving it the rather appropriate nickname of the 100 Acre Wood. It belongs to people who live on another road entirely about 3 km around by road. There's no other direct access to their property. This means losing stock in there is problematic. Losing anything in there entails a lot of walking - or rather - thrashing through underbrush so thick you can't see more than about 10 metres. It's wild. Eagles live there, and foxes. Probably fairy tale donkeys, bears and piglets too. Actually the donkeys and pigs are quite possible, they're both feral animals in Australia. Kangaroos certainly do, and Rabbit and all of Rabbit's friends and relations. But I didn't know of any cows.
Monday, August 23, 2010
Elrond had no idea what crutching was, who the new voices were or anything much outside his breakfast. Sometimes being blind has advantages.
Being pets, they follow us like dogs and Mr Shearer had no problem tipping them over for a quick shave. Wilberforce is a little more wild, having lived in an enormous commercial flock previously. Several months of living with sheep who think they are humans has rubbed off though, and he submitted quietly to the new haircut. He ended up with a mohawk.
he is not deceptive. A little puzzled at the world perhaps, sometimes scared and often contemplative, but generally just wanting to mingle with the flock and graze. A gentle giant.
Sunday, August 22, 2010
The day started out with showers which was mildly alarming as the previous date with the shearer was cancelled when he stood them up due to inclement weather and the yards nearly being under water. Everyone was put in the shed under cover which they didn't mind at all as they were warm and out of the wind.
It was about as packed as a mid-billed rock concert - crowded but everyone could see. Except those Dorsets like Isabelle.
Part of the whole crutching show was a part called "wigging" which is basically a short back and sides for those endowed with more facial wool than others. The sheep blink afterward with amazement as they haven't seen most of their surroundings for a few months outside the twin periscope sized areas through their fleece. For the lambs this was their first encounter with Mr Shearer and his noisy portable plant. It's run from a little generator on the back of his ute. His stand is a rubber mat which the sheep slip on so he can throw them over easily. The lambs, despite all my advice and encouragement, still kicked like mules, making a fiddly job just that more exciting.
Some of the end jobs were a bit rough around the edges, but they were clean nonetheless. Only one had started to clot up with dags and she was taken care of in minutes. The part Finn, part elephants we have in the Finn wethers got grunts from Mr Shearer with the effort of getting them down, but they were dealt with no less quickly.
Slowly the number of crutched and wigged individuals, dazzled with new sight and cold around the rear, increased in the yards and the number of waiting, pushing, shoving woolly bodies in the shed decreased to a comfortable level when only the pregnant ewes were left. For a while the sun came out, Mr Shearer's young sons came out, the birds came out and it was almost like we were running a real farm.
Saturday, August 21, 2010
They'll get a long walk as soon as we have more than 15 minutes of clear weather at a time. The cats handle confinement much better. They just settle down and wait. Minor disputes over prime sleeping spots notwithstanding.
Friday, August 20, 2010
He is a blissed-out peace pig.
Thursday, August 19, 2010
It's not an explosion in an orchid bed or a solidified fireworks display or even the beginnings of an exotic dance. Rather it's this fella, the peacock-we-don't-officially-like-but-will-tolerate, fluffing up for the day.
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Slowly the sheep join in, taking up the tune. I can never quite tell what they're singing. Perhaps traditional folk songs their ancestors heard on the hills of Dorset, the Border counties and Finland, perhaps sea shanties the first immigrants learned from the sailors on the voyage to the antipodes. All the different voices can be picked out, Chester's deep "maaaawwww" and the lambs' higher pitched bleats. Sometimes they even hit harmonies.
Anyway, its a cheery way to pass the time until the afternoon grazing starts.
Monday, August 16, 2010
Before we landed here it was a pony shed. It even has a wash bay, where Gimli is sitting nicely out of the wind, confidently expecting not to be hosed down. Wilber is standing in front of a little shed the former owners used for feed storage. It's supposedly vermin proof but we think that was a sales pitch because if you open the door you are stampeded by mice and rats. We think they can get in but not get out again.
Elrond spent the summer of his youth (one, given he is not yet a year old) in this yard and gambolled into it like meeting an old friend. He does tend to gambol everywhere but we know he likes it here because he takes advantage of the sun's winter angle and spends most of his time basking on the hay in the lamb shed, despite all the good grass in the yard. We fox-proofed the front with gates and wire but he doesn't see it as a prison. He seems to see it more as holiday home.
Sunday, August 15, 2010
She also knows, being a Princess, that her 24/7 entourage of carers (all two of us) will brush her off when it's necessary that her golden colour be admired by all. Or when they don't want to be too embarassed by the state of their animals. That rug is actually green, by the way, although ultimately horses don't care what colour clothes they wear. In this weather, Kalara's just happy to be warm and dry at all.
Saturday, August 14, 2010
Ori and Siri have never been out of the paddocks closest the house before. They've bonded rather well with their girls and protect them in a manly fashion from foxes, dogs, cats, magpies, and anything unusual. What they haven't done is realise that they won't be crutched. Alpacas have no need for it. We were just taking them along for the ride so they wouldn't fret about being away from their flock for 24 hours. Instead they fretted about going into the yards and wouldn't. Not even when all their ladies were munching happily inside. Us dancing about on the hill above them, lunging like mad tennis players every time they saw a gap and waving our arms like scarecrows in a hurricane did nothing. The yard was scarier than we. In the end they took so long that Belinda the black ewe and five of her cohorts legged it out through the open gate before we could scramble down the hill to stop them.
A very long time of climbing steep, slippery hills in the dark, breathing very hard and shouting at each other, the sheep and the alpacas ensued. We navigated by the movement of the white sheep, finding our way by trees (walking into them) and rocks (falling over them) and the sheep obstinately kept moving the wrong way. The alpacas thought it was marvelous to be out and free and kept going to the tops of hills to have a look. In the end we gave it up for the night. In a rather bad temper.
We'd collected two mutton carcases from the butcher that day and still had a kitchen full of meat to trim, sort, bag, label and freeze so we went back to that job for a couple of hours. We had discovered that it would only fit in our collection of freezers if we did trim, sort, bag some and cook some instead of just throwing it all in willy nilly as was the preferred and tired option. At least the dogs were quiet with their surprise bones. Having been completely immersed in sheepiness for too long we had fish for supper.
The weather forcast kept getting worse. So did the actual weather. After a night of raging storms I got up early as usual to find SO, out earlier than I, trying to fix last evening's mistake by crooning to the wayward ewes, who had come back to find out where all their friends were and why they didn't have breakfast. He looked pleadingly at the open gate, and pleadingly at the ewes and pleadingly asked them to Just. Go. In. Quietly nipping round behind them up a clay hill in my gumboots and raincoat - so not very quietly really - we managed to get them all in and shut the darn gate.
After we leaned on it just breathing for a while I went off to feed the other animals and SO went to answer the phone which was ringing. At 7:30am. It was the shearer. The rain was belting down hard where he was, the rain radar showed two fronts approaching and the forecast was for more of the same so he couldn't operate his portable shearing plant in this weather. He couldn't do any crutching today and he wasn't coming.
We let the sheep out and went inside by the fire instead.