Thursday, September 30, 2010
Big 'Un was nicknamed this by SO due to his 10 day advantage over the next nearest Little 'Uns, who are still confined to quarters whilst they finish their colostrum, graduate to normal milk, get a bit stronger and used to the cold. Big 'Un might be lonely but they've discovered him and can't wait to come out to play.
Big 'Un for his part is amazed to find small sheep that look like him.
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Most of the time the horses pretend to respect it and stay on the outer but when he's really hungry Gem just gives it the old heave-ho. Having first wedged his dextrous muzzle into the gap between the ancient strainer post and all the makeshift piping, chicken wire and baling twine...
he opens it wide enough so that he and the girls can saunter down to the pine tree to make their presence known in the yard.
By standing where we can see them from the shed and whinnying at us whenever we pop into view they ensure they won't be forgotten. As if they would be, but some mornings with the sun well up before their food orders have arrived they feel the need to harrass the waiters and remind us.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Monday, September 27, 2010
Sunday, September 26, 2010
Forty minutes later he and SO had bodily carried each struggling, kicking woolly bundle one by one about 100 metres to the trailer rather than the sheep being herded anywhere in any coherent fashion. One did a superb display of showjumping, one went through a fence, taking the whole length of wire with it, and one went up a tree. Eventually they were all loaded and he drove them away with promises to come over later. Come over he did. With a bigger chainsaw than ours.His chainsaw refused to work initially, no doubt scared to bits by the sheer volume of wood spread all over what was our driveway. The driveway that had to be cleared before the farrier arrives tomorrow. There's no way he'd carry his anvil and tools from the gate all the way up to the horse yard, so the chainsaws had to work. A few screwdrivers and several pokes with a piece of wire got it going again and the chaps, wearing their chaps, worked away the afternoon.
What our neighbour did in an afternoon with a bigger saw actually saved SO about a day's work on his own so we are very grateful. My job was to cut up all the leaves and smaller debris ready for feeding to the hungry mulcher and getting the machine-wielders drinks. I did five barrow loads of debris before the blisters got too niggly and I decided a cup of tea and a lambing-check was in order instead. The working blokes continued to work and so did their chainsaws. They did an awful lot but there's still a lawnful and another five trees to go yet.
Saturday, September 25, 2010
The tree feller fellas worked on the five biggest eucalypts first, all together in what could not be called a small copse at the back of the garden acre. The pile of wood and leaves there now cannot be traversed. It will take us several weeks with our own little chainsaw and mulcher to clear up, but at last the trees are down.
When we eventually let the cats and dogs out of the house again after all was safe Jelly pretended to be sad about the loss of the trees, then spent the afternoon being a tiger in the branches and leaves and running and jumping from log to log having the best of times on her own little assault course.
Friday, September 24, 2010
An old 6 foot length of the classic number 8 gauge wire was wrapped around her and dragging along behind. We keep the place as free of wire and other rubbish as possible and have cleared loads but the place has been through fires and floods for more than a hundred years and deep in the forests of bracken there could still be ancient lost temples. Obviously there was a bit of old fence. As SO was in his sleeping time I tried to remove the offensive fencing by standing on it to catch her. She wasn't impressed. Neither were the other sheep.
I tried to catch her bodily but by myself in the middle of our largest paddock with the other sheep all milling round demanding service, breakfast or to see the manager and I should have known it would be hopeless. She seemed to be tangling the wire closer to her as well, trying for the crinoline look.
I had no choice but to wake up SO and he came to all our rescues yet again. One advantage to being tired and fed up is that you don't muck about, you're beyond being careful and you just lunge at the animal you want and secure it in a vice-like grip. SO did this. He also got the wire in a vice-like grip or at least in the wire cutters' grip and little miss was freed relatively easily. There were no cuts, lacerations or other injuries so we let her go pronto to feast with her friends.
Thursday, September 23, 2010
He also knows you have to go like this:
but need to have a mouse to pounce on to make it work. The chances are best when someone has just shifted a bale. He knows they're in there somewhere.
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
In another week or two as her time approaches she and the rest of her comrades in pregnancy will be moved to a fox proof shed. We'll leave them out as long as we think safe though, living the most natural life possible. There is nothing better for them than to enjoy the fresh air, new grass and spring sun.
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
He's a White-Backed Magpie. It's been explained elsewhere that Australians like to call a spade a spade, a white faced heron a White Faced Heron and a glossy, black cockatoo a Glossy Black Cockatoo. We are not into fancy bird names when coldly descriptive will do. You may be wondering why, then, his back seems to be not white, but motley grey? Or indeed, since this is a nesting bird, her back is motley grey. Did the black paint and white paint get smudged? Actually, the grey paint is an undercoat. This is still a fairly juvenile bird and will get a truly dazzling white back after the next moult. In the meantime it's not her back we're looking at. It's that beak. Aimed like a missile straight at our heads when we least expect it.
Monday, September 20, 2010
The falling blossoms are also irresistible to our cats who play like kittens amongst it. They are 10 years old but spring brings out the youngster in all of us.
Sunday, September 19, 2010
There are several tasks we do when a lamb is born, after the desperate clearing of mucous from their mouth and nose if the lamb hasn't shaken it off immediately. Healthy lambs can be born perfectly easily only to die from asphyxiation from the birth sac still encasing them. Most of the time they or the ewe get it clear but we like to watch and make certain. Paper towel is brilliant for this purpose as although it's not reusable this does mean it is perfectly clean on the first use and it's so absorbent that it grips well and slides all the extra stuff away and contains it for disposal. It isn't always easy to clean little muzzles with just your hands in an emergency, in my limited experience, newborn lambs are quite slippery.
The next step is to dip the broken umbilical cord into iodine solution to stop infection. This is easiest as soon as the lamb is breathing and upright but before he's learned to run away. Again, although there are probably specialist veterinary things on the market for this purpose (I don't really know, are there?) we've found the best thing is to pour an inch or two of iodine into a wide, shallow glass jar with a screw top lid. Although it's glass - which we generally avoid around animals - this does mean it can be sterilised and is spill proof. If it does spill you only lose that bit and not the whole bottle. Best of all for clumsy would-be vets like me it's easy to catch the dangling bloody bit in a wide jar which is helpful when it's the middle of the night and your body's working solo because your brain is still asleep.
The last thing to be sure of before getting back into a warm bed is that the ewe's teats are clear and the lamb has had a draught of colostrum. Now vets will tell you - and they are right - that a lamb can go for about 12 hours without colostrum before it runs out of reserves and starts to get too weak. Of course, but why make them wait if you don't have to? Also, knowing this place, some disaster will occur that takes all our energy, attention and time during the next 12 hours and we can't watch the lamb constantly to be sure. If it then gets sick what do we know of it's feeding history? So we reckon it's better to see it happen as soon as possible, put a brisk tick of completion against that box and hop back under the quilt. On tame ewes, a light squeeze of the nipples is easy and unblocks the little wax seal (like a fine wine this colostrum stuff, it's been brewing for months) which lets both the colostrum and the smell of said colostrum out. After that it's generally minutes before canny lambs find the source. Sometimes dopey ones need a hint, but they all generally get the idea pretty quickly if not fussed over too much.
We are aiming to breed coloured lambs this year. This chap is white. We'd prefer ewe lambs to start building up the coloured breeding flock. This chap is... well, a chap. Still, the thrill of a new lamb is enough to keep going through the nights of broken sleep and so what if he's not exactly what we wished for? He's not coloured or female but he's gorgeous and healthy so we're over the moon and just don't care.
Saturday, September 18, 2010
When I asked why they didn't scratch up the weeds in the garden beds, only the flowering plants, herbs and vegetable seedlings, they all pretended to be very, very interested in a gravel-dwelling microbe for the moment.
Then they pointedly looked at the state of the yard with it's covering of weeds that I hadn't got on top of anyway and wondered out loud to each other what on earth I would do without my little flock of portable scarifiers regardless of what they scratched up. Without them the place would be a jungle...
... and what was in that bucket anyway?
Friday, September 17, 2010
Thursday, September 16, 2010
I wonder if these lambs get stories told to them under the trees. I wish we had lambs. I know we will eventually but I'm impatient. The ewes are incredibly, overwhelmingly, mind-numbingly patient and will take their sweet time. This ewe let her lambs spread out to graze and play again as soon as we moved on. Just to taunt me with their cute antics.
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
They were fascinated with her. Being adolescents they all had to jostle and crowd and follow her along the fence, calling out comments (which I could only understand as "mooooooaaww!") and asking for her autograph. Snowy declined, donned dark glasses, turned up her collar and held a paw to the camera, shunning fame. She hurriedly took an alternative route along the verge.
The steers continued to follow her for the length of their paddock, peering between bushes and trees hoping to get another glimpse of their idol before she disappeared from view altogether.