Tuesday, 26 September 2017

A Few Days at Jembella

Brian made a start on shearing some of our sheep on Saturday morning. These young ewes scrubbed up very well, in good health, round and fat, and very cleanly shorn with barely a nick.

He's a very clean shearer, taking his time and concentrating on those tricky wrinkles around the neck. That's where most shearers leave plenty of nicks and cuts when they race against time, trying to achieve personal best numbers of sheep shorn in a day. Of course the dollar is a driver too, as they are paid per sheep.
We used to get shearers to come for a day or two, and depending on the luck of the draw, sometimes our poor sheep were cut up pretty bad. It makes us angry that some shearers show very little regard to the welfare of the animal. Not all shearers are like this, thankfully, but it gets more difficult to get good ones here at the time we want them; when the nights have warmed up and before the grass goes to seed.

While he plodded away at shearing, I was busy doing all of my usual morning outside chores. While he was between sheep and sorting the fleece I called him to take a photo of Trevor for me.

 Trevor and Peewee are both ten weeks old now, but you can see the size difference. Little Trev has finally had a growth spurt and is not looking deformed any more, but I wonder if he will ever grow out fully. I'm so very happy with his progress though.
We put elastrator rings on his tail and testicles two weeks ago, and although his tail has dried up, it hasn't dropped off as yet.
Here's a reminder of what he looked like when we rescued him. We estimated that he was three weeks old, according to his teeth. His posture didn't change much until he was around seven weeks old and had been given free range access to the mineral mix that we make available to our sheep. Frequent feeds of cow's milk for nourishment too, once he got the hang of suckling from the bottle.

I eventually finished mowing the house yard on Saturday, after making a start on Friday. These two were exhausted just watching Mrs Boss walking round and round with the noisy machine.

 There's a pizza restaurant in Town, and we used to occasionally (perhaps twice a year) lash out and buy a take-away as a treat but honestly, we make much nicer ones from scratch here. Better quality toppings, and at a cost of only a few pennies, so it was pizza for Saturday night dinner.

The Farmgate shop was doing a roaring trade in Raspberry plants all weekend, so I made the most of the visiting traffic by having plenty of things to buy.

Corning some legs of mutton 
On Sunday morning we cut up the three sheep carcasses that had been hanging in the cold room for eight days, since last weekend.
Brian had an "apprentice" to assist in the slaughtering. A young man, who runs a few sheep on his small property and wanted to learn the skill of butchering. We both love to show and pass on our skills to those who want to learn.
One of the sheep was a ewe that had not had a lamb for two years, so as she was obviously barren, she had to be culled. Mutton!
The other two were hogget; year old sheep that have outgrown the lamb stage, and we believe, are tastier than lamb.
The hogget were cut up into roasts and chops and shared (traded) with friends and for our freezer too. The mutton was cut up into pieces for slow cooking, stews, curries etc. The two hind legs were put into a corning brine and are soaking in a pot in the fridge for a week before I'll cook one of them as corned mutton (as in corned beef), and put the other in the freezer for later.
If anyone would like to have the recipe for corning meat I'll be happy to post it.

My kitchen wood stove is still burning around the clock as the temperatures here have not yet risen above 24C degrees. We generally cut up a big pile every few weeks, and are ever thankful for this amazing labour saving device, the hydraulic log splitter.  So that was Brian's Sunday afternoon job, while I weeded one of the vegetable gardens.
Our firewood is all sourced from trees around the district, an overflow from a friend's tree lopping business when he runs out of space to dump it all. Thank you very much, our free heating and cooking for a large part of the year. Another example of trading skills and services between neighbors and friends.

 There was more bee work done at various times across the weekend, and on Monday night we drove around and collected the bee hives that had been out for hire over the past year.
No photos, even though I did attempt to take off my glove at one stage, just as a group of bees made a bee-line to my bare hand. Besides, I was too busy being chief torch holder, assistant lifter of heavy boxes onto the back of the ute, lighter and puffer of the temperamental smoker, and note taker. (Yes, notes in the dark!) Then I have to read these notes in order to write a report to each of the hirers, and supply them with their own honey.
We have brought those hives home to do some maintenance on the boxes and to re-queen, before placing them out at one of our other three apiary sites.
The bee keeping workshop planned for October 8th, is booked out, so we have opened another date for the next workshop on November 19th.
In the coming weeks I'll be organizing the catering, tidying up the workrooms, ordering bee supplies, and various other preparations for the workshops which, no doubt will be here in a flash.

I remembered to go to my hair cut appointment today and have a super short cut that will see me through for another eight weeks, until my next appointment.
Writing it into my diary was first priority when I got home. ;)
Cheers, and if you made it all the way through to the end, thanks for reading.


  1. My you pack a lot into a few days, Sally. Lovely to see Trevor looking so much better now. Meg:)

    1. He's a little darling Meg, and he makes my heart skip a beat every time he calls out to me.

  2. I never knew you could have corned mutton! There you go.
    I love reading about daily life on your farm, it makes me feel like I've been there.

    1. I hope that feeling that you've been here makes you sleep well at night, as I do Cheryl. ;)

  3. Thank you for the photo of Trevor. I have been wondering if he was going to 'fill out'.
    I haven't had corned mutton since my jillarooing days back in the mid 80's. It wasn't a favourite as it was so salty, you needed a big bucket of water to stop your mouth from drying up.
    I do miss fresh home grown meat. When we moved interstate and into town, we left the option of farm fresh meat behind.
    You have been most busy and make my days seem like such a lazy option. I think I had best go and get something done so that I feel better.

    1. Sounds like you might have been eating salt cured mutton Jane. Corned is really delicious, and when doing it ourselves we can adjust the salt.

  4. We too cull our ewes as needed and use for slow cooking etc. I have never thought of corning the legs and would appreciate the recipe thanks

  5. Wow you have been busy! Why did you check the bees at night? I am the note-taker too, a very important job :)

    1. Relocation of boxes has to be done after dark in the evening or very early morning, to avoid losing large numbers from the hive. We prefer the evenings, as we can close the doors after the bees have gone in for the night. A few stragglers that are sleeping out far from their home (hive) will be left behind, but we aim to keep our losses to a minimum.

  6. was brought up on mutton as a child, poormans roasts pickled meats, it was delicious, hardly get it these days though i don't believe i am eating lamb for an instance! lol.
    you certainly get busy, your posts are like a short novel, it's gread reading!
    thanx for sharing

    1. Selina there are never too many dull moments when animals, gardens, and bees come into the mix. ;)

  7. Sally, I think its great that you and Brian are so willing to pass on your knowledge and skills to others. I am surprised and a little envious that it is still so mild in your part of the country - we are experiencing summer weather here.

    It's good to know that Trevor is coming along so much better now.

    1. Sherri we would never hesitate to pass on our experience with what we have learned, but it was sometimes difficult to get this info from the folks before us. It always stuck with us that we would not keep it secret, and would be willing to pass on the knowledge to those who want it.

  8. Great to see such improvement with little lambikins! You're so lucky to still have the cooler temps too. Summer will be here, soon enough. :)

    1. Sshh, don't tell the weather Gods Chris. I'm dreading the hot summer temps.


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