Saturday, 2 September 2017

It Can't Be...Can it? September..!

Spring has sprung! Another spring is here, and it's quite unbelievable how fast this year is galloping along. I've lost my blogging mojo lately as there isn't time in my days to sit at my computer when there is so much else happening. 
 Well, there has been a bit of writing going on, but it was for Grass Roots magazine; the first article published and another article is ready for the next issue. 

I tell you what... I really hung onto that cheque.  Hated parting with it at the bank last week. It's the first time I've ever been paid for writing, and it was such an honour to write for my favourite magazine. The accompanying hand written note from founder and co-editor Meg is tucked away for keeps though. 
My articles are on Natural Sheep Care using Bio-dynamics and Organics, and there are lots of other fabulous articles in there as usual.

Chicks

And now to bring you up to date with what's been happening here in the past month.
Chicks hatched out in the incubator. We had too many  Cornish Game (meat bird) hens in our flock, and not enough Australorp (egg laying) hens so Brian incubated eggs from both breeds to give us meat for the freezers, plus replacement laying hens.
When the chicks were strong enough to leave the incubator, usually 12 to 24 hours after hatching, they were placed in the brooder enclosure under a light to keep them warm and to get them moving about, eating and drinking, for another 24 hours, before being introduced to their foster mothers.
I took little videos of the chicks in the brooder to go onto my Instagram, but I'm not able to put them on here. (Another skill to learn on my list)
 
Three hens went broody during the time the eggs were in the incubator, so we kept them sitting on an egg each. The eggs were marked with a smiley face to differentiate them should they be picked up  with the daily egg collection.

 
The fenced off nursery section of the chook house. Note the small opening in the wall. 
When the chicks were strong, but still only a day or two old, each foster hen was moved, one at a time, into the 'nursery' section of the chook house. Approximately twenty chicks were placed under each hen while we waited and observed until she talked to them and settled them all underneath her.

The small cut-out opening allows outside access into a separate yard during the days, away from the other hens, but is covered over at night keeping them safe from predators and sheltered inside the nursery. 

 Lambs

There have been bottles on the sink, and milk stains on my clothes constantly for five months! Is it any wonder that I'm counting down these remaining few weeks until this lot are old enough to wean? That early arrival of the first bottle lamb in June has extended our usual three months of lambs by two months. Too much... too long..!!

Little Trevor, my 'special needs' baby, is going ahead now in leaps and bounds. His malnourished and bent bones are gradually straightening out, his little belly is round, and his legs are developing muscles. He will never amount to being a proper sheep, but this gutsy little fellow will always hold a special place in my heart, and will live out his years here.
Still too small to be tailed and castrated, we'll wait until he looks ready.

The ewes have learned the routine. Each night we bring them down to the small paddock nearest the house where they huddle together and protect each other's lambs from foxes. 
In the early morning I open the gate for them to wander back up to the hill paddocks. A new paddock every few days.

Cows

It's much quieter and relaxed around here now that Mulga Bill has gone for another 'holiday'. 
Bulls, even quiet bulls, love to throw their weight around, literally! He rubs himself against gates, trees, sheds.  Lifts the hay rack and moves it to various parts of the hay feeding yard. Tries to intimidate anyone and everything that comes into his space. The heavy tyre on the rope gets a good workout, usually in the middle of the night (boom,boom,boom) on the shed wall, but if it keeps him occupied that's a good thing. A gate is saved from wrecking for another day. a tree branch stays connected to the tree for another day longer!
The hay bale is lasting twice as long now that he's gone, and that's another great thing. So we will not see him again until after Lavender's calf is born, due in December, and by then she will need to be mated up again.

Bees


 And suddenly it's bee season again. A stack of new boxes ready for filling. Note these boxes are branded with my initials since I've become a registered bee keeper along with Brian, so our holding capacity is greater now, and so is our workload!

Out today at some of our apiary stands, checking the health of the hives, adding super boxes and excluders, making notes of what we need to do next. It's shaping up to be a good season, and we're hedging our bets by having bees in many different locations.

The Bee-keeping workshop on October 8th is fully booked now, so we will open another date for the next workshop soon. Preparations are now keeping me busy, in my free time.


But right now I'm trying to organise a short break in October to get away for a few days in our newly purchased Avan..
The logistics involved in going away...!!! (insert eye roll)
All work and no play is making a certain person a bit cranky and a tad grumpy, (not me) so I pulled rank and bought it! Yes, just like that! 
I have wanted one for years, and recently decided that life is too short not to use the good china, so, after looking for the right one for many months, this one came on the market in the City near us, and we brought it home a few days ago.  You may notice that we drank to its good health and longevity  that same evening, pretending to be on holiday.
And that, my dear friends is quite enough for you to read in one sitting.
If you made it all the way through, thank you!
Cheers,
XX



 





21 comments:

  1. It is indeed September, and we were plunged in the season of 'mists and mellow fruitfulness' with a vengeance yesterday. A very cold night followed by a slow warming up of the day with the mist slow to dissipate. So just as you go up a gear and step into Spring we are harvesting, storing, bottling and preserving and looking forward after this flourish of activity to winding things down a notch or two. It will happen one year, I know it will, I will sit and read the books, watch the Dvds and hibernate for the Winter.

    You are so busy with all the strands of your farm it is exhausting to read about. I had a big grin on my face when I read that you are going to be keeping Trevor, he's a special little character and deserves to be a permanent fixture on your farm.

    Happy Spring days to you all. xx

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    1. There has been no hibernating for winter here Sue, not with all these baby animals, and now in the blink of an eye, spring is upon us with all its ensuing tasks. I vow to plan it better next year! "Mists and mellow fruitfulness" what a lovely blend of words. :)

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  2. Goodness me you have been busy, Sally. No wonder you haven't had time to blog. Yes you do need to take a break when you can. Finding someone to look after your animals would be a challenge I imagine.

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    1. Getting away is major logistical effort Chel, but the man of the house is a little bit more positive about planning a break, with the new Avan awaiting it's maiden voyage. There was a method in my madness. ;)

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  3. Enjoy your holiday! I love your hybrid incubator - broody hen system! Very clever. I don't understand with the bees, are you limited to a certain number of hives per beekeeper? I don't think we are in QLD, but I may have missed something. Planning to extract honey today, I think of your kind advice when I'm counting the turns on the extractor!

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    1. The hybrid chick system works very well Liz, allowing the chicks to develop naturally with a 'mother'. In SA we have a limit of 19 boxes per person to be classed as an 'amateur' beekeeper.

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  4. I read your article in Grass Roots Sally. And then I read it to my husband - even though he had already read it before me. I was so excited and happy for you. It was a great article and I am looking forward to the next one.

    That's good news about Trevor, it is nice that he is coming along better now.

    Congratulations on becoming a registered beekeeper. You certainly have been achieving a lot. I hope you have a lovely break in October in your new Avan - you are so right life is too short not to use the good china. It is a good reminder to all of us - especially as this year has sped past us in the blink of an eye. I am guessing it won't be too long now before the major stores start putting out Christmas things for sale.

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    1. Oh ...cringe... the thought of the stores getting Christmassy makes a trip to the big shopping centres even more daunting for me. ;) So glad you liked the article Sherri, and thanks for your lovely words of encouragement.

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  5. It's definitely September, Sally, according to the weather up here in Sth East Qld though, it's been Spring for a few weeks already though. I love Grass Roots magazine and all the articles are just so interesting and informative. I saw yours in the latest issue...good for you! Meg:)

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    1. It's been an abnormally warm winter in the north according to Landline yesterday Meg. Looks like being a warm summer too.

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  6. Oh I love your new camper!! Well done you! We are going camping next weekend - just to strath caravan park mind you. Its handy to have a heater in the cold nights. I completely agree on using the best china!

    I read your article in grass roots - so good! Congratulations on being published!!

    You have done a very good job with those lambs Sally. They were lucky to be given a chance.

    xx

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    1. We will put Strath on our list of places to go too Emma. Make the most of your caravaning weekends now while you have the chance. Once there are cows, sheep, chooks etc in your life, it will become harder to get away unless you have a kind neighbor or someone handy to look after things for you. :(

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  7. Enjoy the Avan! We seriously considered one and didn't think
    we would use it enough. A friend bought one and loves it.
    They look great!

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    1. Thanks Barbara, I just can't wait to hook it up and head off, but I have to wait a few more weeks until the lambs and calf are weaned. It's like getting a bike for Christmas but can't ride it until Easter..!!

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  8. Ooooooh yummy! An Avan - I hope you love it as much as we love ours.

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    1. Fran we've come down from a 16ft caravan with more storage space than we needed, to a very tight space with hardly any cupboards, but I shall learn to condense. The difference in petrol use and ease of towing is well worth the effort. Any useful tips on how you pack yours would be fabulous if you ever feel like dropping me an email. Ours is an A-liner, a double bed plus the kitchen table folds down to a single. I may need it (the single)if he's snoring or moving around too much. I know we'll need to take only the very necessary items, and some of those can be carried in the car. I'm sure we're going to love being an Avan-er.

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  9. I would love to write for a magazine, so congratulations on that! I still haven't gotten a copy of it as the few shops I've tried had sold out. My favourite mag these days is PIP. I've been really enjoying it and so haven't bought grass roots for a while. Love what you've done with the eggs and chickens, but why not just put the fertile eggs under the clucky chooks? I had no luck with my incubator and ended up throwing it out when I realised that Aussie Games are such great broody hens and mothers.

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    1. Lucy, you have so much knowledge and should absolutely write something and submit it to Grass Roots. I betcha it would be accepted!! I'll borrow Pip from the library to have a look at, sounds good. And on the egg hatching; that is precisely what I thought, hatch the eggs under a broody hen, there sure are plenty of them, but the numbers of chicks the man of the farm needs to hatch at any one time are huge! He likes to hatch a lot at once so they can be raised separately in the covered yards, protecting them from our local predator hawks, until they're big enough. He processes approx ten birds at a time for the freezer. We eat an average of two chickens each week, so that's a lot chicks to hatch.

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  10. I love it! Felt like I was right there. Sometimes I wish I could trade my little mini version of a 'farm' (very residential) for the real deal. My kids keep me busy and I have just enough to satisfy me, so I'm thankful. I'll have to try and get my hands on a copy of grass roots to read your article, congratulations. Thanks for the update x

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    1. Hi Clarissa, glad you enjoyed this update. Believe me, stick with what you have if it keeps you busy enough. ;) I often find myself thinking "be careful what you wish for" when it all feels like I'm on a never ending round of bottle feeding, milking, and animal care. I can see the light shining through the tunnel though and soon I'll be off with the Avan. lol X

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  11. love your long posts & always make it to the end! talk about busy! you make my head spin with all the activities you do!
    thanx for sharing

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