Monday, 19 March 2018

Cows - Mulga-Bill is Home

I couldn't figure out why Lavender has patches of light over each eye in this photo. My shadow perhaps?
The girls were confined to this small yard while Mulga Bill was loaded from the trailer and pushed along the lane-way to  the safety of his (Alcatraz) paddock.  Electric fences, with a paddock buffer zone on all sides of his paddock.
Poppy was due to come on-heat in the next couple of days and we don't want Mulga getting access to her at this young age of nine months.
The following day he caught wind of her though and lifted his gate from its hinges and was standing in the 'buffer zone' paddock when I got out there first thing in the morning.
Roused from my wake up cup of tea when I heard the timbre of his voice sounding a bit different than usual. I was out there in a flash in my PJ's and rubber boots, no time for putting on socks.
Quick work and luck on my side, the two girls were up near the yards waiting for their breakfast, so I was able to confine them out of sniffing distance while I called Brian  to come home from work.
"Emergency please Brian!"  I wish I had my camera with me,  to show you the circus unfolding, but as soon as Brian picked up a small twig and waved it about in front of Mulga, he turned and walked back into his paddock.
A second hot wire was put place, and although Mulga sang romantic songs to Poppy, and every other heifer in our valley, peace reigned and safety was restored.
He's having a short stay here at home before going off to his next job in early April. There's no need for him here as Lavender's calf is due to arrive in April or May.
It's not what we planned, her due date of calving  in December came and went. No calf!
We saw her being mated on February 6th and again three weeks later on Feb 27th. Surely one of those matings was successful?
I dragged out my 2017 diary and found that Mulga had returned home for a ten week period in July/August and during the time that he was here, and running with Lavender, I noted in my diary on June 29th "Lavender looks like she's on-heat. What the?? Isn't she already pregnant?"
OK..!! So we counted forward 283 days (looking at our Cattle Gestation Table) for a due date of April 7th 2018. 
So her February matings were either unsuccessful OR she may have slipped her calf early on in her pregnancy. Whatever happened, we will never know, but looking at her now, she's definitely in calf this time.
I dried her off (ceased milking) in late October, expecting her to have two dry months before calving in December. It's been all that time that I haven't had a cow to milk and fresh milk to play cheese, kefir, butter, yogurt, etc
If you think I might be counting the days until I get those milking cups onto her again, turn the handle of the cream separator, get a batch of cheese on the go... you'd be absolutely correct.!
Five months is a monumental time of waiting.. deprived of raw fresh frothy milk, but the time is drawing near.
Little Murray Grey steer is Mulga Bill's companion whilst he's in his Alcatraz paddock and away from any heifers. They have access to two paddocks, approximately three acres in total.
One large round bale of hay in the cow feeder is being consumed each week as it's the end of our dry summer and barely any feed in the paddocks. Every morning they have a treat of a few slices of bread, to maintain the friendly contact between us.

Yesterday I followed the trail back from one of the comments on my previous post, as I frequently do, and found a delightful new blog that will be getting a regular visit from me.  Laura from  Grow Gather Enjoy sounds like the person I'd happily invite around for a morning cuppa and a chat about anything and everything.
I'm presently trying to insert her blog onto my side-bar under "blogs I read" but for some reason it's not cooperating, so you will need to use the link above to go over for a peek. A glitch (on my part) that will iron itself out hopefully.

Cheers for now,
Sally XX

Friday, 16 March 2018

Growing and Changing

Hello and welcome. Pull up a chair and lets catch up, it's been too long. I'll put the kettle on and warm some scones.

Life has been ticking along here since I posted about zucchinis in my last blog post. The zucchinis are still growing and landing on the kitchen bench almost daily, and I'm happily keeping up with them. 
It's really quite incredible how many ways they can be included into our diet and we still haven't tired of them. In fact I'll be sorry to see the last of them, but I've preserved a number of jars of ratatouille with added onions, tomatoes and garlic for quick easy additions to meals during the winter.

 (Lightly fry sliced zucchini, onion and chopped garlic, add some sliced apple too if you want to, then add chopped tomatoes, salt and pepper. A small amount of kasoundi, marsala paste or chilli flakes added give a bit of depth to the flavour but is optional. Cook until it looks tender and ready to eat..then.. fill the mixture into your clean jars. Screw the lids on tightly. They must be metal lids. Stand in a large pot on a cake stand or similar so the jars are not touching the bottom of the pan. Pour in water until it reaches half way up the largest jar. It doesn't matter if the water covers the smallest jars and it's OK for the jars to touch each other. If the contents of the jars is still hot be sure not to pour in cold water or your jars will crack. Put the lid on the large pot, bring to the boil then turn down the temperature but it must remain lightly boiling for approx twenty to thirty minutes. Turn off the heat and leave the jars in the pot without removing the lid until next day. Check the lids are slightly concave, they have sealed. Store in a cupboard where they will keep for months or even years. Any that don't seal can be place in the fridge and eat within a week.)

It's terribly dry here. The vegetable gardens have water priority over the house gardens so the plants are looking quite sad with just enough water to keep them alive.

 The stone fruits have finished, (peaches, apricots and nectarines) but we're still picking tomatoes, capsicums, basil, lettuce, kale greens and beetroot, plus herbs... and zucchinis of course. The apples are ripening nicely, with these Jonathons the first to be bagged up and sold in the farmgate stall.
Brian has planted the first crop of brassicas; a few each of cabbages, cauliflower, and broccoli. He'll keep planting a few plants every month or so, and we will have a steady flow of these delicious winter veges right through until next summer.

 The plants are only just hanging in there.

By creating an illusion with green plants and trees at all entrances to the house I can cope with the dry season.

The courtyard/outdoor room.

 I find it difficult to believe that I've been retired (from paid outside work) for almost a year. I'm fascinated though at the way this past year has unfolded.
When I was employed three days a week I loved my days at home, busily doing all the things I wanted to do, and not wanting to go out anywhere on those 'home' days.
For the first six months of retirement, I had so many things I wanted to do here at home that I felt, pretty much, the same way about going out as I did when I was employed. Content to be at home in my own company.
So moving forward six months, I've caught up on lots of those tasks I wanted to get done, life is allowed to move a little slower, stress levels are as low as they could ever be (what's stress?) and now I actually enjoy going out, meeting friends, exploring new places and ticking off activities that were always there in my mind but never had the time or energy to do it.
The first year of retirement is a biggie for most people, where we learn how to manage our time, learn how to wind down, and discover new things about the way we think and the way we see things.
I still have a little work to do on myself about managing my time, or more specifically, being more disciplined with my time, but overall this life is not too bad. I can thoroughly recommend it in fact.
Everyone is different, and has different ways of looking at things. I'm gradually figuring out ways to balance my need for peaceful solitude with my social and people interactive needs.  Looking back now I can see how very tired I was, and my needs for solitude were much stronger then, than they are now.
It seems to me that our best years of life are spent in a constant struggle to achieve, and our tiredness levels are beyond measure. Believe me, looking back from where I now sit, it's as clear as day, but little do we realise this at the time, when we're in it, so to speak.

 Out and about with friends at Adelaide Writer's Week. I've always wanted to go, and at last I have the time and energy.

 Out and about with my bloke! At the Garden of Unearthly Delights; Adelaide Fringe Festival.

I've been a bit quiet on social media for the past couple of months, feeling the need to concentrate my energy on the here and now and to engage fully in my days and the people around us. Of course I still enjoy switching on my laptop a couple times a week to read about what my blogging friends are up to, but apologies for my lack of comments.

I did my best with entries in the local Angaston Show at the end of February and won a few prizes with jams, sauce and cordial.   However, without a lactating cow at present, my only entry in the dairy section was this matured cheese that I made early last year, but it won first prize and enough overall points to gain the trophy for "Most Successful" in the dairy produce section.  The entries were so few, sadly! 
A lovely $50 voucher donated by our local "Barossa Valley Cheese Co" which I can spend on their delicious prize winning gourmet cheeses. I think this kind of Trophy is much better than a thing to sit on the shelf and look at. 

I came very close to stepping on a Brown snake two days in a row. I think they were two separate snakes (one was much bigger than the other) which doesn't thrill me knowing there are TWO snakes hanging around the house! My main concern is for the dogs who both have a tendency towards attacking lizards and anything that crawls or slithers. The hay bale net wrap is placed strategically to trap any snakes who might slither through and I check it frequently in case a trapped lizard may need rescuing.  None so far, thankfully.
My tea cup is empty and the wind has whipped up bringing with it the smell of rain, or is it merely an illusion? A mirage perhaps, so desperate are we for a bit of rain.
I'll tell you about the cows next time.
Cheers, :-)

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