Thursday, 19 September 2019

What's Happening at Jembella?

The quest for a calf from Honeysuckle continues. After three separate tries with AI (artificial insemination) in January and February and then again in April, we had no luck.
I scoured the internet for ideas and remedies for infertility and found that an injection of Vitamins A D and E is often helpful in improving fertility and holding a pregnancy in cows.
After searching online to purchase a $65 bottle of the vitamin solution, of which I would likely use just one dose, I called into our local vet who supplied me a single dose in a syringe with needle for $15.
One dose is required, injected into the muscle before the next estrous. 
On Saturday, as her fertile time was approaching within a day or two, we loaded her onto the trailer for the short drive to our friend's farm where she is running with his Murray Grey bull this week. She is due to cycle today or tomorrow and I have everything crossed for a successful mating.
When I visited her yesterday she looked very relaxed and was settled in with her new paddock mates for the week.
Huge thanks to our friends Mick and Lynn for allowing us this generous favour.

Do you remember when I wrote about how this would be her last chance? If she can't get in calf she will have to be sold?
Well... the pressure has lessened somewhat, because...

 Brian is learning to AI....! 

Here he is Artificially Inseminating Lavender last week under the guidance of our wonderful friend Murray, who has been doing our AI for many years.  
What does this mean to us?
It means that we can add one more skill to our repertoire of self sufficiency.
We will not need to rely on Murray, calling on him to visit when he already has more than enough of his own work to do.
We do not need to pay approximately $100 each time we call the other AI practitioner in our area.
We can buy relatively inexpensive semen straws direct from the supplier and AI our cows while they're standing in the dairy munching on their favourite treats. If they don't conceive the first time, we can keep trying. No pressure!
"So my darling Honeysuckle cow,  the pressure is off....!! We will keep going with AI until you get pregnant."
 So now that the pressure has diminished, I feel that Murphy's law may move in a positive direction towards her becoming pregnant after this visit to the bull. Fingers crossed.

 Despite lower than average rainfall for the third year, our hay crop is looking good. Brian took a punt and sowed a pasture mix of  Triticale, Italian Rye, Vetch and oats after the first significant rain of the season back in May.
It's always a gamble, the cost of cropping grain and seeds is big dollars and there are so many uncertainties, from the time of sowing until harvesting and baling.
Will there be follow up rain to get it past germination and further growth?
Is this the break in the season or will it be late again?
Will we get a crop or will it just end up being a very expensive grazing pasture for the cows?
Growing our own hay is crucial to us. The hay we grow and store will be the sole source of food for our livestock after the grass has browned off in November and there is no further growth until May the following year. This is how our seasons run and as responsible land and livestock owners, we must be prepared.
It's pointless relying on bought in hay. This past year has been a perfect example of what happens when landowners rely on someone else to supply the hay for their livestock.
Much of the locally made hay was sent to NSW and Queensland to aid the drought stricken farmers there, whilst leaving our own state in a situation of critically short supply.
IF hay could be found it was priced at more than triple its true value.! People were forced the sell their stock at the worst time, when no one had any hay or feed in their paddocks. What happens then? The prices of livestock plummets unrealistically low and huge losses result.
It's not rocket science. It's logic. When we farm year after year, we follow the weather and seasonal patterns, always planning our stock ratios to match the available feed supply.

The mottle Pekin bantam eventually sat on eggs and hatched six chicks. At a week old I can see that two chicks have the ruffled wing feathers of frizzles, while the remaining four chicks are smooth feathered. I hope there are not too many roosters.

 Strategically placed electric fencing strands to stop curious dogs getting too close to chicks and chook food. Don't tell the dogs that the hot wire is not connected tho.

 In the vegetable gardens Mama Jap bantam hatched nine chicks and it has taken a week to get close enough to photograph them. This tiny hen is as protective as any fowl three times her size, and then some.
This family are doing a wonderful job of eating the pesky earwigs that were previously the bane of our vege growing pursuits.
I hope there are not too many roosters.
Why do I keep mentioning that?
Well, we know where excess roosters end up don't we?

 Beetroot at every meal.

Success with Brussels sprouts at last.
We love eating them but gave up growing them years ago when aphids were impossible to control without the use of pesticides. I didn't buy them either, knowing they would have been conventionally grown and sprayed with chemicals.
Bio-dynamics and fermented nettle tea spray has strengthened the cellular structure and kept the aphids away. They will be on our regular brassicas planting routine every winter from now on.

 Some of the celery plants had a pruning to start them off again. So simple to grow, I really love picking a few stalks every day to eat fresh or add to our meals.

Kale grows like a weed, always plenty of greens for our meals, and self seeded Calendula fills in the gaps; useful in so many ways, and great for encouraging good bugs, aiding in pollination, and generally adding smiles to the garden.

A farm tour and morning tea was organised after a reader contacted me requesting a visit. We often receive requests to come and look at what we do here, but as we're so busy running the farm and with Brian working full-time all week, we hardly ever have enough time just for ourselves and catching up with family and friends. I explained this to the reader and suggested she may like to get ten people together for a morning tea/farm tour. Within a day she had found eleven friends, and a date was set.
I think they all enjoyed themselves as much as I enjoyed hosting them.  The weather was perfect, new friendships were formed and information was shared both ways.
Brian took a few minutes away from crutching the ewes to join us for morning coffee and tell some beekeeping stories.

There will be news to share in the next post. Something we have been planning for quite awhile but are managing to pull it off a few years sooner than expected.
Watch this space.
Toodeloo.... and thanks for making it all the way through.

Sally XX

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