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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Monday is the start of a whole new season

The Mountains from our front gate

We emerged from our three days of horrible weather without too much damage. A couple of our sheds are a little wind damaged having borne the brunt of the wind for the past days. We’re getting used to these pockets of inconvenience but they still disrupt the daily routine somewhat.

The three little pigs are still causing strife – the Cook has ‘named’ the smallest one Scruffy – so she’s off the menu, the other two are still contenders. Inexplicably the Boars spent most of the windy nights sleeping in the open, I have no idea why. The Cook spent hours yesterday feeding out green scraps, she’s still sore and stiff from skying with Ben on Tuesday and really enjoyed spending another day out in the cold wind. We also had to do the traditional ‘after a windy day’ electric fence inspection. There’s always something blown onto it on days like these and its best to fix it before the pigs find out.

The Jeep is finally repaired and back to full running order. I had explained to the mechanics previously that I thought it needed a new head gasket, manifold gasket as well as other various adjustments – this has finally all been done and it drives like a dream again, which isn’t bad for a fifteen year old car with 450,000km on the clock.

I’m expecting the river to get a minor flushing in the next couple of days with the rain we had – with any luck.

Tonight is the Upper Murrumbidgee Natural Sequence Farming AGM, so it’s into town for that. There are field days over the weekend with Peter Andrews as well which I will hopefully find time to attend.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

One extreme to another

Sunday night was the hottest August night on record – Monday night it snowed…. We had another day of winds above 85kmph but we also had about 10mm of rain - which was nice, the temperature got down to about 2-3 degrees which was warmer then we expected.

The Cook put new straw out for the pigs yesterday, but for some reason the Boars where all out sleeping in the rain. I’ll never figure these guys out, but as long as they are happy I don’t care how they decide to sleep - but you’d think they would take dry straw over cold wet mud.

There was a blanket of snow across the ranges this morning; it was getting really thick up towards Cooma. There was more snow falling after the sun came up so it’ll be interesting to see what it looks like when the cloud clears. The Cook is off skying with the boys today whilst I hold down the fort – I had a quick look at the snow cams a little while ago and it looked pretty cold up there. I hope she survives.

Monday, August 24, 2009

It's getting closer

Well we finally had a little bit of rain on Friday. Unfortunately we had our rain gauge run over by a mystery visitor the other day so I don’t know how much we ended up with. People down town were saying we received about 9 - 10mm, which is better then nothing - but nowhere near what we need.

Ben is a star; he got his picture in the local paper – again. It was to do with the seed balling day run last weekend.

The big black boar came back again Saturday – again the day after rain. This time we had arranged for someone to come out shooting that morning. They rolled up about 6am and the boar was standing in the paddock waiting. They couldn’t believe it, I had to pry the Cook from the bedroom ceiling when they fired their first shot, scared the hell out of her. I didn’t actually wake up – the cook had to shake me. Anyway the shooters missed the pig. I found his tracks latter in the day and there was no sign or evidence of him being hurt.

The Cook decided to make pancakes for breakfast on Saturday. Harry was going to somewhere for a sleep over and we need to make sure he is full before he leaves otherwise he eats people out of house and home. The Cook broke sic eggs into a bowl then added flour and milk – somewhere in there she got confused about wether she was making scrambled eggs or pancakes. Of course, we fear for our lives so we said nothing and just smiled and ate them.

We spent Saturday doing various farm chores, which never seem to get done. We had the Mums out grazing Saturday after the rain. They love it out the front at he moment lots of great weeds and sweet grasses to snack on.

The Cook showed me a huge egg she’d found in the chook pen the day before, she said she’d never seen such a big duck egg in her life. Then she said at first I thought it was a turkey egg until I realised we only have boy turkeys. I then pointed out to her that it was a goose egg – causing a little embarrassed laughter and a threat about putting it on the blog, which of course I take very seriously – and won’t say a thing….

Sunday morning was beautiful, we had a slight westerly breeze bringing in the warm inland air and by 10am it was 17 degrees. Sadly things changed by 5pm – back to 60kmph icy winds.

The fruit trees are all in bloom and the bees are going crazy all day. Hopefully we won’t get any heavy frost before the fruit sets. The sheep came down again and we have a few more lambs – one is coloured, with black legs and a black and white face.

We received a letter today saying that our Flora and Fauna Sanctuary had been approved and will be gazetted in the near future. They’ll send us out a copy when it happens. We received our signage the other day, but I still don’t know where I’m supposed to put it exactly.

The three little pigs are pressing their claim to the dog’s mattress. Last night we could hear a ruckus out in the mud room which turned out being Shadow trying to lie on the mat – on top of a piglet or two. I don’t know who’ll win this, but we’ve never had piglets wanting to live with the dogs before.

Whilst I was out clearing briars on Sunday George decided to follow me. He ended up chasing the car right out to the far end of the property. He was happy to graze around the car until it was time to go home. I felt sorry for him because it was getting late, so I let him get into the back of the Jeep and ride back with me.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

I need more time in a day

There’s probably a lot I haven’t covered over the past two weeks due to how busy I’ve been. Tomorrow night is the AGM for the Natural Sequence Farming Association and Peter Andrews will be paying us a visit before the field days planned for Friday and Saturday. I’m planning on heading out to Murrumbateman on Saturday for a look at the project site on Yass River Road.

Yesterday morning I double booked myself, and had to make an early run (5am) into town to collect the bread. When I arrived home Daisy the pig was out in the yard ready for breakfast. She’s recently taken up sleeping in the hay on the floor of the feed shed - what ever makes her happy.

On Sunday I was walking around the pigs and noticed a piglet laying on the ground, I thought it had been laid on, so I picked it up. It appeared floppy and lifeless so I figured I would have to dispose of it. I walked around a little more carrying the piglet, climbed through the fence and went off looking for a bag to put it in. I hadn’t thought to look at its gender, so I turned it over and looked when it let out a ear piercing screech and frightened the hell out of me. Piglets obviously sleep a lot sounder then I thought.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Seed Balling

Water is becoming an issue for us again. Although we have enough to keep us going for the immediate future but once summer kicks in we are going to really struggle. To date we have had less then 140mm of rain, down from 260mm for the same period last year and way below the 330mm on average for this time of year.

So we’ve decided to reduce our pig numbers down to about 12 pigs – we figure that at this point we need to plan for the worst case. I think we can support our twenty odd sheep without too much problems. So now comes the job of picking the ones we’ll keep. Don’t worry – Fatso and Floppsy are safe and Tiberius our Boar will stay as well – that leaves nine choices.

We hatched a mob of chickens last week as well, the Cook has the incubator turned up high and has been collecting eggs from across the district for hatching. I’m hoping I can get some off of Mrs Duck Herder and see if we can hatch some handsome ducks like hers.

We had a Field Day on Saturday in partnership with Greening Australia, Landcare and K2C. We spent the early afternoon making seed balls, which are balls of clay about the size of a marble containing various sees and a little fertilizer – basically seeds inside a womb. The idea is to throw these balls into areas were you couldn’t easily plant but want to grow tress and shrubs. There is a long history attached to this method, but natural farmer Masanobu Fukuoka is recognised as the more recent advocate of the system. He is famous for never ploughing and just using seed balls for all his planting – vegetables, cereals and trees.

It was nice to get out in the open and spread some of these balls around the farm. We had about twenty people helping and seeded the area along a rocky ridge. It was made even more exciting by the discovery of an echidna by some of the children. We’d seen a disturbed ants nest further down the hill, but to find the actual culprit was fantastic. People where also able to see some of the threatened and endangered plants and trees we have also.

Of course George had to be a participant as well and chased the cars along the track out to the ridge; I think he was in the middle of the convoy by the time we got there. Once we had stopped he mingled with the crowd and managed to get his picture taken with Graham from Greening Australia for one of the local newsletters.
Before the Field Day the Head Teacher from teh Albury TAFE dropped in to pick up a couple of pigs. The TAFE's eco farm is diversifying into the free range pig business and chose us to source their pigs from. Unfortunately they arrived in a vehicle much higher then our loading ramp. This wasn't a problem for the two smaller sows they wanted - we just lifted them into the truck - after a short carry. It was the Boar they weree opicking up for the another person that was going to be difficult. In the end we used a bale of straw and some bread to lure the boar into the vehicle. We were both surprised at how easily he went up in the end. The Boar that went was Boris he's not the prettiest boar, but he was the toughest of the three young Boars we had, he also was a bit of a fancier of the ear scratch. Hopefully he'll enjoy his new home.

We are getting hammered by cold fronts at the moment as well. Last night we had 100kmph winds and Sunday afternoon was terrible. The worst part is we only receive very small rain falls which dry up immediately with the wind. All the pig humpies have been blown down near the river so another job to add to the list for the weekend.

At one point last night the three little pigs decided they’d rather sleep with the dogs’ then out in their shelter. They kicked poor old Archer off of his mat and set up home happily grunting and snorting. Unfortunately for them Archer got a little upset by about 9:30pm and decided that enough was enough – and he turffed them out into the night.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Are they your horses?

I generally stay out of town politics but I went to a Town meeting about the dump on Thursday – always a highlight, the dump. A lady approached me and asked when was I going to feed my horses, another lady jumped in as well and then the local RSPCA Inspector got interested in the discussion. Anyway, the horses the lady was talking about don’t belong to our farm; they are being agisted on land owned by the Livestock Health and Protection Authority (LHPA).

We have complained in the past to the people concerned and to the LHPA with little effect, people just don’t seem interested. So I ramped up my efforts and attempted to get the horses looked at by whom ever I could find – that was Friday.

I was again approached by somebody at the dump on Sunday, for the same reason, the poor horses. This time I decided to escalate things and armed with a camera I went across and took photo’s of the horses, I checked their teeth and none of them were older the 14 at the most. They had good feet, which was something.

So I rang the RSPCA again and got permission to give the horses water, I hadn’t seen a trough or bucket in the paddock since Wednesday and it may have been longer. They drank every drop and were still thirsty but I didn’t want to give them too much in case they got sick. That afternoon one of the horses came down to our gate and laid on the grass in the corner of the paddock – it was still there in the morning.

Sunday night I emailed the pictures to the RSPCA and Monday morning I rang the head office of the LHPA and emailed them pictures as well. I received a phone call back some time later saying they may send a Ranger and the Vet out after the Cooma Sale if they have time. I haven’t heard anything from them since. The lady that called me told me that officially they couldn’t do anything under the RLPB Act, that wasn’t my concern, because under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act it is their problem.

I arrived home Monday afternoon and there was still no water for the horses but the worst looking horse had gone, it was the one I’d seen laying down in the corner. I half expected angry people waiting for me at the gate when I got home. Tuesday I went off to work, a I left I checked and still no water for the horses, I’d had enough so I waited till the afternoon – hoping the LHPA would ring and tell me they had solved the problem but nothing. So I contacted the RSPCA again sent in more photo’s, an hour later on the way home I received a call saying the Senior RSPCA Inspector in NSW was going to deal with the issue. Finally, the up side being the horses had water last night, unfortunately it was all gone this morning, but hopefully these people might start looking after their animals.

Last thing, I’ll share one of the excuses I heard when I asked around about what people thought about how the horses looked “But she has so many (horses), you can’t expect her to look after them all”
If you'd like to complain about the state of these horse send an email to and tell them your not impressed, the horses are located on the Bredbo TSR - the more the better.

I think I need to take a break …………

Thursday, August 6, 2009


Have you ever had one of those senior moments – you know, when you see something, you know it’s wrong, but it just doesn’t register until much later. This morning I went out to the mud room to let the dogs out. Shadow was all over me as usual, I noticed she had dirt on her nose and I thought she must have buried her bone from the night before.

Anyway, I let them out and tied Archer up, Shadow headed strait for the bread buckets in search of scraps. I hassled the kids along – they had arrived home late the evening before because of Skiing and Soccer practice and we left some of the chores until this morning.

So we finally finish feeding pigs, piglet’s, chooks and other assorted poultry and head back to the house. As I go in I noticed that the ash bucket beside the door is looking a little full and make a mental note to empty it later – and that’s when the penny dropped…!

I called the dog over and sat her down, I pointed into the bucket and asked her if she had been in the ashes (no reference to the Cricket) – she looked at me and wagged her tail with that “aren’t I a clever dog” look – needless to say the bone has been dug out and buried properly.

Monday, August 3, 2009

A year on

It was a lovely weekend, the sun shone; we had warm days and freezing nights. The boys had a sleep over to go to this weekend, so the Cook packed them off early Saturday morning. I had the day to myself, after feeding and doing all the general farm stuff of course. So, there wasn’t much time for anything apart from feeding, making feeds and sorting the green feed. I’d only just finished doing the green feed when Dave called me and said he was bringing out another load – great.

We spent an hour unloading a ute full into a pen, then we decide to have a cuppa. When we’d finished and moved back ventured we found the pigs had made a cunning escape from pigopylus and raided the feed pile – it was too late to do anything about it, so we just let them all out to feast. There were a lot of fat and round pigs by dinner time. We heard nothing out of them that whole night – apart from greenhouse gas emissions.

Sunday was National Tree day and I spent the morning at Jacks Gully helping to plant trees. By midday t was time to head home and I arrived back just before the Cooks mate Jane turned up with the kids and a new Goat. So now we have four goats – although this one likes to hang around horses more then the other goats.

The three poddy piglets are growing quickly, they followed us around all weekend squawking and grunting – worse then the boys. The Cook did a lot of cooking and we are now resupplied with ANZAC biscuits for the next few days.

The Cook, Jane, Max and the three little pigs - looking for the goat

To top off the weekend we had high winds, up to 100kmph. The winds were caused by a cold front moving across Victoria – by this morning we had a full on dust storm raging. The pigs movable shelters lived up to their names and weren’t to be seen, the bread trailer – all 1.2tonnes of it was blown across the paddock and ended up resting against a fence post next to the pig shed.

Dust storm this morning

I nearly forgot - on the way in to town this morning I spotted these characters taking shelter from the wind.

On another note the blog has been going for a year now – over 7000 hits and 245 entries later - thanks everybody….!