Monday, December 10, 2012

and almost Christmas here too!

What's been happening? Dunno know, but I just can't get it sorted!
Ah, never mind, just realized: WORK! I am very lucky to say that I actually have been having paid work for the past couple of months. Which makes a serious dent in my free-time.
All good though, the animals are profiting from this: long over due cullings have been delayed and breeding just keeps going.
My ducks have been producing eggs reliably and I have now 8 home grown home bred ducklings. One is 3 1/2 weeks, or thereabouts, and for the past two days has been out of the hutch and mingling with the rest of the flock of .... chickens! After all, mum is a hen. That hatching didn't go too well though: only one out of five eggs managed to make it alive. The next batch, with two hens sharing one hutch, produced 7 out of 13 eggs. And, as my hens keep turning broody and I've got no cages to de-brood them, I've got another two sitting on 7 eggs.  We're going to have plenty of duck breast and legs a-la-confit next year!
The veges in the plastic containers are doing well, the tomatoes have started to set, the herbs are coming back and the cats are still NOT getting in!
Talking about the cats: have the live trap set again, we've seen a couple of times another unknown cat around here. A tabby like Purdie, but slinkier and younger looking.  Please let it be a 'kitten' so that it can be re-homed by the SPCA!
And as for the bunnies, no breeding as I haven't got any space. But I will have to get onto that soon or I will be too late for a decent autumn harvest.

hope to see you all again in the new year

Monday, October 8, 2012

Finally done it

This is always the hardest part: locking up the goat babies over night and milking mum first thing in the morning, but I've finally done it, and the babies look alright, not happy, but alright and the bottle of milk looks good too!

I have sent a warning email to all the neighbours that I will be shifting the girls twice a day now. In a fortnight I'll be able to milk Poppy as well and then I should be back into cheese making mode!
Already know what my first one will be, a Romano. My first Romano was made with cow's milk and tastes great, but could do with a bit more zing. Hoping this zing will come from the goat's milk!

The duck is on a roll, another egg this morning, and all inside the house. Our 'relationship' has chilled out so much in the last days, since I don't have to chase her back into the paddock and chase to lock them up at night!! Big improvement all round.

Just short one for today,

Sunday, October 7, 2012

My little herd

This morning I'm a bit anxious: moved my little herd back into the big paddock.
The overnight paddock is just getting too pooped in by the 7 little and big monsters. So I decided this morning it's time to take the plunge and try it. The two girls and Moritz were happily following me (rattling a feed container) and Poppy's boys were running to keep up with mum. But Tui's two are just a bit thick I'm afraid and didn't want to get onto the road with mum. So I had to leave them behind, supervised by Kara and carry them to the paddock! Individually. Even though they are only just over a week old, they are too heavy to carry both at the same time!
Nothing happened on the way there, one worry down. Now I just hope the mums will look after their babies properly and take them to the shelter if the weather packs in. The paddock has greened up so much in the 3 weeks since I've taken the girls out to give birth. The girls are all head down at the moment!! Nothing like a new clean feed.
As the first set of boys is about to turn four weeks old I have to organize them getting ringed! Yay, all the fun on the farm.

 Yesterday I had a very good conversation with one of our neighbours about tanning a rabbit hide, so once I have a bit of spare time I will send one of the older ones over the Rainbow bridge and give it a try. Our friend has offered to give me hands-on help if it doesn't work, which is good to have as a back-up.
Not sure yet when, as I still have to get started on reducing our chicken flock. Just isolated a couple of girls again, and whoever doesn't lay from now is for the freezer.
I had contemplated the same fate for my ducks, as it was turning into a major hassle getting the eggs. But I had a flash of genius and found a way of plugging the escape holes in the fence and the duck now stays in the run, all day and night, and like a well-behaved girl lays her eggs in the hutch!!! In the middle, like a proper nest. The question is now, once she's laid a clutch, will she go broody and sit on them?? Anyway, I won't worry about that til she's finished laying, and if she doesn't I hopefully have a broody hen to take over that duty.
Yesterday I finally managed to build a night house for the goat kids, so that they can get locked up over night and I can finally start milking one of the girls, Tui. I still have to wait with milking Poppy as her 5 weeks withholding time after her antibiotic treatment is not up yet.


Friday, October 5, 2012

Waste not, want not!

This was the weekend my darling daughter and I decided to do something with the liver, kidneys and heart of our pig Thumbelina.
As a child in Germany I grew up with a reasonably revolting bland version of Kalbsleberwurst, liverwurst made with veal and as an adult had tasted the most divine foie-gras. So I was intrigued to find out what it takes to make Liverwurst, a "peasant" style pate, and whether my family would eat it.
But first, I had to mince the meat! Since my last endeavours, involving a mains powered GRUNTY drill of my husband attached to a manual mincer, we had bought a proper electric meat mincer. And did it work a treat! I won't go into the details here, that'll be on the food blog!
Just trying to generate a bit more traffic over there.  ;-)
Interestingly, for the first time ever I did feel a bit squeamish handling these amounts of raw meat. I suppose because liver does have quiet a distinct strong smell.
Anyway, nearly 4 kg's of processed and seasoned meat later, I can say the family is not against eating pig liver! And they did not eat that all in one go, I've made some into pate and the rest into meat patties, which will be frozen and served as my homemade fast food! But, we had the patties for dinner and my carniverous bunch devoured a huge load of them.
And as for me, I think I'm actually all meated out! But I've still got to finish frying the rest of the patties. I'm really looking forward to my shower tonight!!!
Our way of paying respect to a lovely animal is making every bit count beautifully.
Not quite sure if I will ever get to do something with the head though: the kids and I were perusing an old cook book and it had a recipe for a pig's head! They were not impressed, no cries" We've got to try this one" either. Let's wait and see.

and the food stuff should go up, with a few pics too, in a couple of days.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Zippity doo dah yay wayho

Spring caught up with me and as per usual I'm having a hard time keeping up!
Just a quick update, with some pics:

First up in the spring bonanza we had four white baby bunnies on the 2nd of September. There had been two more, but they had been too big and were born dead. Not too sure if my "breeding scheme" is working.

Next, four chickies: I had gotten Light Sussex eggs to add a different colour to my flock. Of 11 eggs four hatched live on the 14th of September.

And a fortnight ago (16.9) Poppy gave birth to two boys ( two days early), with serious help for the first one. I assume due to the stressful birth she developed mastitis and I ultimately had to give her a dose of Penicillin. It was all touch and go with her last Friday, but she's come right since then and is feeding her two boys well. And Tui, not to be outdone, gave birth on Saturday (29.9) to two boys. Three days early. And she did it all by herself, but was still grateful for the fortified cuppa tea I gave her afterwards.

Here are Poppy, Kara and Thing 1 and 2

And here Thing 3 and 4.

And our duck has been laying again, I've got now 9 eggs and I need to find a broody hen to hatch them now.

In the beginning of September we were dog sitting a friend's puppy and that added a whole new layer of organizing. She's a lovely Lab cross and at seven months was a lot more lively than our seven year old dog and 18 year old cat.

And last, but not least our fourth attempt at setting up a vege and herb garden that doesn't get used as a cat's litter box. We've had fences that were too high for the cats or chickens AND me! We absolutely adore the flexi tubs and decided to try these instead of planters. So, here is this year's colour scheme: red for tomatoes and green for salads, herbs and other veges. Surrounded by a mesh fence, the bottom 2 1/3 squares folded over to create a smaller sized gap along the bottom part of it, as the 10cm hole seemed big enough for our old puddy cat to get her head through! Now it's wait and see. And lightly water: I'm always very disheartened at the sight of freshly planted seedlings. Despite being watered, they always look soo bedraggled in the first weeks.


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Another month gone by...

...and I haven't got a clue where it went!

Not sure when I did what, but by now I've got a few less bunnies and a few more containers of Rillettes de Lapin, or potted rabbit for us native speakers, jars and jars of apple sauce in the pantry (which by the way needs serious extending) and zillions of containers of Leek&Potato and Cauliflower soup in the freezer!
And finally the hens have decided that spring has sprung and have started laying: at the moment we're getting between 6-9 eggs a day and I am finally getting to do some back log baking done! Much to my family's delight and my hips' despair.

We've been having the pork and it's just stunning! We've had a shoulder roast, chops and spare ribs so far and everyone's loving it. The fat has been rendered and used sparingly for the potted rabbit.
Once new season's piglets are available we will get another one.

Ah, just realized why a whole month had gone and I didn't have much to show for it: two weeks of school holidays.

I finally started on building up the concrete and tile wall for my raised beds. I had been dreading it and it proofed to be as hard as feared: not physically but mentally. Anyway, I used up all our available concrete mix and we have to go and get some before I can continue. I only managed to get three of the four sides started, so it will be interesting to see if they join up properly!!! So far it looks alright, and once I know all the ins and outs, do's and don'ts the next lot should be a bit easier and faster. Famous last words, I know, but you got to hope for the best, as the worst will come anyway, one way or another.

The goats are putting on weight now, Poppy's first possible due date is the 18th of September, so I'm getting myself organized and getting the vet down to give them a general check-up.

The ducks, or rather the girl is still not laying, and escaping every day. But obviously not finding enough food, as she stays close to the pen for feeding time in the morning. Her partner, I assume/hope he's her partner, is very distraught but hasn't managed to follow her. Fortunately!

And since we've got space in the rabbit runs again, I have mated Wanda and Werner. As the boy is getting bigger and bigger he has to prove himself as a stud muffin or else. I'm keeping him in a smallish run at the moment, which is not ideal, but will have to do. And once I know what his virility is like, I'll start expanding and modifying the rabbit enclosures down in the garden. As much as the kids and I enjoy having them near the house, the smell and effluent is not something I want to have there on a permanent basis.

And speaking of effluent, I'm so happy that we are now part of a rubbish and recycling collective!! Instead of collecting it in our courtyard, in all manner of bins and boxes, and to take it into town every fortnight, once a car load is full, we can now deposit it properly, whenever needs be. Bliss.Big thumbs up and Thanks!

And we're now the proud owner of an electric mincer and sausage maker!  //insert cheeky grin emoticon //
The last mincing session was a  two person act involving a mains powered drill attached to the manual mincer! And hubby was adamant this kind of use is not covered under the warranty, so we got one. But we haven't got any meat to grind yet, the cockerels are taking their sweet time fattening up. Do they know??!!
And since the hens have started laying, I don't want to go and willy nilly despatch some.

Yesterday I went through the freezer to check for space and found 8 liters of milk and decided to use it for my first try of making a Romano cheese. A cheese for grating, like Parmesan, but lightly different flavour. And I finally got to use my dumbbell weights to press the cheese over night. Salting it today, then drying for 2 days and then maturing for at least two months. It's going to be a while before I know what this one will taste like.

And last Friday we went out for a special dinner at The White Swan.
Finn had had a whole day's singing and entertainment organized by school and we thought we'd do something different with Kara. As this was her first time at a fancy restaurant, she didn't quite get it, but certainly approved of the Fish and Chips.
For my dinner I had ordered a goats cheese entree and scallop starter. The goats cheese entree was beautiful! For quite some time I haven't bothered going out to eat, as I find most foods not up to my standards, taste or preparation wise. But this was just stunning. Only two starters, but I felt beautifully sated and content. Not cheap, mind you, but this time I thought well worth the expense.
Ross had a wild platter, which was very interesting and tasty too, the only downside the mini drink served with the meal. As part of the package they served a certain drink with it, but only half a serving! And has he had asked for it to be brought out before the meal, he had finished it of course by the time the food arrived. And that was that. Fortunately I wasn't drinking mine as fast and we shared my drink.
And then we went to Masterton to hear a children's songs concert. Organized by REAP, senior students from several local schools had been tutored by Julian Raphael, a music educator, and presented the songs they had rehearsed all day! Lovely.
Not exactly farming, but a very memorable experience after all.

Right, so quite a bit has happened after all, and that's me again for today,


Monday, June 25, 2012

What a week!

After a lot of tearful deliberations we had decided our pig Thumbelina had to go. I had organized the home kill man to come on Monday and spent the weekend before mentally preparing myself for it. I had also decided that I was going to butcher her myself and spent a lot of time researching and printing out diagrams.

A Sunday night call about the time confirmed Tuesday then.

Tuesday morning was spent in a daze, cleaning everything and getting the other animals sorted, so I wouldn't have to do anything major for the next couple of days.
At 2pm he arrived and by 3pm she was hanging under cover behind the rabbits.
I was very pleased having stuck with the original plan, as Vic is a very gentle and kind person and he undertook the job with the utmost professionality and kindness. Considering his job, I found this the most pleasing aspect.
On Wednesday morning I had Kara home sick, which made me feel a bit worried, but I just went ahead as professional and calm as I could be. She was keen on observing me, so any qualms or squeamishness I might have felt, I had to subdue.
Fortunately my husband had supplied me with an ample supply of sharp and appropriate tools and the job got done a lot faster than I had anticipated: by the afternoon I had made her up into all the parcels I wanted and packed her away into the fridge.

Kara, who had been the most adamant about not killing her, was ready for pork chops for dinner at the end of it! But I decided we were going to have our first home grown meal on the weekend for Sunday lunch. With mashed potatoes, apple sauce and homemade Sauerkraut.
And it was beautiful! Moist, and what struck me as most interesting: no pig sty smell. Store bought pork always smells like a dirty pig sty. Not this one. The children hooved into it, and even cleaned up the bones. Winner all round I'd say.

With the freezer being full of meat, we got 33kgs of ready to eat meat, and then some bits and bobs that I have to do something with, we are feeling rather rich. Quantity and Quality wise.

The first pics were taken by me, than Kara decided to document the process too.

On top of that we had a mother-of-gale on the weekend, with a major power cut on Saturday. We had been invited to our friends for dinner, and were wondering how they would manage without power. The other neighbour's had rushed to their aid with a big diesel generator and a gas barbecue and all was on track!
We had a lovely turkey dinner, with all the trimmings, and even got to see a slide show: another neighbour had been for a month in Afghanistan to teach tractor driving!
By the time we got back home still no power, so straight to bed! And in the morning? Still nothing. After realizing that and drawing a film picture for the tv, the kids got on with life playing a board game!!
Ross started our little generator to boost the freezers and I had cooked Breakfast on our trusty fire place and by the time I had brewed a coffee for Ross it was back on again.
Interesting exercise in survival and we did pretty well actually.
Glad to have electricity back though, the generator was deafeningly loud due to a corroded exhaust.

That's it for now, having quiet times for a while now.


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Another month gone!

And what's happened since?

Riley's gone home and according to his mum has picked up a different accent!! He seems to have done the job well and truly as neither of the girls have come back into heat! The earliest possible due date is the 18th of September. I have been drying of Tui as well, so for now I'm just feeding them and keeping an eye on their condition.

Thumbelina's nose has healed and she's putting on the pork! Her siblings/cousins were butchered yesterday, and according to the homekill guy he wouldn't do them any bigger than now: juiciest and easiest to handle. Interesting experience, made a lot easier to observe when the person doing it all has heaps of experience and is quite calm and happy to explain! Scored me the liver, kidney's and heart of the first pig. Now searching to get all the ingredients together to make a nice pate with it.

Our pet bunny Brownie had been recovering and putting on a bit weight again when she came down with snuffles/flu/pneumonia. As I couldn't afford to take her to the vet, they can only identify these through extensive blood tests, I trawled the web to find out about these and natural remedies. In the mean time I settled her inside in a large box to take her out of the worst of the cold and keep a close eye on her. She seems to be going through the "classic" stages of a flu in a human, snotty nose and all. But, she's started eating her apples and pellets again. So here's hoping she's strong enough to pull through by herself.

The ducks are behaving like a couple now, he's guarding her in the house, but still no eggs!
Same as the chickens, 20 hens and NO egg in sight. A lot of beaks to feed for no visible return. On top of 14 late chicks that seem to be fending rather well for themselves. Either we must be feeding the rats well enough or the chicks hide well at night. None lost since I've let them free range a week ago.

The teenage bunnies are going on a rampage every now and then, so I will have to divide them up and put the boys with Werner into the big run!

As our local dairy farmer has finished milking for the season, I had a frantic last week, trying to make a cheese every second day. And I did, but more of that and pics on the foodie page!

Gardening is getting harder and harder as the air gets colder, but I've still got 1-2 rows of winter veg to plant before it's too late. That digging soil is quite hard work. But hey, one spade at a time means it'll get turned eventually.

That's all for this month, the next one peeking around the corner already,

Monday, April 30, 2012

First post of the month on the first day of the month! Hah!

I know, that title is a bit of a mouthful, but I just couldn't resist!

Right, where are the animals?!

Goats: still in the next door paddock and yesterday Riley was VERY territorial and I saw him paying attention to Tui, who was Very much a tart! Next Monday I will know if he was successful with Poppy and then it's home time for him. Way too smelly and when I have to take them of the paddock I can't tether 4 goats.
Here they are attacking the gorse at the far end of the paddock:

Thumbelina decided to get one of her nose rings hooked into the fence and pull the darn thing out! Now one side of her snoz is hanging down and I'm waiting for the vet to decide whether anything needs to be done: I had taken photos and emailed them to him. And he's just come back to let nature take its course, no discernible improvement could be gained by removing the flap! I love my vet: has a look at the pics and makes a decision that saves all of us time and money! Other than that she's turning into a truly greedy piggy and putting on the daily pounds!!!! And loves to roll over onto her side for tummy and chin rubs.

Three of our drakes have dearly departed and provided already two very yummy meals. I still have to perfect my cooking of them, but Ross reckons I pretty near nailed it last time. One more lot sitting in the freezer waiting for another Sunday feast.

The chickens and rabbits are having a bit of a reprieve, I just don't seem to find the time to do it. Nor the inclination in the weather, which happens to be getting colder and colder.
Yesterday Ross and I went out to the neighbour's place to cut down a couple of trees for firewood. We got two good trailer loads and were feeling rather cheekily smart while keeping the fire place stoked today.

My first attempt at making a concrete feeding trough was quite successful, so I will try to make a trough a week! At $5 versus $40 a pop I reckon it's well worth the learning curve.

Keep safe and warm.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Update, of sorts.

Woah, I don't know where to start, so many things have happened in the past couple of weeks!

Bunnies: Brownie had given birth to six kits and was loosing weight rapidly. One had to be euthanised as it wasn't thriving at all, and another fostered onto Wanda. Still no improvement, and she wasn't eating either. On Good Friday I picked her up to give her a proper check up and was mortified to find her just fur and bones. Immediately I took the remaining four and put them into Wanda's nest, to make sure that by night time feeding they would have the same smell as the others. Then checking Brownie I found a big lump under her chin.
First I thought an abscess, and with Ross' help tried to lance, but it wasn't anything external, so stopped before I did any harm. Surprisingly, she was so quiet and holding still for me, "as if she knew I'm trying to help her" Ross remarked. Next I googled Abscess and homeopathic treatments and found some that I had at home. As it was the holiday weekend, I thought I give that a shot rather than wait and do nothing. She seemed to perk up for a couple of days, and then relapse.
By the next Friday, another friend thought it might be the thyroid gland, as she was only nibbling on apples and broccoli. Googled that, and found inconclusive info. Talking to the vet nurse I came to the conclusion that it would be a very expensive undertaking to establish what exactly is ailing her and then whether she could be cured. At this moment in time we cannot afford to spend hundreds of dollars on one animal and I decided it would be best to release her from her suffering. If she was suffering: she is as lively and sprightly as ever, still keen on cuddles and keeps grooming herself and nibbling on food. Tonight was going to be the night I'd do the deed, but she has eaten all her pellets in her bowl, and devoured her allocated apple.
Of all the "utility" animals we have on our little "farm" she's the only one I feel I have a connection with, and as much as I have to respect our financial situation, I don't want to end her life unnecessarily. So, my decision for today has been to make her a lovely little home, all to herself, where she can stay for the rest of her natural life. As long as I don't feel she's suffering. I won't be able to breed of her, but the last litters have produced several girls, so we will keep a few to replace her on the duty.

Chickens: I knew I had a hen sitting on a nest somewhere in the bush, but every attempt to locate it had failed. One night I went in the hen house for eggs, it was getting dark already, and saw two hens: one sitting in a box and one sitting in a corner on the floor. Worried I had an attacked hen I gently picked her up to discover 11 fluff balls under her. Removed the whole lot to a safe rabbit hutch that night, as the weather was about to pack in again. This morning I found that the other hen, that had hatched 5, had lost another chick over night. Even though they are now 3 weeks old, I will have to lock them up again over night. Blimmin' hassle, as it means another set of water and feed bowls needing to be set up. And again, another southerly front moving in.

Piggy wiggy: in the last week Thumbelina had  been doing some SERIOUS digging and so I had called our neighbours if they could help/ advise me regarding ringing her. Sure thing, and didn't hear from them. Until Saturday: "I'm on my way to the beach and thought I'd pop by and we quickly do her ring!" OooooKay! I wasn't prepped mentally and was dreading the prospect, but it needed to get done. Not made easier by Ms.9 insisting on watching. Organized ear muffs for us both and waited for our neighbour. He came, we sorted what to use, wire, and went down to do it.
//Insert loud constant expletives//
I will NEVER, EVER do that again! If I can't keep pigs and raise them to butcher weight without having to ring them, I won't be keeping pigs!
We had to employ the sit-on-it method to restrain her, and I had to use all my strength and weight to keep her 22kg of muscles reasonably still. And as for the screaming? Even with ear muffs it was unbearable! Our friend put three wires in, and by the third one she was sooo livid and moved soo much , he pierced himself. I managed to hold her for the whole ordeal, but in the process pulled a neck and shoulder muscles and strained my arm muscles painfully. Not as painful as her nose of course, but I'm still drugging myself up during the day to be able to move around and do my usual stuff. I gave her lots of milk to drink afterwards, and have been giving her lots of good tummy rubs. I hope I'm back in the good books with her. In the next good weather period I'll move her sleeping drum into the other paddock and open her fence so she can go out and enjoy the fresh tall grass!
And the turned over soil will get planted with winter veges! Gotta see the positive wherever you can.

Goats: on Friday, the 13th, Riley came back for another visit. He had had a bad bout of worms and was looking quite skinny. The girls were VERY keen on seeing him again. For the first two days he was just eating and eating and yesterday afternoon I was able to observe him being his old self again! Marked the date in the calendar, and if Poppy doesn't get back into heat in the next 20-27 days he should have done the deed alright. Tui is in the paddock with him as well, but doesn't seem to be in heat properly yet, as he is ignoring her. I'm not too worried if she doesn't get pregnant, as I want to keep milking her til I can milk Poppy again.

And on top of that, this morning my friend's car didn't start this morning.Our other neighbour is a mechanic, had a quick look and reckons some connectors need replacing.Getting that organized and sending her back home in our car. So now I'm stuck with the kids here and no car. I just hope it'll be bad weather and we have to find stuff to do in the inside. Lego!

I'm knackered! Mentally and physically! And haven't even started on my raised vege beds yet!!!

TTFN and hopefully a  few quieter weeks.
Yeah, right. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

I think I bond TOO much with my animals!

Today I was feeling all kinda blahdiblah. Couldn't get off my backside to get started on the stuff I had planned for today. Finally, after a dozen of mental kicks up the proverbial I get into my little sheltered garden and start prepping the raised beds for the raspberry bushes to go in. That meant weeding and pulling out some sun flowers that had done their dash.
Off to the rabbits to give them a little treat and what do I find in one of the cages: a cold kit laying outside of the nursery part. I grab it to dispose of it and it's still alive. Stone cold but still moving. Quickly do a check inside the nursery and find four more kits wriggling around! Take the cold one with me, get a hot water bottle ready and carry it around for a while, turning it all the time til its temperature has risen a bit. As soon as it felt warmish to my touch I put it back with its siblings, as this is the best way to keep baby bunnies warm.
As this is a bit unexpected, they were due 7 days ago, I begin to wonder if the other doe, they were mated on the same day, might give birth as well. I keep a beady eye on her, but stay away from the pen. Don't want to upset her!  Anyway, in the afternoon, just before getting the kids from the school bus, I notice she's pulling fur out furiously and has already put a huge load into her nursery nest. By this stage I'm internally squeaking with excitement and delight.
Once I'm back with the kids we go and listen. They are very quiet, but there are distinct "birthing sounds" coming from the nursery. And Wanda, the doe, has blood on the tip of her nose. So we leave her til I can see her out in the run having a drink and cleaning herself. Go and check, and another 5 kits. All a healthy looking size and wriggling like they should at 10 mins of age!
The important thing is now to wait and see if all feed well. Out of the ten, seven are white, 1 black and 2 light or dark brown. It's kind of hard to judge the colour at this stage. But once they're a couple of days old and the first fluff appears on them, it'll be easier.
This is a relief, as I had been wondering if either my bucks and/or the girls had gone sterile. This was the second mating and I had all but given up hope. I'm not sure why they took so long, I assume the approaching autumn might influence the incubation time. Who knows, I just have to remember that for the next autumn matings.

And as for the bonding question: was I feeling restless and all that because of the impending births??
I hope not! I'm intending of breeding the rabbits throughout the year and can't really get into this state just because a doe is about to give birth!! Let's wait and see. Today has turned out to be a good day after all: baby bunnies and gardening done. Now I just have to feed the goats, the piglet, milk a goat and put my children to bed!
Easy Peasy!


Sunday, March 18, 2012


Farm life is a LOT harder than you can imagine:
I thought after having slogged my ring off for the last three days building a piglet and goat proof fence, I could enjoy a little bit of quiet indoor time baking bread and cakes.
Now the Southerly is coming in and I've got a tummy bug, I'm running all over the place again to make sure everyone's fed and got access to good shelter before the rain hits. The wind is already colder so I know by the time the rain falls I better be organized.
That's it now: our menagerie is complete: yesterday we picked up Thumbelina, a Berkshire/Saddleback cross sow. If she behaves and is easy to manage we will keep her for breeding more piglets. They will be for the freezer though.
She was quiet laid back, only minor squealing while I carried her into her enclosure, but she was a bit weary.
Until I milked the goat last night and gave her some of the milk. I think I'm her best friend now. This morning I gave her some bread and pear peelings and she continued to stay close enough for a scratch.

The goats on the other hand are extremely perturbed by the presence of this little grunty one on their paddock! I'm sure they will settle and I'm pleased I didn't try to just put them all together.
On Saturday we discovered that a funnily behaving chook had been sitting on a nest and we've got now another 5 chicks!
This shows you how silly the weather is: we're now in Autumn and the animals are behaving all over the place.
Anyway, they'll make good replacements, either for the freezer or for laying eggs.
But, they needed to be caught and put into a hutch as well, they are way to little to fare well in a Southerly. AND we've got marauding hawks, magpies and cats!

back to bed and hopefully it'll be only a 24hour bug!

Saturday, February 25, 2012


I think I'm in need of some homeopathic remedy: it has been a week of departures and losses.

I had bought a little bottle of Ignatia remedy which is supposed to help cope with the grieving process of loss. I got it in case the family or the goats would suffer to badly from the sudden departure of two of the baby goats. Not over the rainbow bridge, just to a neighbour down the road who loves goats and got some spare space!

For the past couple of days I have been feeling extremely down and tired and put it down to being tired, it had been a busy week. But this afternoon I realized it had been a busy week of departing animals:
On Tuesday I dispatched and processed four chickens.
On Wednesday I did a duck. And that one duck took me longer than the four chickens!
And this morning we took Max and Fipps to our neighbour and saw them settled in a cosy pen, in the middle of their future home paddock.

And as this had been planned and organized for the past couple of weeks, I hadn't realized how it might affect me.
Well, I took a dose and hopefully in a couple of days I'll be right as rain again!

As you can imagine, it was a very productive week, the freezer is stocked with some homegrown chicken bits and on Saturday we had the duck as a birthday lunch for Ross.
And it was perfect. After 4 hours labouring in the kitchen we had a grand lunch and everyone enjoyed it. The duck was done just right and even the kids enjoyed the flavour. Not a lot on it though, but just enough for the four of us. Which is plenty.
Anyway, three more to go, but this time I will take a short cut and deal with them as I do with the chickens: breast and drum sticks.
And on Wednesday I should be able to start my first goat cheese, just waiting for the culture to arrive.
At the same time I should try starting my own sourdough starter, nothing better than fresh goats' cheese on warm crunchy sour dough bread!
If successful, more on the food blog. ;-)


Monday, February 13, 2012


Short note: Fipps lost his balls today. Well, he didn't exactly loose them, they came off and I actually found them lying in the grass. There was a bit of blood, so I sprayed as much iodine as he would let me. Hopefully he'll be fine and the flies won't get into the wound. Now just waiting for the other two boys.

The rabbits still haven't coughed up any babies. I'll give them til Monday before putting Silver over them. And not sure whether to give Werner a second chance or not?!

Yesterday morning I tried to put the wild duck into the run with the Rouens, but that didn't work out: she kept trying to squeeze through the mesh, damaging her beak a bit. And the others are so much bigger than her, that I'd be worried once they'd get over her and get nosey they might crush her.
And I was told that Paradise ducks don't mingle with other breeds. So, I will wait til she looks strong enough to fend for herself again and take her down to the big lake. It's a protected one, from shooters and there's heaps of other water fowl there. Hopefully she'll find her flock, or can attach herself to another flock and be happy.


Friday, February 10, 2012

Gotta stop blogging! ;-)

never a dull day on the farm: after yesterday's post I went about my things in the other house and saw something different in the goat paddock. You know the game "Spot the Difference"? I'm pretty good at it: saw a white spot in the paddock and wondered what it could be, as it clearly shouldn't be there. Then a thought flashed through my head: a duck! Don't ask me why, it certainly was too far away to see clearly. So I got outside and by then the spot had disappeared.I knew then, an animal.  Raced down, as light-footed as possible and try to locate it.
And found a duck trying to hide underneath a flax bush!
A little white-headed beauty. I think it's a juvenile Paradise duck, but will have that confirmed or corrected today by the experts on my Lifestyle forum!

She's got an injury on her head, quite a bit of skin seems to have been ripped of in an attack, but it's not bleeding anymore, and she doesn't seem on death's doorstep. So I'm hoping with a couple of days of undisturbed rest, out of the weather and away from potential predators she'll come right soon. I'm wondering if she could be tamed,she's just too gorgeous, but I doubt it,she seems too grown up already.
Anyway, time will tell, and it's left a smile on my face!
And I hope yours too!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

This is insane!

I cannot believe how the year is flying past!
All seems to be back to normal on the farm, including the hens again not laying in the hen house.
One day I got 11 eggs, of 12 potentially laying hens, and since then it's between 1-4. Ridiculous! Don't they know that the non-layers awaits a rather cold and minced future??!!
I have found a home for two of the billy goats: once they are old enough to be weaned, in a fortnight, they will go to a neighbour's place down the road. The children, Mr.11 especially, are not too happy about it, but we're keeping the cuddliest kid, Moritz, as long as he behaves himself.
The ducks still haven't molted enough to identify the boys from the girls, properly, so they are all still alive and eating. At least I managed last weekend to put a gate up and fix part of the fence which had been destroyed by the kid goats and the windy weather. So I don't have to shepherd them back into the run every morning now. Grateful for small mercies.
A month ago I had mated two of the bunny girls, with the large white boy, Werner, and I'm hoping that today they'll pop a dozen or two!

And once the goat kids are sorted, the paddock properly fenced with an electric wire at the bottom, I'll get a couple of girl piglets!!! The neighbour's sows had a tiny girl each, officially they're called runts, but they look so cute, it seems rude to call them that. Hopefully with a bit of more time they will still grow to a decent size. The neighbour's not too sure what to do with them, so once she has to make a decision we'll talk with her. As pigs are very destructive once they're older, I have to think very carefully about where to put them!
But, as I'm finding out now, there's not a lot of meat on dairy goats, so keeping them for meat is not really feasible. So, I'd rather use any paddock space for another animal.
Tomorrow I shall be starting milking the girls again, the withholding period after their drench is finished today. Again I will have to lock the kid goats away for the night so I have a chance of getting some milk!

Today we were supposed to go a beach with the school, for Water Safety training, but Mr.11 complained of a queasy tummy, AND the weather forecast is cold winds for mid morning. It's a three hour round trip, so we decided not to take the risk: I'm not keen on a potentially vomiting kid in the car in bad weather! We had gone the last time it was run, so I will just make the kids have a look again at some of the safety measures on the net.

off to feed my menagerie.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

First Post of Two Thousand and Twelve

So, the first year has been already for 10 days and of course heaps has happened again. Somehow my wish for a quiet and slow year has not been registered.

So, where to start?
The animals of course:
in the last 6 weeks I have had a lot of bunnies die from the RabbitCaliciVirus, and for a while I was worried about keeping enough for future breeding. Fortunately both my future breeding buck and doe, Werner and Wanda ( large NZ White look alikes), and our original pets, Silver and Brownie (which had been vaccinated, but the revax had been due 6 months ago) survived. In total I lost 9 out of 24. One doe intended for the freezer is getting a second chance, and I've got 5 other boys who will go to the freezer this and next week.

Then Poppy was just not looking right.
I had been milking them, getting approximately 500ml each every day and Kara was really enjoying our own fresh milk.
Despite me feeding her heaps she was looking tired and quite overwhelmed by the boys' constant feeding.
A lot of other people had their animals literally drop dead over night. So I decided to get a FEC (fecal egg count) done, and lo and behold it came back with astronomical numbers: Tui 2500 and Poppy 3200. Anything up to 400 is manageable.
I gave the vet the samples on Tuesday morning and by Thursday lunch time had the result!
I had the drench, but I didn't know their weight. Giving them too much will kill them, not enough and it won't kill the worms. We have a hanging meat scale up to 100kg, and I borrowed a block&chain set from the neighbours, but still needed a sling to lift them up in. So, I spent the better part of Thursday afternoon making, trying out and adjusting a makeshift sling. And in the end it worked. Well, I won't know it worked til I know that the dose I gave had killed most. But anyway, weighed them, Tui 58kg and Poppy 63kg and gave them the appropriate dose.

Another item on my to-do list was ringing the billy goats. I had hired an elastrator and the vaccination gun from the vet. On Tuesday I grabbed the boys and gave them their first 5in1 shots,which includes a tetanus shot, and in 4 weeks the follow up.
And today I just had our very nice and helpful neighbour around and, at 5 weeks old, the goat boy kids have been ringed.
And here they are in their still youthful innocence.

And as for the rest of the menagerie?
The chickens are all still there, all 30 of them! I will isolating some of the pullets, to see who is laying and who is not, and then decide whether to sell or butcher the rest.
And the ducks are still growing. They had started to moult, but I still can't say for sure who's a boy and who's a girl. Except for one. So I will have to wait til the boys have their adult plumage, I don't want to accidentally butcher a girl!
The weather has been very changeable, hot and wet, which has been blamed for the recent outbreaks of all sorts of nasties-related diseases in livestock, and I'm hoping it'll settle again, and we can get on with properly managing the animals.
To tired to have to deal with any more emergencies, but I suppose I will if I have to.

peace and sleep and out.