Has it really been that long?

Wow! It’s just been brought to my attention that the last time I blogged my heart out was December 2012…..erm, it’s been quite a while!!

Why have I been so neglectful you ask? Well I guess the main reason was that eventually Alpha Male was able to get employment locally, meaning he was home more often than not. And we all know that I was only really able to write during his absences….those times when he expected me to look after the farm single-handedly and not stuff up…. and of course I’d stuff up and then have to write about it all to help dilute the stress.

There’s been many changes over the past 3 years. We’ve purchased more land across the road, our farming empire has now swollen to 200 acres. And before you get all impressed, don’t be. We are still only small fish in a massive ocean, pretend farmers desperately wishing we were the real thing. But fortunate to wake each morning to find we are living in  such a magical part of the world, doing the things that we enjoy….because getting covered in cow sh#t is so much fun.

At the end of 2012 I also started a Farmstay which has become busier each year. Armchair travelling at its best, meeting people from many parts of the world. Allowing me to still be a stay-at-home mum to Favourite Son, Middle Child and The Unruly One.  Also used as the perfect excuse to NOT do farm work. My favourite line is now “Sorry Alpha Male, I’m currently unable to (insert activity here – could be any number of things – move the bulls, spray thistles, take down the fence, cook dinner) because I am very busy (insert reason here – cleaning the house in preparation for our guests, cooking a meal for our guests, entertaining our guests).” Obviously this excuse can only be used at certain times of the year and I’ve noticed it doesn’t work if we don’t actually have guests at the time. Alpha Male has become rather wise to me over the past 3 years!

Talking to our guests may also be another reason why I didn’t keep up with the blogging. It’s much quicker and easier telling someone you’re a FARMING DORK face to face, rather than taking the time to write it all down. And of course during the summer months with new guests arriving most days I would have a captive audience.

What else has changed? We have a goat named Greta who Alpha Male despises. So much so that he will often mention ‘roast goat’ and ‘curried goat’ as dinner options. Something to do with the fact that she scales tall fences in single bounds and tap dances across the newly sown paddocks.

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Greta, back when she was little and cute and we didn’t realise her high-jump capabilities.

We also have 2 alpaca who’s sole purpose is to entertain our guests. They are odd but harmless beasties. For some reason Alpha Male isn’t exactly fond of them either, not quite on the same scale as his Greta loathing, but he believes that their presence makes us a petting zoo and not a real farm. Piffle. Thankfully they don’t jump fences, otherwise I would have been in real trouble.

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Alpha Male, shaking his head in horror when our alpaca boys arrived.

So I will endeavour to do better. Who knows, winter is just around the corner, there will be less guests to distract me, more of an expectation from Alpha Male for me to actually work, endless opportunities for me to cause chaos……

 

 

 

 

 

Fencing Failure

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Alpha Male is on ‘holiday’. This means he’s not leaving for work each day but staying home and ‘catching up on a few chores’. Today’s ‘chore’ was refencing the driveway. He’s a man on a mission, unstoppable, oh and he expects me to share his enthusiasm.

After much fiddle fluffing and general dawdling around the house, I eventually ran out of excuses and go out to ‘help’ him. I was given a very simple chore, hammer the insulators onto the posts with staples. Very very simple. I’ve done it all before. However I did find the 15 minute lecture he gave me prior to starting extremely off-putting. The pressure was on for the fence to look just perfect, because well….the cows expect perfection right!

He left me to it and Favourite Son was on stand by as chief staple/insulator handerer.  I was a bit nervous while hammering in those staples, straight lines and I aren’t exactly the best of friends, and I swear EVERY staples I hammered went in on some sort of awkward angle. Plus we were working on top of a ridge and the wind was both chilling and howling (for the record, those howling winds drive me insane).

Tap, tap, tap. Twist, bend, warp. Frustration brewing. Made a right mess of one staple and it had to come out. But wouldn’t.

“Can you please go ask your father for a pair of pliers”, I said to Favourite Son, “And if he asks say you want to trim your toenails”.

Darn, the pliers pulled the staple out of the timber but not out of the insulator, there is a tiny little barb holding it in place.

“Can you please go ask your father for bolt cutters”, I ask Favourite Son, “If he asks, then mention your toenails again”.

Favourite Son scampers back with bolt cutters. “I’m sorry mum, I really am, but he followed me back”. (Hmmm, he doesn’t sound sorry, in fact he’s laughing his head off).

Problem fixed, but really I’m not enjoying this and making a bad job of it. Favourite Son leaves me and my foul mood, his parting shot is “I’m going to work with a professional”. Cheeky bugger.

Aaargh the pain! Chest pain that is. Could I be having a heart attack? Nope, my heart is on the other side. Indigestion? Or could it just be some sort of muscle strain from wielding the hammer (and possibly because I whacked the post a few times in a childish angry moment). Decide to lie down in the grass, it’s actually warmer on the ground away from the wind. Wonder how long it will take for Alpha Male to come and see what’s wrong with me………waiting, waiting, waiting…..well he never bothers to come (although later he tells me that he and Favourite Son had a good old laugh at my expense).

Stomp stomp stomp. I’m gone. Off in a hissy-fit of a huff.

Maybe tomorrow when we do another fence I’ll be in a better mood.

 

Prison

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The girls have started laying in mysterious places, so mysterious that I’ve been unable to locate their eggs over the past week. Normally they happily free range by the sheep yards and if they aren’t laying in their nesting boxes then I can usually find the odd improvised nest in the barn.

Out of 7 hens I’ve been getting one egg (from the white silkie who is obviously a good girl). Another hen is currently sitting on a batch of fertile eggs which should hopefully hatch around Christmas. One of the red hens  lays an egg with a very brittle shell (so far shellgrit hasn’t fixed the problem) so her eggs are usually a broken mess. Still I should be getting at least 4 -5 eggs per day, 3 on a bad day, out of the 5 remaining hens.

The egg shortage is causing chaos in our household. Any we do have I’m saving for baking Christmas goodies. On Sunday night we had bacon and salad burgers as a quickie dinner. Alpha Male wanted eggs on his (2 burgers, that’s TWO eggs, I don’t think so bucko!!). He was very annoyed when I said no, we just don’t have enough. Got right snarly in fact and I had to listen to a lengthy tirade on the lack of eggs and how he should be able to have eggs whenever he wants because he doesn’t just work for the fun of it (this lecture is usually reserved for when we don’t have any ice-cream in the house, such dramas, the poor boy, yawn!). He wanted to know why, if I knew we didn’t have any eggs, didn’t I  purchase some when I went grocery shopping. “Well we have chickens”, I shot back at him “Why on earth would I buy eggs!!”. By golly he is frustrating! Hee hee!

So a few days ago I decided to lock the hens up in their coop until they learnt to behave. The next morning 2 eggs. Today 3 eggs. If only I could find their secret stash, then we would really be rolling in eggs!

Bit of a drama this morning. Alpha Male discovered that the steers had NO WATER. This explains why yesterday whenever I walked past their paddock (which I did on about 10 separate occasions while refilling the knapsack and spot spraying) they would all follow me along the fence line and moo. I had checked their water in the morning because the ballcock on that particular trough occasionally sticks and the water overflows, but all was good so I didn’t bother to check again. I’d also emptied and refilled 3 other troughs and not bothered to check that they had filled okay.

Can you see a bit of a pattern occurring? General slackness and apathy perhaps? Obviously a routine I need to train myself to get into, especially with summer approaching and animals get hot and thirsty. My first thought whenever the cattle bellow and chase me (apart from fearing for my life) is that they are hungry – always my mind turns to food! So that is what I thought yesterday, that they had chewed the paddock out enough and wanted moved on, even told them that I would mention it to Alpha Male that night. Would explain their foot stomping and head shaking, they were saying “No, no, you stupid girl! We want water, W A T E R.”

Alpha Male was mega-stressed, while he did temporarily rectify the situation he is still stumped as to what is the root cause, plus he got cranky because he yet again tried to explain to me how our water scheme works, and I yet again failed to understand exactly what he was talking about. Just like he fails to understand why we don’t need ice-cream 24/7.

Moo

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I’ve created a monster! A big black mooing monster. Alpha Male’s father has loaned us a couple of cows so we could mother-on some extra calves. One of the cows, lets call her Myrtle, already had a calf of her own and Alpha Male put another two calves on her, but I decided that she was looking a little on the skinny side so took it upon myself to give her a small feed of calf meal each day. Myrtle just loves her daily treat, when she sees me coming down to feed the chickens she rushes over to meet me at the gate. She became quiet very quickly, I mentioned to Alpha Male about milking her (him, not me!!).

So I don’t mind Myrtle and her friendliness, just as long as there is a fence separating the two of us. There has been the odd occasion when the gate’s been open and she’s galloped over to greet me. Once when this happened I spent 15 minutes cowering in the chicken coop while she alternated between devouring the chook food and squishing her nose against the wire mesh in an attempt to eat me (or lick me, I haven’t quite worked out which!).

This morning she was being playful Myrtle. After she finished eating she decided to roll the container over and over, until it went into the middle of the paddock. The laugh is on her though because I wasn’t about to brave her and the bull to go fetch it which could just mean that tomorrow morning Myrtle won’t be getting anything.

Today I spent about 4 hours spot spraying thistles and docks. Lots of walking and sore shoulders from carting the knapsack sprayer about but was totally worth it for the serenity. I mentioned to the children that I was going, vaguely waved my hand over the farm map in a large circular sweep and mumbled that I’d be about here-ish if they needed to find me.

Bliss. Nothing but the chirping of birds, the baaing of sheep, the snorting of cattle. And only occasionally would the muted screams of fighting children drift over the hills. They came looking for me once but I stood extremely still and pretended to be a tree.

 

 

 

Twill’s Death

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After multiple phone calls throughout the day, I finally manage to get hold of the Father-In-Law. I wail into the phone, telling him how Twill hasn’t stood for the entire day, she’s dying and in great distress, please come and end her misery. He agrees to come after dinner.

When he arrives there is a huge shovel on the back on his ute. “No way”, I cry, “I’m not allowing you to whack her over the head with a shovel!”.

“That’s not for the lamb”, he laughs, “I’m off to a fundraiser after this, have to shovel sawdust. I’ll be using this instead”. And he brandishes a huge butcher’s knife.

I may have fainted…..

But it seems waving a dirty great knife past her face worked the trick. Twill bounded to her feet, deciding life was worth living after all.

“Where there is life, there is hope” said the Father-In-Law wisely.

So I fed her, nurtured her and after about a week Twill was back to her old self.

I’m not sure now what illness she had but I do know that my treating her for bloat made her worse. Sometimes I wish animals really could talk human language because at least then you might have a chance of working out what the problem is.