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.

 

 

 

He Left Me AGAIN!!!

The man doesn’t learn! He’s gone away again, he and Favourite Son are away on School Camp, having fun no doubt. This time he’ll only be away for 4 days, but anything could happen in that short space of time.

Waded across the hills through knee length grass, time to shift the mob of cattle. Was relatively easy to get them from one paddock to the next. All I had to do was open a gate, hide in the shelter belt behind the safety of the fence and yell “Come on up!” at the top of my lungs. They all came, even the wild river heifers who stampeded through the gate in a tightly formed pack, giving me the wild eye as they passed. Oh, except for one…. there is always one…who took its time, sat around for a bit, finally got to its feet, ambled along, then decided to moo pathetically because the others had left it behind. As if they care about you buddy, they’re off munching through the luscious green stuff. Finally, finally he decides to get a move on, and actually bucks his heels up into the air as he galloped by. Like I was scared, its safe up in the pine branches…

So I had this moment of happiness as I dangled there, admiring their fat shiny hides, watching them contentedly converting greenery into, well, another kind of greenery.

But there’s mowing to be done. Can’t lurk in the shelter belt all day. Hard going mowing on hills. Have decided that Alpha Male is right, we do need to get the digger man in to flatten the backyard because there is no way I want to mow that lawn again. It actually didn’t worry me when he was mowing it, in fact I may have told him to “stop whingeing and keep mowing, no we can’t afford the digger man just at the moment”. Looking up the digger man in the Yellow Pages right now.

Lawn mowed and time to spray. Yep you read that correctly. I am fully ashamed to admit defeat and finally resorting to chemicals as a last-ditch effort because the weeds are driving me insane. Reckon if I spray then heavily mulch I may achieve some sort of equilibrium and not need to spray again, hopefully.

In the meantime however, Twill the lamb is dying. For 3 days now I’ve been treating her for bloat, but whatever she has its killing her and she is suffering terribly. Of course Alpha Male isn’t here to deal with the situation and I’m fairly sure I wouldn’t be able to go through with doing the deed. So I move her to a comfortable position (actually that’s partly a lie, I moved her away from the other lambs so that I couldn’t see her while I’m feeding them because it was too upsetting), then continue on with setting up the backpack sprayer.

Can’t get the lid off the sprayer. I try and try and try but it just won’t budge. Up till this point I’ve managed a few quiet sobs over Twill’s plight but now I’m sitting on the floor of Alpha Male’s Man Cave wailing loudly, nose running, tears falling, thinking that I just want to leave because really its all far too hard. Oh wait, the extra lubricant from my tears has made opening the backpack sprayer lid easier……

Just Call Me Skip The Sheepdog.

Have decided I’m pretty magic at moving sheep around the farm. All it takes is some gate opening skills, a good strong eye, the occasional woofy bark, and having the sheep hungry and keen to move on to greener pastures does help a little. Today I got 95 of them from the lane way, through another paddock and then into the new one. Was a text book manoeuvre.

Monday is Saleyard Day, a big day out for us, get to chew the fat with all the other diehards, and usually followed by mass money spending on farming essentials that we can’t possibly afford.

Cattle were out of our budget price range today. We’re cut price lifestyle farmers, go for all the flash accessories (like secondhand corrugated iron and pre-loved woolly jerseys, really must tell you the tale of Alpha Male and his dump adventures on our first day here), but when it comes to buying stock we just baulk at paying top dollar. Yup, we are the manky sheep people, even the auctioneer knows it now.

So of course Alpha Male couldn’t resist a bargain when 5 undernourished, undersized lambs came up for sale at a measly $40 odd dollars each. Pretty sure the auctioneer didn’t even bother looking in anyone else’s direction, just said SOLD TO BUYER NUMBER 31. Bang went the hammer. Wondering what the neighbours think when they drive past and see our motley collection. Am considering calling our farmlet ‘MANKYVILLE‘.

We also got a freebie today. A pup called Roy. Yeah I know, Roy is such a tragic name (apologies if anyone has a relation called Roy, but really?). Anyhow, can’t change it as he is about 6mths old and answers to Roy. “Come Here Roy” as he attempted to chew on Peter the ram lambs’ leg. Sure he was only playing around though.

Although we doubt his talents in the sheep herding department (he’s still young so we will give him the benefit of the doubt, but he was given to us by a dog trainer so its not looking hopeful), he does appear to be child friendly which is a big plus as far as I’m concerned. I can see Roy and I will be competing over the top dog sheep herding spot but really the prize is mine because from what I could tell this afternoon Roy was more interested in eating sheep poo than actually herding them.

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