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……

Lost My Nerve.

Alpha Male has a casual job so he’s off early in the morning but back by lunchtime to do whatever he does here. I volunteered eagerly (yikes drunk again!) to take on my old job, prove my worth and all that jazz. Don’t want him to think I’m bludging.

Scootered around this morning doing my jobs (Oh I don’t mean that literally by the way, actually walked & puffed my way around. Alpha Male has decided to go eco-friendly and not get a motorbike after all, reckons that walking will be so much more invigorating. The bastard!).

Anyhow, fed pet lambs (we now have 3 in total, Clover has joined the ranks) TICK, fed pigs TICK, fed chickens TICK, moved heifers from one paddock to another TICK (easy really, just had to open a gate and watch them run through, excitedly kicking up their heels, except for the blonde one who ran up and down the fence mooing and would stop just before the gate each time), shift steers on to a new break, um BIG FAT CROSS.

Fed them their hay and then just couldn’t make myself walk in behind them to shift the fence, so instead went through another paddock and walked back through to their paddock, took a very long time and was breathing rather heavily after but could of been because I was hyperventilating. Unhooked the reel, looked up and there they were, less than half a meter away, all ten of them, like a bunch of puppies except their tails weren’t wagging and they had a rather hungry look on their faces.

And I just couldn’t do it. Instead I rehooked the reel (and got an electric shock), apologised profusely and repeatedly, then scampered back the way I came. They were kind of angry, I know this because they bellowed furiously at my retreating back. So when Alpha Male returned home, I quickly explained the ‘situation‘, remembering to add in the part where moving the steers makes me feel really really anxious, sure that he would understand (as you would) but his happy ‘honey I’m home’ grin disappeared and was replaced with a ‘f*%#k your frustrating’ frown and he stomped off to remedy the ‘situation’.

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But yesterday I was really helpful when we drenched and dipped the 95 pregnant wild ewes (Alpha Male shifted the mob with the help of Middle Child, The Unruly One and the 3 pet lambs, was really a funny sight to behold). He drenched, I dipped. Had a few issues with the dip applicator, it kept swivelling uncontrollably, so maybe they didn’t all get quite enough of the stuff swiped down their backs, but really if they hadn’t been so skittery and stood still it would have made the job much easier. And all those frustrated sighs from Alpha Male kept distracting me.

Mild panic when I managed to jab myself with the penicillin needle and draw blood. The syringe was empty at the time but the needle had last been used on a sick ewe who eventually died. So have spent the last couple of days wondering if my weird neck twitching is actually the runner up of some exotic sheep disease.

Then Alpha Male attacked me with the spray gun and sprayed me on the neck. He swears it was an accident but it was a full on squirt, not just a little tinkle, so that leaves me to wonder if perhaps he was up to something far more sinister.

The Ten Day Trial (Days 9 & 10)

DAY NINE – All quiet on the farming front. The sun made an appearance, enough to get me keen enough to hang out the washing, but now is just white fog and can’t see anything. At least its not raining.

The black pig was foaming at the mouth this morning – it was either super excited to be fed or has rabies – decided not to go into the pen just in case.

The heifers have returned, bronzed and relaxed after their trip to somewhere sunny. Wandered over to ask if perhaps they had brought me a souvenir, maybe some duty free gin. They said no. I said that bikini strap marks are very unflattering and stomped away in a huff.

Alpha Male returns home in a few days. Am starting to have panic attacks. At some point before he left we agreed that I’d have the spare room painted before his return – I’m pretty sure I was drunk at the time though, so that can’t possibly count. And anyway shouldn’t painting be a team effort – him pushing the paint roller and me yelling “you missed a bit!”

I sit in the spare room, eating chocolate, pondering what to do. Am in a bit of a pickle.

Decide to write a list of realistic excuses as to why the job never got done, he’s very understanding, am sure he will see reason. The list is a bit pathetic and I’m not sure he will buy it. It says things like:-

1. It was raining, felt certain the paint would never dry.

2. The babies are so demanding and take up all my time.

3. Am a lazy cow. (well he may believe that one).

Instead I rummage through my clothes and find sexy lingerie. Positive this will sidetrack him. Practise my best ‘come to bed‘ face in the mirror. Look a bit constipated.

Will instead fake an injury. Spend quite some time wrapping bandages around limbs, limping and pulling a pained expression. Excellent. He’s sure to fall for it.My list writing has lead to writing a lengthy and comprehensive list for Alpha Male –Things To Do When You Return. He’ll love this, he responds to lists in a positive and calm manner and I’m sure he’ll willingly work his way through them and easily meet the week long deadline I’ve given him.

1. Fix ensuite toilet.

2. Build railing on front patio.

3. Build covered porch out back so we can leave messy gumboots there instead of front door.

4. Build calf shelters.

5. Build chook homes.

It goes on and on, won’t bore you with the details. Number 100. on the list is Find a full-time, well paid job that enables you to stay at home and never leave your wife to run the place again.

Bit worried about this last one and may delete it. Could lead to tricky questions as to why I’m not looking for a full-time (or even part-time) job. Will now have to prepare yet another list “1001 Reasons For Me Not To Get A Job“.

DAY NINE cont – Visit from the Father-in-law. Limped to door, swathed in bandages, whimpering for extra effect.

“What happened to you?” he asked.

” Don’t you remember me falling off the ladder nine days ago just as I was about to start painting?” I exclaimed.

“Don’t be ridiculous. This is the first time I’ve seen you this way. Are you sure you’re not faking it so Alpha Male doesn’t find out you never intended to paint”, he said.

Hhmmm, now only have 2 days to convince the Father-in-Law he is suffering from dementia or else my plan will fail.

Decide to do a full-on bake-a-thon. Alpha Male will find the aroma of fresh baking soothing plus if he’s really cranky with me at least I’ll have comfort food on hand. Now regretting my decision to make biscuits first, feeling a tad nauseated from eating all the raw biscuit dough.

DAY TEN – Needless to say Alpha Male either can’t count or lied intentionally because he won’t be back until sometime on the weekend. Grumble grumble.

And its just another one of those crappy arse days that just got worse and worse.

Remember the last set of twins who were born in the rain? Well one of them has been rather dopey, slow at feeding etc. Whenever I tried to feed it it seemed disinterested so I took that to mean it was getting enough from mum. Who’s the dope. Today I found it in the barn unable to stand and in very bad shape. Mum was bellowing for it outside (which was what alerted me in the first place) and now whenever she seems me she bellows and looks at me accusingly. Hello! She’s the flaming mother, surely she’s the responsible one? Anyhow, took the lamb inside and tried to figure out my next move. Was cold, put it by the fire and attempted to get electrolytes down its throat (at this stage had no idea as to what was wrong course of action). Not much success, so took the lamb to father-in-laws place so it could be force fed, this time with milk. The force feeder is a plastic tube that goes down the lambs throat, making sure you don’t get it into its lungs or obviously will die. I’m petrified of the force feeder.

So the deed was done, and I was handed a force feeder with instructions to feed again in 2 hours using the tube if necessary.

Went home dejected and traumatised. Dumped lamb in front of fire and decided to end it all. Walked over to the steers, lunged through the gate and flung myself down in the mud before them.

“End it now. Eat me! I can’t take it anymore”, I wailed.

The steers snickered. “You’re kidding right? You do realise we’re herbivores, we don’t eat meat, especially wouldn’t touch a lunatic like you”.

Well that just takes the cake! Am pissed off no-one thought to tell me this. Am extra annoyed because now I have extra muddy clothes to wash.

Trudged back home to feed sick lamb. Wouldn’t take it from the bottle so had to try the force feeder. Tried 3 times to get it in with no success. Secretly fearing drowning lamb to death. Very stressed. Took lamb to mother-in-law to do, she made it look very easy. She mentioned maybe it had phnemonia. I did further research and its either that or watery mouth. Went to the vet and got penicillin and this is the terrible part, had to inject drugs into its neck. Felt like throwing up. Alpha Male owes me a trip away big time, although I will settle for dinner at the local Thai Restaurant and a box of chocolates.

And now I know that the father-in-law really hates me. Received a phone call to say he just bought me 95 in-lamb OLD WILD ewes. “Lets see how quick you can kill these ones” he cackled. They arrive tomorrow…..