Archive for June, 2008

Critters

June 23, 2008

We have been continuing work on removing trees from our final fenceline, when the wind and weather permits.  Also we have collected timber from a local sawmill and have been finishing off the carport and have started on the framework for some shelves in there.

We have connected two of the permanent fence lines to the big electric fence energiser, and moved the pigs to take advantage of that.  They are enjoying having some new areas to dig up as they had pretty much decimated the old area they were in.  Erlestoke continues to be a great big sook, collapsing on the ground when you rub his belly with closed eyes and a blissful smile on his face.

The chooks have moved too and Lydia is thrilled to have finally found two Australorp pullets.  That means that she will be able to breed pure bred chicks in the future, and we were keen to try out Australorps as Lyd’s research shows them to be a good dual purpose breed.  They are certainly much larger than our Isa Browns, and all those feathers should help to keep them warm.

Last week there was a tiger quoll under the house again, only this time it was not a sweet little baby one, but a full grown fellow.  Lupo spent half the day barking and scratching the floor trying to get at it, and it retaliated by growling and hissing back.  Even when the dog was banished, the quoll would growl and hiss at us whenever we walked over the floor where it was.  I kept thinking that it would go when it was dark but the silly thing seemed to have decided to stay forever.  Eventually the whole family, complete with dog, moved up to the manor for a couple of hours.  We hoped that the critter would feel safe enough then to leave!  I am pleased to say we were successful, and peace was restored once more in time for bed.  I must say that I was glad it was gone as it was pretty scary hearing it growl at us.  Having been cut purely accidentally by the possums claws when he gently takes an apple from my hands, I can quite readily imagine how much damage a quoll’s claws could do on purpose.  They do climb the same trees.  I actually would not have minded having the quoll around for a bit, if it hadn’t caused such a fracas, as we have seen a few mice around lately, and the quoll would have been most welcome to hunt them.

Some time ago Lydia went outside to find two sugar gliders outside under a tree.  They were having a full on spat, clawing and hissing at each other before she arrived.  She called us out to see them but they had bolted up the tree, and were too far away to take photos of.

Sam has been researching cows, and we are keen on the Dexter breed as a house cow.  They are dual purpose cattle, having similar quality milk to a Jersey although not as much volume.  However they can provide enough milk for a calf as well as a family, and yet have a beefy build and so are good for meat as well.  They are also small and reputedly friendly which would make them good for inexperienced folk like us, and they are available in Tasmania too.  Since we go through 16 litres of milk a week, as well as cheese and butter, and we would like to have milk to feed the pigs too, I think we will find a cow most useful.  However, as always, we’ll have to wait until finances are sufficient and we have made the required fences, yards etc.  I am actually keen to try Sam on unprocessed milk, as I have heard that people who are allergic to “normal” milk are fine on the real thing.

Kim is busy working on the Passat this week, in hopes of getting it’s exhaust fixed so we can have it back on the road this week as we would all like to go to Launceston on Sunday.  The Audi is still going strong, although it has decided that the middle of winter is a good time for the heaters to stop working.  We are most concerned about Kim’s dad who has been very unwell recently with his cancer.  He is home now after some weeks in hospital but the prognosis is not good, he has lost about 11kg and is very weak and has been told that the cancer is spreading.

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This little piggy stayed home

June 11, 2008

We are really enjoying having Erlestoke our new baby boar.  He is a very different pig to the others.  The girls have always thought of everything (still do) as being prospective food – including shoes, feet, knees, etc –  we always said their natural response to anything was sniff, bite, eat.   Erlestoke is not inclined to bite much at all, what he really wants is to have a scratch.   Caleb spent most of the first day (after the worrying night before) in the pig pen just watching over him, being relieved by the other kids at odd times, with walkie talkie in pocket in case of trouble.  However there were no problems, Erlestoke seemed to understand the fences after the first few minutes of a fresh day.  The little fellow wouldn’t eat much at first and seemed nervous and unsettled, but over the day he settled down.  About lunch time we got him eating by offering milk and after he got started on that he decided that he was hungry after all and went on to eat and eat and eat.  That seemed to make him feel at home and he discovered that we were good for giving him scratches, which he just loves.

He gets so absorbed when you rub him, especially on his flanks, that he will even stop eating and close his eyes and if you keep it up he starts to list to the side and eventually falls over at (or on) your feet.  It is the sweetest, funniest thing to see.  So now he runs up and grunts at us whenever we go past, hoping that we will stop and give him a scratch – which of course we usually do.  Even if he did get out again now it would not be quite so worrying as we know that he likes us and will come to us.

We tried to put the girls in with him this week but they are just too mean at chasing and biting him, so we are keeping them apart for now.  When he is less of a baby I think he will be able to cope with them, but for now they just have to talk through the fence instead.  We don’t want to risk him getting hurt.  It is amazing to see him so large though.  At 9 weeks he is just a little bit shorter than Pigachu who is 5 months, and he is a wider type of pig too with a longer nose than the girls.  We have made him a similar shelter to the one the girls have so he can keep out of the rain and snuggle up somewhere off the ground at night. On the negative side he is a much smellier pig than the others ever were.  We keep hoping that the smell will fade, but it hasn’t shown any signs of lessening yet.  Nevertheless we all just love him.

We continue to work on our fencing, it will be done one day…. however Kim decided we should bring all the close trees along the northern border down before we put the fence up.  That means that 20 odd trunks had to be cut down and then there is all the removing of leaves and cutting up of branches to be done – no small job.  Then just to make things more difficult the chainsaw started to play up.  Two trips to the repair shop later it is back and working again and we have so far cut down 6 or 7 of the trees.  We have another 2 or 3 we can do then we must move the pigs before we can do the rest.  It is also important to choose good days for tree felling where there is no wind, so that limits things too.  It is rather hard work and poor Kim gets very sore muscles!  Today he has been getting mild kidney stone pain so has been taking it very easy.  Hopefully this will pass quickly!!!

Lydia’s rooster chicks started crowing recently and seemed pretty mature so we put all 3 in with my brown hens.  We only wanted to keep her favourite “Brownie” in there but it is not good to introduce only one chook to a bunch of others as they get picked on too much.  It turned out well as after a few days Brownie started to assert himself, even over the other two roosters.  Since we no longer had a need for the other two they were dispatched, plucked, gutted, jointed and became dinner.  They are so much smaller under the feathers!  Lydia insisted on gutting one under Caleb’s tutelage, and she jointed and cooked them too.  She is very determined with the whole self sufficiency thing and I was very proud of her since they were her babies for so long.  She loves the two little hen chicks though and one of them is very tame now and sits on her knee when she feeds them.  Brownie meanwhile is doing very well in with my girls and I think he is quite happy there, and he looks very nice too.  Big Black the Australorp rooster is crowing now as well and we are hoping to find some more hens to put in with him.  We would like some Australorp hens but have been unable to find any so far.

In other chook news one of mine has been unwell so we have her up at the house in the crate so we can see how she goes.  We have tried a couple of treatments for suspected illness but it hasn’t made much difference yet.  She still eats pretty well but mostly just sleeps the rest of the time.

My worms have started producing worm juice at a good rate lately.  I am thrilled to see them established so quickly.  Hopefully they will cope through the cold winter weather.

With more rain coming on we are looking into thoroughly waterproofing the carport so we can store more things in there.  We would like to rearrange various things to make our current storage shed become a workshop.  We’ll need a couple of fine days to get that done, and probably some more wood to seal up the carport and to make some shelves etc.  It seems like one of the three local sawmills does a lot of hardwood planks which will be handy.

I’ve recently been doing some admin work at home, having to get a schooling report done for the powers that be.  I quite enjoyed doing it, funny to think that I have been missing doing administration!  Golly, I’ll probably enjoy doing my tax return.  That will be a first.  We were also given some old carpet as we wanted some to put down in the vestibule.  It turned out that it was not very good condition, having some white paint or something spilt on it and I had it spread out trying to clean it when some friends from bible study came and visited unexpectedly.  When they saw the carpet they suggested a swap.  They had some carpet which they were going to use when making a rockery to prevent weeds coming up and it turned out to be a much nicer carpet than what we had, and as an added bonus it had underfelt with it.  We jumped at the opportunity and now have carpet in the vestibule and in the main room of the manor.   It is by no means perfect but it seems hard wearing and it makes the room seem much warmer.  It seems to clean up well too, when the dog comes in with grubby paws.

We had Ade over again last week and will be sorry to see him go when he leaves for WA this weekend.  It has been fun to learn a bit about life in Bali from him.  We are hoping to be able to visit the church we attended in Launceston on the last Sunday in June, as there will be no service in Mole Creek.  It would be lovely to see how everyone is over there, but will depend on us having two cars in roadworthy status at the time.  The ute is up and running again having just had a reconditioned starter motor put in place, but it is not really a car that I would like to take to the city, and since the exhaust almost fell off the Passat the other day I am not 100% confident that we will make it.  But you never know.

Stud Boar

June 6, 2008

Well, we all just spent a rather worrying 5 and a half hours, and I thought I would tell you all about it.

After a long time planning, researching, saving, ordering and then waiting we received a call today telling us that our Tamworth boar (just a baby) had made it to Tassie and could be collected from the carriers.  Grabbing our newly made crate Caleb and Kim charged off to collect him.  Since he was newly weaned we assumed he was about 2 months old and that he would be a similar size to our girls when we got them.  However it turned out that he is already only just a little smaller than our smallest girl who is 5 months of age! He is a lovely reddish brown colour and seems good and healthy and just as stunning (at least in our eyes) as the breeder said he was.  His name was chosen ages ago, and so I can introduce him to you as Erlestoke.

He arrived home shortly before 5pm and we introduced him to our girls.  They were being a little bossy and pushy and giving him the odd bite, just to make sure he knew where he stood.  He was exploring the area and obviously had no experience with electric fences.  It was speedily getting dark so we decided to head back to the house.  Caleb quickly grabbed him some extra food and then returned to keep an eye on him and make sure he settled in okay.  He would only have been gone less than 5 minutes but when he returned Erlestoke was gone.

The alarm was raised and the family turned out in force to scour the landscape for our missing pig.  Half an hour of vigourous hunting later there was no sight nor sound of him and there was no hope of seeing anything in the dark.  That of course did not stop us from driving up and down roads and tracks and peering with fading hopes into the undergrowth by the light of a torch.  Eventually however we decided that there was no point in continuing the search and we returned to a somewhat subdued meal of roast pork (courtesy of Wilbur, no less).

We set up his crate with food and water in it outside the pig pen in case he should come back.  Then we sat around trying to distract ourselves from worrying about if we would ever see our beautiful boar again.  Those of us who are mercenary even had the odd qualm about losing $300 in one foul (porcine?) stroke.

It is amazing how hard it can be to leave things in God’s hands.  Even things that are not, in the scheme of things, of great importance.  Despite knowing that there was nothing more that we could do, I still found it very hard not to make myself feel ill by excess worrying.  Somehow I seem to have the idea in my head that worrying achieves something…. that if I worry intensely then God will take more notice of what I want, or something like that.  Kim has been trying to impress upon me that rather than being a thing of value, worry is actually sin.  It is doing what the bible expressly says not to.  Old habits die hard though.  Also I know that being concerned can be good in that it prompts me to pray more and inspires me to think of ways to alleviate whatever the problem is.  However I do need to get that balance where I can trust in God and His providence, and just submit to His plans as being what is best.  It is a work in progress.

Anyway, we were blessed by the easing of our concerns in this case.  Just as we were organising an early morning group effort of systematically sweeping the block we got a phone call.  Our good neighbours phoned to say that they had our pig.  He had just been found sniffing around their place, setting their dogs barking.  They said that they had popped him into their ferret pen for the night and that we could collect him in the morning.  The relief was great, for all of us.  Now plans are being made for tomorrow – more work on fences, but thankfully we will sleep much more soundly.  Erlestoke is safe!