Archive for January, 2009

Good times and bad times

January 26, 2009

Well, lately we have had some good times and some bad times. I’ll start with the bad times first, so that the blog ends on a positive note. 🙂 Bad times have included having two of my brooder poults fade away and die. When the second one died and I had another who has been looking sick in the same way I decided I needed to do a post mortem to see if that would shine any light on the cause. It has been a long time since I worked as a vet nurse, and even then it was the vets doing the pm work but I figured it should be done. With the poor little bird spread out (and I mean really s-p-r-e-a-d out) on newspaper the kitchen table I was feeling very inadequate to the task. Amazingly though, after much recourse to the internet, I think I found the cause of the sickness, brooder pneumonia. Brooder pneumonia is caused by inhaling fungal spores from the wood shaving litter, which results in nodules in the lungs. The bad side of this is that there is no treatment and we still have one sick bird, but the good side is that it is not contagious. Of course the remaining sick bird is the only one with a name – Whitey – the first one hatched up at the house and Josiah’s pet. He is not happy with the idea that it is probably going to die too. The poults are very sweet and we have become surprisingly attached to them. They like to be near us and come and roost under the kitchen window in the late afternoon. 

housepoults1

Now for the turkeys living down the gardens. Our hen with 7 poults is down to 3. She lost her first one to an eagle. We saw the eagle in the paddock over the road and wondered what he was doing on the ground, and then found one bird missing so went to investigate. Sure enough he had been feasting on young turkey. Then last Saturday morning I went down to feed all the birds and there were 3 more poults missing. I finally found them all dead having been killed and partly eaten by a quoll who had obviously managed to get in through the electric fence. Kim did some detective work and decided how the critter had gotten through the fence and made some alterations so we are hoping he does not get back in as that is where all our chooks are too. We have now removed this turkey hen and her poults from the gardens and reunited them with the other turkey family in the quoll-proof turkey house. They were apart because the hens were fighting, but have recently begun to get along again. I wish I had moved them back earlier!

My plans today are to move the turkey house up closer to the house and to introduce my house raised poults into it in the evenings as well. This will get them into a better ventilated area and so should keep them healthier. Hopefully they will all get along together and it will also have the advantage of getting the other turkeys away from my gardens. They have been getting through a few too many of my vegetables. I didn’t mind when they annihilated the lettuce and silverbeet because I intended to share them with the birds anyway.

This is what my lettuce look like. 

eatenlettuce

And the silverbeet and turnips look like this. 

eatensilverbeet

But when they moved on to the cucumbers, it was going too far. 

eatencucumber

Having depressed myself with the postmortem, I was further challenged when Caleb took me down to see one of the little black pigs and discovered it had broken a back leg. Goodness knows how he did it, but it is broken in the bone above the hock. This caused more inadequacy sentiments. Because the little fellow was destined for the dinner table anyway we did consider borrowing the neighbours gun. However since he was not actually letting a busted leg phase him, still eating and even rooting up the ground, we decided to see how he went with a splint. My first splint fell off overnight but the second simpler version has stayed on a few days. He has gotten pretty good with not using his leg now and I am not sure that he would not be better off without the splint, so when this one falls off (see how confident I am) I may just leave it. I must say it is hard for me to think farmer and economics instead of veterinary and full blown treatments – but there is no way we could justify the high hundreds of dollars required for a vet to fix a broken leg, especially when the pig himself doesn’t seem to care. We will see how it goes.

We still have no baby pigs, I’m not sure what is going on there. The pig I thought might be pregnant does not look a lot different two months later. I don’t know how to give sex education classes to swine, so I guess we will just wait a bit longer! 

pigachu

We have had a fair share of sickness in the human population lately too. Kim and Caleb particularly have been mostly out of action for about a week, and Sam still gets a fair bit of nausea off and on. However we girls keep the household running. We have just changed my old old fridge whose seals were falling off for a separate fridge and freezer (courtesy of the tip shop and freecycle) and picked up an old microwave to use after my convection microwave developed problems, so the kitchen is working well again.

In better news we are getting some tomatoes on my little plants in the gardens. It has not been a very warm summer so far this year, but at least we haven’t had much in the way of frost for about a month. 

tomato

The sunflowers earn a place in my gardens just because they look so good. They are also supposed to be a good companion plant for potatoes so that is another excuse to have them.

sunflowers

Our little patch of spelt has grown well and is ready for harvest now. I must get a grinder so I can turn some into flour. 

spelt1

Lydia decided that she would like to have a rabbit again, and so she got out and built a hutch and run for it. I must say that having a nail gun does help to speed up the building process and make it more manageable. Kim gave her some advice and I helped when she needed extra hands but she pretty much did it herself. 

lydbuildinghutch

So now we have a rabbit down the gardens too.  

rabbitcage

lydrabbit

Meet Cacao (as in the tree chocolate comes from). 

cacao

In fact we have two rabbits because Sam decided he would get one as well, so this is Jennings. 

jennings1

In other good news Lydia has finally found some Araucana chicks. She has wanted some of these for a while. They are a bit special because they lay light blue eggs. Lyd bought some eggs from the mainland to incubate but had none hatch so finding chicks was a much better solution. They are funny looking chooks. 

araucanas

Possibly our most exciting news is that we are getting a caravan and annexe. One of our regular preachers offered it to us quite out of the blue, and we were thrilled to accept. The challenge will be to get it here, the annexe particularly which is a solid metal structure. In preparation we have been severely cutting back trees along the driveway, and may well need to cut some trees back along Sykes Road as well. Some of our driveway runs under the high tension power line which goes to our power pole, and in places it is uncomfortably low – at least when you consider the height of a metal annexe on a truck. We are going to see if we can clear alongside some of the driveway well enough to make an alternative route. It will be lots of work in getting it here and then setting it up, but will be a marvellous expansion of space for us and for visitors too.

More good news is that we have a new family coming along to church. They moved to Beulah a few months ago and have 5 children, the oldest of whom is 8. They seem to be lovely people who also homeschool, and it is great for Josiah to have young children to play with regularly. The church has also started a bible reading evening this year where we are reading through the bible, a couple of chapters from the old testament and a couple from the new each week. We then just discuss what we have read. It is going very well so far with lots of questions and conversation.

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January 10, 2009

Just a few pictures to fill in on our latest news.

Lyd has yet another hen, Sandy, with 13 chicks.  They certainly keep her busy.

sandyco

And you can see our turkey poults are growing up.  They are losing the fluff from their heads and looking much more like miniature turkeys now.

turkeysa

Whilst clearing the path for the new fenceline this last week we came across a fantail nest in the scrub under a tree we were cutting the low branches off.  I was glad to find it before we dropped a branch from the tree on top of it.  We decided we could leave the branch until the baby birds grow up – big softies.

nest1

The parents are so brave, they try to distract you from the nest by coming close and twittering.

fantailmum1

Mum is back on the nest now and we hope she escapes the notice of any predators and manages to raise the brood to adulthood.

fantailonchicks

Thats all for now, I managed to twang my back again this week and so am somewhat limited in what I can do.  Even sitting before the computer for too long is difficult!