Archive for the ‘Cows’ Category

A busy start to the year

January 18, 2020

Hello All!   I hope the new year is treating you well.  🙂

2020 is the year my father turns 90, and so it was decided that a celebration was in order!  Dad’s birthday is the 4th January which very conveniently fell on a Saturday this year.  I flew over to Perth the Thursday before and got picked up by my sister Alison and taken to her home in Lower Chittering.  On Friday we cooked up some sweet things for the catering, and welcomed Ali’s daughter Amy home from Broome for the party.  Ali had already prepared all the savouries before hand and her daughter in law, Sasha, was preparing a fantastic cake in the shape of a toolbox – very appropriate for my Dad.
Saturday we headed to the folks church and set up for the celebration.  My other sister Linda was over from Canada and all her family had collected with Mum and Dad for Christmas.  They came to the church hall too, replete with fruit and vegetable platters and dip, and we set up the building with some lovely table decorations that Ali had prepared earlier.  The celebration went well, lots of lovely people, plenty of food, good speeches, and the weather not as hot as it might have been.  The younger generation of the family were all wonderful, helping out with preparations, serving and cleaning up too.
I went and stayed with my folks after the party, somehow managing to squeeze in with Linda’s family who then left one at a time over the next couple of days, returning to jobs and life in San Francisco and Sydney.  I headed home on the Tuesday while Linda and John were able to stay until the end of the week before returning to Canada.  It was wonderful to catch up with my folks, my sisters and their husbands as well as the nephews and nieces from both families, even if it was only for a very brief time.  🙂
It was also nice to be in Perth for a Sunday so that I could go to church with Mum and Dad and meet their new pastor and see the growing congregation.  After the service they had a shared luncheon, and they also made it a bit special for Dad’s birthday.
Meanwhile, back at home, Twinkles produced a healthy heifer early in the morning of the Sunday I was away.
She was not due to calve for another week, when I would have been home, but it turned out she couldn’t wait that long.  I had been watching her udder enlarge the week before and I confess that I had been a bit worried that she wouldn’t last the distance.  In the end Sam managed to handle the first few days of milking without me and the little girl had no trouble feeding so it was all good.  It is the first time Twinkles has given us a live heifer, we had begun to think she could only throw bull calves.  This calf is a beautiful glossy black girl who looks so very much like her mamma.  Her name is still undecided.  The family didn’t seem to like Glossy Flossy which was my first thought, so I have started calling her Blossom, but after her antics the last couple of days I am wondering if Little Miss Feisty mightn’t be more appropriate.  She has been kicking up her heels, slipping under the fence and chasing Willow the corgi!
Normally when the cow is newly calved I milk her twice a day in order to keep her milk supply up, however with Kim and myself booked to go overseas in March I am following a different plan this year.  I have been only milking each morning and hope that Twink’s milk supply will slow down a little and that by March the calf will be taking it all so that the family don’t have to milk while we are away.
Just to reinforce the bad timing of my trip to Perth, the day I left we had a paddock of hay slashed in Mole Creek and turned into small square bales.  We have always had round bales before, but I thought it might be worth trying the squares as they are easier to transport, and I wanted to try a new contractor who only does small squares anyway.  We ended up with 170 bales which all needed moving fairly quickly so we could cover them from any possible rain.  I managed to transport 2 loads of 20 bales in our Caravelle van before I had to leave for the airport.  Sam and Kim did another 2 loads and Sam and Lydia did a further 5 loads over the next couple of days to bring it all safely home.  We have it stacked on pallets and under tarps at the end of the pony paddock, as it will probably be the ponies who use it all.
Late last year we had the misfortune of having a quoll get in and kill a couple of chooks.  The biggest problem that this caused is that one of the birds killed was our rooster, and we only had the one.  My first thought was that perhaps this was the time that we should start to run our chook numbers down, but Kim was keen to have the option of breeding again if we wanted to.  So then the wait for a hen to turn broody began, and after a couple of weeks my old favourite “Pea” began to sit solidly.  This also happened on the day I left for Perth – it seemed a long and busy day!  I put about 11 older assorted eggs under her, and on checking the other night it seems that all but 2 were fertile.  I expect it will be another week or more before they are due to hatch so we we have our fingers crossed for healthy chicks and that there might be a nice quiet rooster among them.  We have now set up 2 elecromesh fences to completely surround the chook and garden areas and are hoping that no quoll can find it’s way inside through that.  So far, so good, and I know there is a quoll around but hopefully it will stay out!
My tomatoes are growing well and some have set fruit now.
As always time will tell whether we get the tomatoes to ripen before the cold comes back.  🙂  Vegetable growing time always seems to be way too short for me in Mole Creek, although there are plenty of climates who have more extreme weather than here.
For the last few years I have bought hay from a lovely farmer up north and he sent me another 18 rolls this year.  They arrived just the other day loaded high on a truck, and they have been tipped off and are waiting for me to straighten them up a bit and cover them all.  This hay will be more nutritious than the pony hay, and so is allocated to the cow and calf.
Kim has had the parts arrive for his hoist so now we just have to work out how to put it up!  I am very much looking forward to having the job done, if not to actually doing the job.  Those large beams weigh ~325kg each so it will be no mean feat to get them to stand up in place while we mount them into the concrete floor!  Kim hopes to get onto the job soon but between his chronic fatigue syndrome being made worse with the heat of summer, bouts of kidney stones and various colds and stomach wogs, he hasn’t had much health to do it yet.
We purchased a cheap little caravan recently from a farm nearby.  It is set up as a mobile chook house at present, but we are considering setting it up for possibly puppies in the future.  We have been waiting anxiously for Willow to come on heat so we can send her off to be mated, but she is not obliging so far.  It seems we have no choice but to keep waiting.  🙂  Hopefully we will have puppies one day!
The wattle trees have been going to town with their seed and seed pods this year.  A while back I had a visiting friend ask me what the trees were that were turning brown, and at the time I wasn’t sure what she meant.  Of course I should have realised that it was the Silver wattles that put on such a dazzling yellow display in Spring…
that then turn to and develop brown seed pods.
Once the seeds ripen, the pods open and drop and scatter all over the ground, and the ground is smothered in them in places this year.
The seeds are little black things which I guess birds and possums eat, but they can’t possibly keep up with the feast available at the moment.  We have even noticed that clusters of seed seem to accumulate around the tops of little ant nests on the driveway, so I wonder if they can store them up as feed too?  I fear that we are going to have a wealth of new baby wattle trees coming up in Spring next year.  I wish there was an international market for wattle seed, as Tassie could do some exporting and really help the national GDP this year.
I have been settling in to my new routine with volunteering at the Mole Creek Online Access Centre.  It is actually pretty quiet on the computer side of things and I don’t have a lot to do with helping people there, although it is nice when the occasional person needs a hand.  When it is quiet I can do things on my own laptop which I take in with me, which is nice, or I can try to improve my understanding of the computer programs we have at the Centre.  Another part of my responsibilities is to give advice to tourists who come and check out our brochures, and at this time of year that side of the work can be busy.  I enjoy chatting to visitors and helping them to enjoy their time visiting Tasmania and especially our lovely local area.
Anyway, I guess I have waffled on enough for this episode!  Best wishes.

Still here!

November 6, 2019

Hello!

It seems like it has been quite a while since I last emailed.  Life rolls on here in Tassie.  We have had a relatively dry winter, without the flooding of certain areas on the property that we like to see most years as it indicates good ground water levels.  Now the weather is alternating between cool and warm every couple of days.  It seems like it can’t make up it’s mind, but that is a fairly normal state of affairs here.  It is not unusual to have sunshine, wind and rain alternating numerous times over a single day.  If you don’t like the weather – just wait half and hour.
I have not had the greatest of health, and nor has Kim, which has meant we haven’t achieved as much as we would have liked over winter.  I actually had a great deal of muscle and joint pain which limited me a great deal, enough to make me actually go to the doctor!  The problem turned out to have been caused by very low Vitamin D levels.  I have been slowly improving over the last few weeks as I am now taking supplements.  That time was a definite wake up call as to how much I will be physically able to do as I get older!  We are trying to come up with plans for the property that give us options of reducing the work load when we need to.  Our current lifestyle is nicely low cost, but the flip side of that is that it requires a fairly high labour input.  As an example in order to heat our water we have a solar water setup, which is connected to the slow combustion stove.  If the sun does not warm the water enough then we need to light the kitchen fire to raise the water temperature.  Wood fires are great, and we have plenty of wood on the property, but to turn it into firewood is quite time intensive – cut down a tree, cut it into rounds, split it into pieces, stack and store it in the container to dry, move it to the house, start the fire and keep it going.  It all takes time and energy.  To give us an alternative Kim is now going to add a gas HWS booster into the system, which will mean that we can choose to use that if we would like to.  It will cost more to run in dollars, but less in daily effort and will just give us options.  Meanwhile, we continue to work on preparing firewood for next winter.
FirewoodProduction
Josiah did a solid 2 months in his new job, before being made redundant when they decided to employ a full time cook and no longer needed a kitchen hand/counter sales trainee as a result.  He was quite disappointed and is back to job seeking now, with no success so far.  Caleb and Sam continue to have chronic health problems that severely limit their ability to work anything like regular hours, but we were thrilled when Sam got his drivers licence recently.  It shows how much better he is handling his anxiety problems at the moment.
Sam wtih Ps
Lydia continues to work hard at the flower farm.  Her work is getting busy at this time of year, and with the weather warming up she appreciates the times she does the packing in the cool room.  She is enjoying sleeping in her bus and recently fenced in an area outside so that her cat can enjoy the big wide outdoors.  She has also been adding a variety of pots and filling them with whatever seeds came up from the latest Woolworths promotion, so is developing a bit of a garden in there.
CatInRun
I have been unable to find any paid work this year, despite looking hard.  I became involved in a trial program that offers extra support to help resolve issues that limit people’s employability.  My issues are my age (not much I can do about that) and how long I have been out of the workforce.  As a result of advice from mentors in the program I enrolled in a TAFE computing course to update myself with the latest Windows and Office versions.  I quite enjoyed doing the course, especially as I could do most of it from home.  The co-ordinators have also been trying to get me a couple of weeks work experience with a local company, which I hope will happen later this month although we may have struck a hitch with insurance not being available unless they guarantee me a job – which is not going to happen.  I will probably offer to sign a waiver of liability or something as I think it would be a good experience for me and may well lead to some holiday and sick relief work.
We have run a new paddock for Lydia’s ponies up close to the house.  The area does not have much grass, which is actually what one pony needs to stop her getting laminitis.
HousePonyPaddock
We have also been making the ponies a hay feeder so that we don’t have to feed the hay by hand every day.  Lydia and I knocked up a wooden trial version last year from bits and pieces on the property, and liked it so much we have decided to make a larger more permanent version.  The feeder gets lifted over the top of a roll of hay and should mean less wastage as well as less labour.  I just had to finish adapting the bed ends to be a grid the ponies can feed through after this photo was taken, and then it was done.
PonyFeederAlmostDone
I wouldn’t mind getting some sort of hay feeder for Twinkles the cow one day too, but it would have to be a bit different as the cattle are quite a bit rougher on things in their paddock than the ponies seem to be.  Twinkles is on her own again at the moment as her last boy is now in the freezer and her new calf is not due until January.  We used a different mobile butcher this time as our original man is wanting to cut back on what he does (he is getting older too!).  The new guy was probably not quite as good and cost more, but using him certainly meant we did a lot less of the work ourselves which made it worthwhile.  He also has a mobile cool room so that we could hang the carcass safely before the butchering was done, and the meat has all been delicious and tender.
TwinklesInCalf
I started some tomatoes from seed in the caravan this year as Kim was keeping it nice and warm for us and it seemed a shame not to make some extra use of the heat.  They are doing well and I hope to get them planted out soon, but first I have to do some renovation work on my gardens to ensure the chooks cannot get in.  We had been considering making a new garden area in a year or two as our current areas are getting a bit old, and we could think of a few improvements to make on the original plan, but we are now thinking about changing our plans to raised garden beds instead.  Again trying to think ahead to how much we will be able to do in 10 years or so.  We have also been working on plans for redoing our fences.  We put the fences in 10-12 years ago using bush poles and most of them are rotting away now.  We also need the fences to do different things now than we did back then.  So the current plan is to have a 3 or 4 wire electric fence around the edge and to make divisions with poly wire.  We will also move a couple of the fence lines to avoid areas that flood, and will have an electric mesh fence around the chook area to keep that safe from quolls.
Tomatoes
The corgis have still not won any shows, possibly as much to do with our ability at presenting them as anything to do with them.  Our last show was a Welsh Corgi specialty show, which is quite a friendly show where we received some good advice on showing and grooming.  We also managed to buy a second hand show trolley locally, which has made going to shows much more manageable.
Show trolley
Sadly our two corgis do not always get along and we have had some fighting at times.  Most of the time they get along well, but then something will set the new girl Haru off, and she will attack Willow – and Willow might not start the fight, but she is more than willing to finish it!  We end up having to drag them apart or they just won’t stop.  We have had torn ears, bloody faces and sore paws so it is not just noise and motion.  We have been trying to identify what triggers Haru, and have had some success with avoiding those situations, but in the end we have decided that we are safer to only have one of them out at a time.  We never have any trouble with the German Shepherd, thankfully, so they can both still play with her.  We now have a dog pen set up in the verandah room,
WillowInPen
as well as turning Josiah’s old cabin into a rather comfy dog house with a run.  They get a bit yappy at times and give us sad looks but it is the only safe way.
HaruInCabin
Kim has been keeping busy planning our driving trip around the UK in March.  It has taken an enormous amount of his time in researching it all and booking flights, cars and accomodation, and he is not finished yet!  I think he has organised the first two weeks, so there is just another two weeks to go.  I have also booked a super short trip to Perth in early January for my Dad’s 90th birthday (hoping the cow will not produce her calf until I return!)  Dad had a bit of an episode in hospital in September with fluid around his heart, but they managed to stabilise everything again and send him home, which we were all exceedingly pleased about.  🙂
We currently have a pair of little Tasmanian Thornbills nesting outside our lounge room window.  They are kept busy every day feeding the new arrivals and we have our fingers crossed that they will safely raise them.  The last time we had birds nesting there it was a pair of Grey Fantails and much to our horror the babies disappeared one morning.  We think a Black Currawong was the culprit, and so we are hoping that we don’t have a repeat of that this year, especially since Kim has quite a soft spot for Tassie Thornbills.
Tasmanian Thornbill (Acanthiza Ewingii)
And I think that is most of my news for now.  Best wishes.

Parmesan

September 4, 2019

I decided it was time to cut my latest parmesan into useful sized pieces.  I waxed them individually and I do love how they look with the red cheese wax on them, and appreciate how much it stops them from drying out too.  The photo is from when I was part way through the job.

IMG_1186

This particular parmesan has been kicking around in the bottom of the fridge as a large waxed round since sometime last year, so I know it must have aged at least 9 months – and looking back through the blog I think it might have been more like 15 months.  I thought I wrote down somewhere just when I made it, but have no idea where!  🙂

Anyway I was keen to see how it had turned out, and am pleased to report that it tasted like a good, very tasty parmesan should, and it has a nice texture too.  Kim loves it and it is disappearing faster than I expected.  Chalk that one up as a success!  YAY.