Archive for the ‘Fencing’ Category

Drying Out

October 11, 2009

I am amazed at how quickly things are drying out on the block.  Dry ground is appearing, the driveway is passable and we are even able to start to run the final fenceline at the front of the block now.  One lake is still pretty full but the other one is definitely drying out.  Yesterday I saw a Black duck with her brood of ducklings swimming around on it, so it will obviously take more time before all that water is gone.  I hope to get a photo of them sometime soon but the ducks all keep their distance pretty carefully.


Daylight saving has begun again over here.  It is a funny thing because although I REALLY hated it in WA, I don’t find it a problem at all over here.  Perhaps it is because the children are mostly older and since we homeschool we can be flexible with time, but I think it is more likely to be because we don’t have those oven like weeks of hot temperatures that you get in Perth where early morning is the only time you can sleep.  Also here I have to get up at dawn to let the turkeys out and somehow it feels better to do that when the clock says 6:20am rather than 5:20am.  🙂

Speaking of turkeys our first broody hen has hatched her eggs.  Pancake had 6 poults although one died the first night so she now has 5.  So far she is proving to be a good mum and is free ranging around the block for a few hours a day.  Meanwhile we have another two turkey hens that have gone broody and are due to hatch in about 2 weeks.  When Pancake went broody I managed to get her to move into the turkey house where she was safe at nights, but I have been unable to move the other girls so they are staying out in the bush and taking their chances.  I would have preferred to keep them more restrained but since our planned turkey run is still under construction that is going to have to wait.  So far they are doing okay.  One of them, “Icy”, is pretty tough, I don’t dare go near her myself!

Those of you who are on my Facebook will have seen the turkey photos but I can’t resist sending them to everyone.  You can get a good idea of the size difference between the adult and the newly hatched bird in this shot.


The babies are really sweet!


Look mum, this egg hasn’t hatched.


Deep and meaningful conversation.


Josiah is totally thrilled to have poults again and Pancake is pretty tame so she lets us handle them without getting upset.


This is the start of our turkey run.  1.8m high posts to enclose an area of 560sqm.  It will have mesh around it with a couple of electric wires to discourage climbers.  It will need internal divisions too when the hens are rearing their young or else they will fight.


I decided to have a go at making butter this week and was very pleased with the result.  Since we don’t buy that poor beat up homogenised milk, but drink “real” milk instead I was able to skim the cream from the top of our milk.  I confess I did cheat by beating it in our electric mixer instead of churning it properly, but that is only because I don’t have a milk churn to use.  I remember that there used to be a butter churn in the old house we lived in in Kelmscott, but I think it was sold at the same time as the house.  Such a shame that I didn’t realise that I would need it one day, it would have been useful and held sentimental value at the same time since it was used by my forebears.  Anyway I am promising myself that I will have an attempt at making cheese soon.  I have been reading books on the subject.


Ill health continues to dog the heels of Kim and the older boys but Lydia and I keep the household running.  The Saturday before last I went for the day to a Presbyterian ladies camp.  It was nice to meet a bunch of other ladies and to study and chat together.  I actually found it a bit amusing because they said they had never had anyone from Mole Creek church at the camp before and made me stand up and introduce myself.  Then whenever I spoke to anyone they would say “OOHH, you’re the lady from Mole Creek!”  I don’t think most of them had even realised that there WAS a church in Mole Creek before.  I felt almost famous.

I am afraid that I don’t seem have a lot to show this time.  With all the health issues there has been less work done on the projects than there would have been otherwise.  Still, I guess we have the rest of our lives to get these things done.  Plenty of time – God willing.  Oh, I should also report that Kim has finally come to the end of his gun license process.  A policewoman came to inspect our gun cabinet and he has now received both of his permits to purchase the guns we are getting.  Actually getting the gun cabinet inspected took a little while.  The first time the police were coming it was wet and in the evening and they were coming in a Holden sedan.  We had to warn them that the car was unlikely to make it up the driveway and that if they walked at night it would be 400 slippery meters to the house.  They wisely decided to come at a later time, but then were delayed because of a savage storm that left trees and powerlines down all over the place.  Some people were without power for almost a week after that.  They finally managed to come on a sunny day in a 4WD.  🙂  Anyway we collected one gun on Saturday and should be getting the second on next week.  It will mean that if we have any injured animals or wish to slaughter another pig then we can deal with it ourselves.


Spring at Milkenunny

October 25, 2008

Well it’s been a while since I have written a newsy email so I guess you’ll be wondering what the Howe menagerie have been up to for the last month or so.

Firstly we had decided to put 2 permanent dividers in our little one acre paddock, so we had to go through the whole clearing, running a line, cutting up posts, digging them in, attaching insulators, running wire and so on.  I could just say we put in fence divisions but it makes the process sound much too quick!  Anyway when we ran the wires on the first dividing fence we managed to mess up in most every way possible.  I’m not sure what we did with our brains on that day, but they sure weren’t working at their best.  Firstly the person running the top wire managed to drop it half way along and unknown to them it got hooked under the wire below so when it was finished and we stood up to admire it we had a lovely cross in the middle of the fence.  Then when we sorted that out we discovered that we had hooked one of the wires around the outside of our strainer post wire so when it was tensioned up it very effectively shorted the fence out.  Sigh.  We fixed that only to discover that the fence was still shorting out.  On examination we found that we had incorrectly attached two end insulators.  To explain for those not “in the know”, an electric fence insulator has two holes for wire to go through, so that the wires are kept apart.  The wire that attaches the insulator to the fence goes through one hole, and the live electric wire goes through the other hole.  They are definitely not meant to go through the same hole.  Finally, finally we got the job done and were all very relieved to find that it worked!  The second division caused no such problems, thankfully.

So the paddock is now divided into 3 parts.  Our original 3 pigs are in the middle section.  They have adopted my greenhouse dome as a shelter and remain as friendly as always.  They disappear in the scrub and have a ball in there.

Sweetie finally got out of her small area and is currently enjoying wandering through one end of the paddock which she has mostly to herself, with a couple of exceptions.

In the small section of about 330sqm that Sweetie has now vacated, and which she very thoroughly ploughed up for us, we have been planting potatoes, sunflowers, swedes and other assorted seedlings that I wanted to remove from my greenhouse and had no room for anywhere else.  I must say that while the pigs do a great job of ploughing I have yet to work out how to get them to level it when they are done.  So we had the fun of doing the leveling by hand, as well as digging the trenches and all.

 If only we could put a pig on a leash and get them to dig along a line drawn on the ground.  Ah well.

We’re looking forward to seeing things grow.

Another little piece has been cut out of Sweeties paddock for 3 piglets.  Yes, more pigs!  Caleb is thrilled.  These 3 are Berkshires, another rare breed.  They are all boys and only one will be kept for breeding.

The decision on who to keep has not yet been made.  My favourite does not have the classic Berkshire markings, but he is the sweetest.

The other end of the paddock is set apart for the chook domes and vege gardens.  Definitely no pigs allowed!

The gardens have started to get a bit more vigorous recently with the warmer weather, but just this Wednesday we had a frost which knocked off the tomato seedlings I had put out, as well as affecting the early potatoes and some of our sunflowers.  I thought that I had protected them all well enough but I was wrong, this frost stuff is very wierd.  I have since replaced the tomatoes and have put out my corn too so I feel like I am living life dangerously now.  You never know when you are going to get a frost over here – living life on the edge.  🙂

The chicks that Lyd incubated are down in the gardens now and are continuing to grow at a rate, although they still cheep rather than cluck.  Our guess so far is that 6 or 7 of them will be roosters, with only 2 or 3 hens.  They are all good big birds so I guess they should make good eating, though we were hoping for a few more hens in the mix.  Still, we like eating chicken too.  It’s just the killing, plucking and dressing part that is a bit of a drawback – although we are getting more experienced at that since a few people have given us some roosters for eating purposes.  At least Lydia’s favourite chick, affectionately known as Bruiser, looks like being a hen.

Speaking of chooks, Marigold who is one of Lydia’s little bantams, went broody a few weeks back and we put some of our own eggs under her and gave her her very own mini dome to sit in.  Just today she hatched out 3 adorable little chicks.  Two purebred Barnevelders and 1 cross bred Australorp.  She has 3 more eggs but if they have not hatched by tomorrow I doubt that they will.  Broody hens seems a lot more fun than incubators to me.

Now two of Lyd’s other hens have gone broody and we set some eggs under them today.  They peek out from under the curtains at us which is kind of funny.  We’ll see what happens this time!  Maybe soon there will be even more cheeping of little chicks.

And talking of broody poultry, our turkeys have gone broody.  Of course when I made the double nesting box for the turkeys I only expected the hens to go broody.  However the gobbler had ideas of his own and so he sits on one nest while Beauty, the brown hen, is on the nest next door.  Personally I blame the white hen.  She went broody first on a nest of her own making out in the bush.  We tried to move her into the nesting box at night, along with all her eggs, but she promptly refused to sit any longer after that.  This meant that we had a nest with eggs and no hen so the gobbler decided to take up the sitting duties himself.

I think he may well have ruined all the eggs since he was up and down quite a bit at first, and couldn’t decide which nest he liked best.  All the turkeys have been somewhat unreliable, and I will be surprised if we get any poults out of them.  In retrospect I should have removed most of the eggs as they were laid and only put them back when the girls were sitting properly, but we live and learn and I figure that we’ll let them try and see what happens.  The white hen began to sit again in her outside nest so we rigged up a fence around her this time and let her be.  Time will tell if any of this was worth the effort.  I guess if nothing else we can chalk it up to experience.

Both lakes that I sent pictures of before are completely dry now.  All that is left is a few tadpoles that we caught for Josiah to watch grow.  We could really do with more rain, we’ve had very little this month, well below drought levels.  We’ve been praying for more!

Just to ensure we don’t get bored we picked up another project recently in the form of a slow combustion stove.  It needs some restoration but will be great if we can get it going, especially in winter.  Kim hopes to get the hot water working from it sometime too.

The next project is to fence the 4 acres in front of our little paddock.  Then we can maybe get a house cow!   Sam is keen on that idea as he wants an animal to be responsible for too.  So if anyone feels like cutting down trees, digging holes, nailing in insulators…..

The wildlife continues to abound around here, although I feel like I’ve been too busy to enjoy it as much this year.  However I found the time to go out with the camera the other day and saw this little robin having a feast!

Kim has been not very healthy since he came back from Perth.  He’s even had some signs of the dreaded CFS again, although not too bad yet.  He is also suffering with back and ankle pain, but so far refuses to go to the doctors about it.  If I’m going to discuss health then I should report that Sam still gets bouts of nausea, Caleb suffers from stomach ailments off and on and I still get my occasional migraines.  Lydia, who usually has no problems at all, has been up and down to Devonport with toothache.  A filling did not fix the tooth and they were talking about a root canal but Lyd has decided that they should just take the tooth out instead.  It is still a work in progress at the moment.  Even Josiah has had a woozy stomach a couple of times, although I wonder if it is just that he felt left out.  However, apart from that we are all just fine.  🙂

We’ve had all the cars playing up again lately.  Truly I wish we didn’t need them.  Lydia’s idea of a horse and cart sounds very enticing at times.  Thankfully Kim manages to keep us getting out and about when we need to so we can’t complain.  He is a most useful fellow that Kim.

Caleb spent a week in Perth recently for his friend Judson’s wedding.  He was trilled to be able to catch up with friends and spent a very busy few days socialising.  Sam’s friend Mitchell (Judson’s brother in fact) was recently over in Tassie on a school tour.  They managed to catch up together while the school was doing some touristy visits nearby and I believe that they talked constantly the whole time!

The New Pig System

July 31, 2008

G’day, it’s Caleb here with my first post.

I thought I’d just give some details on the new system we’re using for the smaller pigs. They are now allowed to free range within our permanently fenced acre, which I think is excellent – and I think they agree with me.

Having scared away a turkey, Pigachu goes about grazing

Having scared away a turkey, Pigachu goes about grazing

Their day now follows a simple routine. They wake up in the morning in their house – they mostly seem to be using the Villa del Porko, which Mum included a picture of in an earlier post. They go out and hopefully finish eating some of their leftover dinner from the previous night while they wait for me to arrive with breakfast. I come with breakfast, and open the gate to their pen, allowing them out into the paddock. They eat for a while, then go out and enjoy themselves foraging (and ploughing the ground for us). Come dinnertime, I show up again with food, and they follow me back into their small pen, where they eat dinner and I close the gate. They then have a pleasant night’s sleep in the Villa.

Dinner Time

They certainly seem to be enjoying it. And everything has worked out with remarkable smoothness. Our temporary fencing was initially very difficult to operate as a gate, since we had to re-tension it and retie our knots every time we wanted to open it up. But then we hit upon a pair of plastic handles, with springs inside and hooks on the end. So now our gate looks like this:

To open it, I simply need to grab the handle and move it across to this pole:

And then repeat the process with the other handle, to leave the gate open:

And putting it back is just as simple. There’s no difficulty herding the pigs at all, either. They are creatures of habit, and have very quickly become used to following me into their pen when I show up in the evening with dinner. The only trouble I have is keeping my feet around a trio of pushy pigs.

And do they, indeed, plough the ground? Do they ever. Here’s a couple of photos of what they managed to do after just a day on the full acre.

So overall, I’m very pleased with the new system. The pigs seem to be enjoying every moment of their time rooting out in the field, and the level of labour is very low. The only question is what to do when they run out of ground!

Pigachu, Bold Explorer

Pigachu, Bold Explorer