Archive for the ‘Turkeys’ Category

Sunflowers Rising

January 3, 2012

Happy New Year!

I am not sure what to do because our sunflowers have hit the roof of the garden.  Any suggestions?  It wasn’t a problem I was expecting to have.  I didn’t even plant the sunflowers, they just came up from seed the chooks must have missed.  They are stretching the roof up higher every day, I hope they stop growing and flower soon!  Someone suggested I should cut a hole in the roof for them so they can keep going higher, but I haven’t managed to bring myself to do that yet.  I like the feeling that everything is safe inside the cage, and I know for sure that possums and sparrows would be in there if I took the netting off the roof.  We may just have to see how they cope with being compressed.

However we have started the new year with a good crop of peas from the same caged garden.  They are delicious!  I just love fresh peas as they are SO sweet!  Even Josiah likes peas if they are home grown.  🙂  There are still plenty more to come too.  Yum.

Another thing Josiah likes is newly hatched poults (baby turkeys).  They are lovely and friendly and kind of sleepy when they are in their first few days which makes it easy to cuddle them.  Chocolate the mum doesn’t seem to mind us handling them, she is the only remaining one of the hens that we raised ourselves a few years back.  She is also the only hen sensible enough to allow us to move her to somewhere safe to sit on her eggs this year, and as a result she is the only one to hatch any out.

She hatched out 7 little ones over yesterday and today. They are very sweet.

We had a lovely time at church on Sunday with 3 separate sets of visitors.  It made for a good crowd in the hall later for afternoon tea, and plenty of people to chat to.  One of the families was on holidays from the mainland and had been to our church before, 4 years ago, and were having a return visit.  We really loved spending time with them last time they were here, and it was great to renew the friendship some more, and meet more of their children.  Of course we had to drag them home to show them what we have achieved over the last 4 years too.  🙂

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Time for an update

May 6, 2011

We’ve been progressing with the pigs lately.  Both Stunner and Trouble are in the freezer now and even though they were both about 2 years old the meat is still tender and tasty.  They had a good long life for pigs I reckon, so I don’t feel bad that their time had to end at last.  Horace the boar is the next on the list, with Pink and Skinny Minnie being saved until later when they have put some condition back on after weaning their piglets.

I am glad that the pig numbers are going down as it has been a bit of a juggle moving them around.  For example, Mirax is due to farrow again soon so we moved her into a paddock of her own last week.  That is so easy to say but was much harder to do.  To get her there we had to move her through the piglets area.  I really didn’t fancy coping with a big pig chasing lost of squealing little pigs all over the place, so I decided that the solution was to shut the piglets in the trailer hurdles and then Mirax could just walk through with no distractions into her own paddock.  Of course the easiest way to get the piglets into the hurdles was to put food in there and sure enough they were happy to crowd in and eat.  Mirax came through the gate readily enough, leaving Erlestoke and Pigachu behind, but she then discovered some spilt food outside the hurdles and was so busy munching away that she just didn’t want to leave.  Then she smelt the food inside the hurdles and was rooting up the end of them trying to get to it!  Most worrying, to both me and the piglets inside!  And Mirax is so big now it is no mean feat to move her when she doesn’t want to go.  Pushing and shoving was having no effect, but with Kim valiantly holding the hurdles down I finally managed to get her attention by sprinkling a trail of grain all the way through the piglet area to where she was meant to go.  I was most relieved when she followed the trail to her new paddock.

It is a fairly major ongoing expense to feed all our pigs so it was most welcome when we had a call from a gardener in Deloraine offering us some acorns that were otherwise headed for the rubbish tip.  So last week Lydia and I loaded the kombi with numerous sacks full of raked up acorns to try out.  About half of the adult pigs quite like them, as do the piglets, though a few of them sniff at them and then look at us as if saying “where is the food?”.  We sold the last 9 piglets yesterday which worked out well.  The people who came to get 2, took 3 instead, and the guy who came to take 4 took the remaining 6.  Funnily enough the 6 were taken by a farmer who is going to run them under his oak trees to clean up the acorns there.

My latest bacon recipe has been a big success.  I bought some saltpetre mix from the internet with some hickory chips for smoking and made a maple syrup cure from the Redback trading company website which everyone seems to like.  It almost tastes more like cabonossi than bacon to me, but is still very pleasant.

Our sookie calves continue to munch away on the grass in a neighbouring paddock to the church in town.  They are growing bigger all the time but continue to be sweet and quiet.  I  do miss them being so far away but it is much better for them to be on pasture than eating hay here.  One day I hope we will have some pasture here too.  Patience, patience!  We still have Izzy and her calf at home.  There are plans in the works for yards but they haven’t reached the top of the priority list yet, so remain just plans.  More patience required!

We received our first electranet fence the other day which is an essential part of the free range chook system that Lydia wants to set up.  It is a movable electric mesh fence to keep the chooks safe from quolls whilst they are being moved around in the bush on the block.  We have been considering different options for portable hen houses too, and recently picked up a cheap tent that we are going to use for the time being so that we can try out the system with our current pullets.  I think it will be pretty funny having bush ranging chooks living in a tent.  🙂  It seems pretty crazy but you have to try things sometimes, there is not too much to lose after all.  Hopefully by the time the tent dies we will have made a more permanent house for them.

One missing hen reappeared a week ago with 16 chicks in tow.  We discovered that she had been hiding in the bush in a bladegrass nest sitting on 2 dozen eggs.  I think she did a great job hatching so many as she is just a small hen and amazingly enough they all manage to snuggle underneath her.

Then just yesterday another small dark hen appeared from the bush with yet another 16 chicks!  I haven’t been able to make them stay inside the safety of the electric fence yet so I hope the quolls don’t get them.

We bought a dozen CSIRO Leghorn eggs and hatched 10 of them under a broody hen.  They are supposed to be good layers but it looks like only 4 of them are hens.  Leghorn’s combs grow very long and we are not sure how they will go in the cold weather here but we will have to wait and see as they are certainly not long yet.

Our turkey numbers are down to 7.  Our old gobbler was taken by a quoll a month or so ago.  He had been sleeping outside of the electric fence for so long that I had decided that he must have been too big for a quoll to take on, but I found out the hard way that I was quite wrong.  Then we sold a young gobbler to one of the guys who were buying piglets on Saturday. He will get to have his own flock of hens so I wish him well.  That leaves us with no male unless one of the two youngest poults is a gobbler, but I would quite like to get one of a different bloodline anyway.   Our hand reared turkey hens are driving us a bit crazy, one of them chases us around pecking at our heels when we feed the chooks and the other two carry on and chase Josiah whenever they are up at the house and he is outside.  They need to remember the farm motto of “be nice or be dinner”!

The cooler weather is definitely starting now and the plant life is slowing down in response.  We haven’t had a lot of frosts yet this year but I am sure that that situation won’t last long.  I planted a bunch of Tagasaste seeds this year and am keeping the seedlings in pots in the greenhouse over winter.  I hope when they are mature that they will be able to survive the frosts, but for now they need a bit more TLC.  Tagasaste is a good stock feed bush I am told, so it would be a useful plant for us to have.  I  believe that the deer farm in Mole Creek has Tagasaste growing so I am hopeful to establish some here as well. Our soil is not the best so it remains to be seen how it will go, worth a try though.

I have been involved with a homeschooling group up north of the state and we recently had a gardening swap meet one morning.  It was fun.  Josiah and I took along some bags of manure and some seeds and seedlings.  For everything we took we were given a token which we could use to get something that someone else had brought.  Our manure went fast, much to my relief as I really did not want to take it home again!  We brought home some garlic, walking onions, iris bulbs, jerusalem artichokes and agapanthus.  Josiah really enjoys the homeschool get togethers, he loves playing with the other children.  I’ve got to know some interesting folk there too.

Lydia is going well.  Her casual work at the guest house has finished now that the tourist season is over.  She is looking for more work but really wants to get started on the organic egg business soon, as that is what she really wants to do with her life.  She loves the country life, her chooks and her sweet horse.  Zorro was lame for a few months, after throwing a wobbly when his cow was moved out of his paddock, but is finally sound again.  He has a lovely nature and always comes when called but can be silly when he is in the mood.  Typical horse!

Caleb and Sam continue to be unwell.  However their latest doctor actually seems to be taking their problems seriously, and seems prepared to work through their issues methodically and thoroughly in an effort to help them.  Caleb is awaiting an endoscope appointment and is working through various treatment options in the meantime while Sam is currently on a course of the antibiotics for that bacteria that causes ulcers.  It would be wonderful if they could have their health improved one day.  Meanwhile we are thankful for what God has given us.  Sam had his 21st this year and is now the proud owner of an Apple iPad.

Kim is still struggling with his chronic fatigue.  He has heaps of things he wants to do and finds it very frustrating to be limited so much by his health, but is happy that he can at least do a bit here and there.  The cars seem to continually need his attention lately, no sooner does he fix one problem than another appears.  That is one of the realities of living with cars as old as ours are I guess.  However he has finished installing the LED lighting in our main building and we are now running all those lights directly off of the 12V batteries.  They work really well.  Kim also had a big birthday this year, turning 50 in April.

Well, that is the news for now.

Happy New Year

January 2, 2011

Happy New Year!

We have finished off 2010 by enjoying having the kombi back in action again.  After some work on the carbi, Kim has it running beautifully now.  We hope that with a trailer will be able to do the bulk of the jobs that we did with the ute before.  The ute has now been retired from the road.  It’s rust level was just getting too bad!  Kim has been kept quite busy whenever he is well enough with lots of work on the cars lately. Sometimes it seems never ending.

Meanwhile our 3 beautiful calves are doing well.  They are not so happy with us at the moment though, as they are being weaned off milk. They are only 8 weeks old, but with the cost of a bag of milk being close to $100, we just couldn’t afford to let them stay on it indefinitely, so the early weaning option was the only way.  They are eating well and can manage just fine without the milk anyhow, although they would not agree. The little black heifer has the loveliest personality, which is very promising for her prospective career as a house cow.  Her official name was going to be Violet, but I started calling her Twinkle Toes as a joke while she was little, and the name seems to have stuck. Oh dear. I can’t quite imagine a full grown cow going by the name of Twinkle Toes, but we shall see.

Just the other day we finished the first stage of our new chook cages.  The cage has a solid wood frame 6 metres long with an area of 12 square metres, plenty of room for 12 chooks.  The plan is to extend the frame for another 12 metres.  We made it nice and tall so we can walk into it easily.  Years of climbing into the old chook domes have made that a very desirable option for us.

Modular panels are bolted onto the frames.  These panels will be moved along the frame, once it has been extended, giving 2 garden beds and 1 chook house for each row.  Ultimately, if the idea works, we would like to have 12 rows with 4 chook houses rotating along them, but that will be a long time coming.  However we are pleased to have our prototype made so we can see how it works, and the chooks seem quite happy with it.

The poor turkeys are still not having a good run.  We currently have only 4 poults, and they are locked up near the house being cared for by us and one foster turkey hen who is sitting on her own 2 eggs at the same time.  We are even down 2 hens, one lost to a stray dog and the other we think to a quoll.  So there wont be many turkey dinners this year, but we do have plenty of pork to make up for it.

We have lakes instead of paddocks again after the rain last month.  We ended up having 130mm in a day and a half, nothing to what they are experiencing in Queensland though!  It is quite amazing to us to see the lakes full again, and I have even dragged out the blow up boat to make the most of it.

Lydia is keeping busy helping the cook to feed tourists down at the Guest House, and enjoys riding Zorro whenever she can.  She has discovered the way through to some good bush tracks behind our property and has been exploring the foothills of Mt Roland.

Sam has had some better health for the last few weeks on his latest treatment regime.  We are all most pleased about that.  However Caleb continues to suffer, despite various trials of diets, and has to wait until March for his appointment with a specialist.   Josiah is just fine, greatly enjoying the school holidays.

Well, that is about it for our news for the time being.  We wish all the best for you all for this coming year.