Friday, January 3, 2014

Happy New Year! Welcome to 2014.

That's enough partying! It's time to knuckle down to 2014...

Yesterday we had a family meeting and discussed our plans for the new year. I can now officially reveal to you that this year Roger will be studying a commercial cooking course in Bunbury (cert III in hospitality (commercial cooking) at South West Institute of Technology) and will be living in Busselton with Sophie so that she can attend Manea Senior College in Bunbury, where she will study for her ATAR while also completing a cert III in design fundamentals. Bonnie will start high school and board at the Bunbury Cathedral Grammar School, while I will stay at the farm with Odette and Hugh, and continue to work in my studio in Darkan. Matthew will stay on the farm and help to look after the sheep while also working for other farmers in the area. We will be share-cropping with a neighbour, so that will reduce our workload (but also our income.)

This will be a major change, and a challenge for us as a family. But that is what happens to families living on farms or in small country towns with no high school. We are not the only ones forced to make decisions which affect our family because of the lack of education opportunities for our children. Two other local families are leaving town to relocate to towns with high schools as their oldest children start high school this year.

We would like to wish all our friends a safe, healthy and happy 2014. 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Lambing marking completed

Today the boys finished marking the lambs.
In total there were 2,261 merino lambs marked and 1,014 poll Dorset/merino cross lambs.
We are not quite in the 100% club yet - which is the club farmers get into when they produce more than 100% lambs for the ewes mated.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Does Lightning Strike?

An awful sight struck Roger as he rode his motorbike around the paddock this morning. He was checking the cows that are calving, to make sure they were OK and not having calving problems. What he saw was three dead cows at the foot of a tree.

Three cows - dead under a tree :-(

We are wondering if lightning has struck the cows. Not being experts in that sort of thing we didn't really know what to look for. There were no obvious burn marks on the cows which we thought there might be from a direct strike. But because they were under a tree it could mean that the lightning struck the tree and then travelled through the cows. Maybe I should have looked more closely at the tree...

Two of the cows had not yet calved, which makes the loss twice as bad. The third was very upsetting though, because she was a special cow named Annie.
Annie was born the day before a terrible storm in May 2005. We presume she was a twin because we never found a cow without a calf. She was alone in the paddock when we first saw her, all tiny and newborn. Thinking that her mother would come back for her we left her there, but discovered that she was still alone and frightened and shivering the next morning after the storm had passed. She was brought home and bottle-fed. Sophie was only seven then and she took care of the calf, heading out to feed her before school each morning and again when she came home from school in the evening. The calf grew and at weaning time she was put out in the paddock with the rest of the calves. She had a reprieve from the abattoir when she failed to fall pregnant in her first season. Usually "empty" cows are sent off on a truck, but the children begged their father not to do that to Annie! So she stayed and has produced five calves. Just last week she had a new calf, a huge big silver calf delivered without any trouble. Or so we thought... That evening Matthew found the calf dead in the paddock. The death still remains a mystery, and when Annie died she was still carrying an udder full of milk for her dead calf.

The lightning was very close to the house last night. Roger and I had been out and when we got home we found the children huddled on the sofa together loudly exclaiming how the house shook and the windows rattled and the thunder was so loud!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Shearing the Rams

The sheep at Wattle Creek have been shorn, and today was time to shear the rams at home. We had managed to keep the rams dry in the shed during the storm yesterday and last night. (We had over an inch of rain, which is most annoying at this time of the year.)

First up the young merino rams were shorn. These are from our breeding nucleus, and their fleeces were weighed so that we can add the data to their body weight and wool micron measurement to calculate an index which we use for selecting the breeding rams.

Next the older merino rams were shorn. I really love the look of the horns on merino rams!

Then the Poll Dorset rams had to be shorn. The nature of these rams with their temperament and size makes them difficult and dangerous to shear, so they are given some drugs to calm them down beforehand. Roger injected them about an hour before they were shorn so that they were not too difficult for the shearers to handle.


Hugh loves to help in the shed, and he spent some time helping to sweep up wool off the floor.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Counting the chickens before they've hatched

Just over three weeks ago we set a clucky hen on a dozen fresh eggs. She had been sitting in the nesting box in the chook pen so we knew she was ready to set. We got some eggs from a friend so they are a mix of varieties. Yesterday was the day I had written in my diary as the day that the chickens should hatch. It had seemed a long time coming because Hugh had been asking virtually every day whether the chickens were going to hatch that day.
We have been keeping the hen in the old rabbit hutch, as it was the most secure place we could find where she would be safe from predators. After one particularly hot day last week I was worried that the hen had abandoned her eggs. She had left the nest and looked quite distressed, and she had spread the eggs out, which resulted in one rolling away. But she may have just been trying to stop the eggs from overheating because she went back to them and continued sitting on them for another week.
Because yesterday was the day written in the calendar as hatching date we looked in on her lots of times during the day, and excitedly went out this morning to check again. We have had very wet and stormy weather and today was particularly cold. I was glad no chickens hatched last night in such a storm. But when there was still no sign of chickens this evening I started to despair. Maybe the eggs had gone off. Maybe they weren't fertilised...
But when I took an egg from under the hen and held it near my ear I could hear tiny pecking sounds and the faint cheeping of a tiny chicken. Now we wait expectantly for the morning, when we will be waiting to count our chickens!