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Animal Update

Posted by nogsland on February 2, 2016 at 8:55 PM Comments comments (22)

As well as the house, we have been pondering various animal decisions.  We decided on rabbit pie for Christmas Day after Chris managed to successfully shoot a couple of rabbits, which gave the geese somewhat of a reprieve.  It means we have lots of teenage geese at the moment much to George's delight given that every evening he has to fight them for his dog biscuits which they appear to have become addicted to. We did lose all but one of Mother Goose 1's second batch, not sure why, they just died one by one which was a bit sad.  The last gosling standing seems fine though and the flocks have all now bonded together to be one big squawking, pooing irritant.  If you hadn't caught on already, I still can't warm to the geese unless they are on my plate.

So far this summer we have had one snake alert, I was watering the orchard when Molly proceeded to pull a brown snake out of the ground a few trees away, then promptly yelped and limped away, dropping the snake in the process.  Roger then took up the mantle picking up the snake and shaking it, dropping it, picking it up and shaking it etc... I could go on, it was a  long 60 seconds.  What did I do during that time, anything useful ?? Not really, I just stood there and screamed and worked myself up into hysterics. Chris ended up having to kill the poor injured snake with a shovel and then I forced him to drive both dogs into town to the vet for a check up.  End result, a large out of hours call out fee from the vet and two dogs who enjoyed a day out in the truck.  Molly it turned out, had scraped her paw on a stone.....

Meanwhile Diggary is still feeling the after affects of his run in with the wild boars last year and has a serious limp which the vet can't do anything about. It appears to have stunted his ability to do certain things (euphemism...), meaning we only appear to have one litter from Georgina so far, 8 lovely piglets who are full of life and fun as always. I have been expecting Anita to give birth for the last 6 weeks but Chris maintains she is just hideously fat, I seem to recall we have been down this road before so we will wait and see.

It appears that C and D, the two sheep next up for the chop might be getting a reprieve.  One of the other boys who has been castrated but seems to be a bit too frisky is giving Pete some trouble and Pete has appeared a few times with a bloody head. Another of the boys has horns growing too close to his face and he can hardly see.  I know it it seems bad that we pile more bad luck on him by eating him but that's life if you are a sheep.  We are planning to shoot them in a week or so when the weather cools a bit, although it has actually been quite cool and fly free for a few weeks, so who knows when we will do it. 

Simon is locked in to be an ex steer in March, the butcher is booked to come and do the deed. It will be sad, Simon is a nice steer and gets on well with Ken and Deirdre, who are continuing to grow into monster cows due to their "mixed" parentage, but we are down to no sheep and a few steaks and some corned beef in the freezer, the rest is all pork, so it is time to replenish the stocks.

Otherwise, ducks are fine, one duckling managed to survive the attack of the crows, all the others were ripped to pieces in scenes reminiscent of some of the more gory greek mythological tales. George clearly has a blind spot when it comes to aerial attacks.  Otherwise chickens are good and continuing to breed and the bees have been transferred to their new hive and are awaiting a visit from Chris the bee whisperer.

Long time between drinks - Help arrives

Posted by nogsland on February 1, 2016 at 12:10 AM Comments comments (0)

I have been dilatory in keeping people updated with what is going on over here. My only excuse is I have been busy being a housewife (for the first time ever) whilst taking a long time off work on sick leave to have a rest. My goodness, who knew it was that hard not working.  To be fair to me, the time off coincided with Christmas and New Year plus the arrival of two backpacking Germans to work for a month on the build and around the property with Chris.  I had been ordered onto light work only because of a  slight back issue which has flared up so I was on cooking duties. My, the young can eat a lot....I have basically been cooking solidly for the last 3 weeks and it is exhausting. The young German couple, Lena and Dario arrived in the second week in January and since then it has been non stop.

You willl see from the photo's the wonderful progress that has been made on the house, with straw bales up and first coat of render done on 3 walls, it is looking great.  Chris is a hard taskmaster and I think they will probably be glad to leave although not glad to leave my food which is pretty much unlimited and they seem to have bottomless legs.  However, they fully deserve it after the days they are putting in and they are both very charming and polite and speak great English, which is just as well as I have absolutely no German and Chris has some and makes it up when he can't remember a word (causing them I think to secretly question his sanity at times given his dead pan delivery style).

Roger was a bit of a problem at first, which is strange given he is a german wire haired pointer, you would have thought he would have bonded with someone from his homeland. At the end of the first week, he was lying by the front door and ready to bite Dario's legs off if he tried to venture indoors. When this behaviour extended to following him around outside and growling we resorted to giving  Dario a bag of dog treats.  Dogs are so cheap, Roger and Dario are now best friends.

We have them with us for one more week, we are hoping to largely finish the straw bales on the outside and have the first coat of render on all of them. Still leaves a lot of rendering for Chris and some baling work but we have still achieved months of work in 3 weeks which is wonderful.  The house is now starting to look like a house which is quite exciting, we even bought a couple of light fittings the other day (possibly a bit keen but what the hell). 

We have also made great strides on the garden pathways and planting beds and I have posted some photo's in the Miscellaneous folder. Meanwhile, I am back at work and Chris has thankfully resumed cooking duites...I think we have all learnt a lot over the last few weeks (I have certainly learnt some German and we have stickers on various things throughout the house) and I think we have been very lucky with our choice of workers (given they were randomly selected by Chris off the internet).

More arrivals and Roof building commences

Posted by nogsland on October 27, 2015 at 2:40 AM Comments comments (0)

Final tally on the new lambs, 7, each of Gemima, Won-Ky and Lambie had a boy and a girl each and Heidi shocked us both by having a little boy about a month after everyone else. We have managed to castrate all the boys and drench and inject appropriately other than Heidi's lad. That's one for next weekend I think. All seem to be doing well, so we now have a huge flock, which has promptly split into various sub-flocks, I have no idea at the moment who is who amongst C-H and the Brick, but we do know that C and D are next to the chopping block and that we are nearly out of sheep in the freezer.

Ken has successfully become a steer, although his trust factor of Chris as a consequence is quite low and who can blame him. Both he and Deirdre are growing a pace and have the brown tinge which gives hints as to the identify of the intruder who took liberties with Mummy Cow and Sophie. I think they are going to outgrow their mothers quite soon, but the upside is that neither at this stage looks like they are going to have horns which will make them easier to manage.

Finally we have an abundance of goslings and Mother Goose 1 is sitting again, which means the current total of 16 goslings between two pairs of geese is likely to increase. They are all ganging up on poor George and eating his biscuits every night despite our best attempts to foil them. Poor George is prepared to take on one adult, but one adult and 7 growing goslings is proving a bit challenging.

Meanwhile the main focus of the last month or so has been getting the roof done so we can take delivery of our straw which is currently in storage. I have vetoed Chris doing the tin part of the roof on his own given he will insist on not wearing his harness and as I pointed out to him, if he falls, it is a very long drop and he has no mobile and I am in Canberra a lot at the moment....enough said. Luckily he actually agrees.

We have not been lucky with the weather which has been really windy pretty much every other day. Even with 2 of us, pulling and fixing a piece of sheet metal which is over 6 metres in length and can decapitate you if you are in the wrong place at the wrong time is too risky when the wind gusts vary from between 20-40kmph. It is also incredibly hard on the knees (Chris reliably informs me) so is hard to do for any length of time two days in a row. All this is a long way of saying, the roof is going up much slower than planned, but this weekend we finally got the final piece of the initial plywood cover on so I feel like the end is in sight (albeit a few weeks away).  I have also ventured onto the scaffold and been trained in the art of various power tools (don't ask me what they were) so have been rewarded with my own hard hat.  The dogs don't seem to get the concept of hard hat area's and have been digging shade pits directly under the scaffold at every opportunity. One feels like it is only a matter of time.

New pictures show both inner and outer skin and how it is taking shape. Next few weeks is going to be focussing on finalising that and inserting the two sky lights. Oh of course and the fact that  Chris is going to be 50 !!!!

New Borns abound

Posted by nogsland on August 18, 2015 at 12:20 AM Comments comments (1)

Well Mummy Cow is now the proud mother of a little boy calf, so we have one of each. In memory of that late great Coronation St star Anne Kirkbride, we have named the little girl that Sophie had Deirdre and the little boy Ken. They are very lively and quite lovely. Chris is trying to finish the crush so that we can drench them all and also somehow keep the little boy quiet when he has his bits removed. We have decided to get the vet in and have it done under local anaesthetic (something I"m sure all the men out there can identify with). I'm not sure how Sophie will cope as both mothers are still very protective, so it could be a challenge to separate them, we shall see.


Meanwhile, the sheep have started giving birth, it's quite a bit earlier than last year which is a worry because it is still pretty cold, however, the upside is no flies. Won-Ky has had twins again, as has Gemima, although we can't see what sex they are yet, I think Won-Ky has had a girl and a boy, but Gemima is still very cautious. Both sets seem healthy which is great, we now truly have a flock, with 16 at the last count, not sure how we are going to eat all of this sheep.  Lambie is about due as well (we have officially given up on Heidi ever having any more).  Last time Lambie was a bit freaked out by the whole thing when she gave birth to The Brick (named after a comedy character not because of his shape), but she seems more relaxed this time and has been hanging out with Gemima and her new borns. Cross fingers, I still don't know if I have the skill set for an assisted birth.

We have been very lucky with our excess of piglets and have managed to sell 8 (7 boys and the remaining girl) to a single buyer who is fattening them up to kill on property. Chris delivered them and said they have a nice set up so that is good. We have kept 2 for ourselves for killing later in the year.  We got rid of them not a moment too soon as this group have been particularly adventurous and naughty when it comes to escaping. The day after we delivered them to their new home a neighbouring farmer rang to complain they had been over at his property some kilometres away.....Luckily it was the same farmer whose bull had had his way with our cows, so a tit for tat exchange occurred and we didn't feel quite so awful.

Meanwhile, in a fairly seminal moment for me, I posted my first YouTube video (mainly because Chris made me). I would like to say George is the star, but the star is actually a very brave little boy piglet. I have attached the link below. Meanwhile I have posted some photo's of some of the newborns and the partly finished crush that Chris is creating.



Snow and Unwanted Attention

Posted by nogsland on August 7, 2015 at 3:35 AM Comments comments (2)

Well it has been an eventful last few weeks. To update all of those who are holding their breath about the developing relationship between Roger and Ginger the kitten living under the deck, suffice to say, the kitten will always stay a kitten in our memories and Roger is a mean dog...

Swiftly following the untimely demise of Ginger, we woke up one morning a few weeks ago to a wonderland of snow.  George had never seen snow before and wouldn't come out of his kennel at first until he established it wasn't going to hurt then he spent his time running frantically up and down in it. The chickens were all stuck in their houses, one of which collapsed (with no injuries) under the weight of it.  

After we got over the beauty of it all (and the fact it knocked out our satellite and left us without TV for a few weeks), we came back to reality with a bump, there were trees down blocking the gate to the home paddock, then further up the road to the main gate of the property. When we finally got through those, it took two further days to clear the wreckage both sides of the gate, around two dozen trees had been brought down and it was carnage. Elsewhere we have lost some beautiful trees in our windbreak and around the property. It never ceases to amaze me how much damage the weight of snow can cause. I have posted some pictures to give you an idea of the devastation (and the beauty of it).

A few weeks later we had a suprise arrival as Chris called me to say that Sophie had given birth to a lovely calf.  So Bear had done his job after all was my initial reaction, until I realised that Bear was with us in Feb/March which would have made this a miracle birth. We worked out she must have conceived in October of last year, so not to put to fine a point on it, Bear is not the daddy and the calf is not a pure breed dexter.  Which means one of our neighbours bulls has been taking advantage, no wonder Bear never seemed interested. So now we are waiting to see if Mummy Cow is also with child by the intruder. 

As with all understanding parents, we just have to take a breath a move on. The calf is pretty and Chris trying to milk Sophie is providing some good comedy moments.  I have not managed to capture that on camera yet, but have posted some shots of the new arrival (sex not quite determined at this point in time).

Christopher the Conqueror

Posted by nogsland on June 18, 2015 at 11:30 PM Comments comments (3)

Well Chris has been sitting out most evenings due to ongoing sightings of the residual boar in the mornings (ie always when Chris doesn't have his gun to hand). The other night he put in an appearance and Anita went up to him and seemed quite interested. As we all know, Anita has already shown herself to be of questionable character in the mothering department so I shouldn't have been suprised at her choice in boars. 

Anyway, after some to-ing and fro-ing, Chris managed to kill him with a single shot to the head which was good, because whatever one thinks of wild boars, you still don't want to see them suffer.  Although following the shot, Anita went up to the dead body and had a look and Diggary went up and bit him, so I'm not sure Diggary shares our sentiments on the suffering bit.  Little doubt who the main protagonist had been in Diggary's fight a week or so earlier which we didn't see. 

So hopefully that has removed our feral boar situation in the short term, with the boar having been given a suitable burial. Whether Diggary will forgive Anita for her questionable judgment is a saga yet to be played out.

Meanwhile the cats are getting braver and the dogs stupider, one can't help feeling this will not end well.

Unwanted Guests

Posted by nogsland on June 15, 2015 at 12:50 AM Comments comments (0)

As some of you would know, we have been having issues with some wild boars. We recently had to sell two of our young gilts pregnant to a wild boar who we didn't catch in time. Chris has managed to shoot one of them but as any parent knows, you can't watch your kids 24 hours a day....Anyway, all of the older piglets are now either in the freezer or leading happy lives elsewhere. That just leaves us with 12 little piglets running around causing chaos (and we have already sold 4 girls).

Unfortunately Chris went out to feed the pigs the other night and found two boars trying to have their way with Renee. Diggary fought them off the night before and has the battle scars (some of which are quite serious) to proove it, So last night he sat out with his gun (Chris not Diggary) and managed to get the small ginger boar who has been hanging around for some time. Sadly, the other bigger boar was a no show so we still have him to worry about.

And you might also recall we were having a fun time with rabbits who had established a new home for themselves under the deck which was causing Roger some stress because they are light years ahead of him speed wise. Well the good news is that the rabbits have gone, the bad news is that they have been replaced by some wild cats...We can't put poison down as the dogs would get it and we can't shoot them because we would be effectively shooting at our house, albeit the floor. So now Roger is making friends with the kittens (see picture in other animals photo's) and our chickens and ducks are on 24 hour watch...

Sex, life and death

Posted by nogsland on April 20, 2015 at 4:20 AM Comments comments (0)

We are gearing ourselves up to kill quite a few pigs. Not before time in some respects as the freezer is bare of all things pig and we are on our last pack of bacon. However, the 3 freezers are full of cow and sheep so we have a bit of a space issue. We have tried to reduce it, spending the weekend a few weeks ago, making lots of lovely Merguez lamb sausages in super fast time with our new mincer, however, it is still touch and go whether we would get half a pig in there.

The situation has become urgent as we are being bothered once more by wild boars. Chris found one having his way with one of the young gilts the other day so we will probably have to kill her soon to avoid the risk of her having piglets. He went back the next day with his gun to find two wild boars moving in, he managed to shoot the large one "in flagrante delicto" so at least he went happy, but the little ginger menace is still out there so we have an ongoing risk to manage which is a nightmare. We have two boars and 4 girls left from the last litter, we can probably get rid of 1/2 of them but it will be problematic getting rid of the rest.

To compound matters, Anita gave birth to 12 piglets and Georgina to 10 last week within 24 hours of each other. Anita, true to form, has managed to kill 4 already, Georgina has lost 1, but that is still a lot of piglets. They are however a joy to behold although whether Anita and Georgina will think so in a few weeks time remains to be seen as we have temporarily left Renae with the gilts in a separate paddock so they have no surrogate to babysit when they want a time out. 

Although I do worry about separating her, it does mean she has to fight less for her food and Diggary does become somewhat "persistent" with her when the other girls are unavailable and as a consequence (with apologies to the more genteel minded among you), he stops being too picky about where he aims his corkscrew, which does upset her (and who can blame her).

Meanwhile, Bear has returned to his owner and the cows are on their own again. We have no idea of whether he performed the necessary deed, I have my doubts, he simply looks too dopey. Chris thinks he might just be shy. We shall have to wait and see, the gestation period for a cow is a lot longer than for a pig, so we will have to decide in a few months whether we make them both pee on a stick, or whatever it is that cows do for a pregnancy test or just take our chances.

Finally, we promised to kill a couple of geese for a friend last weekend so took the opportunity to kill a few of our own. A quick tip, unless you are an expert plucker, don't try and kill and pluck 4 geese in a single day if you have anything else you want to do, pin feathers are a living hell and my tweezer hand was numb by the end of it, although we did have some great looking prepped geese to eat at the end of it.

We are going to have to kill some chickens in the coming weeks as we now have, as a result of our amazingly successful breeding program, a ton of chickens who are laying for England. I have started baking 10 egg chocolate cakes to complement the mayonnaise and pasta and continue to search for egg recipes at every opportunity. However, thankfully we have a few cockerels, so when we manage to catch them, which is prooing tricky at the moment, we shall have some chicken to add to our burgeoning supplies in our bursting at the seams freezers.

Chickens, Batteries and a new carpet

Posted by nogsland on March 5, 2015 at 12:15 AM Comments comments (2)

Be careful what you wish for when it comes to chickens. The silkies are continuing to proove to be wonderful mothers, both to their own chicks and to the australorp chicks which come out of the eggs we slip under them when they aren't looking. Of course, the australorp crosses we have are now also prooving to be great mums so we have more chickens that you can shake a stick at and they all seem to be girls so we can't even eat them. This means that even though summer is nearly over we are getting around 1/2 dozen eggs a day and you can only eat so many eggs and make so much hollandaise sauce and mayonnaise. They are so good, I am trying to sell some at work because the alternative is the pigs get extra eggs for dinner. Any egg heavy recipes much appreciated.

Interestingly, having for years been an avowed chicken killer Molly seems to have given up the ghost and now seems to be largely indifferent to their existence. This is just as well as most of the more recent batch have not had their wings clipped and so have taken to flying over the gate and walking around in the home paddock. After the initial few near heart attacks seeing them walking past the front door of the house, we are now a bit calmer as both Molly and Roger seem to largely ignore them. I still don't trust them entirely but they seem more interested in the wild birds than the tame kind. So that's good and it only took 12 years for her to lose interest. When I was in Spain a few weeks ago, I was reminded of how stressful a pet who is a chicken chaser can be, when the lovely Pickle, my friend Kim's dog went after one of Kim's dads chickens. Luckily they got there just in time and the only indignity suffered by the chicken was the loss of a few tail feathers.

Meanwhile out of the blue, our solar batteries decided to give up on us a few weeks ago. Thank goodness they didn't just die completely, but over a matter of a week or two suddenly they became pretty useless. It appears the life span of solar batteries is still somewhat of a moveable feast, I thought ours would last for 20 years not 5. Having discussed with Chris it seems some of it is our fault (ie we got the size of our system a bit wrong initially which caused some issues) and some is just because it is still a developing industry. Either way, we had to suddenly buy a whole new battery system and they are not cheap. Thankfully, touch wood, the solar panels themselves seem to be holding up so at least we didn't need to replace those as well. Meanwhile we are now able to turn lights on again and put away candles and watch TV in the evening which is a treat.

Finally, Sam without his body came home this week. His skin has come back from the tanners and looks fantastic, I will post a photo. Given his "problem bottom" during life, he looks a lot cleaner in death ! Now we just need a clean floor to put him on in the new house.

Bear the Bull

Posted by nogsland on February 12, 2015 at 11:05 PM Comments comments (24)

Whilst I was away overseas, Bear the bull arrived for what was originally a two month visit. However, after one week, I am not so sure. He doesn't seem that interested in the girls and whilst initially seeming calm and gentle, now he is positively glowering with bad temper.

I arrived back looking forward to my first glance only to find no bull, Bear having broken through a fence to go and join the herd from next door. The farmer there said Bear was a bit of a rogue bull and not helpful or willing to return so a few days later Chris went and picked him up in our other neighbours horsebox.

After one eventful escape where Bear jumped out of the horsebox from a standing start, which must have been quite impressive to see, he is now encased in a small secure paddock with the others and is very very sulky about it. Chris is going to see if he can secure all exits so they can roam a bit more, but if Bear isn't interested in the girls not sure that will be much good or worthwhile. Watch this space it may well be we won't have lovely little brown cows. I have taken a picture of Bear so you can see him in all his grumpiness, because despite being grumpy he is very handsome.