Sunday, 23 October 2016

A Week in October - 2016

While I was away last week I got a call from a journalist from our local newspaper. She wanted to ask us a few things about bees, so she interviewed us the day after I returned home. This story was in this week's paper.
Every October, we expect a phone call from Kay and Brian, to inform us which day they will be in our area. We call up some of our neighbours, who bring their alpacas here to be shorn too, saving the shearers the hassle of setting up all over the countryside to shear one or two animals.
This is Turner on the table, being shorn by Brian whilst Kay is vaccinating him into the hind leg muscle.
That's another thing over with for this year. Now to try selling the fleeces.

We took a pen of eleven Hogget sheep to the Mt Pleasant market on Thursday. The sheep are classed as Hogget at around one year old, when they lose their baby teeth. Hogget are also know as "Two tooth" in some places.
Hogget, with is piggy sounding name, is such a confusing word to call a sheep. We know a lovely French woman who lives a couple of properties along our road, and one afternoon, she and some friends were walking past our place while I was outside in the garden. She stopped for a quick chat, and she told me they were going for a walk along to the river nearby.  They had eaten a big lunch of roast pork, and needed some exercise. "Yes," she said, "Deveed went to zee butcher yesterday and bought a bee-yooot-iful leg of Hogget!"
Did you get my French accent?

At the market there were two pens of these Fat tail sheep. They are popular with small landowners as grass mowers because, as they are wool shedding sheep, they are mistakenly thought to be maintenance free.  You know that I have banged on about this before, and I will keep banging on about this misconception of "maintenance free" sheep. There is NO SUCH THING as maintenance free anything that is a live animal..!!
The sign on the pen declares them to be infested with lice.  They were also terribly lame from feet that had not been trimmed.
Proper sheep management requires we owners to trim feet when the sheep are brought in for crutching and shearing, usually two or three times every year. Sheep are also treated for lice prevention, intestinal worms and given a Vit B, Tetanus and Pulpy kidney vaccination.  These so called "maintenance free" sheep receive non of this treatment.
Once again, I was disappointed to see that these pens of sheep were placed next to other pens of healthy sheep.  Other people I spoke to also said they wouldn't buy any of the sheep in pens next to these lice ridden sheep, because lice jump from animal to animal when in close proximity. Who would want to risk buying lousy sheep?
Next day, I wrote a polite email to the Stock Agents expressing our disappointment at seeing this practice continuing in their sale yards. They wrote back on the same day, informing me that they would return to their old practice of placing lice sheep in pens far away from other sheep.
If we don't make ourselves heard about issues that ruffle us, nothing will be done to correct it, so lets see what happens next time there are lice sheep brought in for sale.

After record rainfall last month, our hay crop was under threat of being laid flat by the wind and rain.  This is the best crop we've had after a few years of below average rainfall, and we were feeling quite nervous that we would not be able to get a tractor onto the sodden ground to mow.
However, after a few drying days with some sunshine, this sight of the contractor mowing our crop yesterday evening was uplifting to our spirits. Now we need a couple weeks of dry sunny days before the contractor returns to bale it.

This is my little vegetable and herb patch where I allow the plants to re-seed and pop up where they feel happiest. I should be planting some of the cucumber plants that Brian has left over from his big vegetable patch, but I haven't got the heart to pull out these poppies.The bees are loving the pollen deep inside the petals, so I'll wait another week or so before thinning them enough to plant a few cucumbers and tomatoes to trail along the fence.
I cleared some space to let the rhubarb and kale get some sun and breathing space.

This shrub near the pots is now a tree since the fierce winds broke some branches off. It looks like a dead space in the yard, sooo......
 Today I dragged some old weathered posts from the fire wood pile, spaded off the weeds, filled the space with mulch, and now there is a defined garden bed.
I'll plant a few more little shrubby things like geranium cuttings and daisies to fill it up.

And because it's such a glorious day today, I took some photos of the garden. Honestly, this season, and being here in my place, in my garden, both of us in good health, our animals all well, happy and fat, we have plenty of everything we need. This is what makes my heart swell inside my chest, with the sheer happiness of it all.

We have still not needed to water any of the gardens as yet which is most unseasonable.  Usually we need to start watering in September, so we're a month ahead of ourselves in regard to water saved so far. All of our water tanks are full, so we will manage all of this summer ahead without using any mains (tap) water. 
The nights are still cool, and our wood burning heater is still keeping us warm. There was only one day last week that was over twenty five degrees, so the wood kitchen stove is still in use and burning around the clock. Again, most unusual for October. There have been frosty mornings too, which have burnt a couple of young cucumber plants, but no serious damage was done.
A late start to summer, which suits me most happily.
Cheers for now, and thanks for dropping in.


  1. Oh dear! Sally after seeing the photo of your wisteria I think my husband was right when he said to me some weeks ago when I was buying a wisteria plant that I was buying a dead stick. Hopefully I will see some signs of life on it soon. Yes there do appear to be people who think animals can be left in a paddock without any monitoring and attention. I know of one land owner near us who visits his property once or twice a year, does no maintenance and at one time was talking about putting cattle in his back paddock to keep the grass down, - I have been told his grass is rats tail grass. (I find it difficult to tell the difference between grasses.) I have no livestock but I do know that rats tail grass reduces the carrying capacity of a paddock by about 80% and it can loosen the teeth of livestock.

    1. I'm feeling your sense of frustration Sherri. People who own animals should be looking after them properly. Grrr... it makes us so angry. We also have a few around us who didn't shear their sheep and alpacas last year because they still haven't built yards to bring them in and catch them. Another year has passed, so we're waiting to see if the poor animals get shorn this year. Our alpaca shearers charge twice the cost when they shear an animal that has missed a year..! I love their attitude. I hope your wisteria springs to life soon. ;)

  2. My goodness me, Sally you have been busy. It is cool here too and is like our early spring days used to be years ago. I can tell you like the cooler weather.

  3. your garden is gorgeous!
    yeh am same with neglected animals, they buy a property then go out & get horses & throw them on there to eat the grass down & wonder why they almost die from starvation! too right, there's no such thing as no maintenance animals.
    great post
    thanx for sharing

    1. Thanks Selina, sadly, it seems most of us have examples of poor animal maintenance in our prospective areas. I'm so pleased I planted the most part of our garden over the past 10 yrs, because I know I don't have the physical strength to do all that now. It's looking its best right now, all this rain and no hot days. :)


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