A journal of my favourite pastimes gardening, farming and sewing.

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Esme's triplets

We have three new additions to our flock.  Esme the cranky one, has finally had her lambs – triplets.  I went down to feed them yesterday afternoon, and on hearing little cries – I saw one, two then three sets of legs wobbling around.  She must have had them earlier in the afternoon – in the rain of course – the little mites were shivering like mad.

Esme and her triplets
I put Esme and crew into the ‘birthing suite’ which is a smaller enclosure with a covered area separate to the rest of the flock.  We think this gives both mum and babies time to bond, recover and get stronger.  Mum gets her own food and water supply so she doesn’t need to compete with all the rest of the gang.  We keep them there for 4-5 days and then release them back into to the group.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Projects around home

Pretty much since we bought the place, we have had it in our minds that we would (a) put a verandah and deck around three sides of the house and (b) possibly extend out from the fourth side of the house.  So following council approval about a month ago, we have been slowly working away on the verandah & deck. Here's the house before anything was started.

First the roof of the undercover area was removed.  Some of this material will be recycled when my greenhouse gets built and the roofing sheets will be used to build a car port onto the side of one of our sheds.  Once this roofed area was removed, it was possible to see what the house looked like originally.  You may be able to see in the middle of the back wall, where the window now is, there was once a door with a small landing with stairs leading down the back.  

Once the roof and posts were gone, holes had to be cut into the concrete to allow for footings and new support posts to be put in.  A local contractor with an augur spent the day with us drilling the holes to the depth specified by council.

Following that, new concrete footings were poured containing the metal stirrups into which the new supports would be bolted.  Some of these supports are 6m in length and made of hardwood so between us, raising, measuring, drilling and bolting these supports is a big job.  The posts have been braced to stop them swaying in the wind. 

So, slowly we move forward.  More to come.

Monday, 12 July 2010

The Vegie Patch

Since we arrived here we had a goal to become as self sufficient in our food supplies as possible.  In February we started preparing our vegie garden with four beds which as much as possible, I would use rotational planting in.  The first bed was experimental to see if we had the right soil mix, aspect, water etc. So far, the results have been excellent.  Here are some pics of the construction phase.

We are hopeful that during summer we can ramp up the production and start preserving and freezing our produce.

When I was a kid, my mum had a great vegie garden.  She grew all sorts of produce - my strongest memory of the garden was harvesting potatoes - I felt like a real farmer!
I get another go at the experience now with the wonderful support of Peter.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Finding our Patch

We were doing a lot of looking on the internet for properties in this area, and Peter had avoided looking at this one because the photos weren't of interest to him - they were only of trees.  Conversely these were the pictures that attracted me because the trees reminded me of the house and garden I grew up in.
When I finally got Peter to look at the pictures properly, his interest started to increase.  As a builder he could see a number of issues with the farm house built during the war years.  Nevertheless we both wanted to see it.
We visited on a cold sunny winter's day and although the garden looked sad and neglected, we both liked it straight away.  We agreed the inside was liveable although certainly not to our taste.  Even Billy, our Jack Russell cross was enthusiastic - but then he was always enthusiastic about everything.

The requirements were:  

  • Enough land for us to put our plans into action.
  • Close to town because I wasn't sure I could go from suburbia to isolation in one step.
  • A good aspect  which would allow for verandahs around to catch the sun or shade depending on the season.
  • Some outlook or views.
  • Power, water and a reasonable house, with some outbuildings.
This one had pretty much all that and a reasonable price tag which we were able to negotiate down so we went for it.  Our offer was accepted and it was ours.
Peter moved in right after settlement but I stayed in Brisbane for another month to finish up work and sell my place.  Then I made the move too and became a 'homemaker' was a huge change of pace for me.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Our Animals

Because our block is sloping down to a gully at the boundary, the back paddock is unsafe to mow so we needed to look at getting some four legged mowers.  We were able to buy several Suffolk cross sheep and we started off with seven ewes and one ram.  Three of the ewes were in lamb so it wasn't long before our flock expanded.

We were very excited at the birth of the first set of twins in February.  The second birth was a couple of weeks later, and the male lamb was all black which was brilliant, but unfortunately he only lived for two days.  The third lamb also black, was a female and she has grown so much that she is the same size as the first two who are a month older.

And we have recently welcomed our second pair of twins which now brings our total of 12.  With the winter dry, the flock eats about half a bale of lucerne or oats a day, supplemented by stock feed.  

Once the warmer weather returns, our paddock will have plenty of grass for them, but at the moment it is slim pickings.

We also now have eight chooks who, between them are producing 5-6 eggs per day.  Of course the eggs have those lovely golden yolks that all free range chooks produce.

Unfortunately though, these chooks love to scratch around in my garden and a good number of my agapanthus have suffered at their hands (claws). 

Billy the dog loves to round up the chooks but never hurts them.  He also loves the lambs, licking them through the fence.  They look at him as though thinking "geez you're a weird looking sheep".  Here he is supervising the shearing a couple of months ago.

In the not too distant future we are going to have to make a decision about which sheep to keep and which to sell.  I don't think I can bring myself to eat our own animals - some people say that if you don't kill them yourselves it removes you enough from them, but I don't share that view.  Even the thought of selling one or two is sad to me.