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Farm update - September 2013

August was a huge month!  I don't know where to start...

The weather has been dry and hot, I think we had 5 mm of rain one night, that's all, so its a typical end of winter and into a long dry spring.  We have also had a couple of really cold nights with heavy frosts in the mornings.  This was enough to dry of most of our grass.  Some of the more sensitive plants in the garden have died back, but I am hoping they will grow again.

Chime all rugged up on a cold night (next to the woodstove!)
The chickens are laying lots of eggs and I'm waiting for my babies (now 6 months old) to start laying too.  Unfortunately early in the month I shut the door on one of the cages before half my babies went in for the night, and they disappeared, apart from a few piles of feathers.  Something ate 14 of the Rhode Island Reds that we hatched, leaving only two roosters, one that I think was hiding in the hay bale (as I caught him trying to sleep there the next night) and the other that wasn't walking properly, so he was in another cage recovering, so not our best specimens!  I try to look on the bright side, at least they were eaten and not just killed and wasted as sometimes happens, but it is annoying to lose so many in one go.  Also on the bright side, the cross-bred babies were in another cage and they are all fine, so we still have eight lovely big mixed up hens and three roosters from that mob.  We probably had too many chickens anyway..... and now I double-check them all with a torch before I close up the cages.

The dairy cows - Bella had her calf just after the chickens disappeared.  A couple of weeks earlier than we were expecting, but we might have counted wrong.  We hadn't even moved her to the house paddock, she was down the back, near the creek with her little calf one day when we got home late in the afternoon, it was quite a surprise!  After last year, when her calf died, we were both a little nervous about how this birth would go, and it worked out really good that the calf came early, as I hadn't had a chance to really start worrying yet. 

Bella with her new calf Nancy
Then Bella got really bad mastitis in one quarter.  We thought she might improve under our care, but she got worse and worse, so after a couple of days we called the vet and it was lucky we did because the infection had spread to her system, so she needed three days of antibiotics injected as well as intra-teat treatments.  This was not ideal, but Bella has had antibiotics before, so I wasn't as upset as I would have been for Molly.  We waited for several weeks before drinking the milk ourselves, the dogs were very happy with this arrangement!  Bella's milk flow was reduced by her illness, so we are not getting the huge amounts that she would normally produce after calving.  This means that there has been no cheese-making, which is good because I don't have time for cheese, but also no ice-cream making :(

My house cow book is progressing, I have received feedback from all my proof-readers, so now I just need to make some changes to the book, and add a few new sections about what we just learnt through Bella's mastitis!  Learning about our cows seems to never end!  Then I just need to tackle the technical part of actually publishing the book.  I am looking forward to making it available to you all.

Enjoying their milk while they can....
All the other cattle are getting barely any attention with our focus on Bella (that's the way she likes it too, she knows she is the special cow).  Monty is getting huge and very dark compared to his birth colour, its been so funny to watch him gradually change colour.  And then Nancy was born all brown to the same bull.

I wrote about the garden yesterday, and I'm glad I spilt that up, because this is getting long!

garden harvest basket
At Cheslyn Rise, the water tanks arrived and the plumbers have nearly finished installing all the new pipes and the septic system.  Our neighbour has also been working on our driveway with his bulldozer, excavator, tractor/land plane and tip truck!  Its looking better than the council road already!  We are now just in the process of organising our electrician and thinking about fittings and insulation for the roof.

We rounded up some of the Brafords and sold a few weaners and some older cows, they had got a bit naught since last time we had them in the yards and we're going to get a friend to help muster the rest of them.  We also had to sell Maus the bull because he was starting to get an eye cancer.  This is common in Herefords and should be less common in Brafords, but we must have been unlucky.  He was only with us for 9 months and only 5 years old!  So now we are looking out for another Braford bull and hoping we can find one as quite as Maus, because he really was no trouble at all in the yards and such a lovely bull.  The next round of calves should be coming soon.

Some links that I enjoyed this month:

why I gave up peanut butter - Real Food Forager

how to prep for the unexpected - Sky Minded and Ever Growing

choosing a dairy animal - cows vs goats - Simple Country Home

worm farm how to - Childhood 101 with Tricia from Little Eco Footprints

seasonal calving - Matron of Husbandry

How was your August?  What does September hold for you?


  1. Sorry about your chicks, some creature had a fun time of it, we have coons, possums, and fox that will do such things.
    Still getting green beans but attention has been on starting fall greens and root vegetables. Still wet whereas things should be dry.


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