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Wednesday 22 June 2011

As usual there has been no lack of drama here over the past week. Just today I planned a jaunt further south to pick up three goats I’d agreed to buy (collecting Luke from school en route) & it turned into a marathon. We bought twenty bags of feed first & loaded them into the back of the ute, in dry, relatively sunny weather. Of course almost as soon as we set off it started to drizzle & looked likely to continue. We stopped & piled as many of the bags as possible into the cab, such that Luke was in danger of being swamped by layer pellets & I could barely change gear. It also occurred to me that the ute was possibly overloaded since it was carrying 400kg of feed & pulling a heavy float - & it would only get worse once we loaded the goats. It took an age to find the address, by which time it was almost dark & the weather was closing in. It also became apparent that there was nowhere to turn around & we had no choice but to back out down a long, dirt drive in the wet dusk with an unwieldy ute. Having finally seen us safely onto the road, the seller remarked that she was quite glad to get rid of the goats. After all the effort we’d been to I replied that she ought to have paid me to take them away rather than the other way around!

Unfortunately that wasn’t the end of our troubles. While navigating a winding dirt road in streaming rain, the dash lights went out. As this had happened before, I knew it meant we had blown a fuse & thus had no tail lights either. I eventually found somewhere safe to pull off the road (luckily there had been no one behind us up to that point), then fumbling in the dark, found the correct fuse & replaced it with one that wasn’t in itself vital (from the clock & radio circuit). We managed to drive back home without further incident. However, since it was still bucketing with rain, I was obliged to reverse the trailer into its narrow gap in the tractor shed in order to keep the goats dry overnight. There are no outside lights, the night was pitch black & every time I hopped out to check on my position I got soaked. I only managed it finally by placing a torch on the ground in strategic places as I reversed & also putting on the Suzuki lights, which was parked in the shed.

On the subject of goats, I am thrilled that I finally managed to finish clipping hooves, drenching and vaccinating the entire herd last week. I also treated a couple that seemed to be suffering from an eye infection. It appears to clear up without any harmful effects but I’ve not identified the source. I also took the last of the wethers to the abbatoir, along with George the pig, on Sunday – and am looking forward to picking up all the meat tomorrow morning. A rooster also bit the dust this morning, but I’ve not yet found the time to prepare it – a job for tomorrow now.

On the pig front, I managed to catch the last two weaners, nose-ring them & transfer them to the weaning pen with their siblings. Connor the boar was then released to visit Vicky & console her for the loss of her babies. He did rather more than console however & pursued her relentlessly until she gave in & stood for him. I wouldn’t have thought it possible that Vicky could get pregnant again so quickly, but she’s been so fecund in the past, that I shall put a note in my diary for three months & three weeks’ hence, just in case! They are as chummy as newly-weds now, nuzzling snouts, rubbing one another’s flanks & snuggling into the new bedding I’ve provided them.

Our two bunnies, bought as pets for Luke but now living happily outside with the chickens, have proven so easy to keep that I’m considering buying a pair of English Giants (I think that’s the name of the large meat breed) & adding rabbit to our menu. Boris & Bertie, our current bunnies, are in separate pens since Bertie kept duffing up poor Boris. They have plenty of grass & I provide them with horse & pony pellets daily. However this does not stop them eating with the chickens – a bit of a worry since I often cook up meat & add out of date yoghurt or milk to the bird mash. I have never heard of carnivorous rabbits before, but they appear to be in rude health. Oddly, while he’s eaten their food, the chickens have pecked Boris’ small hut to bits – it was made of polystyrene to which they must have taken a fancy. I’m not sure where he sleeps now – probably in the chickens’ hut.