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Friday 23 September 2011

It is so foul outside I’ve decided to stay in for a bit & catch up with PC work. After a couple of breezy, mild days during which the paddocks did start to dry out, it’s rained all night. I daren’t check the rain gauge – there must have been an inch or thereabouts. I’m still having trouble with the goats’ feet, poor things, so whereas once upon a time I would have reveled in the sound of the rain pounding on the roof, now I wince & worry about the goats’ hooves & the pigs’ pens.

Despite the rain gloom, there have been some mild excitements to report. The wild baby bunny turned up again – in the cage where it had been before. It’s a great puzzle. I’d been through the hay in there with a fine tooth comb & had seen neither hide nor hair of it. Anyhow, rather than pondering on the issue, I’ve popped into a smaller dog travel-crate from which it most certainly can’t escape. We’ve named it Beryl, it’s still rather cute & is happily eating dandelions & fresh grass which I (of course) get for it each day. At least we don’t have to buy any rabbits now to fulfill our promise to Luke. We just need Rosie to find another girl bunny for the other buck. Rosie’s turning out to be rather a menace on the wildlife front – playing with skinks until they lose the will to live & killing a baby native hen the other day before we could get to her. Some major training sessions are called for.

I’m pleased to announce that the dogs are now happily re-housed in their new kennel. It’s installed on the front deck following a major removals task with the help of the Suzuki. I forgot that a couple of screws poked a fraction out of the bottom & I’ve scratched some of the deck boards rather badly – I’m not sure Bronte’s noticed yet & I haven’t pointed it out. I poured water on them to try & swell them away. The kennel just squeaked into the space allotted for it, but I had to move the external powerpoint – luckily I managed not to electrocute myself & I didn’t have to lengthen the cable to move it across a couple of inches.

It is totally caulked & siliconed in every conceivable crack on the outside & on the inside is fully lined with 2cm thick polystyrene & building paper, all taped up so there are no frayed edges for the dogs to chew. Yesterday morning I made the bedding, stuffing hessian sacks with foam, sewing them together & wrapping them all in old blankets & sewing that in place. Hopefully there is nothing there that Rosie can chew or destroy (famous last words). I’ve stapled a piece of old sheepskin over the front doors (from one of Murphy’s old beds) & made a slit in each side, to reduce the windage into the kennel itself. Luke & I painted a name board that is now proudly displayed on the side.

I’ve also – at last – completed the crocheted quilt I’ve been working on during the winter evenings in front of the fire & the TV. Here it’s being modeled by the spare bed & draped across the sofa in the lounge. It’s all made with oddments of wool & recycled wool unpicked from old jumpers bought from op shops.

I’ve resolved to put away the crocheting for now & start tackling the huge pile of mending that has built up in the meantime, mostly comprising knee patches and letting down trouser legs for Luke. He continues to grow like a weed and is always grubbing about and falling over in mud and gravel. He loves his bicycle & had great fun at a vacation care ‘wheels day’ last week. Thank goodness he’s been back at school this week, it’s rather a strain trying to entertain him & get everything done here during the holidays.

The other minor excitement is that I have borrowed a large manual incubator from a neighbour (who has purchased a posh auto-turning one of which I am most envious) & it’s now almost filled with turkey eggs – 32 I think now. I’d thought the turkeys weren’t laying (or that the cravens were getting all the eggs) but found a batch of 13 hidden in hay - actually in the hut for a change. Since then there have been another 2-4 each day so I’ve been popping them in each time. My little incubator has geese & chicken eggs in it so once they hatch, I can transfer the turkey eggs into it for hatching as they become due. You have to stop turning eggs three days before they are due to hatch & also raise the humidity – which is why it’s not good to have eggs with different due dates in the same incubator. I dare say when I candle them, half will turn out to be infertile – this often happens with the first batch of the season – but I’m hopeful. At least the turkeys haven’t gone broody. Once this happens they stop laying & it is virtually impossible to break the broodiness. I’ve tried taking them for a drive (someone told me this was a failsafe cure) & chucking them into different pens, but nothing has worked for me so far. All three girl geese are now sitting, so we could be awash with baby birds soon. This is a bit of a concern because I’m going to need more space for them.

Yesterday I terminated the three big roosters which were getting rather bolshie and packed them into the freezer. I must have got the dunking just right, because plucking them was a breeze. I used water at 70°C & dunked them for 45-50secs. Talking of bolshie animals poor Luke had a bad day recently, when he was growled & snapped at by Bruce in the morning & attacked by William the gobbler in the afternoon. Bruce gets a bit protective of what he thinks of as his territory & gets a bit stressed by Luke’s noise & sudden moves. William has been a pussycat up until now – it must be the time of year I think. When I rescued Luke & shepherded him out, William leapt onto my back!

I can now worm all the birds & start installing my fishing line over the turkey pen to confound the cravens. That was meant to be today’s job but frankly I’m baulking at going outside in this weather. I’m also a bit worn down this week which has been pretty full-on. I’ve chopped & carted a large batch of firewood and Bronte & I unloaded and raked a tonne or more of topsoil last Friday to try & level out the area around the pear tree, which used to be a small pig pen. We spent ages scraping off the high bits & transferring the spoil to the low bits – it’s now more level than anywhere else on our plot. I was hoping to take back part of it for another pig pen but Bronte might not be so keen now.

Last weekend entailed early rising owing to Little Athletics starting again on the Saturday and a WWPG Open Day on the Sunday. I had to get the animals fed before going to each event. Luke enjoyed his Little Athletics & won all his events, but was so abominable that he was whisked home before his favourite event – the 100m.

The Open Day was rather more successful. The aim was to highlight the fact that Forestry Tasmania is continuing to log in coupes within the 430,000Ha designated for ‘immediate protection’ within the recent Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) on forestry, & to promote the conservation values of West Wellington ( I’d not had much to do with the organization barring sending out invites to the membership & the media. Luke & I went along & had a good few hours, trundling along the 4WD tracks & logging roads & walking along part of the old Judds Creek Road, now isolated by Forestry’s logging operations. We left after lunch as Luke had been playing with two other boys in a creek & was wet, cold & tired. Luckily I’d had the foresight to take a change of clothes, but nonetheless he was about wrung out. We’d taken enough food for an army but managed to polish the lot off – Luke ate most of his on the way.

A few new faces turned up to the event & learnt what was going on & why we are opposed to clearfelling. A local journalist rang up that evening for a chat & was good enough to put a piece in The Mercury the following day (
Hopefully, it might help stir things up. I’ve been having a bit of e-mail liaison with the man who has Connor the boar at the moment – he challenged me on my environmental views with respect to forestry. I’ve asked that he not stick pins in Connor to get back at me!

I’ve just lit a fire, it’s so cold & miserable. I had to weigh up the comforts of a fire against the discomfort of chopping more wood. At least Murphy the cat will be happy. I might break my self-imposed rules & do some phone-calling of potential customers on a Friday, following up the marketing documentation e-mailed out recently for a neighbour. Anything to delay going outside.