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Monday 14 November 2011

I am making up for lost time by posting two days in a row. Also on the goose front, I’ve recently installed a great new goose hut – it was high time they had proper shelter. Months ago I brought an old hut from a farm sale over in Collinsvale (together with a range of other old junk which we piled precariously onto the ute). It’s been sitting in the garage since then (much to Bronte’s disgust) & I finally heaved it out last week & put a proper corrugated iron roof on top of the crumbling hardboard. Gave it a good coat of paint & managed to get it into the goose pen by towing it with the Suzuki, then cutting the goose fence & manhandling it into place (having first cut a flat base in the sloping pen).

We have had further babies born on the farm – but not to our animals. A pair of plovers had been nesting in one of the pig pens (thereby rendering it unusable for the pigs) and they finally hatched last week. They had just 2 babies (the cutest things you can imagine, with speckled brown backs & little black collars) but I think they may have lost one since – probably to the horrible cravens.

Other things that have kept me busy include spraying around the smaller electric fences near the house (bucks’ paddock, weaning pen & 2 pig pens) and trying to make the kennel impregnable to Rosie’s teeth. Spraying under the electric fences is necessary to stop grass and weeds shorting out the fence, particularly in wet weather. Brushcutting is too awkward and short-lived to be practical. I spent an uncomfortable couple of hours one morning with my top half in Rosie’s side of the kennel nailing GI strap (galvanized iron strapping left over from the house build, where it was used for endless tie-downs) around the edges where she’d chewed the tape I’d used to fix the building paper in place over the polystyrene insulation.

The dogs gave us a scare one day. I noticed they weren’t around but just assumed they were rootling around in the sedge somewhere as usual. However, 3 hours later they still hadn’t turned up & we started to get quite concerned. Eventually after much whistling & calling Rosie turned up happy & boisterous as usual. We immediately thought the worst & assumed Bruce was hurt or dead somewhere, possibly from a snake. However, I thought to ring our nearest neighbour just in case he’d seen them around & it seemed they’d spent the afternoon with him. He’d let them in the house & they’d slept on the bed with him! No wonder they didn’t want to go home. What possessed them to go right down there in the first place I don’t know – possibly they were following a scent trail. Since then I’ve been much more attentive to them – giving them liver treats when they come to me, taking more time to make a fuss of them & taking them around in the ute on my trips to Huonville & the Grove Shop.

Rosie has been making friends with Murphy the Cat and they often lay close together out in the sun now. Murphy had a mad fit one evening & began chasing Rosier. This excited Rosie hugely and she tore around in circles - getting a whack from Murphy each time she came within range! She's also been communing with Beryl Bunny, whilst Murphy has been eyeing up both the bunny & chicks as possible lunch.

I’ve also been doing my best to scare off the wretched currawongs & cravens – I feel I’m feeding half the Tasmanian population at present. I dare say they’ve got babies & my feed bowls are easy pickings. While I was thinking dark thoughts about currawongs recently, I was listening to a programme about predators in Tokyo and Uganda. In Tokyo they have a problem with large, bold crows with 1m wingspans – gulp. Apparently they swoop down & swipe food from peoples’ hands! They delicately avoided the use of the word ‘kill’ but talked instead of ‘controlling’ them. In Uganda farmers were complaining about baboons, lions and even gorillas! It made my predator problems pale in comparison!

Sunday 13 November 2011

I’ve heaps to catch up on. Somehow every minute of the day seems to be busy at present – and despite having finished season 3 of ‘24’ I’m still catching up with the PC backlog in the evenings. Now it is approaching summer, each weekend seems to be fully booked up – we’ve had the Herb Fair at Cygnet, the Woodbridge Open Day, the Huon Show & endless Little Athletics. I've also been along to Luke's assembly and have the dreaded parent help coming up soon.

The WWPG had a stall at the Cygnet Herb & Organic Fair, with the aim of highlighting the continuing lack of protection for West Wellington’s forests and possibly raising some funds by selling plants & home-made crafts. I put together some pictures of West Wellington flora & placed them in small frames we’d had for years & also assembled some other pictures and lace items I'd made a while ago & had no use for. The only people who bought anything of mine were those manning the stand!

We had hoped there would be no further need for the WWPG by now, but unfortunately the signing of the Intergovernmental Agreement has not so far brought about the promised ‘immediate protection’ of the nominated 430,000Ha. Since the Herb Fair, the infrared camera in one of the coupes above our house has captured wonderful footage of another healthy devil – this one apparently a female with a full pouch. It would be terrific to get footage of the cubs at some stage. We keep hearing that places like the Tarkine are the last stronghold of healthy devils & yet places like West Wellington, where we know they are living, are completely ignored. Take a look at the video:
Last weekend was the Woodbridge Open Day. The attraction for us was that the Marine Discovery Centre was open – somewhere we’ve wanted to visit, but that is rarely open to the public. Luke had been once before with the school. We had the chance to poke about in the touch pools and I felt sorry for the creatures (shellfish, starfish etc) being mauled by all the kids. Stripey trumpeters (I love that name), a wrasse, flathead and a Tasmanian giant crab were kept in a large tank. The whole facility is educational and mainly aimed at schools and older students. It’s based in a picturesque bay with shallow waters teeming with oysters, crabs and starfish.

The Huon Show was yesterday and we had a rather longer session there than usual – from 11am to 4pm. We were exhausted on our return! The dog jumping was the highlight – it took a whole hour for us to see Clancy (a Staffie cross who looked like a bigger, chunkier, less pretty version of Rosie) win by jumping a wall 2.5m high! Mighty impressive. I was also very brave and took Luke on some awful ride called Energy Storm which whirled you around in the air and upside down. It was pretty hair-raising and produced quite as much adrenalin as I could handle in one day! I was probably double the age of everyone else on it. Luke put on a brave face but I suspect he was a bit shaky afterwards too! He was awfully quiet on the ride itself. Other attractions included draught horses, dodgems and a snake display.

Little Athletics continues to take up a quarter of each weekend. This week it was at the Domain in Hobart and all the Southern clubs were there – 300 kids! Luke got some stiff competition for a change. He was beaten by a dynamo shrimp in the 70m much to his chagrin, but he got his own back in the 100m when he just pipped him at the finish. We’ve bought a discus and a shotput as they seem to be the 2 events where Luke has the potential to be quite good. He’s very strong & quite coordinated. We can practice at home and it saves me having to always take him to coaching sessions.

Things are largely going well on the farm, just very, very busy. I’ve done another complete round of goat hoof clipping (all 35 of them), plus treated all their feet in case of rot, gave the youngsters booster vaccinations and drenched all of them for worms. I’m being much more vigilant on the worm front now & have written myself a schedule. This continuing damp, warm and humid weather is just the set of conditions that parasites love.

I’ve got quite a demand for goats for pets. Normally, I wouldn’t wean them until 5 months old (January) but I’ve agreed to let a couple go early to people I know will care for them & give them extra feed and attention while they continue to grow. All spare hours have been spent bashing a route through the bush in order to make space for a fence that will create a large new paddock for the goats. I shall feel so relieved when I’ve finished making the route – but then of course, I’ll still have to build the fence!

Fenceline slowly being driven up the hill through the bush
The birds are all doing well. I’ve been producing chicks willy nilly, such that we’ve now got 25 good quality Australorp crosses cheeping away in the garage. Four are rather larger than the others and are partitioned off where they act like rabid vultures, always appearing to be hungry. In fact Luke and I worked out that we’ve just reached a total of 100 creatures on the farm.

Still no luck on the turkey front & I’ve pretty well given up for this season. Might just have to write poor William off & get another gobbler over winter. The case of the mysterious disappearing turkey has not been solved & I don’t hold out much hope for her return. One of the 3 remaining girls has a really sore bottom - it looks like piles or a hernia. Anyhow I’ve had the distasteful job of cleaning off the dried poo & treating her with betadine & anti-bacterial zinc cream. If that doesn’t help I’ll have to try Proctosedyl! Clearly in that condition, she’s not going to welcome any advances William does make, nor even feel like laying eggs. Otherwise she seems in good health.

No luck selling the 2 young male peacocks so far – I need to widen my net. They occasionally get put in their place by Pasha who is strutting around & displaying his magnificent tail. I need to get another nest box in there soon as the 2 girls will begin laying shortly.

The geese and goslings are doing well although eating us out of house and home. Until they get a larger pen we have to pick dandelions and cut grass for them (a bucket or more a day) on top of the soaked wheat and wet mash they are also given. I don’t think I’ve mentioned Gary Gosling. A day after the second batch of goslings hatched I went to clear out the nest & heard cheeping. A gosling was trying to get out but was upside down. I helped it out & it was awfully weak. After giving it a few drops of my usual bird elixir of cod liver oil, egg yolk, sugar & water, I popped it under the heat lamp with the little chicks & christened it ‘Gary’. Since then he's grown like a weed, cheeps frantically & does lots of smelly poos. As a result I’ve turfed him into the chicken run where he makes me feel guilty by tripping over the long grass, cheeping pitifully & having to sit down for a rest every couple of metres when chasing the hens. Bertie the bunny sends him frantic!