Shutting up Old Broads

The farmer didn’t like my post yesterday, he thinks I have no understanding of what we do here on the farm, when it comes to drought management and animal husbandry. Having been with him for 13 years (I know a long time) I have marveled at how he manages the farm, the cattle, the sheep and the crops. I have long stated I won’t have time to learn what he has forgotten when it comes to farming, business planning and management of animals.

Why did he take offense? because he’s thinks the work he does I don’t see and when I comment it’s a criticism of his abilities and it’s not. It is far from it, he doesn’t see that I worry about the animals that I can’t help with, other than the odd assistance or (slavery as I call it) I can help with lamb marking, putting rings on tails & testicles, whilst vaccinating them, I am no good at crutching or shearing. We rely on our great mate Ronnie to come and help pick up, put up and as a team we can do over 300 in a day. It’s hard yakka, bending, lifting, drafting (I can do this as well) we manage to work together and enjoy each others company (thanks Ronnie).

I can help with ear tagging the cattle, mustering and weighing, I can’t do the ringing of testicles as the size of these animals scare me and he gets to them young enough they are only about 200 kilo so it’s not so hard. When we ear tag them we have to put them in the race, head bale them (hold their heads with metal doors) whilst I grab their right ear and pierce it and put the legislated ear tag in it. Boy they can make a large noise as they bellow in protest, it’s the same as having ones ear pierced.

I have watched over the summer months as he has gone outside to check waters in troughs and dams, if they are out of water he has to locate the problem and fix it. We spent the best part of one Christmas day – missing lunch with my family to dig up water pipes clear them and wait for the troughs to fill over the farm in 40 degree heat (104 fahrenheit). Cattle and sheep can die without water in one day in this sort of heat.

I have watched him go out and feed hay to animals when our feed has declined, I see him jumping on and off a hay trailer whilst the ute is moving slowly so as to spread out the hay to keep animals fed. He does this every day maintaining the quality of our animals and their food source. I have watched him and gone with him checking things over our 5000 acres, I have taken him drinks and lunch whilst he is sowing, reaping, raking and fencing. We have spent weekends planting up to 3000 trees per year to give animals shelter belts and to re-vegetate tops of hills that blow with sand.

I have adapted to farming and I do have a deep love of what it is I don’t see and I don’t have the passion nor the drive for all of it like he does. I rarely criticise anything he does as I am aware he drives heavy machinery, he can build a shearing shed from plans drawn up with Ronnie on a scrap piece of paper,  he can swear like a farmer (as only they can) at anything and everything, he can care deeply for small animals which is why I am hand rearing 2 calves & a lamb currently.

How to shut me up – sorry Chris it won’t happen.

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Today is brought to you by the Letter S

It’s that time of the year, it has rolled around fast. We are shearing today, shearers are hard to get and come skilled. It is a hard physical labor work and can be called back breaking, I watched with admiration the skill they have in removing the wool intact from the sheep, pinning them down and holding them without hurting them is a real skill. i have seen my husband do it and have attempted it myself but I need way more practice and strength to hold them down.

Shearers are getting scare and as they age so do the ailments that come with such back breaking work, most get sore backs which is understandable, but it is hard to do this on ones own. we have always employed shearers and tried to make it easy for them. The farmer built a shearing shed (yes from scratch) with the help of my cousins husband Ronnie and one son Hughie, unbeknownst to his mother was placed upon the roof to assist during the build. I had the pleasure of helping to get the roof on, being lifted on a pallet speared by the forks of the front end loader and balancing whilst doing what ever it was I was doing. I assisted when he was standing on hay bales welding things and when the welding rod would drop into the bale it would catch fire.

I remember one day thinking if only it would burn him!! He would stand atop of the burning bale, swearing and yelling at me to put it out. even instructing me to grab a shovel once ( which wasn’t in the ute where he said it was) nor was there any water down there at this time so he had to pat it out with his welding gloves.. funny now sure at the time not so much. Anyway I digress, the shearing shed is now complete and looks great, there is even a toilet and shower down there (not hot water though) privacy under work health and safety to provide workers with these options.

The sheep are Dorpers and though can self shed, we have ones which do need shearing and they are very bare after the event. Shearing is done or many a different reason, to sell the wool clip, to prevent sheep getting fly blown and the wool can become over grown and heavy. Here is one of the shearers ‘Matt” shearing at the start of the day.

Managing the Heat

We are in the midst of a ‘heat-wave’ we have them every year in South Australia yesterday at the farm we registered 44.5 degree C 111.2 Fahrenheit which makes it incredibly hot. We have large amounts of animals that need us to constantly check on them, my Huz gets up and goes out to check on waters that all our animals need. This is not as easy as it sounds, if the trough breaks and cattle do break them, he has to be out in the heat to fix them, this can also drain the main tank that holds the water so after it’s fixed we then have to use power to pump water around the place. He does this check twice a day a least in this heat.

He also takes his working dogs, they are not working but get to ride on the back of the ute and afterwards he wets them all down. Me I have the chickens to look after, they are a bit dumb in that they will head into their coop (made from corrugated iron sheets) rather than sit under the trees and shrubs planted in their coop for shelter. We will even put a sprinkler on over them so that the ground is cool, if we find them distressed they are picked up and placed in a trough or bucket of water. We do the best we can in this weather, the 4 cats (expect Frankie – who always disappears in this type of heat) migrate inside, they have learnt the pleasure of lying under fans and or the air conditioner. Gatsby the new rescued cat has just been introduced to the pleasure of fan and air-conditioner and will now look up at the fans if they are not on, once on he stretches full length on the couch and sleeps. Pete my golden retriever is always at my feet or lying under fans or on the cool tiles. The house is closed up early and curtains drawn to keep the heat out so the thing I dislike the most is meal planning.

Cooking provides the same sort of issue, cooking inside heats up the house further and the main meal is at almost the hottest time of the day or close to it. The last couple of days I have used the BBQ and the wok on the BBQ. It may be hot standing outside but at least the heat remains outside. I have done basic things, like lamb and pork chops grilled, the wok was to cook the vegetables.

How are you all coping with the heat? Send me your tips on meals – that you make at home – we are no where near any take out places. BBQ tips and easy to prepare meals are the go. Stay Cool.

The Night Before Christmas

T’was the night before christmas and all through the farm-house, every creature was stirring even the mice

The tinsel is wrapped around chimneys with care, to prevent anyone creating a fire in there

The kelpi’s are nestled snug in their beds, while visions of cattle & sheep dance in their heads. The retrievers inside along with the cats all settling in for a hot summers night nap.

When out on the lawn there is the ewe, with baby lamb trampling through               Looking for a feed or a blade of green grass , with the farmer hoping summer will soon pass. There is a cloud less sky with stars all ablaze, the cattle are mooing all looking to graze.

We hear the crickets and the croaking of frogs as we have the pumps going to fill all the troughs. This is a sunburnt country with hot summer days, which we want our animals to get through it seems a long way a ways.

There are presents under the tree for the long trip away, we shall make the journey to family to spend Christmas day.

It takes us a while to prepare to leave, there are animals to check and all the dogs to feed.    The chooks need to be checked and the tomatoes watered, gates to shut before heading off to see daughter.

Car to be refueled all for the trip to town, once we get there it’s almost time to turn around.

Quality time we will spend as it’s not going to be too hot, but we can’t stay long so we always pack in a lot. We love to see family & friends, spending time comes quickly to an end.

We wish you all a very Merry Christmas and hope to catch up with more of you in 2014