It’s cock-a-doodle-doo again

since out Roger died I have really been missing the cock-a-doodle-doos even if they were often at 4 am.

Today I am happy to report Larry has arrived at Tatum Hills. Larry is a six months old Maran rooster who was attached by a more dominant fellow at his old place and needed a new home. He is supposedly placid and well mannered so hopefully he’ll work well for us. 

maran
Larry, the new Maran rooster

Edits free losing my beloved Roger I could not bring myself to get another look-alike so I decided to get a different breed. Looking at my current flock, and given that I’d rather not get a whole bunch of new hens, I decided to get a Maran as I have 3 girls of the same breed and they are pretty and good layers. I am not aiming to have enough fertile eggs to sell them, I just want a few pure breed eggs to put under my broodies.

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The good the bad and the ugly

Let just leave the good for last so we finish on an up or we’ll just go looking for a bridge to jump off!

The bad:

Milton has lost some weight today. He seems OK though he is never bouncy and happy like the other 2 babies. His tail is up, which we’ve decided it means his tummy is not sore, and with a lot of encouragement he nearly finished his bottle. 

Milton aka Squidget

He is drinking from mum and having a great go at the hay. I am going to assume that my digital bathroom scale used in the paddock is a less-than-accurate method of gauging his growth, but it had so far served me well so I am a little concerned and annoyed at this loss. We’ll make sure we offer him milk several times a day still and hope we reverse the trend soon.

As a side note I also want to note that my favourite chook Amy has been slowing down over the last couple of week and I think she’s on her way out. Very sad! 

 The ugly:

The last of our peachicks (baby peacocks) died. In a very fun podcast I have been following, the guy has a Hard Lessons Learnt segment in each episode. Well this last death certainly is a hard lesson learnt for me. 

baby peachicks

 When our peahen Luna nested in January, we tried everything to protect her from fox attack. Peahens nest on the ground and become easy pray to foxes. I was acting upon another hard lesson we learned a couple of years ago when our beloved first peahen Aurelia (our Jamie peacock’s soulmate) got taken by a fox while sitting on a clutch. But neither enclosing the nest, nor moving Luna and her eggs to a safer location helped and she ended up leaving her eggs. In two occasions, we put the eggs under 2 broody chicken hens we had at the time. MISTAKE! I had vowed to never create these mix matched families as I thought they’d just be trouble down the track. Of course I was right but the lure of saving some half incubated eggs and of having cure little peachicks got the best of me. I now feel beyond guilty as my vanity and stupidity caused the death of 5 gorgeous little ones! One died about 24 hours after hatching and the other just all died quickly at around the age of 3 months. We have no idea why. They were all good weights and well feathered plus still had mum to go under for warmth. After the first couple we thought they perhaps weren’t getting enough protein so we started feeding the rest up with mealworms  a few times a day. Still they died. All I can think of is that there’s some disease in the pen that they are very susceptible to, whereas everyone else is resistant. Or just that not having their proper mum means they are not looked after the way they should be. Either way, I think next year we’ll make a big frittata out of the peacock eggs!

And the lesson? Follow your gut feeling and not your vanity and DO NOT make un-natural families. 

The good:

About time hey? The new baby llama (name still under discussion) is doing great. He seems to have slight weakness in his rear right leg but he is jumping around and running like crazy so I think he is fine.

Lost of fun to watch!

  

Connie’s nails

Connie’s been sitting down a lot lately and we can’t work out why . First we thoughys she was just lazy but now we are a bit worried she may have an issue with her legs.

Lady night we put her in the crush and checked all her foot pads, cut her nails and felt up her legs… The spit was flying high but we couldn’t find anything wrong with her.

Or of course she could be pregnant but her tears are flat and the only culprit could be Vslentine which is unlikely… She actually seems occasionally unsteady on her feet but we can’t work out which one.

 

connie sitting down looking cranky

 

Two experiments

We tried putting the goats in the electric fence netting today for a few hours to see if they’ll start helping with the blackberry infestation. They weren’t all that impressed as they usually free range but today we don’t want them around the new llama baby plus they are in the bad books for eating the bark of some trees. Anyway. They seem to stay there without complaining too much or hurting themselves on the fence.  

Tag and Monty working at the blackberry

  

We’ are also trying out the swirl filter for the quaquaponics… So far it doesn’t seem to swirl much at all… That might be an issue. At least the pump and the solar panel seem to be working well. We’ll let it run for a couple of days and see if it clear the water a bit…  

the swirl filter is the green Dalek look alike

   

 

New baby!

Got home after dark last night and found that Rebata had finally had her baby. Phew! We were starting to imagine all sorts of horrible scenarios. 

We wrote in our farm diary when we put her in with our stud Enrique last year, but we forgot to write when we moved her back in with the girls (oops) do we weren’t really sure if her due date. 

We kept checking her tears and there was milk in there so we thought she was pregnant for sure and nearly due. But when no baby came we were getting worried and wondering if maybe she had it and was dead and a fix took it. Well luckly not. He was in there all along growing huge and strong.

 

He is drinking well and bouncing around. Mum seems to have milk. That’s great as bottle feeding Milton is all we can manage. Milton was our first cria this year and we had a very rough time keeping him alive as he was early and his mum had no milk. 

Vally got moved

Last week we finally moved Valentine, our cryptorchidic llama into the boy’s paddock. He had been very hard to deal with. Clearly his second testicle that didn’t descend is in there somewhere so his behaviour is that of a teenage stud. Not good. And he has been really challenging who’s boss. This resulted in several confrontations with me and Damian and I think we mostly won… other than when he spat at me straight in the face and I had to run off with chaff in  my eyes.

Anyway, I was worried about moving him as our boys still have their fighting teeth intact and I was concerned he might get hurt… well credit to them. There was only minimal fighting and no blood at all. Great. Valentine is as grumpy as ever and still trying to get back to the girls, but he can’t get through the fence. So he is staying where he is.

I have been trying to go there to say hello a lot but he is hard to deal with. I had to use Spot for a tour the other day as Vally was spitting at me heaps. Very sad. Hopefully he’ll settle soon. I’ll try approaching him again and taking him for a little walk on the weekend…

  

Valentine on his birthday walk
 

A good time to start

After nearly four years on the farm it’s time to review what we are doing and why… Seemed like a good time to start a blog.

More than anything, I’d like this space to be my farm journal where I keep track of what’s happening and I can (hopefully) learn from past mistakes. A mostly un-edited random string of thoughts or sometimes quick announcements…

In the first 3 years on the farm we have had a very good run but over the last few months, a series of animal dramas have made me re-think the WHY of it all.

I should clarify here that our animals are pets and we treat them as such. We will spend the same energy and attention for one of our guinea pigs or chickens as we do for our dog.

our favourite farm picture ever- Feb 2011

We don’t eat them or sell them to some who might. We let them live out their days, then bury them and plant a fruit tree on top. I guess in many ways we are failed farmers! I have this vision of a happy place where animals live in harmony with each other and the humans…. SCREEEECH! As usual reality is not quite as rosy as that but we are trying. Sometimes I think the only cruelty happening on our farm is on the humans who work constantly to keep all the animals happy and healthy. So that’s why when bad things happen I tent to take it very personally and that’s hard.

I have been listening to podcasts lately, from people with their own hobby farms and that’s been really helpful to put things into perspective. That’s just farm life. You work hard, you do a lot of research and you do your best, but sometimes things still go wrong. That’s how nature works and you can’t always fight it.

BUT the latest events have helped me re-think what we are doing. We love all of our animals but maybe we are a little over-stretched so we are deciding where to reduce numbers and effort and where we’d rather put more work. After trying lots of things we are starting to focus on what we like best and gives us the most return, be it in the form of joy or $$.

We currently have 10 different types of animals on the farm and we need the variety for my little farm visit business. I started that exactly a year ago and it has been good. People can bring their families to the farm to meet the animals, for a small fee. This helps us cover at least some of.the ever-mounting feed and vet bills. It’s a way of getting the animals to ‘work’ for us without exploiting them. They just need to be nice and eat out of people’s hands.

So the animal species are not getting reduced but maybe we don’t need so many of each type. I have found good homes for some of my chooks and I am thinking about selling a few llamas too. We’ll see.

In the meantime, I realised we hardly grow any food so I would like to focus more on that. We get eggs, Damian is great at growing tomatoes and berries and he has planted loads of fruit trees, but that’s it.

So where to from here?

  1. Reduce animal numbers to be able to give more attention and even better care to the ones we keep
  2. Start growing some veggies
  3. Try out the ‘quaquaponics’

‘Ququaponics’? I hear you ask. Yes Aquaponics with ducks! We hope to take the nutrient-rich water from the duck pond and send it to some grow beds to water our veggies then re-cyrculate it back to the pond. By then the water should be cleaner. So we hope to be able to clean the duck pond, water veggies and re-cycle the water back… perfect system. In theory at least!

our quaquaponics team