Country Diary Summary of 2013

I took a bit of a walk round the property to check on our progress over the last 12 months.  We have seen a number of changes with the major ones being getting ready for our goats, hatching and learning about guinea fowl, preparing a new paddock for next year’s oats and bringing in a good hay crop.  

In January Goldie was killed by a snake, we noticed that Guinea Fowl have blue eyes and long eyelashes, I saw the kangaroo Mum and Baby for the first time and the Dung Beetles got rid of the flies.

In February, the young guineas had their first taste of freedom, a couple were killed by foxes and I helped two new guineas Bill and Ben from their shells.  We harvested lots of food from the garden and went to choose our goats.

Much of March was spent putting up the fence for the goat paddock, Red died, Flash was fit for work for about 2 weeks between injuries and we had extremes of hot and cold and the first autumn rains.

April started with giving Bowie a series of injections to combat a severe allergic reaction to a sting.  An unseasonable heatwave dragged on before we got our first real rainfall.  We built luxury accommodation for the goats – although they are a bit delayed as Midge didn’t get pregnant –  and the little guineas Bill and Ben met the older birds.

Poor little Ben got taken on the 1st of May and Billie only survived another 10 days, even though the others took her in and showed her how to fly.  The most exciting thing of course was bringing our 2 goats Midge and Smudge to the property. On the 8th we got the highest rainfall in the whole of WA at 78mm, the tanks were full by the 11th May and the dam was overflowing by the end of the month.  The wet weather brought out the first fungi.

June was all about identifying all the different fungi popping up in the forest, they came in a whole rainbow of colours.   The main jobs were the first 8 stages of producing oaten hay – weedkiller, raking, rock picking, sowing, harrowing, rock picking, rolling and fertilizing.  On the wildlife front, I learned more about the red-legged earth mite and a couple of kites.

July was awesome.  Looking back at the posts, there were great sunrises, our first frost, baby goats and while our oats sprouted we started cultivating a new paddock for growing them next year.  I got my first pictures of the baudin and red-tailed black cockatoos and had fun with a rogues gallery of chicken bottoms.

August was wet.  There were only 3 days when it didn’t rain and we got 50mm more than average for the month.  I took my favourite sunrise photo of the year, learned about my Holy Halo, and captured a beautiful rain drop.  August was focused on our future food security.  We put together our greenhouse, got some milking supplies, weeded the vege beds – with help from the chickens – and planted tagasaste for the goats.   The first flowers of spring appeared and we found out we had rabbits.

Midge had her twin girl kids in September.  Curious Rose and Gorgeous Crumpler were even cuter than I had imagined.    Poor Midge injured her udder,so I suddenly had to learn how to milk and the milking stand got built sooner than anticipated.  Mama Hen went broody so we bought a couple of day old chicks for her to raise.  It was a wild weather month with our first hailstorm and storms that brought trees down and blew a panel out of the greenhouse.

October was all about the hay.   Our kind neighbour lent us his mower, rake and baler and we got it in the shed after 6 days.    The kids and chicks are growing quickly and the horses were very happy to be back in the oat paddock.  The wildflowers were mostly pink and blue. The dry days that let us harvest the hay also gave a couple of chilly mornings and a record low maximum.

During November, the kids and chicks  started showing their independence. I milked Midge for the first time and garden produced potatoes, radishes, beans, peas and our first tomatoes.  We started trapping the rats which have made themselves at home in the feed shed.  We had an unusually hot spell for the first couple of weeks, but the rains returned at the end of the month.   We spotted an interesting range of wildlife including metallic birds and beetles and pink parrots and peas

In December, we started building the earth oven with our own clay and sand and put a drip irrigation system in for the vege beds and fruit trees.  The chicks are almost fully grown and we weighed the kids again at 3 months –  they were huge! We had 6 hot days in the middle of the month followed by a cool change and lower then average temperatures.  There were still some bright flowers around including the vivid orange Christmas Tree and the pink Pretty Honey Myrtle.  After a very wet winter, water is still flowing into the dam, so hopefully the level won’t drop as quickly next year, although we will use more with our new garden irrigation system.

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Country Diary for fortnight ending 16th September

I haven’t posted for 2 weeks as we were busy with our new arrivals, Rose and Crumpler.  Of course, this post is mostly about baby goats because they are so cute, but in addition to all the excitement around the birth of twin girls, the chickens are back on the layMama Hen went broody, the Guinea Fowl started laying, I got Flash back into work , we sprung into spring then lurched back into winter.

With all the bad weather Brad spent some productive hours in the shed and recycled some materials to make a flip-flop hoof-stand and a butcher’s block milking stand.

Our oats have “headed” and the coral vine is running rampant through the forest.  I caught a couple of sunrises before the clouds came back.

Most of the posts are about the baby goats, and I have included some video of them getting to their feet for the first time, first feeding and first pronking.   Poor Midge injured the left side of the udder, so much of the activity last week has been managing that.

Just click on any of the pictures for the full story.

Country Diary for week Ending 2nd September

The last week of winter was wet and windy, but we managed to get some building work done for some seating and the wood fired pizza oven.    The first day of spring was announced with an asparagus spear punching out of the ground, where it was promptly munched by some red-legged earth mites.

I missed most of the sunrises this week either because it was cloudy or I slept in.  The welcome swallows have finished their new nest and feathered it with the black and white spotted feathers of the guinea fowl.  We turned over the compost bins and planted some shrubs to mark the graves of some of our birds.

The horses were out and about doing their thing, and I photographed 2 very common yellow flowers, one a weed and one a native, and caught the metallic sheen on a hover fly.

Country Diary for week ending 26th August

It was a wonderful week, full of variety:  with a cool foggy morning, more rain to add to the floods; and, two warm sunny days which made me look forward to spring.

I considered the future of some pests: lupins, rabbits and black field crickets; and photographed a couple of prickly customers.

There is a lot more obvious bird activity, and I recorded the warbling chirps of the Welcome Swallows as they rebuild their nest, caught a kookaburra catching the worm, and saw spots on the yellow-rumped Thornbill.

The most exciting thing was feeling a baby goat moving inside Midge.  There are only about 10 days to go, so I am checking for signs of impending labour morning and night.  If she has more than 1 kid, she could go early.

The sun rises before 7am as we accelerate towards spring.

Just click on any of the pictures for the full story.

Country Diary for week ending 19th August

Spring had a bit of a false start this week with the arrival of the Welcome Swallows and some perennials bursting into colour before rain stopped play and temperatures plummeted.

I captured images of some iconic Australian species and a rare phenomenon called a Holy Halo.

The sun is rising earlier and sliding round to the south, I was relieved to see just rabbits in the rockpile, but felt guilty admiring our most prolific weed.

Just click on any of the pictures for the full stories.

Country Diary for week ending 12th August

During the week, writer Jon Katz shared that photography was becoming more important in his blog as he was “learning the hard and difficult lesson that sometimes images tell a story much better than my words.”  I took that lesson to the next level this week and added sounds to a number of my posts.  I am not a writer or photographer and figured that an extra dimension would help convey more about life on the farm.

You can hear a pobblebonk frog, Baudins Cockatoos, and Rumples, Chicken and the Guinea Fowl singing for their supper.  The sound I didn’t get was the clapping pigeon as it took me by surprise.  I spotted a hover fly for the first time and had to chase a guinea fowl who had got trapped in the goat paddock.

It was a wet and cloudy week so there were not as many sunrise shots and four ducks photobombed one I did get and enacted part of Star Wars 4 as I tried to photograph the morning rays. I got caught in a real cloudburst and almost lost a boot in some quicksand.

I thought more about our future food supply checking up on the Tagasaste fodder crop for the goats and getting my milking equipment ready as Midge gives birth in four weeks.

Just click on any of the pictures for the full stories.

Country Diary for week ending 5th August

It definitely feels like the coldest of the winter weather has passed and spring has sprung.  The morning temperatures are hovering around 10-12 C (50-55F), so no jacket required when mucking out the stables.

There is a riot of yellow down near the dam with the various wattles in flower. We found the first Pink Fairy Orchid in the forest about 3 weeks earlier than last year and six weeks on, the Midge orchids are still blooming.

I took a different track for photographing the sunrise, Bowie is following a different path to avoid the goats, water baby Auspicious took a bath and sort-of-farm-dog Shorty found some rats in the rockpile.

The week was all about increasing our food production.  We fenced in some of the vege beds, the chickens helped with the cultivation and we assembled a greenhouse.

Just click on any of the pictures for the full stories.