Friday, 31 January 2014

We have babies !!!

Since our last dry visit up to the farm, we have anxiously watching the weather, but alas we have had not a drop of rain in the last 3 weeks and we made the decision to make a hasty trip back up with a trailer load of  lucerne  hay for the sheep that we were able to purchase here in the Hunter Valley off a property near the river that irrigates.There is very little hay around  the farm area and what is there is ridiculously expensive, so it was cheaper for us to purchase some bales   on route and cart it  up there.
The sheep eagerly watched us arrive and waited patiently for Brian to unload the hay and give them some. Our next door neighbour does feed the hay out for us at regular intervals when we are away.
Our neighbour had sent us a message to tell us   that we had  babies, 2 single births and 1 set of tiny twins. we had decided to only put 6 ewes in with the ram as we were trying to  control our numbers,So far 3
ewes have had lambs, 3 still to go.They are just the cutest little babies.Looks like we scored three girls and one boy( but we left them alone and didn't do a closer inspection.

We really thought by this that we would have had some decent drought breaking rain, and under normal circumstances we would have done. So these mums and bubs will do it a lot harder  then they would have in normal times. Our neighbour has  agreed to feed out extra feed for them in our absence.
They were very grateful for the hay and  gobbled it up very quickly.
While were were there on our whistle stop visit I decided to spend a morning sorting out some of my  empty Fowlers Vacola preserving jars that I had stored down in the shed. They were filthy and in need of a different storage solution. So I washed them all up and sorted into sizes. ( We share about half of our empty jars with our neighbour(my husbands brother and his wife to preserve in as they have an orchard, but no preserving gear.)
I then had a thought.. we had an old defunct chest freezer and I mentioned to Brian that it may be useful storage for some of my jars.
This held about 110 jars, could've held more but I kept sizes separate. I put the bigger taller 4" jars in a pantry in my laundry room. Our Fowlers are a little more bulky than mason jars and therefore take up more storage room.My laundry room is already crammed full of empty and full mason jars.
While there we also decided to dig  the small potato crop that we had put in. We  suspected that we would get nothing much from it as  there had just been no where near enough rain, but even so were still disappointed with the outcome.

At least it is enough for a couple of meals. We realize that we are really at natures mercy  until we live at the farm full  time and can control the water situation onto the gardens.
Often as we sat on the verandah  or were going about our jobs, we would see the sheep standing at the fence, looking wistfully(or should I say enviously) at bits of green inside the yard around the shrubs where the water  drip system works. I feel really mean, but if you let them in they would devour any and everything in sight.
Also doing a lot of verandah guard duty is my blue mate Tilly, she sits a lot these days as she gets older. She has been suffering a bit of conjunctivitis in her eyes this week, We will have to keep a watch on her.
When we woke yesterday morning ,ready to head off, the sheep looked like they were relaxed and had full tummies.I never tire of this sight.
Brian threw out 2 bales of hay for them to make sure those mums with bubs had  a chance to keep milk up to those precious bundles. It looked like they were taking turns at baby sitting. At this point the mum with the tiny twins seemed to be watching after all four babies.

As  I was shutting the gate at one point I noticed that the sheep are cutting deep ruts into the dry ground., Brian said he will run the ripper along them when we return next time ,to make the sheep walk around them to reduce further damage to the paddocks.
We said  farewell to our little place for the time being, hoping to return for a month long stay(which will be wonderful) in about 4 weeks time. Hopefully there will have been rain by then.
On our trips to and from the farm we always stop at the same spot. It is a four hour run, so we stop roughly halfway off the road in the pretty spot to give Tilly a toilet break and a run around while we have morning tea/lunch/afternoon tea, depending on time. We really love this spot, nearly always green no matter how dry it is, and it has these two really unusual rock formation. Totally natural and apparently only seen in a couple of places in Australia. This off road picnic area is called "Battery Rock"

As we got nearer to home at an old disused service station, we noticed a pile of 1000 litre plastic water cubes for sale, so we called in.(we have been looking for some more of these locally and at a reasonable price but hadn't found any)We decided to purchase 4 of them at $75 each and loaded all four up onto our empty trailer and strapped them down. We have brought them back to the coast and will take 2 at a time up to the farm at a later date. Our next trip up will probably  require us to take up  another load of hay.

So , hopefully  there will be rain soon,(nothing predicted though for the next week), But who knows, Mother Nature works in mysterious ways.
So until we meet again, hope everyone stays healthy and happy,

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