This week on the farm

Dora the Explorer on the bike.

By Judy Barnet, Farm Columnist

It has been a busy, productive week as well as a sad one without Zorro. Dora the Explorer though has revelled in being promoted to top (well only) dog and getting to ride on the bike everywhere now.

At eight months old she still goes from 0 to 100 as soon as released from her kennel but is showing promising signs of actually listening to commands now and has taken to the bike like a duck to water. Water is Dora’s favourite play toy.

Most mornings and afternoons we head down to the dam where she can happily spend an hour racing up and down the dam trying to bite the water. Mostly she stays on the edge although at times she plummets off the edge into the deep and wonders what has happened.

This morning though, I snuck off early without Dora, hoping to photograph a pair of Swans that has taken up residence. In my seven years here I have never seen the dam so alive. Or perhaps I have just learned to slow down and take time to enjoy mother nature at her finest!

The light was not the best for photography so I took a few pictures of the swans and then sat down on the edge of the water for a while and watched the water. There were insects of every description hovering over and in the water, schools of small fish were easily seen – the water being quite clear.

Larger fish were jumping out of the water and a bit further away from me I heard a really big splash – I turned to see a huge circle of water, bigger than I had seen before.

I was able to snap a picture of this although I don’t think it will reproduce well enough for the paper I will post it on my Facebook Page (Glenlyon Dam Holiday Cottage).

On the farm front there have been many new arrivals, kids and lambs galore are hopping, skipping and jumping around the farm. A ewe from the Wild Bunch surprised us by having triplets.

They were born on the run I reckon, when I spotted her and her trio they were no more than eight hours old however they all took off like scalded cats.

An attempt by me to sneak up on them in order to tag and tail failed miserably this morning – I was able to catch one but by the time I completed the tagging and tailing the others were no where to be seen – I was left holding the baby with no mum in sight.

Not wanting anymore orphans to rear I put the lamb back down in the grass and went off in search off the wild bunch once again. I was able to round them up and head them back to Lamb 611.

I decided it was time to leave well enough alone and will enlist Richie’s help to round the whole lot up and put them in a smaller paddock. Equally as hard to catch, also requiring tagging and castration are the kid goats.

The goats are residing with the cows in a hill paddock and are checked daily but usually can be relied on just to get on with the job of kidding with no assistance required.

The kid catching team consists of Richie and myself and involves me holding the bucket containing the required implements and advising Richie to run faster!

I am in stitches when he attempts to tackle them but they are too agile. The does are unconcerned – more interested in the food we brought to lure them in. Eventually all are caught and dealt with, none worse for the wear except maybe Richie who is sporting several grazes.

Richie had a day off on Tuesday and we mustered the sheep (except the Wild Bunch who would have caused too much disruption). We separated the ewes that were having twins/triplets and put them in a separate smaller paddock so I can keep a close eye on them.

We also painted large numbers on each sheep so we can accurately record the ewes and lambs for their pedigrees. In previous years we have used Smart Shepherd – a system that involves putting collars containing electronic chips on both ewes and lambs at around six weeks old.

The collars then matches the lambs sucking off the ewes by marrying up the numbers. Our Smart Shepherd consultant is in NSW so that was not possible this time. This year I catch the lambs soon after they are born and tag them.

It was good timing for Richie to have his day off as one of the ewes had been unsuccessfully trying to lamb overnight and the two hooves sticking out looked like they had been there for a while. I remarked it was most likely dead however I was able to pull it out with little trouble.

It was surprisingly large for a twin. The second twin was mal-presented so I pushed it back in and was then able to deliver it with little trouble. Both lambs were alive and mum was very grateful for my help. Both are doing well now with their very proud mamma.

I was determined to make some more progress on moving the Gypsy Wagon (old mobile workers hut I mentioned last week) so for the rest of Richie’s day off we proceeded to move 400 bent star pickets and other farm “useful” bits and pieces that were blocking the way of us moving the wagon.

It seems that I have spent the first 20 years of my life wanting things, the next 20 collecting them and now I am in a 20 year phase of disposing of the 20 year collection. Well, some of it anyway. It was hot, dirty work. You know you have a good man when he doesn’t mind you wearing his best Akubra hat when doing farm work because you can’t remember where you put your hat! Finally all the gear was moved and the Gypsy Wagon was dragged unceremoniously from its home.

Spring has sprung on the farm, everything is budding – the sugar plum that grows the sweetest juiciest fruit is in full flower along with the huge old ornament peach and plum trees and the wisteria is just starting to flower.

I can see Pelicans gliding by from my front verandah – as AB Facey said – a fortunate life.

I met local (Springdale) identity Mark Davey when he was working on my neighbouring Craige Station and a more hard working genuine man you could not meet! I was later to meet his wife Ange who is just as genuine and friendly.

Together with their two children they run Springdale Aussie Whites Stud and are getting ready for their annual stud sale on 10 September at the Stanthorpe Showgrounds and also on AuctionsPlus.

The sale is being held in conjunction with Murray and Helen Schroder of Keilah Stud located at Waroo. Murray and Helen were amongst the first people to breed Australian Whites. Although not a rare breed I thought I would tell you a bit about this hardy breed bred for Australian Conditions:



Spotlight on Australian White Sheep

• Medium to Large Self Shedding Sheep

• Able to breed all year round (unlike British sheep that only lamb once a year)

• Rams 100-110 kg

• Ewes 70-80kg

What I like about Mark and Ange’s Sheep is the confirmation and depth of their breeders, the high fertility and maternal instinct.

Until next week, stay safe, take care and stop to smell the roses in spring!

PS Little CJ is doing well and bouncing around on all four legs now!