Saturday, December 24, 2011

Support Local Farmers

2012 is the Australian Year of the Farmer!  

I am sure 2012 will be exciting.  I am looking forward to making improvements about the place and continuing to enjoy our home and the wonderful community we have found here. 

I need to set some goals and get organised, but for now I will enjoy the holiday and see what happens.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Flood Peak

In my last post I mentioned that we had never seen flood water come into our paddock.  Naively I thought that would be about as high as it would get so we went to bed happily and slept well.  

The next morning that water was up a bit more, but nothing too scary as yet. 
Then it kept getting higher... 

We played 'watch the gate post' and I took photos throughout the morning thinking each one would be the highest point.

I was wrong more than once...

It was at this point we decided that if the water reached the bottom of the retaining wall of the house we would shift everything we could upstairs and wait.

It got to within an inch of the retaining wall and stopped.  We started breathing again at this point.
The fence post in this last photo is a good reference for how high things got.  We had to move the round yard as there was over 2 foot of water flowing through that paddock and the water was already over the top of our gumboots as we pulled it down to move it.

It was such a strange feeling sitting here inside watching the water rise.  We were poised ready for action if needed and we felt calm, but mostly we just sat and watched.  As soon as the water started to go down I had to go to bed for a nap, I was emotionally exhausted, not that I knew it until that point

Today we can see the mess left behind.  There are fences flattened and debris in places I wish it wasn't, but we got off relatively well and as such I won't complain.....

.....but I will hope that this was our 100 year flood, and that we don't see worse to come, even if they are predicting more rain in a couple of days.

Friday, November 25, 2011


In the past two and a half weeks we have had 7 inches of rain.

This photo was taken from my back door.  You can see the flooded creek in the background.  

In the time we have been here, this is the first time we have seen the creek high enough to overflow into our paddock below the house.

The gate into our creek paddock.

This is where we usually swim.

This is just to the left of where our crossing is.

It is just awesome (in the true meaning of the word) to see this much water rush past just below the house.

As a comparison, this is what the creek looked like on Father's Day. Calm clear water!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Sheep Husbandry

Sunday and Monday saw us drenching, tagging, marking and vaccinating the sheep.

Note to self, do it earlier.  Some of the lambs weighed in heavier than I do I reckon.  Also, we lost a lamb to tetanus the other day. Hopefully the vaccine offers the others some protection from that problem.

Friday, November 4, 2011


Have you heard of the National Rural Woman's Network?  I hadn't until recently.

The NRWC is one of six National Women’s Alliances funded by the Australian Federal Government through the Office for Women, and has been working since 2002 to inform government policy and create better outcomes for the regional, rural and remote women of Australia, their families and communities.
Recently I applied to take part in a fully funded Leadership programme they had advertised for woman in agriculture.  The course includes webinars, forums, networking and a project to be completed with the help of a mentor, my own mentor!  I have been brainstorming ideas for this and am thinking big, but it is a great opportunity and I don't want to waste it.
It is VERY exciting for me to have been offered a place in this programme!
And a great quote I saw on Twitter while I am talking agriculture:

 Michele Payn-Knoper 
Agriculture isn't just your work-it's who you are. Stand in 100% authenticity in that even when not on  

Monday, October 31, 2011


A week and a half ago the spray contractor arrived after the agronomist and sprayed our paddocks.

before, weeds with native grasses and clover.

We have had plenty of rain heading into Summer and now that the spray is starting to work it's magic things are looking good around here.  Fingers crossed for a good season.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Doing the rounds on the internet at the moment.  It it interesting isn't it?!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Forget washing the car...

We tried leaving the washing out on the line and washing the car, but after a long dry Winter we decided to up the stakes.  Nothing was more guaranteed to bring on the rain and overcast days than buying a solar hot water system.  Harness the power of the sun?  What sun?  The rain was needed and very welcome so all is well.

We do love it and have not run out of water since it was put in.

Monday, September 5, 2011

On Lambs

The latest set of twins the other morning has our lambing percentage at 167! 
Sounds impressive doesn't it?

Very few ewes were joined when our good ram died right on the cusp of breeding season causing much panic.  Our agent picked us up a new Dorper ram on sale day because after numerous calls to breeders we were out of luck.  We got the new ram home and tossed him right in with the ewes, we didn't even know how many ewes he served until they started lambing.  We still are not entirely sure how many are left to drop...

Even funnier is the fact that every lamb born this year is black.  The Wiltshire Horn x Dorper is a funny looking cross, but does turn out a pretty handy looking meat lamb which is what we are after so we are happy enough.  I had intended to buy a Wiltipoll Ram but beggars can't be choosers and I do like this cross in terms of turning out an earlier lamb carcase.

Now we have fingers crossed that our weaning percentage is good too. 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

For the love of babies

The other morning I went out for a walk to check the sheep and found these two. 
Black is the new Black!

How wonderful to be able to capture this moment and look on (from a distance) while the ewe cleans her moments old twins.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Ethics of Eating Meat

Did you see the SBS Insight show on The Ethics of Eating Meat?  You can WATCH IT HERE if you like.  I have not watched it yet, but I am going to talk about the subject anyway.  I was on the show and I have no desire to see myself on National Television and as such have not watched it yet....

ethic -plural of eth·ics (Noun)

1. Moral principles that govern a person's or group's behavior.

2. The moral correctness of specified conduct.

Firstly, I should state that I eat meat.  I always have and I can't see myself stopping at any point in the future.  I believe that growing sheep and beef on good grazing land is the most efficient way to convert the protein from the pasture that we cannot eat into a protein that we can.

Given the majority of the population eats meat, and given the above definition of the word 'ethics' I believe there is nothing wrong with enjoying meat in your diet.

Not all meat is created equal, but it all has it's use.

What is culturally acceptable in some countries is not considered normal here, but that does not make it unethical in those cultures. Is it right (or ethical) to discriminate against a whole culture for it's beliefs in regards to what it is ethical to eat? I don't think so.  Make a personal choice, but remember that others may feel differently.

We grow our own meat here, both beef and lamb.  The sheep we have are meat sheep which are a breed that shed their wool (or hair) and as such do not require shearing, mulsing or crutching.

We slaughter, butcher and package here.  What could be more ethical?  No transport, no stress, no carbon footprint.  Not organic, but carefully managed.  I should mention that I  admire anyone who can make a go of organic livestock production, but that it is not for me.  I believe that organic is not always better.  I would give my sick child antibiotics to ease their pain and illness, and I would do the same for my animals when needed.

I wouldn't eat just anything, but can I judge those that would?

The only times I would consider the act of eating meat to be less than ethical would be if the animal was not treated well during it's life or not slaughtered in a humane way.  This also means different things to many people.  Having been inside around 45 Australian Abattoirs I am glad we have high standards here and I am very glad that Australian farmers are great advocates for animal welfare.  Trust me on that, our animals in many cases are our income, or our ability to feed our family.  Also, I would not eat something endangered, I don't want to be part of a species disappearing.

Edit: I should have said a big thank you to SBS Insight for the opportunity to be on the show.  It was  a wonderful experience and we all enjoyed it a lot.  SBS was wonderful in organising the flights, motel, taxi tabs and someone to look after the children while we were on air.  Thank you :)

Friday, August 19, 2011


A couple of nights ago we had rough winds and rain.  I have only been a sheep cocky for 12 months but I am a quick study so I took a wild guess and thought perhaps that was the kind of night a lamb would choose to put in an appearance.

I was right!
Our first Dorper x Wiltshire Horn and first lamb for the season.
Funny looking thing but I am already starting to get used to it. 

The colour of the wool makes no difference here because these are actually meat sheep and they shed their wool, which is actually more like hair than wool, so there is no shearing or crutching.  Wool colour can be an issue in the shearing shed as it can downgrade the clip due to dark fibres being unsuitable for dying and further processing.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


If good fences make good neighbours we had some work to do...

Over the past few weekends or so we have straightened fences, tidied up wires and put electric outriggers up with a hot wire.  We have done two boundary fences and have two to go in addition to any internal fences that would benefit from some work.

The creek paddock is next on the agenda as these are the neighbours cows that have gotten in and are beating a hasty retreat as we hunt them out, again.  We have a weekend scheduled in awhile so we can work together with the neighbours and pull up the old fence and start again.  It will be great when this is done as we have been here over 12 months now and as yet have not been able to run stock in the creek paddock as yet.  Given how dry it is here right now the extra feed in there would be handy for our own few cattle.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

60 Minutes

60 Minutes - Live Export Ban
The story run by 60 minutes shows that despite the Government lifting the ban nothing has changed for the many families in this industry.

There is also a transcript of the live chat with Marlee after the show aired.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

New Chooks

One of the most interesting things about having added some White Leghorns to the chicken coop is the difference in the egg colours we are now getting.  The warm brown eggs are from the Isa Browns and the white eggs are from the new White Leghorns.

The other interesting this is that one of the new White Leghorns is actually a light brown colour. I just expected them to be all white given the breed name.

See the paper stuck on one egg?  I use shredded paper in the nesting boxes.  When I clean the boxes out the whole lot goes into the compost.  Good recycling!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Good Wood

We have had some lovely frosty mornings here over the last couple of weeks.  The best part about a frosty morning is knowing it will turn into a beautiful day by morning tea time.  Until then we sit in front of the fire.

Splitting wood with the block buster is a great way to warm up although I do find it a bit hard on the good hard wood.  I suspect I swing like a girl...

I think we will need one more good load to see Winter out.  The trees in the orchard are already starting to bud.  We pruned them last weekend and I suspect we only just did that in the nick of time.

Sunday, July 10, 2011


It is hard to believe that we have been here for a year now.  We have loved the past 12 months and are looking forward to the next 12 months too.

We have done a lot of work cleaning up and renovating, and have a large list of things to do both in the house and outside.  Lucky for us we have no time pressure to do anything as it is a slow process.

We celebrated our milestone day by going to Church in town, pruning the orchard and doing a tip run.  Just another regular Sunday really.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Live Export Ban

The Australian cattle industry is hurting due to the live export ban in place after the horrid footage shown on Four Corners some weeks ago.  Nobody denies the footage was bad, but did it warrant a knee jerk reaction to ban all cattle from leaving Australia?  Did you know that there are in fact abattoirs in Indonesia that do meet the industry standards needed to process cattle but they have also been left stranded by our Governments heavy handed tactics.

The links below are all websites, interviews or video footage relating to the export ban.  I urge everyone to spend a few minutes listening to each of them or reading up on the subject as there are hundreds and thousands of head of cattle stuck in the Top End who have an uncertain future at best.  Where is the extra food and water for these extra cattle going to come from?

There is a website Australian's Supporting Beef Farmers which contains some great information on this subject.  There is also an opinion poll, please vote!
An interview with Marlee Ranacher from Bullo River Station talking about her decision to sell up:

What Kochie has to say on Sunrise about needing to have the ban lifted:

And also George Negus on 6:30:
and again here:

Farmer Facts everyone should know, this is an excellent clip:

Ban Animal Cruelty Not Live Export


When the shearing sheds are silent and the stock camps fallen quiet,
When the gidgee coals no longer glow across the outback night,
And the bush is forced to hang a sign, 'Gone broke and won't be back'
And spirits fear to find a way beyond ...the beaten track

When harvesters stand derelict upon the wind-swept plains,
And brave hearts pin their hopes no more on chance of loving rains;
When a hundred outback settlements are ghost towns overnight,
When we've lost the drive and heart we had to once more see us right

When 'Pioneer' means a stereo and 'Digger' some backhoe,
And the 'Outback' is behind the house, there's nowhere else to go,
And 'Anzac' is a biscuit brand and probably foreign owned,
And education really means brainwashed and neatly cloned

When you have to bake a loaf of bread to make a decent crust,
And our heritage once enshrined in gold is crumbling to dust,
And old folk pay their camping fees on land for which they fought,
And fishing is a great escape; this is until you're caught

When you see our kids with yankee caps and resentment in their eyes,
And the soaring crime and hopeless hearts is no longer a surprise,
When the name of RM Williams is a yuppie clothing brand
And not a product of our heritage that once grew off the land

When offering a hand makes people think you'll amputate,
And two dogs meeting in the street is what you call a 'Mate',
When 'Political Correctness' has replaced all common sense,
When you're forced to see it their way, there's no sitting on the fence

Yes one day you might find yourself an outcast in this land -
Perhaps your heart will tell you then, 'I should have made a stand'
Just go and ask the farmers - that should remove all doubt
Then join the swelling ranks who say, 'DON'T SELL AUSTRALIA OUT'

Courtesy of Craig Leggett (Ex SAS & 1 RAR)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Chickens

Last weekend the chicken watch began.  I was lucky enough to have been offered the loan of an incubator and some eggs to try to hatch.  Things were touch and go at one point with a storm and 6 hour blackout but we kept fingers crossed that the eggs would be ok.

The first chick 'peeping'.  Did you know that you can hear the chickens cheeping in the eggs before they have even peeped a hole?  It was an exciting moment!

And the three chickens that hatched!  Two chicks died while hatching which was a shame but I am thankful for these three fluffy babies.  They are living under a warming light in my laundry for the next 5 weeks and then they will be old enough to go outside.

I wonder what sex they are?

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Incubator

After the fox got 7 of my 8 chickens I was pretty upset. The one remaining bantam was pretty upset too so we didn't waste too much time in buying 3 more Isa Brown hens to put back into the hen house.

In the meanwhile, one of the Playgroup Mum's heard of my plight and lent me her incubator and some eggs that should be Silkie Bantams when they hatch. I have to turn the eggs twice a day for 18 days, then leave them for two days and I should have chickens about then.  The incubator is set at 37 degrees and you have to make sure water is always in the bottom.  It is also important to try to sit the eggs with the fatter end slightly elevated.


I have labelled the eggs with a 1 on one side, and a 2 on the other to help keep track of which side is which.

The photo below was taken on day 5. You can see spider veins forming which is the start of the chicken growing.  Since day three I have been candling my eggs every night to watch the change in the egg development.  It is all a little bit fun.  I was given 12 eggs and I think 9 are good at this point.

Last night was a bit of a worry with a big storm going over and a 6 hour blackout.  I sent the Mr out into the rain to grab the fluffy bantam and I put her in a box with the eggs to try to keep them warm so they would be ok.   Fingers are crossed!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Fat Possums

Not everything we fix around here is exciting.  The bracket for this down pipe used to fall down the beam when the fat possums used to run up and down it.  Given the pipes had not been glued this made everything come adrift, not great for catching water.  New and improved made with another upright support in the middle of the pipe.  This is now welded in place and the pipes have been glued.

This is a very bad photo of one of the fat possums in question.  I was inside the kitchen and this fellow sat on the hot water system to peer in and say hello.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Water Trough

A water trough does not sound like a big thing, but when we moved in nothing was plumbed in so we had to fill up bath tubs from a hose to water stock.  This makes it hard to get away for a weekend, especially in hotter weather.

We sat a large round trough in the middle of a small fence line the Mr and his Dad pulled out.  The Mr made a steel panel to go over the trough then they rebuilt the fence.  This means the one trough waters both paddocks up the top end which is handy.

This trough runs off the bore, but when the water table gets low (as it is now) we can pump in to the tank that feeds it too.  This trough had a broken bung and was left here when we moved in.  It was a simple fix to get it working and in use.

Things are slowly improving around here!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Nellie's Calf

On Friday we had a warning of what Winter will have to offer with a cold snap.  The trees all dropped their leaves en-masse and Nellie decided to have her calf.

It is a very cute Black Baldy of unknown sex at this point. 

edit 16/5/11.  It's a girl!  This means Possum has told us her name is Lola.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Wild Pigs

Spotted while out for a walk last Sunday...

There were a few but this one swung around my way and I managed to snap a quick shot on the small camera I just happened to have in my pocket.

The horse does not look happy!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Before and After ~ The Well

It is wonderful to have a well to pump water from, but not so wonderful when it is not covered and safe for the two small children. 

The Mr and his Dad spent a day putting this together.  Bolted, hinged, and secure using all recycled products from about here.  They did a great job and I am glad it is no longer a risk, just an asset.