Monday, 5 June 2017

PIGS its a shitty situation

yay!! finally have some motivation to write a blog post!!
So much has been going on here since my last post!!
 One future story will be about one of our ducks, You will never look at fungal creams the same again!

So I hear you ask?! what has prompted me to get off my butt and finally start writing again?!
Animals of course, you see we have grown (physically also) (and not vertically) we have new fury family members. We now have eight Highlands, Two bulls (one hummel) the rest are heifers. We have two yearling steers (for freezer) an extra goat (another future story) One less Ram (Mal says yum!)
That's my only gripe about growing our own food, Mal takes it upon himself to eat it for breakfast, Morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea, and dinner. I constantly remind him of his previous doctors visit where they told him he had high cholesterol, (no shit! I thought) and... all the way home I had to listen to him complaining that if he was not Maori his cholesterol would be in normal range, but there is a different range for Maori which he conveniently argued was discriminatory. He's good!!.. that gave him (in his head) the excuse to not change his diet. He constantly argued that he is in normal range (just didn't say which range), then one day he went into labour and delivered (complicated birth) a very impressive gallstone, (the big boss surgeon ended up doing the surgery as they hadn't seen a gallstone that big before...sigh!) Once settled in recovery, still completely off his face on god knows what, he proudly rattles his new pride and joy (yes he asked to keep it) and (yes he named it) JOSS STONE!! (for goodness sake)
The positive of loosing 'Joss' is Mal cannot eat to much fatty food. However Mal never goes down without a fight and much like his argument about the cholesterol range, the tummy cramps (biliary colic) caused by excess fat consumption, is never caused by eating meat for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

 I could keep going but really want to start discussing some things I have learnt recently. (I will continue Mal's logical all inspiring stories in future posts)

You see its my job on the farm to feed out (farming term) and do all 'nice' cares to the animals (Mal's the bad guy) as Highlands have bloody good memories..Loretta still hasn't forgiven Mal for the antibiotic injections, which did prompt us buying in yards with a race (yep I know some farming words ;) for those that don't know (like me a year ago) a race is a structure attached to the yards to confine the animal for treating, that is safe for the animal and us coo herders.
We have learnt that we need to be organised (which we are still improving) mainly Animal care kits. When you live an hour away from town, and something happens to one of the animals on a public holiday (usual time for the shit to hit the fan) it is important to have the gear at hand to sort it, and at times it can be a matter of life and death, and without sounding like I'm putting money before the animal, to replace a highland coo is not cheap, but more importantly no one wants to watch an animal suffer. So future farming folk...GET A ANIMAL CARE PACK even two. I am going to set one up in the barn as well as in the shed. I will list the contents of ours once it is finally sorted.
Because of the growth of our farm and diversity in animals, I thought it would be a good idea to try and get some practical experience in looking after their different needs. For example, goats, pigs, sheep and cows, so I contacted Vicky at The Animal Farm and asked if I could do one day a week (voluntary) to gain some experience. They have every animal you could imagine, and I can see how much she cares for them. I really enjoying going there, I find myself constantly smiling, great bunch of people!
I got to know Vicky through purchasing Loretta, Ruby, Billy-bob and also Winnie our Kune Kune Pig, we count our blessings everyday for these gorgeous animals, they give us so much pleasure!!
Well day two on the job and I show up at home with a one day old Large Black Pig. Honestly when I walked into the pig pen and looked in the house I almost lost bladder control! I have never seen a pig as big as that let alone be face to face with one. Mumma pig had ten babies and sadly rolled on seven, I fought back tears when I saw that, but I guess logic dictates why she has so many, as the chances of loosing a few would be quite high. And she wouldn't even realise it, but I felt for her. There were two little healthy looking babies hanging around mum, and one hunched over freezing cold, very lethargic and huddled in the corner. Every ounce of me wanted to jump in there and grab it but it was important for me to listen to those who new how best to approach it..well that what was running through my head. But before I knew it I had the baby under my jumper running for the gate, it was screaming which prompted mum to get very grumpy...never underestimate a pissed off humongous sow, she can move! but I was ahead of her until I got to the gate and it was latched..OMFG!!!!!  (I think I said that out loud). I did get it unlatched and to safety...but that scared the shit out of me literally.
So the little tiny wee bubba is a boy, he stayed under my jumper until warm enough to be placed on a heavily wrapped hotwater bottle . Later that day we tried to put bubba back with mum, but he was too weak to stimulate mum to roll over so he can feed. I don't recall much of that as all I was thinking was having to run out of the pen again...
So the decision was made to take the piglet (as it was felt he had a better chance of survival) I promptly put my hand up to care for him, I was already smitten.
So it has been four days since I took the piglet home, I have had a total of approx 10 hours sleep in those four days (Delirium is starting to set in) you see piglets...well very young piglets eat every 1.5hours, the process it takes to mix and heat a bottle takes longer than the 5 seconds it takes to gulp down the 20mls it has. Unbelievable. Now, at this point I want to let you know I had zero experience hand rearing a young piglet, I just figured it would be the sames as the orphan lambs we had....NOOOO! firstly...this is important for anyone in this situation. Try and get fresh goats milk and colostrum before buying Anlamb, which states is good for a variety of animals including piglets. But for our baby it became apparent going from mothers milk to formula was not being well digested, well that's what I originally suspected. Goats milk is the next best thing to mothers milk and kinder to baby's tummy. Whether you think baby has had colostrum or not, try and get some and feed to the baby as it helps bind its poop. (advise from a pig farmer a friend contacted for me) By day two baby was worsening, his diarrhoea got so bad, his feed would go straight through him, literally. I was freaking out. I rang the Vet who told me to dilute the formula (which I already did) and start him on electrolytes, well all I had was 6year old electrolytes for children with diarrhoea (Orange flavoured) which I told the vet, he said that would be fine. So I replaced two feeds with electrolytes. I was so concerned I was glued to google, researching every site, reading every article. I contacted my friend (and Lifesaver) Marlene (who has the milking goats) as she is an encyclopedia of animal health stuff, I also got on facebook and messaged the vet nurse who mentors me at the animal farm. One of the sites I discovered Pig Pal Sanctuary here's the link: http://www.pigpalssanctuary.com/  We found this site to be the most informative.
So at this stage I had gathered plenty of tips, one (which I should have realised) was giving baby probiotics, as (what I had read) if a young piglet gets cold to the bone it puts enough stress on its body to start the growth of bad bacteria in the gut, which in turn kills the good bacteria, which can be fatal. Another thing kept coming up in my searches was E-Coli, again bad bacteria, but only treatable with antibiotics. This is what got difficult, how do I know how sick the piglet is, is it E-coli? do I wait (hope and pray he survives the night) to get to vet? while I was battling my overactive brain (and extremely tired one) Piglet was declining fast! I was beside myself, panicking, crying actually sobbing, this went on for around an hour, I got so worked up I began to except his demise and just cuddled him. I gave up.
I contacted Lynn (vet nurse) and said how much he is declining, his diarrhoea was so bad it would just run out of him when picked up. Lynn said what he needs is something to bind him up, she said the vet will have something (but I knew he wouldn't make it to morning) I continued cuddling him, keeping him warm (number one crucial thing to do) (as for the first 3 weeks piglets cant control or maintain there body temperature). Warmth!!! and best way to check baby's temp is his ears.
I continued searching for that miracle, searching for home remedy binding agents....Something!!!!

By this stage I had managed to get two sucks of electrolytes with probiotics and a little bit of manuka honey into him. But it was just flowing straight through him. I just hoped something stayed in.
  
It was around 11pm when I stopped and thought...what do I have here? I went through all the medicine containers, the animal container in shed, fridge etc... and gathered an eclectic mix of medications. Now to google if they are suitable for piglets, and dosage etc
by around 1am I had everything sussed, but fear set in. What if one of these things kill him? but if I don't he will die.
I have to try, I got courageous, I figured I had nothing to loose, and if he dies and I didn't try, I would never forgive myself. So first up, antibiotics (this scared me) as it is injectable, but I didn't have a needle small enough so had to find out if I could give it to him orally, and if so what dosage?
all I found on google was a chicken site saying they give this to their chickens orally, nothing about piglets, so I was taking a risk. I measured a dose of 2ml and squirted it down his throat, next was scour ban (I had from our orphan lambs, but had no idea if it was ok for pigs. as our neighbour gave it to us in a jar, so no dosage or instructions, so googled it to find it is ok to use. no dosage though, so I guessed and put 1ml in his bottle. I ended up syringe feeding him by this stage.
Well that was it, I needed some sleep, and had to let things be what they will be. I set my alarm for 3.00am popped baby in his bed near the fire and I made up a bed on the couch. I was to scared to go to sleep as I had no idea what I was going to wake up to. But eventually I did fall asleep.
I was awoken my a screaming grunting noise, I jumped up looked at my phone, 4.20am, bloody alarm didn't go off (would have helped if I set it to am not pm) the piglet was starving, he was carrying on for food, so gave him the electrolytes, which he gulped down...woohoo!!! he went back to sleep, then 2 hours later he started again, so gave him diluted formula with scour ban in it. Still no runny poop. I was in shock, what a turn around! I couldn't wipe the smile off my face...what a relief!!!

Today he is 6 days old, and is thriving. Actually he is the best I have seen him. He wants to walk around, nuzzles etc and doing the most perfect poos! Who would have thought I would be happy to see a pig turd..Ha!

So here is the mix of found meds I used on piglet.
Enerlyte mix 1 sachet to 200ml of clean water
IBS Support is my personal probiotic, i broke open a capsule and sprinkled less than a quarter in the 200ml of enerlyte.
Tylan 200 injectable, is the antibiotic. I gave piglet 2ml orally.
Manuka honey I mixed in diluted formula. I wouldn't recommend using it though. I think piglet had E-Coli (Im no vet but he had all the symptoms and his poop was clear) so honey being sweet, feeds bacteria. I would certainly use this on cuts though.
Scour ban 1-2ml morning and night. I only gave him 2 doses.
What really prompted me to write this blog was the lack of information on how to bind the piglets poop. I looked everywhere trying to find a site that said use scour ban!!!
SO I'M SAYING IT...SCOUR BAN.
Also if the diarrhoea is profuse, stop milk formula and just give electrolytes. And if you can get the piglet to the vet (I couldn't)  This is just to be used in desperate situation, I don't recommend not getting your piglet vet checked.

We need to name him also any ideas floating around out there in cyber space?

Next on our piglet list is to get his foot checked, his mumma injured it, and he hasn't been putting weight on it. I want to get it sorted while he is young, and lite.
You see Large Black Pigs grow quite large (something I failed to mention to Mal) Here is the link to this breed of pig, very interesting read! https://www.rarebreeds.co.nz/largeblackpro.html
It says a male pig will grow upto 360kgs. I think if I say it to Mal really fast he will never notice :)

Wish me luck!

                                          Little baby piggy with Uncle Snoop




Saturday, 8 October 2016

We are back!!

We are back!!
Out of hibernation...
Crikey! Winter would have to be the craziest busy time of year on the farm, I have lost count of the amount of bales of hay and baleage we have feed out and prefer to not think about the cost of it all (even though Mal reminds me daily) So to have 10 acres of grazing, seven head of cattle, plus two horses fed (just for winter) was well over the 2000.00 dollar mark. So we need to get our A’s in to gear and get the rest of the 42 acres sorted.
So what else has been happening?
Gosh where do I start!
We have had our solar system upgraded and spent the coldest part of winter without power, as the ‘brand new’ generator shat itself which to top it off it began to snow. So out came the board games and the fire got cranked up. Mal emptied the fridge putting everything out in the snow (mainly his beer) (priorities). Three months later we are still waiting for our generator. But on a positive we have learnt one valuable lesson. We need another generator as a backup.  Oh and Mal learnt when you have dogs perhaps emptying the fridge outside was not such a great idea.
Our winter wonderland

We have also decided to transform one of our paddocks into a fruit tree growing place…hmmm there’s a word for it???........anyhoo (doesn’t spark much confidence with growing fruit does it) but hey, optimism ppl!! Now I know you are going to ask me what fruit trees have we planted and what varieties...right?! well I would have been able to answer that with confidence until Spud (our baby goat) got hold of the trees and ate the tags then ring barked them….curried goat looked very appetising…little shit! So I have no idea what is planted where until they start providing fruit (actually survive would be good also) but I can say, I got black boy peach, 2x Plums and apple. I got one of each to see how they go throughout the year before I put in a bulk order. Plus I have been strictly told to not come home with fully grown fruit trees without discussing it with Mal, apparently he wants to get a digger in to do the holes…no idea why??? It only took 40mins per hole to hand dig (I couldn’t do it as the ground was too tough)….Oh the word is Orchid!!! Nope thats a flower...Orchard? crap! I have a little experience growing fruit trees in town, well I have learnt a few things growing fruit trees in town, well there is a cherry tree growing in town.  But I did learn something!! ….when you purchase a cherry tree you need to purchase two, not wait two years for fruit to grow and wonder why it’s not providing fruit…and when you finally realise you need a second cherry tree and go out to get one, read the tag really well…apparently ‘Cherry Blossom’ is not a cherry tree. Much to the kid’s amusement. I have no idea why someone would put a cherry blossom tree in the same isle as cherry trees…grrr but it was pretty.  So when I got these trees the first thing I asked was if they are, get this..’self-fertilising’ see I know the lingo! 

We also no longer have 33 & 34. We learnt very quickly when they are ready for slaughter best get them done. As when you are feeding out the impact on the land and pocket certainly becomes apparent. Even me ‘the animal lover’ realised they need to go. 34 was first, I was terrified, I was scared the Home kill guy would be mean and that the animal would suffer, that he wouldn’t kill him instantly, my head was buzzing with the worst case scenario…but boy was I wrong! This guy won’t kill until the animal is calm and content, he made sure 34 was eating, and before you knew it he was gone. I thought I would be upset but I wasn’t, seeing the carcass strung up on the truck.. it wasn’t 34 (then my embalming experience clicked in as I was fascinated with the size of the organs) (got a strange look then, and even stranger when I said its ok I use to be an embalmer) (gosh I need to have a filter), I didn’t watch the slaughter part, Mal was there, as he knew it was important for me that he had to make sure things were done the way I needed them to be done. But with 33, that was sadder, we kept him to long, he bonded with us and the herd of highlands, so when he was slaughtered they spent a week crying for him, I was so upset by that, and promised the girls I would never do that to them again. By the way…None of the slaughtering was done in front of the rest of the herd. We have a small area especially for that, full of long scrumptious grass to keep the animals happy.

We have also sadly lost our dear old nanny goat. Remembering back to the goat blog? About Savannah the ex-milking goat, she passed away yesterday, very peacefully; I was with her, stroking her head, balling my eyes out. Little Spud was there too. I moved Savannah in with Spud into the smaller paddock, with shelter etc. as I could see she was deteriorating, she had fresh hay daily, and spent the last days laying in the sun and sheltered from the rain, snuggled up to Spud. Yesterday morning I went down to paddock to feed Spud I knew she was nearing death, I ran up to house and got Mal to get his gun (I didn’t want her to suffer) he came down and checked on her and said she’s not suffering and won’t do anything until he thinks she is, which she never did, so I sat with her (brought back memories of losing my grandma) (I never left her side either) I spoke to her and said its ok to go, It was sad. Very sad.
 This morning Mal pipes up and says how about we do a Viking funeral for her…I said what do you mean?? Then realised he wanted to burn her, as our tradition is to bury the pets and plant a fruit tree, which is what I said to him yesterday. As for me they live on when the tree flowers, the bees pollenate and then providing fruit. But poor old Mal was thinking about the size of the hole he had to dig, and after the fruit tree digging he wasn’t keen, but it’s important we keep our tradition, so we will be burying her, and I know the perfect tree to plant, there is a variety of nashi pears that has the most amazing flowers, so it will be that one. Savannah was 12 years old. Rest in peace Savannah xx

And finally the babies, they are growing fast and are almost ready for breeding. Well Ruby and Loretta have shown signs of being ready now, and looks like William is ready also, however he needs to grow a bit taller, or we will have to get a step ladder for him…
I felt so sorry for him watching him trying to mount Ruby, and she was trying to help…it must have been very frustrating and demoralising…poor man (he couldn't reach)
January is the month for bubba making, as then we will have calves in spring, buying us time to get the land ready for the extra mouths to feed. The beauty of having Highland cattle is you don’t need to separate the bull, he can stay with the girls all the time, as he doesn’t mate until they are ready, so no unwanted or premature pregnancies.
As the babies grow... their colouring is becoming more evident. Booboo (panko) is losing her baby fuzz and becoming more Black (I hope she doesn’t lose the Dun (pale yellow) around her ears) BobBob is chocolate brown (still considered red but different shade) Taylor-rose appears to be brindle as she has speckles of black, red and dun over her and apparently the tell-tale sign of Brindle is black blotches around eyes and on nose which she has, really excited about this as I wanted a Brindle cow. William is growing a magnificent set of horns, and he is still such a cuddle bum. He loves cuddles!!!!
Sadly we have made the decision to remove Loretta’s horns, they are huge and she has no hesitation in using them. And because we never had her from the start I don’t trust her, plus I don’t want the babies learning her bad behaviour. She isn’t aggressive, I’m not scared of her, but one head flick and I could be impaled, and I need to be hands on with the babies and I would love to be more hands on with her, like I used to be, but since having Booboo she has become a bit of a stroppy coo. We will be getting the vet out to put her to sleep (I suggested vet speaks to Dr Danny)
And we are waiting for a week of fine weather to avoid infection.

Stay tuned for that adventure! However we are prepared this time, we have Yards!!!
our colourful coo's

Loretta's horns

Still to come....fertilising!!! there is more to caring for coo's than just harrowing poo!
Weed spraying....we may be needing a helicopter...gulp!

Saturday, 28 May 2016

Lessons Learned

I thought since I am trapped inside I would write my next blog. Have been procrastinating over whether to tell the story of the Horses (tissue alert) or something a bit more light hearted. Think since its dark and gloomy I should chat about the funnier things that has been going on. The weather report looks like I may have time to write about the horses tomorrow!!! 
So here goes! Probably best to not be eating when reading this
Well I have been ‘Coo Girling’ it now for the past five months. I have never worked nor been up close to cattle (other than a horrific incident when camping at Robin Hood Bay) Actually now I mention it that should have been enough to make me realise what I was in for.  You see I have discovered a few things about farming; I call them ‘The lessons learned’
Figured I would bullet point them (could be useful for anyone else embarking on farming) especially if you are like me and was raised in the city.

Lessons:
  • Its hard work. I mean REALLY hard work. I have never worked so hard.
  • It costs money. If you have a budget, double it! Starting up is not cheap, especially if you want to ethically farm. Meaning, providing paddocks with shading and safe fencing methods. Our budget was dwindling fast, so decided to GST register. Turning our little farming venture into a business. Exciting stuff but incredibly daunting. This has to make money. Thankfully I studied business and marketing is something I am confident with. Stay tuned for future post on this and our new upcoming products and website.
  • Be prepared to get dirty. You know when you have been farming for a while when gumboots and bush clothing become your fashion accessories. We have clean gumboots and dirty gumboots. I go grocery shopping in gumboots, am over giving a shit on how I look, as I know as soon as I get home I have more shit to pick up. Perfume is the perfect investment to convince yourself you are still civilised. Make up is a waste of time (the coos don’t appreciate it)
  • A manicure is scraping under your fingernails and praying it is dirt.
  • It’s probably time to have a shower when the cows start grooming you.
  • Farming is all about poop, picking up poop, inspecting poop, finding things to do with poop, harrowing poop…POOP! It’s everywhere and I have become quite obsessed with it. I can’t pass a cow pat without kicking it and/or inspecting it. Poop gives you the information you need to determine the animal’s health. Did you know you can collect poop take it to the Vet to get it tested for parasites?! And they can give you an egg count?! Fascinating stuff! I bowled into Murchison Vets with two bags of poop, Gems (number 3 child’s horse) and Williams. I was pretty stressed as William was not doing well, and I had no idea what was wrong. Taylor was having a similar issue with Gem (she was not putting on weight) and asked me if I could take Gems poop to the Vet to get checked, so I figured if they count horse poo surely they do the same with coo poo. Thank God for plastic Shopping bags!! Filled them up and slapped it on the Vets counter. I knew at that point that poop fascination is quite normal in the farming world, as we were all in the Vets office (receptionist in all) inspecting Williams’ poo, and googling poo. I couldn’t wait to get home and tell William about how interested everyone was in his poop. So Gems poo count came back alarmingly high, hers was 1900/gm egg count, normal range is 150-200/gm (Gem is in next post, a sad heartfelt story) William was suspected to have Liver Fluke, We have been told our area at certain times of the year is susceptible for Liver Fluke,  IMPORTANT TO DISCUSS HEALTH PLAN WITH YOUR VET. They are an encyclopedia of information and more than willing to help educate you. THERE IS NO SHAME IN ASKING FOR HELP. Sad but true but Child number 3 and I couldn’t wait to get outside to inspect the horses poop after we wormed them yesterday. Excuse the pun but it’s a shity job so one needs to find some form of entertainment.  Williams came back negative for Liver Fluke but positive for Tapeworm. Apparently most farmers are not too concerned about tapeworm, it is thought to not cause much problem in cattle, however for William it was creating an issue. So he along with the other babies where drenched. Stress on cattle can make infestations worse, so we figured the stress of his big trip from wellington to us was enough to create a problem.
  • Don’t cook pasta the night after discovering tape worms in your coos poop. I will never eat fettuccine again! (vomit)
  • Don’t over groom an adolescent bull calf. He may get the ‘wrong idea’ if you know what I mean, resulting in a 150kilo calf mounting you and smart enough to pin you down by standing on your thumb! Still feeling violated. Naughty boy! And as you probably can imagine Mal saw it all, and instead of coming to my rescue he roared with laughter and proceeded in spending the rest of the day giving me grief about it. Grrr
  • Remember that coos have dam good memories. If you do something once… for example…feed them cow nuts in the black rubber bowl…they will recognise the bowl as something wonderful. I decided to herd the girls into hill paddocks, thought it was a great idea to use cow nuts and popped them into the rubber bowl, I figured since I am walking up there I may as well take some hay. So in one hand, cow nuts and under the other arm were a few slabs of hay. I walk out of the barn calling the girls. Now at this point I should have considered the thought of keeping tabs on what was going on behind me, as there was a thundering sound coming from behind…and the thought did cross my mind that perhaps it was Loretta but shrugged it off as she’s pretty lazy. And once Ruby ran past me jumping and carrying on (you would have still thought I would turn around) but I was on a mission to get up the hill loaded with hay and nuts. I stopped briefly to catch my breath and that’s when I decided to turn around and check where the noise was coming from, well I went white with horror, I was faced by a charging coo, her eyes were glazed over in full focus on the cow nuts, and she was not going to stop for anyone. Including me! Next thing I took off… cow nuts flying in one direction and hay in the other. Bloody Bitch! I patted myself down (checking this wasn’t an ‘outer body’ experience) nope still alive…phew!
  • The best way to a coos heart is….COW NUTS.
  • Sprint when carrying cow nuts.
  • Yards are a structure to safely contain cattle when treating them. Way better than chasing them around the paddock.
  • Paddocks are not yards.

Last but certainly not least
  • If your husband is embracing the wild and decides that shaving is no longer required and growing a mullet is a great idea. Take it seriously!
    (Tips on containing the beast would be very much appreciated.)

I have learned a lot about farming already, and at the same time a lot about myself, our marriage and our family. Strength is in working together and supporting each other. Yes life must look great from the outside, and yes we are living the dream. But nothing comes easy and at times we get so exhausted that everything seems so shit.
But if everything came easy what would we have to appreciate?  I feel blessed to live here. I have learned a whole new level of respect for the essentials (and not so essential) in life, like water, power, food and sunlight (and really good deodorant) we are heavily reliant on these.  I have removed our microwave, we will never be able to use a hair dryer, a food processor is now replaced with, bloody good elbow grease and vacuuming gets done when the generator is on (making us aware of when things start costing money) I find it very fascinating what appliances cost the most to run, and it’s the ones you would never think of. We no longer have a toaster, toast is now cooked on the hotplate of the fire and nothing is better than a nice pot of pumpkin soup cooked and simmering on the fire. We have a new found respect for the simple things in life.
Happiness now comes from the environment we live in, from spending time with the Coos,  watching number 3 child ride her horse, lying in bed looking at the stars and listening to the moreporks at night or simply sitting on the deck and watch nature at its best.

You see Mal loves me when I am covered in hay, poo and stink like an old sock. He can see how happy I am which in turn makes him happy…and likewise (except for the mullet).

Update on Booboo
Look at her now!!! And she has little horn buds…so cute!!!

Booboo (left) and Bobby (right)
William Wallis our breeding bull calf and very naughty boy!
But gosh I love him!!

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Home is where the coo is

So here I am sitting in a cabin aboard the ferry bound for Wellington. Bear with me as I have only had four hours sleep; had to get up at 3.30am to get to Picton for boarding. So far (other than a slight mishap mistaking hair fudge for moisturiser) (this is nothing in comparison to the hair removal cream incident!) our travels have been faultless, however the day is young and I am travelling with Mal!
So why are we on the ferry?....well I have been crazy busy making artworks (off the grid studio in future post) for an exhibition in Hamilton (which opens on Thursday evening) so we are heading over to attend, we also figured while we were up North why not visit Mal's old stomping ground (Tauranga) and also picking up a horse float from Napier. We decided to get one built as we had searched everywhere for a decent safe second hand float and what was available in our price range needed work, so we figured for an extra two thousand it makes more economic sense to buy new and not worry about things breaking or the safety of our animals. We researched the company and communicated with a wonderful man named Derry's at APEX Horse floats. We are getting just a basic model with removable middle thingy (can’t remember the name) as not only will this tow horses (horses future post), but I plan to take our calves to the shows. Have no idea on showing cattle and the thought did cross my mind that perhaps I will need to seriously groom the coos (god help me) (all I see when I think of that is dags, then I am thinking do I shave their bums? or spend hours cutting the dags off? are there special clippers? or do I use Mal's (he will never notice) is there a special shampoo I use? oh dear...washing them surely not?!

The animals are such a joy to us and we have left them in good hands (along with a four page essay of instructions) kinda looking forward to seeing what the animals have install for their baby sitters. I am sure one nut and toe rag will put on a good performance. This is what we encountered trying to feed the coos...one nut jumped on the back and helped...sort of
Mal and one-nut



So what’s been happening at Plum Tree Farm I hear you ask?!!
Well where  do I start!!

Oh yes!! Our three fuzzy wuzzy gorgeous Highland calves arrived from Wellington. They are the most adorable, affectionate babies. I am absolutely besotted with them. So introducing William Wallis, Taylor-rose and Maggie of Plum Tree Farm.


from back
Taylor-rose, Maggie and William's head


The big baby, William



You know when you do something and things happen that just makes you stop and think? Well the breeders named these calves, they had no idea what our children's names were, so you can imagine when they emailed introducing Taylor-rose I was gobsmacked! As that's number 3 child's name. I believe things happen for a reason and have taken it as a sign that we have done the right thing, and these babies were meant to be with us. (they have baby horns!!! so cute!!!). These babies have been halter trained and are highly social, they love to be with us and we are certainly enjoying being with them too!
William will be our breeding bull; he will be ready for business in around 12 months. I really hope he ‘man’s up’ soon as those girls are running rings around him. They love cow nuts will pretty much do anything for them, however (you would think I have learnt by now) DON'T over feed them!! I say no more....

Oh. And if you want to see a 500/600kilo Highland cow (with very big horns) run, cow nuts (or even carrying the bowl I normally feed them the nuts in) I got one hell of a fright when I got this amazing idea (no it wasn’t that, that surprised me) I thought it was genius to herd the cattle into the hill paddocks (as I have struggled to get them up there) by using cow nuts. So I filled the bowl, and stack a couple of slabs of hay under my arm and began walking toward the paddocks. (I probably should have kept an eye on what was going on behind me) as I heard this thundering sound, and the thought did cross my mind that perhaps Loretta is running toward me, but shrugged it off as she’s pretty lazy. The noise got louder and then Ruby over took me running and jumping (so cute) I thought perhaps I should turn around….Tourette’s returned, followed by the bowl of nuts and hay flying up in the air…as Loretta was right behind me in full charge (not attack charge) (I want the cow nuts charge) It gave me one hell of a fright, but didn’t scare me (if that makes sense), I recon I could get her to do pretty much anything for cow nuts! Bloody funny. I have to be pretty smart when it comes to feeding the cattle. As Loretta has a bit of a food addiction problem.



Anyhoo back to our trip to Tauranga. I guess you figured we made it...It got a bit close to us returning to Nelson as we both feel asleep on the ferry and had to be woken up...twice...I ended up racing down stairs, hair all over the place, eye makeup smeared everywhere and Mal standing next to me grinning from ear to ear. He thinks it's funny to not mention these things. Like the time we went to the supermarket and Mal went to grab a trolley, I thought he was behind me with the trolley (as I was in a rush) and began throwing things in (Mal was there but standing further back pissing himself laughing) then this old quietly spoken frail voice said “excuse me" I paused and went white then the silence was broken with this roar of laughter, grrrr
I didn’t speak to him for a couple of days.

We booked into the most stunning motel right on the water front. The room feels like it is sitting on the water. We went to sleep last night with the blinds open and awoke to this...


Tauranga on the Waterfront, simply stunning.
But I miss the coos


Back to the farm we have some other new members of misfits, Lulu one of the puppies we fostered for the SPCA, she is trouble with a capital T, full of mischief and loves Mal's jandels, well only one from each pair. To funny!! Snoop has also taken it upon himself to teach Lulu some of his traits much to my disgust! How to eat poo, roll in poo and bring poo into the house. And to top it off they now have a variety of poo to choose from; Goat poo, horse poo, coo poo and chicken poo. Dirty little shits (literally).


So getting back to Lulu, I went to animates (Mal has banned me from going there now) to get Lulu a new toy and walked out with an Alexandrine Parrot, I have named him Charlie. He was 10 weeks old when I got him and will eventually talk (fingers x his first words aren’t what I heard the kids trying to teach him)…sigh!
Charlie and Lulu have began a very convenient friendship, well in Lulu’s eyes.
See video..so cute!

 

Now don’t start feeling sorry for Mal with my expenditures, trust me he benefits from this…good ol ‘trigger’ is the proud owner of yet another gun. Yes Quasimodo manages to straighten his back long enough to take aim. (Don’t tell him I said that).

So it’s an hour until the exhibition @ Soul Gallery opens with eight of my artworks. I am really looking forward to this. However we have a very early start tomorrow as we have to leave Hamilton around 4am to get to Napier to collect the Horse float then from there we have to get to Wellington for a 4pm sailing. We get to Picton around 7.30pm and then drive the 2hour journey home.
So far our travels have been pretty faultless other than a small mishap with the GPS on my phone (note to self) make sure phone isn’t upside down when giving directions. We saw a lot of Hamilton.
Here's a picy of the opening. Thank you Lisa and Frank @Soul Gallery xxxx





You know…I have enjoyed this trip, loved the scenery but I can’t help but feel a bit funny about the amount of farms I have seen that has not even a smidgen of shading for the animals. Now I used to not really pay much attention to this, as I always thought they didn’t need or want it. But now I have my own farm it has become evident they actually love the protection and comfort shading and shelter from a tree provides. Surely we care more than this?! Do we?

Well sitting on the ferry returning home from a whirl wind travelling adventure. The horse float collection went smoothly; actually we did such good time we got to Wellington to board an earlier sailing. Here’s a picy of our new truck (thanks to Tony @ Houston Motor's) (this truck came with two roosters and a bantam hen that sleeps in a tree) with signage and our new float destined for signage, such a big blank canvas!!


Now this is impressive, we managed to clock up 1800k’s. No wonder we are so exhausted and looking forward to getting home. You know Home is where the heart is.
It’s True xx


Only been home for an hour.





















Thursday, 31 March 2016

The hills are alive with the sound of Coos

Well it seems like yesterday that I posted the last blog, but actually it’s been over a month!! Time Flies!!!! When you’re playing with coos.

Gosh we love them!

So the great news is!!!!

Loretta and Ruby have had their babies, two girls. Ruby’s baby is a red fuzz ball we have named, Lucy (Mal nicknamed, Bob Bob) and Loretta’s is a pitch black fuzzy wuzzy we named Pango (mal has nicknamed Booboo) both nicknames have kind of stuck. (pango is Maori for Black).

Booboo is a sweet heart; she is our golden egg, as Black highlands look mighty magnificent and not a very common colour, so we intend to breed her to get more black fuzz balls. Bob Bob is 4 weeks older and a real little shit! But very cute! We are attempting to catch her to pop a halter on, but we have realised we may have left it a bit late (something we don’t intend on doing with Booboo). We managed to herd Bob Bob in the stable (Mal wrestling her down yelling at me to get the halter on), I was somewhat distracted by the two screaming, angry cows on the other side of a rickety old gate. Before we knew it Bob Bob wacked Mal in his two golden eggs, popped her head under the gate lifting it off its hinges and escaped, we then had mamma coo and aunty coo to contend with, both not very impressed. Let’s just say I don’t recall jumping the fence! Mal is still a bit bitter with me for leaving him, but hey I haven’t sorted my life insurance yet! Mals injury was nothing a bag of ice couldn’t fix.

Anyhooo…we discovered Ruby had Bob Bob early (very early) I am relieved I did know this as I know I would have panicked. I wasn’t at the farm when it happened, I was guilted (by number 3 child) in spending the week in Nelson house with her, as she said she never sees me (gosh she is good with the guilt trips) (gotta love 16year olds) so Wednesday Mal rang me with the news that Ruby had her baby, I cried…I was so gutted I wasn’t there and couldn’t be there until tomorrow. But as soon as I dropped number 3 child at bus, I was gone!! I arrived at 12noon(ish) I had the biggest and greatest of expectations of calves and their mammas, I guess a romanticized dream. Cause boy was it not so! What I imagined… (Remember the introduction…no farming experience) was how it was for me when I had my children, I was besotted with them, never leaving them and incredibly over protective. Well did I get a rude shock when I arrived to find Ruby…No calf in sight!!
 I walked the entire section three times, by the third I was absolutely beside myself, so bad I ended up ringing mal (who was at work) I couldn’t find bubba anywhere! And I was even more confused to see Ruby couldn’t care less! So little did I realise…Coo’s hide their calves. Ruby knew exactly where her baby was and she was not letting on…so after hours of manically rummaging through some of the roughest terrain, I found her…HA! Ruby!!! You should have seen her face!! Yeah I won that round! So once I found her I got her up to the paddock to her mum and went about the day. I kept a very close eye on baby as I was very aware she hadn’t fed and it was a good 3 to four hours to find her. After another 2 hours I was getting pretty stressed again…I began to get concerned she was going far too long without food and decided to ring around for some advice. After ringing pretty much everyone in the vicinity from the neighbour the animal farm, and the breeders we have purchased our other coos from (future post) all were away from the phone, I decided to ring good old Dr Danny..I left him to last as I tried to avoid ringing him as I knew he would find it rather humorous. Which he did, but I didn’t care by this stage. He reassured me that within the first days babies don’t eat much, and sleep often. He said if baby hadn’t eaten by end of the day to let him know…well pretty much as soon as I hung up the phone the little turd began to fed from her mum. Phew! (If only this happened five minutes prior to my five hundred SOS phone calls…sigh!)

Loretta was next to become a mamma, and again I missed it. I knew she was close so stayed home to avoid missing it…but as soon as I left to go grocery shopping she had her baby. I got back to see the finale…Loretta eating the afterbirth (vomit) I could have sworn Ruby didn’t eat hers as I caught Snoop eating and rolling in it (I almost lost my lunch when I saw that!). Mal reassured me it is a good source of vitamins for her (thank goodness I am not a coo!)
We were pretty thrilled to say the least about having a Black female calf; this little bubba is what we will focus our dream on. Breeding rare coloured highlands, we are curious to see if she grows horns (as dad is a Hummel) (a highland without horns). We were pretty prepared Pango wasn’t going to feed often but what we noticed is mum wasn’t great at washing her baby, especially around the bum (I would have thought if you can stomach eating the after birth a shitty bum is nothing..Right?!) Well not so for Loretta, so it became my job. Every day I have to separate mum and baby (which you can imagine is not a pleasant experience) I removed the hard poop from around her bum and give it a wash. After a couple of days I had mal come with me, as it’s a juggle trying to hold the calf lift its tail and then attempt to wash. This particular day Mal held Booboo which enabled me to have a good look at her bottom (as I had noticed she was trying to scratch her rare constantly) I was horrified with what I saw…Maggots!! Everywhere up her little bottom and up her girl thingy….I panicked! Mal just kept saying to me to get them out, wash the area really well which I did with another bad case of Tourette’s!

As the day went on we noticed she was still scratching her rare, I decided to google cows with maggots and read that it can be extremely dangerous, so I rang the vet (this was good Friday…ouch!) who was awesome and came within the hour and fixed her up. We must thank our wonderful neighbours at HuHa Farmstay for helping us out with some Maggo; we have had to spray her bottom every day for a week. Since I had to do this I figured I might as well begin to halter train her (thanks again to google) I really enjoy my bum spraying time with Booboo she is so beautiful, such a gentle natured coo. I cuddle her, scratch her and talk to her (while mum is on the other side of the fence mooing her head off…if only I understood coo talk I can pretty much guess what she is saying!! But she is getting used to it, and she trusts me...I know she does, she doesn’t have a go at me just very vocal, I am very reassuring to Loretta and she even lets me brush her with Booboo nearby. Bob Bob is going to take some time and that’s fine…our object is to not terrify the crap out of these babies, we are about respecting them and ethically training them, Bob Bob is an anxious calf. Nothing cow nuts and molasses can’t fix…she just needs to be 100% weaned first. And at the end of the day, they are animals; they don’t know our language, our behaviours. We can’t expect them to be like us and understand us without introducing ourselves. Just because they are animals doesn’t mean we don’t offer them respect. 
Loretta with Booboo

Booboo prior to bum wash

Ruby and Bob Bob

Cheeky monkey Bob Bob with mamma Ruby

Saturday, 5 March 2016

Just Kidding around

So much has been happening here at Plum Tree farm. I am finding it hard to stay on track with the order in topics I want to discuss. Let’s just say, we are still waiting for Loretta to drop her bundle…yes...That might mean Ruby had her baby!!! But you will have to wait to hear about that. (Poor Dr Danny)

So about 6 weeks ago a couple of gorgeous pictures were posted on the Nelson SPCA Facebook page (and by all the tags I received from my friends) I had no choice but to checkout this particular post. Two of the most gorgeous goats (images somewhat resembling mugshots) (should have been a warning) dumped on a golf course. Mal and I had been discussing getting goats as they are great at cleaning up the land. So without hesitation we jumped at the opportunity to adopt them. So within 24 hours we were picking up two goats with the warning they are Houdini’s; I reassured the SPCA our land is fully deer fenced. Didn’t breathe a word of ‘The Great Escape’.
So we settled them in and (after a request from my brother) we named them Aaron and Brad (named after my brother and his partner of course). The goats had been neutered but told by SPCA one still had a nut! (Aaron). As the goats began to settle in it became apparent that Aaron’s one nut might actually still be functional, he became very friendly (if you know what I mean). At first Mal and I thought there must have been something wrong with him, we were concerned that he may be in pain; as his willy would become evident and he would urinate and lick it, rather unflattering behaviour to say the least! We soon discovered this was typically 'Billy Goat' behaviour. We promptly decided to change their names as it was too weird to have a very amorous goat named after my brother , so we decided to let Taylor (number 3 child) name them (something we try to avoid for obvious reasons) Aaron became yllib and Brad became taog…yup! Billy Goat backwards, Thank you Taylor!!

Mal being Mal nicknamed them (he does this with everything, for example Snoop is shit lips I guess you can imagine why) So Yllib became ‘One Nut’ and Taog became ‘Toe Rag’ too funny!! Sounds bad but they actually suit it...
Toe Rag and One Nut friended number 33 and 34 the four of them became inseparable (except when number 33 had his unfavourable side effect from the salt lick block) that certainly tested the friendship!!

While this awesome foursome were hanging out doing goat and cow things (pretty much eating and pooing) Mal and I were still moving into the farm. Mal needed to go to the hardware store to collect some ropes to help secure the loads of furniture, simple task right?! Well 2hours later he appears with the rope and a long list of people he bumped into…we have a  nickname for Mal ‘Mr Have a chat’ during his 2 hour gas bagging he managed to source (get this) two goats, two alpacas and a partridge in a pear tree! This is the moment where I just shake my head.
So after much thought we agreed on getting the goats and holding off on the Alpacas (until we get our land sorted) so the delivery of two more goats!! These two were already named, Savannah a 6 year old nanny goat and Bruiser, Savannah’s grandson. These were milking goats, well Savannah was. She had spent her entire life (6 years) on a concrete floor in a milking pen. She never stepped foot on grass let alone graze on it. I don’t judge, clearly the people loved her as we had a long list of all the things she liked etc. But a part of me felt very sad for her and even sadder when we put her in paddock with the awesome foursome and she had no idea what to do. Bruiser adjusted very quickly, but Savannah struggled. I was concerned that she would starve as she has been thrown into an environment she had no idea about. Mal reassured me she will be fine and after a worrisome few weeks she is now embracing her goatness, so wonderful to watch her climb the hills, munch on gorse, and hangout enjoying the freedom of the lower paddocks with her new pals. Makes me all warm and fuzzy!!! Now we were told (because Savannah was a milking goat) one of her teats would fill and might need expressing (I chose not to listen to that…Yuk!)  But we have to keep tabs on her teats.

I am starting to think that this farming thing is all about feeling teats, lifting tails (I made the mistake of googling calving cows), looking at where the poop comes from (near the region where calves come from), getting covered in poop (the result of googling calving cows)…I have come to the conclusion there is no dignity in farming! 

Now..we let a local beekeeper put some of his hives down in the lower paddock under the Manuka trees, in return we get as much honey as we want, yummo!! The cows and goats don’t mind the bees and they LOVE the bee man!! Especially One Nut. I had no idea the poor bee man was getting harassed every time he attended the bees, until he approached me almost begging for me to pen the goats in another paddock (which isn’t really that easy when I am not always here to do that) The bee man is a lovely man with a very strong European accent which makes it even more humorous when he tries to explain what is happening, and who the main culprit is…yup! ‘One Nut’ the bee man said the Goats won’t leave him alone, jumping all over his truck etc. Then he said “they are very friendly, especially the black one” (One Nut) I tried so hard to keep an empathetic expression but the visual image of what ‘One Nut’ was doing to the bee man, in his white bee suit, while attempting to attended the bees, was to much!!!! The laughter roared out of me… I know very immature…you had to be there. So after a very awkward outburst of laughter we came to the agreement he ties the goats up while he attends the bees, and releases them once he is finished. I must make sure I am around to watch him attempt to tie ‘One Nut’ .
So back to the teat watching, a couple of days ago I noticed Savannah’s teat was rather large, so Mal decided to try and express it, which proved to be a bit more complex than originally thought. What didn’t help was ‘One Nut’ and ‘Toe Rag’ kept getting in the way, jumping up and trying to smooch us!! poor Savannah started to get a bit flustered with all the attention, the last straw for her was Mal grabbing her teat and squeezing it while yelling at me to get around her back region and hold her still (don’t know why I can’t hold her head) as we all know what a nervous goat does! Thanks Mal!! So I am presuming you all are wondering how much milk we got?! Zero, nil, zilch, zippo, none! I think we have mentally scared poor Savannah also, and yet again I will have to swallow my pride and make a SOS call…sigh
On a positive!! It won’t be Dr Danny this time!! Ha!

I will let you know how we get on learning to milk Savannah. The thought makes me quite squeamish (as there is a very good reason why I don’t drink milk) and flavour is not one of them.
Me with 'One Nut' (he has a beautiful smile)

Toe Rag

One Nut

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

What memories are made of

A lot of people have asked why ‘Plum Tree’ as a name for our farm. Some have asked are there plum trees? Nope! Not one! Well we ended up planting two recently just so we can say yes there are plum trees. But they are not looking all that great; actually anyone who knew anything about plum trees would be in hysterics if they saw these two. So I guess we better explain the meaning behind the name ‘Plum Tree Farm’, as it has nothing to do with ‘Plum trees’.
Recently our family was devastated over the diagnoses of a terminal form of cancer with Mals dad. Chemo would buy him time, but as we soon discovered the time would not be quality. He opted to stop the chemo and enjoy the moments he had. Mal spent as much time on the phone or visiting as he could. It was during these visits that the conversations were about moments spent growing up on the Chatham Islands (it was a dream Mals dad had to return to the land he loved so much, but sadly time was ticking fast). Mal and I had been looking for land for a few years; we almost gave up as we didn’t want to grow old with a massive mortgage hanging over our heads. I just so happened to stumble across this place (plum tree farm) but instead of visiting it, I went to bank to see how possible it would be before getting our hopes up. The bank gave us the go ahead, so we viewed (twice) and purchased it, we then excitedly told our parents, both (mine and Mals) were a bit concerned that we were jumping in to fast, that it is so far away from things etc.…the usual concerns parents get. But as time passed and we took possession it became clear that we were happier, relaxed, that perhaps this was not such a bad idea after all. I guess it reflected through the changes in Mal and I.
Mal would spend many days sitting with his dad talking about the farm, which Mr G (Mals dad) enjoyed, I think it is because he saw himself when he was on his farm in his younger years.
When I would visit and told Mr G about our adventures I noticed it sparked some wonderful stories from the Chatam Islands, I loved seeing Mal and his dad talk of their times together and interestingly some of the stories reminded me of someone. It was during these discussions that it occurred to me that I was sitting here watching something pretty special.
You see 10 years ago I married a wonderful man, a man who loved me for me, who took on three children and fathered them like his own. A man with so much knowledge (some useful, some not so useful) a man who had an opinion on everything whether you wanted to hear it or not.  He can do anything, build houses, do electrical work, fix bikes, cars trucks, the list goes on. I married a man with a heart as big as hearts can get, a man who sees the good in everyone and everything, and sitting in this room watching father and son absorbed in conversation I saw two peas in a pod, and I have an inkling the older version was slightly accident prone also. It was a good time to chat further with Mr G to see what I am in for with the younger Mr G, just so I am prepared!!
Sadly mals dads health deteriorated very quickly, both Mal and I wanted Mr & Mrs G to visit the farm, I probably pushed more than Mal I guess because while mal was worried about Mr G’s health I was focussing on creating memories. Special memories. Well approx 4 weeks ago an opportunity arose where majority (not all) of the family was up at the farm except for Mals parents as his dad was too sick to drive the 2hours it would take to get him here. Two days prior we cheekily suggested a helicopter and along with the rest of the family thought why not enquire to see if it could be possible. Thinking nothing more of it (until the whanau arrived up at the farm) that we heard back from the pilot giving the all clear for travel in 40mins!!! We all chipped in to make this happen, within the hour we gathered to watch the helicopter land on our top paddock, Mr & Mrs G grinning from ear to ear.
You see prior to this we had a family meeting in Blenheim, and Mr G mentioned that the likely hood of visiting the farm was slim so he had carved a stone, blessed it and the family each took
turns in blessing the stone (it sits on our bedroom window sill) it was such an emotional experience.  But as much as the stone would be very special to us, deep down in my heart I felt it even more important to get Mr G to the farm. We felt it would help give some sense of closure for Mals dad (as far as land being back in the family, even though it’s not Chatham Island Land, but it is something). Both Mal and I felt very strongly about having land for our family and future generations.  I also knew how close Mal is to his dad, I knew loosing Mr G would affect Mal considerably, so it was important for me to do what I can to help Mals grieving when dad does pass away.
So once the helicopter landed we all gathered around the house while Mrs G began to bless it, it was one of the best experiences!! The pilot was so wonderful; he waited for as long as we wanted.




Making Memories
The Grennell’s at ‘Plum Tree Farm’






Plum tree was the name Mr G came up with when we asked him to name the farm.  There is a small bay on the Chatham Islands near where the Grennell’s grew up, a place where Mr G had the fondest of memories and was a meeting place for families to gather and share stories.

 Plum Tree Farm is named in memory of Mals dad.