July Days...on our farmstead

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

July ushers in one of my favourite seasons here on the farm ~ lambing season!  Sure, we are kept running the whole month through ( & throughout August as well), but it is so wonderful having new life here on the farm. July was also a time of hosting visitors, our winter break & watching adorable piglets grow! By the end of July some of the crops & wattles had begun to flower.  I just love the world filled with blossoms! 

Unlike last year when lambing season began right on time, this year the ewes held out a little longer.  We spied our first pair of twin lambs on the 4th July.  After that they began to come fast & furiously in that common first flush that tends to happen in a flock of sheep.  We have been blessed with a fairly uneventful lambing season so far.  We have only lost a few ewes & had to pull just a couple of lambs. I always find that first lamb pulling to be the most difficult mentally.  After that you seem to remember that as 'icky' as it is, it's not as bad as your brain leads you to believe.

The day after lambing season began, Delores dropped her third litter of piglets.  I just adore babies of any kind & to have lambs & piglets arriving at the same time keeps smiles on our lips.  The antics of baby animals are captivating to watch.  At three weeks old the male piglets were castrated.  A neighbour who owns a piggery comes & does the job for us.  Last time I wasn't around, but this time I distracted Delores.  After last time when she broke into the shed they were using & my twins had to scale the walls in fear of being attacked by a frantic mother sow we decided to have someone watching her (as well as two doors between her & where it was being done!  We also found that keeping a female piglet with her kept her slightly more relaxed than previously.  It certainly is amazing though how loudly a piglet can squeal though.

Our first poddy "Noisy"

On the 6th July we got our first poddy lamb.  This one was a great one to start with as it drank well & was strong & able to go right to their shed.  (You can hear it on the piglets 2 day old free ranging video.)  Needless to say it is very noisy & has since been joined by varying numbers of friends who join in chorus every time they spy one of us in the houseyard.  If we dare to cross the threshold into their paddock  area, we are mobbed!  It's a wonderful problem to have :)

My parents were visiting during this time & it was great having extra hands around.  Dave, Dad & the boys fixed up our 'Chook nook' (hen house) which  has allowed it to be about 4 times the size of the area we were using.  This meant that we now have 3 sections where we can house chickens.  We  then moved our older set of chicks (May's hatching) over into one of the sections.  We still allow them to free range each day, but it means that they are free to have their own food & water without having to brave the larger hens & roosters to get it.  I love our new Chook Nook!

We also butchered two of our excess rooster.  I knew we had too many roosters & had to get rid of a couple.  When one of them attacked my rear end one morning while I was getting grain from the silo for the cow we very quickly knew it had to be done ASAP.  That rooster was almost going to be one of the ones that stayed, but the attack made my decision really easy (it hurt).  We ate him a couple of nights after butchering & he was delicious!

Wattle beginning to blossom
I spent some time planning out my summer garden.  This time I did it with the expectation of another hot, dry summer with limited water since we have not had sufficient rain to fill the dams (we are praying for that).  I love planning a garden, but at times dream about having excess available water just so I could have the garden of my dreams.  I remind myself to be ever thankful for what we do have. We also continued to harvest our winter greens from the small winter garden!

We took a two week break from schooling while my parents were visiting.  This coincided with the NSW school holidays which I tend to try to do as it's nice for the children to have a break from schoolwork when their friends are off school.   We were all refreshed to begin right back to school after this time & it was lovely to spend time with Mum & Dad.   Third term is always a busy time for us  on the farm & so I reduce the extra subjects because we rely on the children to help out with the lambs as well as their normal chores. The only thing I added in was a new typing program I purchased. I've found that though Zai & Ellie have worked completely through the free program they were using, they need additional practice.  This can be completed independently & so is not any extra work on my part. There were some exceptionally beautiful days that saw us taking our books outside to bask in the sunlight.

Salami mince ready to mix up!
Very little extra went on in our kitchen this month, although we did make another batch of salami.  I tried valiantly to keep everyone fed with nutritious, filling meals & the occasional yummy snack.   Milk processing is a normal part of my week, however I haven't tried anything new during July.  We continue with the weekly ( actually with the way my boys are guzzling it, it's more likely twice weekly) yoghurt and also the weekly cheese making.   As soon as the weather turns warmer we are anticipating making ice cream!  
One of the most exciting additions to the kitchen has been  a brand new wood fired oven that we were so very generously gifted with.  What an amazing blessing this has been!  Not only does it keep us toasty warm, but it also means that we can use the oven  for cooking which allows another reduction in our ridiculously high electricity bill!  I am thoroughly enjoying experimenting on it & am slowly learning not to burn everything!

Winter seems to be flying by as we continue to count lambs, watch ewes, milk cows, raise chickens, homeschool children & dream about a garden.  What a blessing it is to have work to do!

Have a wonderful day friends

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