Monday, October 8, 2012

And then there were two!

We knew we should expect two more calves around October, so when Frans and I drove to town last week Thursday, we certainly did not expect to find that Eileen (the angus) had dropped a little one right there in the paddock close to the road side fence. When we drive along the fence we always check the tree line, see that the cows are doing ok etc. We stopped when we saw Eileen eating what looked like a piece of long rag. Frans climbed the fence (carefully) and there it was! Calf number two on the ground. The mum was eating the afterbirth. Totally gross, but that's what they do. We had missed the birth by a few minutes. We were lucky enough to witness the baby calf standing up and taking it's first wobbly steps. 
Minutes old
 Here goes... up up up!
Finding out which way is the good stuff!
And a sad report.... this is what is left of our baby duck! Damn fox!!
We've come to learn that farm life is not always happy and cheerful. There are times when nature is cruel and we just have to deal with it.

We have the promise of more ducklings to come.... The duck is sitting on a huge clutch of eggs. It seems rather strange the way a duck decides how many eggs to lay and when to start sitting. She lays one egg a day. Then after about 3 weeks when she thinks there are enough eggs, she then parks herself on the eggs and there she remains for the next five weeks!
There were too many eggs for this duck to sit on, so Frans marked 20 eggs and removed the rest. After a few days of laying and us removing the new eggs, the duck started sitting. 20 eggs is a good number for a duck to manage. If there are too many then they don't all get equal coverage.
Summer is coming.... yay! So we're preparing veggie beds. Frans constructed a bean trellis for me in our newest raised bed. I will plant the beans in a week or so. Our weather has been up and down. Warm then cold. This week is another cold week.

This bed has been sewn with a number of carrot and beetroot varieties. I've also sewn fennel, bok choy and raddichio seeds. You can see the rows marked by little ice cream sticks. The beans will go on the very left side.
His wire knot. Neat.
Her wire knot. Messy.
Lovely cabbages. I have learned that one needs to be quick with these babies. They bolt!

Remember those big pumpkins I got from our neighbour Wendy? Well, here is Frans cutting the biggest one up! I did suggest he use the chain saw, but aparently that's not a good idea. Something about oil splashing on the pumpkin not being a good thing....

A lot of force was required to slice through this pumpkin! So much so, that half landed on the floor, with pips scattered everywhere!
Only one way to cut through this!
As Paul Hogan said... "this is a knife"!
One pumpkin, 8kgs! I cut the pieces up in different sizes for different dishes. Quiche, soup, roasts. They have all gone into the freezer. I did not pre-cook the pumpkin. It does get a little watery as there is a lot of water in the flesh. However, I roast the pieces at a high heat and the water evaporates and the pieces brown nicely. Using the frozen pumpkin in soups is not a problem.

Vermin control. Buggers love eating my turnips!
We have been busy the past two weeks fixing our large netted area. When we first put up the netting last year, we thought we'd done a pretty good job getting it up! We didn't secure the bottom though. This meant that clever birds still managed to get into the area, and grass and weeds grew through the net. So Frans secured barge boards all around the bottom of the large area. We then rolled the bottom edge of the netting around long pieces of wood and then screwed them into the barge boards. The result is a neat finish which allows us, I mean Frans, to mow right to the edge. Viola!
Before and after
While we were busy with this area, Frans constructed a new compost station inside the netted area. Soooo much better! Now I don't have to push the wheelburrow across the garden to the compost heap near the big shed. He's made it so that I can slide the wood slats up and down at the front. As the pile builds up, I add another slat. Once the heap on the left has been stewing for a while, we then tip it over to the box on the right. A new pile gets started again on the left while the one on the right keeps stewing.  
This view is from the outside of the netted area.
There is now a groovy door too! I don't have to climb under the netting anymore or peg it up!
And it's getting close! We're gearing up this week for the festival next weekend. We are having a small stall again. This week I will be finishing off some sewing projects for the stand. We will also do a mock set up to make sure everything has a place. If you're up for a lovely day in the country, then point your car towards the West and come and say 'hello'. Our stand will have a quilted sign at the front saying 'Otway Fields'.
Till next time....

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