Monday, January 28, 2013

An action packed week

Meet Etta Jalapeno. She's our latest addition to Otway Fields. Her mum seemed to be pregnant FOREVER! We were starting to wonder if she was just fat! A couple of weeks ago when we slaughtered our steer, we had the opportunity to put the mum into the cattle pen. Our neighbour Graham had a good look at her then and proclaimed her to be pregnant. We just had to be patient. This was an important lesson in record keeping for us. We had a very vague idea of when we had Graham's bull over in our paddock last year. We didn't write down the date of his visit, and this left us guessing for weeks as to when we would see another little calf. So, at last.... here she is. Sara named her Etta, after Etta James' tune.. At Last. She was born on a 42 degree day. So I named her Etta Jalapeno. And no, we won't eat her. She'll go to the sale yard in a few months.
Just an hour or two old.
Etta is a wanderer. She gets into all sorts of funny spots. Frans found her on the other side of our fence on the road side shortly after she was born. He got her to our top paddock where she then crawled into a spot beyond the electric fence. She needed help to get out.
She then wobbled her way along the fence, sometimes getting a little too close! Such a silly little girl. 

She was still to have her first drink. Frans pointed her  her towards her mum and she eventually found the teats with the help of her mum who nudged her to the right spot. 
Finally mum and calf found their way to the centre of the paddock. It didn't take long for the rest of the calves to come and investigate their new half sister. 
A day later, and Etta is happy and content. And we have a new visitor for a few weeks. A bull. A BIG bull. The cows are getting frisky and this time we've recorded the dates of the bull visit! So if all goes well, in 9 months and 9 days from now, we should have another calf from the cow that birthed in September. 

 Project Kitchen!
One of our goals on the farm is to hold cooking classes, using our organic kitchen garden for inspiration. We also want to sell our preserves and pickles commercially. To do this we need to have our kitchen properly fitted to comply with commercial food preparation. Fortunately, the kitchen is fairly new and we did not have to do too much to change it. We needed a more powerful range hood and a small hands free wash basin. Frans being the handyman that he is has undertaken all the work himself. He decided that he would tackle both tasks simultaneously. So for the past week the kitchen has been a bomb site!
The new sink fits comfortably where our wine rack used to be. Inlets, outlets, connections.... everywhere! 
The small cupboard and old pull out range hood was removed from above the stove. Nothing is ever simple, and there were holes to be filled, drilled and the wall painted before the new range hood could be put into place.  
Yes, that is a vacuum cleaner on top of the stove. Frans is a tidy freak. I'm not complaining! Even with the careful covering of equipment, there was still a fine layer of plaster dust covering the kitchen.  
And it's done! Wall painted, range hood installed and cleaned of finger prints on the shiny new metal flue, and we're in business.

And this leaves the final part of the sink installation to be completed. Frans had to venture under the house to connect the outlet of the sink to the main outlet pipe. He procrastinated for hours and invented other jobs that needed doing in preference to going under the house. 
He finally mustered up the courage, packed all the tools he might need into an Aldi bag, prepared a light to see by and headed into the underbelly of the house!  
There was not much room to spare and he wiggled into the crawlspace. He lay there for a while with his feet poking out. I heard muttering and then "No. That's it. I can't do it." And back out he slid. He is not happy. He does not like to admit defeat. But in this instance, he just can't face the claustrophobic feeling that being under the house gives him.
So... plan B. Back upstairs he started stripping panels from a wall to connect the pipe from above the ground. But nothing is ever easy... (did I say that already?) There are beams in the way of where the pipe has to go. This requires a lot of drilling and mess! 
Plan C. Wait for Stephen. 
So we have waited till this weekend. Stephen (Sara's fiancee') has offered to go under the house and finish the job. Yay! I'm looking forward to later today when I can once again see the kitchen table! All the mess will be cleaned up and we can then get the final approval for the kitchen. 

 Project Poo!
When you live in the city or a town where you have town sewage, you don't have to think about flushing the loo. But if you live on a property with a septic tank, or a water treatment plant like we have, then waste is a constant topic of conversation. Our dishes and clothes require biodegradable products. We have to read labels carefully on cleaning products. Our waste system is one where everything is decomposed naturally. Some products like fat, milk and cream are not allowed into the system. They take too long to break down. I've had to get used to wiping out any greasy baking dishes first before washing them. Any milk that needs throwing out goes onto the compost, not down the sink. We have been careful with what we put down our drain. But sometimes, a problem arises and hands have to get dirty!

We had a service person out last week and he made an 'uh uh' comment. This did not sound good. There was a problem with the holding tank. The water was not as clean as it should have been. The quickest way of fixing the problem was to empty out the whole plant, clean out any crappy bits (yes, it's a bad punn..) and then refill it again with dam water. The service guy left Frans his pump and instructions on how to do the job, wished him luck and left. Frans asked me to figure out a way that he could scoop the poop. I came up with this solution. It is my very own Pooper Scooper. I think I might market it! 
Ami's Pooper Scooper. Shade cloth with a piece of wire turned around the outside. Then held onto a long pole with another piece of wire and some gaffa  tape. A giant strainer. It worked a treat! 
It was then down to business. Frans scooped and I sprayed the 'net' clean.
I was surprised that this job wasn't as smelly as I would have thought it would be. But oh, the flies!!

And on a much prettier note, remember the little nest of birds I showed you last week? Well, the little birds flew the nest yesterday. We found two of them on the ground, flopping about. I tried to pick one up and put it back into the nest thinking it had fallen out, but it just summersaulted back onto the ground. The baby squawked loudly and the mother echo'd it's cries with loud screeches of her own. We left them and let nature take it's course.  
Finally... Sara and Stephen arrived yesterday for a couple of days. They have a new puppy. Her name is Tilly. She's a cross border collie/staffie. She's three months old and a bundle of energy. Nala has enjoyed playing with the new pup. After all the running and chasing, both dogs flopped and slept for ages! 

 And we wish everyone a Happy Australia Day for the 26th!

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