I have loved the local library ever since I could read. Growing up in an isolated country area reading was the main entertainment and the local librarian was always happy to indulge a bush kid with a big stack of books. Thanks to her I always had plenty of companions. We have just joined the Braidwood library and it is busy whenever we visit. Horrible, to think libraries are under threat in these cost cutting times.
Today,Martin showed me how to make "Skinsal", this is an old family formula invented by his Grandfather in the 1890's. It was sold in the family pharmacy until 1980 (by three generations of Pyes), when Martin became a farmer and grazier. He made a batch two years ago at the request of his niece, and since then jars have been given to many of our friends for use as a lip balm. After numerous requests for more, he agreed to show me how to make another batch.
The formula contains simple ingredients that were commonly available then, hence no modern chemicals. He has sworn me to secrecy. (Though I am not sure how serious he is!)
Martin has entered the world of the meat rabbit. After meeting someone in the local village of Braidwood who was growing them, he thought he would try raising some. Not content with a few local meat rabbits,he has sourced some bred by the CSIRO for their excellent feed conversion and productivity, and had them flown in. We are now waiting for the first litter of baby bunnies (the real first lot died of cold while I was looking after them when Martin was in Mount Isa). We have set up a heat lamp and have the pens organised to ensure the best survival outcome. If we are successful we will be able to supply ourselves and our friends with rabbit for the table. I am also thinking it would be good to tan the hides and make a quilt as they have the most beautiful fur colours.
The dairy goats (Toggenburgs) have settled in really well and we are enjoying them. They are very interactive and have a certain goaty charm. They have to be coddled much more than the sheep, and given shelter from the weather. Each morning they are taken out to the hill paddock, it has plenty of browse, and at night brought home, fed concentrates, and yarded. We are now looking forward to their kidding and the prospect of milking them. I am attending a cheese making workshop at the Reidsdale Cheese factory in anticipation.
No bad weather,
No disasters, except "Lucky" the dog we found on the Gwydir Highway, fell off the ute (he was tied on in the prescribed manner), disappeared and we thought he was a goner, or had moved on to a new family. He turned up a few hours later with sore toes but otherwise unharmed. Welcome back Lucky dog. He may have actually rolled off the ute as he is too fat, we have been a little over indulgent with the skin and bones, flea ridden dog we found.
Martin is back from Bendigo, good show but not as well attended as last year. Not as many people showing or watching. Shame, given all the effort everyone puts into the weekend. Winrae Dorper Stud had the grand champion Ram. Great to see them do so well. Nick and Mel Paget have been great long time friends and supporters of the breed, good to see their hard work and dedication pay off. Congratulations.
Martin is off to the Bendigo Sheep and Wool Show. We are not showing this time and I am not going, someone has to stay home and moan about the weather and sheep graziers alerts. For Martin it is a great opportunity to look a quality sheep and to catch up with many other stud breeders for a talk feast. Half the value in a sheep show is the handy hints that are picked up around the pens.
With all the moaning about sheep graziers alerts you will have gathered we have some lambing happening. Not planned, not wanted and the wrong time of year for this area. We were late weaning our lambs due to all the wet weather in January,and the prolonged access problem, with our road being impassable for the best part of a month. We got the lambs weaned about a month later than usual, and the consequence is lambs now. The ram lambs at four months began serving their mothers, aunts, mothers' friends, and, being after the summer solstice, everything must have been cycling like mad. Result is a big mess, lots of full blood lambs which can't be registered with the Society, ( as we don't know their sires). In this business you live and learn, more often than we would like.
A very interesting article appeared in the June issue of the "Australian Farm Journal" (link) titled Autumn joining means genetically fitter Merinos. (Ignoring the Merino part )the report is from a practicing veterinarian and research scientist Dr Peter Howe. He says that over 20 years of research focused on gene expression, aberrations of gene expression and birth defects he has developed insights into the reasons why phenotypically sound rams at times fail to transmit their genetic traits to the progeny. One of the significant reasons is timing of breeding, the closer we work with the natural cycle of autumn joining ,spring lambing the more likely the ram is to transmit his genetic potential. It reinforces our belief that the closer we work with the natural systems the better the results will be.
We got home from Burrawang West Station about 9:30pm, after a long day with the Senior Dorper Course exam. We had a range of tests to complete - in the morning we did the written exam, which we all passed. Then the pointing of 10 rams and 10 ewes, followed by the placing of 5 rams and 5 ewes in order of their quality,( much as you would at a show, we don't know if we passed that part). Then finally we were all individually tested with placing 5 ewes and 5 rams and justifying their placings to the Teacher (we all passed that part). There was a lot of tension and pacing about prior to the individual testing. The course is so worthwhile for the sheep farmer (regardless of breed), we learnt so much that can be applied at home, both from Wicus Cronje the teacher, and from the other participants. The opportunity to have a drink together and to sit down to a meal together, adds much to the fun and learning experience at Burrawang. Highly recommended.