Woke up this morning to a changed landscape, snow. Forecast, rain and snow above 1200 metres and here we are at 1000 metres and one of the biggest falls we have had in the last few years. Very wet, very pretty easy to love where we live.
Our ewes are about to lamb and we have them all sorted and numbered to make mothering up and record keeping easier. Each ewe has her ear tag number stamped on her in the colour code of the ram she was joined to. We don't stamp the year prefix as we can tell that from the ear tag colour. We then either put a neck band on the lamb or tag it and record the mothers details. Then, enter the info into the computer and all the stud records are in order- one hopes.
True to form at this time of year we got all types of weather over the two days of work in the yards, but managed to finish just as it started to shower.
Now feet up and glass of
We have been attending a dog school near Bungendore for the last year to improve our dog skills. It is easy to own a working dog but not so easy to get the best from it. When "Roy" came back to us he had been trained in regular obedience but not in stock work. So, off to dog school and the general comment was that he is a dog with heaps of positive potential. Now after helping out at the Bungendore Trans Tasman Dog Trials last month, we have decided to attempt to train him to a level that we can enter him in the trail next year. Very challenging, the dog has heaps of instinct and natural talent. The handler needs to learn everything. Now I am reading everything on trialling, dog training, practicing and listening. I am finding the main problem I am having is getting the practice right. I think I need to make sure the training set up such that I never lose control of the lesson. Every lesson sure teaches me something and Roy remains keen despite losing all the sheep in the tussock.
The break from major sheep work is over, the ewes are due to start lambing at the end of August. So we need to bring them in to be drenched (depending on worm counts), vaccinated with 6 in 1,give them a general check over and we will number the backs of the Stud ewes to help with mothering up and stud records. Then let them into a better paddock with plenty of shelter for lambing. We will also start fox baiting with 1080 to reduce numbers and predation before they start. A bit of fox spotlighting should also improve the effectiveness of the fox lights. Hopefully, those cranky llamas will be on guard as well now they have their own babies. As attractive as they are they haven't fully convinced us that they are effective.
Hard to believe we have been off the air for a couple of weeks. We have been busy getting ready, then cleaning up from the family gathering. As we have seven adult children between us and they have partners and children we have decided to abandon trying for a family Christmas. Instead, we have now decided on the mid year family gathering as an alternative. The important thing being getting together and reconnecting at least once a year. This was the first one and it was great, only change is next year we will try for Autumn instead of the heart of winter.
When we were kids in the bush, every Queens Birthday weekend, we would have a huge bonfire in someone's paddock. Over the year all the fallen timber would be gathered up in readiness and we would save our pocket money for fire crackers. Great fire crackers, catherine wheels and penny bungers, sky rockets and big flash stuff. Just the most fun night for kids. The fire usually started so hot and high that no one could get within 6 metres of it. The adults relaxed and caught up and the kids had the delicious fun of playing in the dark the excitement of the crackers, and the wonder of it all.
Last weekend we attended a bonfire that was truely magnificent, sparks 20 meters into the sky as it was lit, guitars and great pots of warming food we had a great night. But, no Crackers, something lost for this new generation. What are your Bonfire memories?
There has been a lot of advertising over the last few years about saving the planet by going Veg. This is based on the idea that lot feeding animals, (as many sheep and cattle we buy from the butcher are). Also, many lambs are finished on crops, all involving many inputs of fuel, ploughing, water etc.
The dorper, however, has been purpose bred to grow and fatten on grass, no large inputs of energy, and by eating grass on land where no other food will grow, stimulates carbon uptake, preventing grass from becoming tall and rank,so it grows and takes up more CO2.
So few, realise that all living things rely on the simple equation of life
ie CO2 + Sunlight = plant matter ( fossilised as coal and oil)
plant matter + fire = CO2 + heat (original sun's energy)
plant matter + animal = energy for growth & movement + CO2
The rabbit skins are tanned and I am relatively pleased with the results. But like everything we do the first time is the learning time and I would make a better job next time. The removal of the membrane on the skin needs almost fanatical attention for the best result, and working the skins before they become too dry to break them is so much easier than when . I think I will make them into a rug/blanket by cutting them into squares and sewing them together. I need about another 60 skins so it will be a work in progress. I also need to work out how to sew them together. I read that you can use a sewing machine, but I am not convinced that my machine would cope with the thickness. I guess I will need to experiment.
The method for tanning, for anyone interested.
Wash the skins to get any blood off them and remove any fat or meaty stuff sticking to the skins.
Add I cup of Salt and 1 cup of alum to 5 litres of water mix well and add the skins, we used a tub so the skins had plenty of room. Soak the skins in this for 2 days stirring twice a day to make sure every surface is getting plenty of contact with the solution.
Next the skins need to be fleshed - this is the removal of the fatty tissue and flesh to expose the actual leather so it is exposed to the chemical action. Rabbits have a clearly defined under tissue which, after the first soaking can be peeled of in one piece if you are careful, once this is done put them back into the solution and keep up the stirring twice a day routine for another seven days.
Next remove all of them from the solution and squeeze out the excess liquid. Then wash each pelt in a mild detergent, then rinse well and squeeze out excess liquid again.
Now, we are up to working the leather- the hides need to be stretched and worked to soften the leather as it dries. This works best while it is slightly damp, you can feel and see how well the softening is going as the skins are worked. Because the rabbit skin is thin, I think this process is easier than if you were tanning a sheep or cow skin. Also dry in the shade so they don't dry too quickly.
When it is dry give the fur a good brushing and put a little leather dressing on the skin side. Not sure what product is best for this. Easy.
Most of our method came from Martin's Aunty Margaret Abbott's instructions and Mother Earth News website.
The oven is going very well, nearly complete. After surviving the morning (Martin swinging off a ladder in a freezing, howling gale), me lending my weight to stabilize the ladder, and the unfinished roof on the new shed flapping like the percussion section of an infants school band, we thought a change of pace for the afternoon would be nice. So, we have lit the first fire in the pizza oven, not too hot, just enough to see if it will draw properly. Looks like all systems go. Just hope the wind doesn't change direction and create a whole new crisis on the shed front.
The internal floor of the oven has a radius of 42cm, with a door opening of 53cm, the height of the dome has to be 42cm which means ( apparently) the door arch is 265mm, ( 63% of the dome height) to make it draw properly.
Used 50% clay, 40% sand and 10% cement. The whole shell being half bricks using the clay mix as mortar and for the skin coating.
The fridge of chickens has been sorted. Neatly trussed, put into plastic bags and frozen, remembering that presentation is so important in food the better they look the keener we are to eat them. We have eaten a couple already and they are very nice, excellent flavour and good texture. So many chickens that we buy are almost a pastey texture when cooked, this is so much better without being tough.