Archive for June, 2007

A 3AM Stroll Through a Cold, Dark and Wet Paddock

Friday, June 29th, 2007

Yesterday, loud cow mooing woke us up at about 3am. It sounded close. We thought it was one of our girls having her calf. I didn’t want to move, but Becky leapt out of bed. Pregnant belly and all, she started getting ready to go out there. If it wasn’t freezing outside, it was damn close. And it was wet. And dark. And muddy.

I managed to convince her to let me go and see what was happening. I started stumbling around, getting dressed, grabbing my Maglite and donning my headlamp. Jacket. Socks. Gumboots. And camera. Check. Ok. I set off into the blackness…

There are cows out here somewhere…


It echoed throughout the valley. I thought for sure that it was one of our girls because it seemed so close. I headed in the general direction of the bellowing moo.


Yep. It was getting louder. I swept my light across the paddock, looking for eyes reflecting back at me.

I remembered going out on a farm bike with Becky’s cousin, Paul, to check on his herd of very in-calf cows last season. I asked, “Are you looking for anything, in particular?”

He said, “Yeah, legs sticking out of bums.”

So, there I was, meandering through the darkness, trying to prepare myself for what I might see.

I eventually found Coco beast. She was very tired and didn’t seem too concerned with who or whatever was shining bright lights at her. She obviously wasn’t having a calf right now.


Still further away. I kept going… And going… Until I bumped into the fence that separates our property from a large bush block to the north.


False alarm.

It wasn’t our cow. It was coming from that bush block.

That cow was so loud, it sounded like it was right outside our window. It just must have been the dead stillness that amplified the call. I trundled back toward the house. Becky was up by this point and she turned on the lights. I saw her headlamp heading towards me. She couldn’t help it. She just had to come out and have a look. I was a bit disappointed to report that it was some other cow wailing away… maybe in heat. Some cows go fully nuts when they’re in heat.

But we don’t have long to wait now… Esmerelda should be calving any day.

Farmlet Readers Contribute AUD$50 and US$15

Monday, June 25th, 2007

IL is back again with a contribution of AUD$50. FL sent US$15. Thank you both very much.

The Green Grass on the Other Side of the Fence

Sunday, June 24th, 2007

Three dairy cows eat a lot of grass! This is certainly true of Rosie, Coco and Esmerelda. The Farmlet is just five acres, and subtracting the goat paddocks, house paddock, orchard, and the strip of native bush along the stream, the area to be grazed is a good deal less than that. Strictly speaking, we should be a 2-cow operation, and this is most obvious in the middle of winter when the growth of the grass slows down.

Kevin and Bruce put in a gate to the property next door

We are very lucky that our next-door neighbours have several acres of grazing land just over the fence. . . and no animals to graze it since they put their fat black steer in the freezer a couple of months ago. Of course, our cows have been keeping a close eye on the green grass on the other side of the fence, especially as the winter has advanced. They would be delighted to assist in keeping those paddocks nicely grazed. Our neighbours have lots of children, and would love to share some of the fresh milk we’ll be getting after the cows have calved. Also, with the extra grazing, we will be able to keep a couple of the calves to raise for the freezer, so that in due course we and our neighhours can enjoy delicious home-grown beef. It seems like this arrangement will work out really well for us and our neighbours.

Rosy enjoys fresh grass, next door

In order to give our eager cows access to the grass on the other side of the fence, we needed to install a new gate. Kevin and I were a bit daunted by this task, but my Dad (who has swung a few gates before) was kind enough to come and help out. Kevin and Dad set to work on this project while I was mucking out the goat house. I returned to find that they’d dug a pretty impressive hole for the new strainer post. I think I could have jumped into that hole and vanished completely. . . although, maybe my pregnant belly would have got me stuck before I got all the way down!

The gate is looking good, though it still needs some finishing touches once the rain has cleared. As for the cows, they look wonderfully contented on their new pasture. From the neighbour’s paddock, they can look straight over the fence into the house paddock. We enjoy the chance to come almost nose-to-nose with them when we are out at the clothes line, or turnip bed.

Lampshades and Mouse Update

Monday, June 18th, 2007

The long winter nights are giving us more time to spend inside in the evenings. Recently, I have enjoyed pulling out a few craft projects to work on. I’m glad to have put the finishing touches on a pair of macrame lampshades that I started last winter. I unearthed the frames and bases for the lampshades when I was helping clear out Mum and Dad’s shed last year. I think I may have received them as a birthday gift many years ago, but had never figured out how to make shades for them. Fortunately, one of my macrame books had a lampshade pattern that I was able to adapt to fit the frames, using a big ball of jute twine that we bought in town. Now we think the lamps will look quite nice in our bedroom.

Lamp with macrame lampshade

An update on the mouse situation: I’m pleased to announce that we have now caught one mouse — using cheese. Unfortunately, we still suspect that there are more of the wee beasties in the house. We’ve decided to try baiting the traps with bacon, based on some helpful suggestions that showed up in response to my last posting. Thanks for the ideas! Bacon is at the top of the shopping list for our next trip to town.

Farmlet Reader Contributes $15

Saturday, June 16th, 2007

GM sent $15. Thanks GM!