Archive for July, 2007

Rain and More Rain

Sunday, July 15th, 2007

It is raining again today, but nothing like the extreme rain we had a few days ago. All the paddocks on the Farmlet are still very soggy, but we are lucky to be on high ground — out of the way of the flood waters that filled this valley and surrounding areas last week. The newly-dug dam is full of water and holding up well. We feel glad that we took the time to plant lupins around the top of the dam this Autumn to help hold the loose soil in place. Kevin wrote about the rain and flooding several days ago on his other site.

At least all the wet weather is giving us a chance to do some indoor chores. I spent today tidying and re-organising the larder and the rest of the kitchen. During a fine spell, we took some food out to the goats, and went for a walk up the hill to see the cows and new calf. For anyone who’s interested, Kevin updated the post about Rosie’s calf yesterday, adding another photo. We are pleased that the calf looks stronger and livelier every time we check!

Farmlet Reader Contributes $17

Sunday, July 15th, 2007

Regular Farmlet contributor, IL, sent $17. Thanks, IL!

Rosie’s Calf!

Saturday, July 14th, 2007

Breaking news from the Farmlet! Rosie, one of our dear cows, gave birth to a fine little black calf late this afternoon, up at the top of the hill.

Since last weekend, we had been thinking that Rosie’s calf could be born any day. Her udder had filled up, and she was looking a bit swollen under the tail. I’d been hurrying out of bed most mornings (even in the torrential rain) to see whether the calf had been born during the night. By now we had started to get used to seeing Rosie looking like she was about to burst and nothing happening! Just before midday today I realised that we hadn’t been out to check her since yesterday evening. Feeling like a very neglectful cowherd, I rushed out to the cow paddock. I found Rosie all the way up the top of the hill, standing next to something that looked like a giant jellyfish. It was a clear sac of fluids, lying behind her on the grass, and I knew this must mean that the calf was on its way.


Kevin and I are novice cowherds, and had never seen a cow calving before. Once it was happening, we were very excited, but realised we had no idea what to expect. How would we know if something was wrong? We went to check Rosie again. She was lying on her side, and we could see one hoof sticking out. Was this normal? Probably, but we weren’t sure! Rosie was working very hard, and for a long time there seemed to be no progress. Kevin walked down to the house to consult Google and call my Dad (who knows a lot more about cows than we do!). No cause for concern, he reported. And sure enough, before long two front hooves came into view, followed by a little black nose. Once Rosie managed to push the calf’s head out, the body followed in a rush. A twitching, wriggling black bundle lay on the grass behind Rosie.

Rosie cleans her calf

First steps

It was wonderful to watch Rosie turn around and start licking her calf. As she licked the little one clean, Coco and Esmerelda came over to see what was going on. Once satisfied that this had nothing to do with them, they wandered off to eat grass again. Evening closed in. The calf tested its wobbly legs, and managed to stand up for a moment before collapsing on the ground again. We couldn’t tell the calf’s sex yet, but it looks like a healthy little creature. Rosie seems very pleased with it. We look forward to checking up on them again tomorrow morning, and will keep the website updated regarding their progress.

Update: The Next Day

He’s a healthy little bull calf.

About 17 hours old

The Grand Goat Entrance

Monday, July 9th, 2007

One fine day, Kevin and I took our trusty ute (pickup truck) to the local quarry to pick up a load of gravel. Our cunning plan was to get several loads of gravel, and drive them up the hill to the site of the proposed cow shed. We’d then spread them on the site to avoid ending up with a muddy bog once the cows started walking over the ground near the shed.

Once the small scoop of gravel had landed in the bed of the truck, however, the plan didn’t look quite so cunning any more. The back tyres were obviously under a huge amount of pressure from the weight of the gravel. Kevin was concerned that the tyres might blow out on the trip back to the Farmlet. We drove home very slowly and carefully, and inched our way up the bumpy driveway. So much for our plans! There was no way we were prepared to risk taking the truck up the hill (over quite rough terrain) to the shed site with all that weight on the back. So, now we had the truck parked in the driveway, with a heavy load of gravel on the back, and no idea what to do next. It didn’t take us long to decide that walking up the hill to the shed site with little buckets of gravel just wouldn’t be worth the effort. The gravel looked too coarse and sharp for dumping on the driveway, and we couldn’t think where else to put it.

Entrance to goat paddock

We wandered off to attend to some other chores as we pondered the dilemma. Eventually, inspiration struck. Plan B: Kevin very gingerly backed the truck partway down the driveway to the gate of the upper goat paddock. After laying down a piece of plastic pipe to form a culvert, he began to unload the gravel into the ditch between the driveway and the gate to the goat paddock. After a good deal of shoveling and spreading gravel, there it was: A Grand Goat Entrance, where before there had only been a damp, muddy ditch. This ditch had irked human and goat alike when coming and going from the goat paddock. We had planned to improve the entrance eventually, but with all the other jobs to be taken care of around the place, it wasn’t a high priority. We never thought that we’d have such a fine goat paddock entrance so soon!

This was a sobering lesson in respecting the limits of our machinery. We think we damaged the front ball joint during the exercise, and were lucky not to blow any tyres. On the positive side: Even though our plans for taking the gravel up the hill fell through, at least something worthwhile was achieved from the whole debacle.

And what do the goats think? Well, frankly, Daphne and Lulu are not very pleased with life just at the moment. It annoys them that we’ve fixed the fences around the goat paddocks such that they can no longer escape and trash various trees around the place. They also dislike the damp and cold of winter, and when the rain starts they bleat pathetically at us as if we are personally responsible for their misery. Since this is their first winter, I wonder if perhaps they can’t even imagine that the cold damp weather will end one day and spring will come again. Poor goats! I’m keeping lots of fresh, dry hay in their goat house, so that they have a cozy place to shelter, and trimming their hooves extra vigilantly to prevent foot-rot setting in as they tread the damp ground. We are also taking them extra fodder whenever we can. Today I pruned the herb garden and one of the olive trees, so they enjoyed sage and tarragon prunings, along with some nice olive branches. Both grunted with delight as they devoured bunches of sage.

The goats are growing up. They are eight months old now, and started going into season a couple of months ago. Now, as well as bleating about the rain and the wet grass, they are also periodically crying out to any passing billy goats. What a din. Just as well our neighbours don’t live too close! We hope no billy goats will respond to their call, since Daphne and Lulu are still much too young to be getting in kid. We need to wait until they are fully mature to breed them.

And yes, Daphne and Lulu do seem to appreciate having a nice gravelly entrance for coming and going from their paddock. They never did like having to put their dainty goat hooves into the damp ground in and around the ditch.

Farmlet Reader Contributes $25

Friday, July 6th, 2007

BS sent $25. Thanks!