The Farm in Diggers Valley

The week beginning the 15th of March 2008.
Saturday the 15th
a little green frog

I usually clean the Road Flat paddock trough as the cattle go into the paddock - it gets a lot of road dust in it and looks pretty murky quite quickly. Over the last few months I've found a number of frogs in or on it. This one was very small and just sat there in the sun, until I made it move, to avoid hurting it with the big siphon hose.

wethers and lambs

This afternoon, it being six weeks exactly since the lambs were shorn and vaccinated, we got them in to the yards and gave them their booster 5in1 vaccine. Since it's also time to put the ram out with the ewes, we drafted the sheep into two new mobs: Damian, Bendy and the remaining hogget wether joined the seven lambs.
We managed to get the lambs to follow the wethers which followed us across the bottom of the Flat 1 paddock, away from their mothers for the first time, into Flat 2, which I judge will be far enough away for them to stay put.

ram demonstrating Flehmen reaction

Mr Ram went in with the four ewes in the little triangle paddock by the driveway. They're out of sight and sound of the lambs, so settled down reasonably quickly.

The ram has just had a good sniff of the urine of one of the ewes and is demonstrating the Flehmen Reaction, which enables him to detect the oestrus status of the ewe. Unfortunately for him, none of them are on heat yet.

Our friend Lynn said she will happily have an orphan lamb this year, so Babette was allowed to go to the ram. Only half her udder works and last year one of her lambs consequently died, despite our efforts to ensure he got a good chance to feed as well as his brother. This year we'll interfere more positively and remove one of them earlier in the piece.

Sunday the 16th
cattle crossing the river

We looked at moving the cattle out of the Road Flat paddock this morning, but they still had enough feed for several hours' grazing. This afternoon I went to check on them and decided to see if they'd go across the river. Most of the calves won't have used the crossing before, although a few may have gone across with their mothers to sit in the small clearing on the other side. Because the river in flood rises to the level of the bottom of the tree trunk at the top right of the picture, it's really difficult to keep the accesses into the river clear, so it's a difficult crossing for the cattle to negotiate, as their legs sink in the mud on either side.

The all went quietly down into the river and once a cow or two, familiar with the crossing, had gone up the other side, they all followed. The whole thing went very well and now we don't have to go back along the road.

Stephan, meanwhile, was out the back running alkathene pipe from the last trough on the line to the bottom of the Big Back paddock and then installed a trough there and one along the way in the Small Hill paddock. It's good to have them finally in place.

Monday the 17th
Dotty and the ram

The excitement begins! Dotty's on heat and the ram is staying very close. It's fairly easy to see when a ram is paying serious attention to a ewe, so in small flocks, there's little need for any marking aids to see which ewes have been mated when.


Moving the cattle out of the House Paddock this afternoon, I realised I was just part of the herd. The cattle were all around me, moving in the direction I was calling them to walk, most of them walking slightly faster than I.

Tuesday the 18th
lambs in the wrong place

I moved the cattle again this morning and gave some of the sheep a big fright! I'd moved them out of this paddock yesterday, in preparation for putting the cows in here, but six of them had made their way back through the electric fence. They very quickly went back in the other direction again, especially when chased by a lot of excited calves.

Wednesday the 19th

We took Finan to the vet today because he has a little mammary lump. It's probably nothing, according to the vet, or it could be a sarcoma which would be fatal, but uncommon in young cats. If it is the latter, he's likely to die if we don't remove it and if we remove it he's likely to die. We'll think about it and monitor its size and shape. Her first thought was that it could be a slug-gun pellet, which isn't altogether unlikely considering he was a dumped kitten and still has a marked fear of children. Who knows what happened to him before we found him. It is possible we might not have noticed the lump until recently, as our method of picking him up has changed with his growing size and changing friendliness.

Thursday the 20th
crossing the wet culvert

This is the horrid culvert between the Back Barn and Middle Back paddocks. It's permanently wet, so the cattle dislike crossing it, sinking into the very sticky mud as they cross. We're not sure how to fix it, so it remains unfixed.

Friday the 21st
Good Friday
view of far hills

The Panguru Range, looking across the bush on the Buselich Reserve, to the South. I took the photo from our highest point, behind our pine trees.

cattle moving out of the Middle Back paddock

Time to move the big mob again, up out of the Middle Back paddock and over into the Big Back.

a new trough

By the time I got back down the hill in the Big Back, the cows had complete emptied the new trough Stephan installed here during the week and were slurping the water up from the bottom, as it continued to run in. They do have a trough in the Middle Back paddock, but perhaps they'd not bothered to use it for the last few hours.