Monday, August 30, 2010

Settling down

Such a lovely colour
Our friend Giovanni came for a visit on Sunday and took these lovely photos of out new foal and her mum. The big fright and exhaustion of the previous night fading away, she's ready to explore the world a little...

Practising trotting, pretty difficult with those long legs!

Horse thieves!!

Well! What a rambunctious weekend THAT was!

Nova and her foal are kept separate from the other horses in one of the two top paddocks. On Saturday night just after the foal was born, the other horses lined the fence and stood snorting and stamping, eyes lit up with amazement at this new scrap of life that appeared out of nowhere (“Correction!” says Nova.”Not Quite out of nowhere!!”).

We’ve had trouble before with jealous mares stealing each other’s foals; and I have been warned that geldings can be violent towards foals.

Then, sometime around midnight on Saturday, perhaps beguiled by the eager eyes and smell of the other horses, the foal must have stumbled or fallen through the electric fence (probably  zapped in the process), whereupon she was promptly dragged away by the herd, to the anguish of her mum. I noticed Nova calling in distress and went out to see, and saw the foal had vanished, along with all the other horses who from the sounds of it were calling and snorting and carrying on down in the gully. It being very dark, the only thing we could do was set Nova free and hope she’d find her foal quickly.

Nova charged to the other horses in a white streak of righteous fury and tried to take her foal back but even her bravery had not much effect against five overexcited horses milling around in a frenzy. As things got wilder and a serious horse fight was about to erupt, we saw the foal thrown heavily onto the ground by the solid weight of the big bay gelding Emu, and though she got up she was thrown heavily again and lay still. My heart nearly stopped, but she moved a little, and I hoped she was only stunned. But it was very dangerous with the big horses throwing their weight around, kicking and biting and the foal down. John shouted that if we got Saturn the crazy lead mare away, things might calm down. I yelled to John that I’d get help and headcollars, and raced back to the house and called Briony and Nelson (who was having his body painted for Briony’s school art project). We set back at a run and found the horses charging around like beserkers and the foal being battered left and right. I threw myself into the fray, I couldn’t see John in the dark, and anyway I needed my eyes and focus to catch wild Saturn. She wheeled and spun away and charged at Nova, and so I launched myself at her in a rugby-style tackle and wrapped my arms around her neck and hauled her to a standstill, forced a rope headcollar onto her head and dragged her off to the stockyard. Elara followed, bless her, but got out immediately through the stockyard race. Briony came soon after dragging a recalcitrant Emu, so I tied him up firmly near Saturn, and fixed the race closed. Rascal came hesitantly into the stockyard of his own accord and soon John came leading tall Gandhi, his eyes white-rimmed in the darkness. After that it was quite easy to catch Elara and put her in with the others. We tied all gates shut and headed back down towards the gully to see what the damage was.

Nova was there guarding her very spent and bruised foal, who despite all that was still standing on four miraculously unbroken legs. The poor shattered thing couldn’t walk though so John picked her up in his arms and carried her as I led a very worried Nova back to her paddock. We left the two of them in the middle of the paddock well away from fences and stood and watched rather helplessly as the foal stood wobbling in an exhausted daze, too tired to try and drink.

By the time we got to bed it was very late. Having done so much running, my cough worsened and I spent much time coughing up choking phlegm. Every now and then I would go and check on the foal, but she was thankfully standing or lying close by her watchful mum. I gave up on sleep by about 5 am and instead hiked off to see how the other horses were doing in their penitentiary. I brought them water, but they didn’t seem particularly thirsty. They just stood there blinking, as if butter wouldn't melt in their mouth.

The next day John and I decided that the wisest thing would be to entirely separate the big horses from the foal (visually and physically) by creating a separate paddock at the rear of the property, which meant running a new fence right across the property.  It’s something we’ve been wanting to do for a while, as paddock rotation is far healthier for the pasture.  So we set to and gathered materials: we needed about 300 metres of wire; pickets, fenceposts, gates, and the strength of our legs and arms. We have a great posthole digger which brings earth up to the surface as you work: what a blessing that piece of engineering is. Another piece of clever engineering we couldn’t do without is the fence strainer, which I love using. But the ground is rocky and even despite the good tools it’s very hard work.
Recycling Peter Corones' old yard gate

As we worked on the fence we would occasionally throw sallies of rebuke at the big horses still imprisoned in the stockyard, calling them thieves and miscreants. John, watching Elara standing to one side as the three bay horses bullied Rascal along the fenceline, nipping his rump, suggested that Elara could convey to them not to be such arseholes in future!!
Eastern view

At about 3.30 pm Emily our young friend came and gave a hand with the fence building, bless her.
And by 6pm, we had finished a beautiful new fence right across the property. We let the prisoners out (So There you Idiots). By then we were well more than two hours late for our social appointment but our good friends David and Libby were most understanding.
Butter wouldn't melt ...

We had a lovely dinner there even though my hands were so incredibly sore and tired I had great difficulty holding the knife and fork. David told me wonderfully engaging stories about his time working sheep in New Zealand with his team of beautifully trained dogs. He has photos on his wall of bright-eyed Border collies, kelpies and mixed breeds, happy faces with tongues lolling. Libby gave us two whole buckets of avocadoes from her tree. They are kind and generous people and we had a lovely time.

We headed to bed exhausted at about 11 pm  … but not before checking on our little foal, of course, who was nursing from her good brave gentle mum Nova.

Sunday morning still tired ...

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Yaaaaaayyyyy!!! Finally !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Good Nova! Well done gorgeous girl, what a BEAUTIFUL filly you have brought to us!!!
Born this evening (just quietly arrived while we weren't looking - we were at the Myth for dinner and a bonfire).
The first photo, taken by John
Mum and foal are very well.

More pics tomorrow, this is just a tantaliser ....

You can tell Nova's pretty pleased with her new baby (who is as you can see very tall for all that she's only two hours old).

Nearly there!

This photo may not be to the liking of the faint-hearted, but I think it's beautiful and it's a VERY GOOD SIGN of marvellous things to come very soon!!!! Stay tuned!!
Saturday morning :-)

Update on Mr & Mrs Eastern Rosella

Mrs Eastern Rosella had visited her potential new home a few times, and  I noticed she came out of the box each time with a tiny scrap of hay (I had lined the box with soft hay). She would then ostentatiously throw the wee scrap out.

Obviously not her taste in furnishings.

I checked with my dear friend Giovanni who knows much about birds, and he told me that rosellas like to nest on sawdust rather than hay or grass.

So, when Mrs E.R. wasn't looking, I sent in the interior decorators in and had them remove all the offending hay and replace it with lovely sawdust from our fallen river red gum tree.

Now she's *much* happier.

New arrivals: Spring has sprung!

Bantam brooding: last Friday, at 20 days
Our millefleur Belgian bantam hen worked very hard protecting her eggs against marauding snakes and rats. And she was rewarded with nine very cute offspring: tiny particles of fluff running around cheeping their heads off and keeping her very busy! She's very happy with them and so are we. Belgian bantams are quite rare and it's good to see some genetic diversity flourishing...
Hatched yesterday (Friday), on the 28th day

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Australian weather

Here's the weather report for you (from the radio, no picture, only sound):

I love radio... :-D

Have a lovely day!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Hot property inspection

Inspecting the entrance
Mr and Mrs Eastern Rosella came for a property inspection last week, to check out the new rural development.

"Romeo Romeo wherefore art thou..?"
Mrs Rosella seemed quite chuffed with the architectural design and Mr Rosella looked satisfied with the terms of agreement.

"Lovely views from here darling ..."
They said they'd let me know their decision in due course.

More body art

Nelson's wings
Briony draws roses and thorns on Yarrow
Inspired by the computer game "A world of Goo"?
Briony has been practising her great talent on the willing live canvases of Nelson her goodnatured boyfriend, and her siblings Tess and Yarrow.

Tess had some jaws added :-D
If you like Briony's art you can some more here and here.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

House for rent (free)

For rent: lovely new home with fine views

There are a zillion jobs John and I could do around here ... all varying states of urgency ... But when I saw the rainbow lorikeets hunting for a place to nest (the previous owner of this place having chopped down many beautiful trees, thus depriving them of their homes), I decided it was a matter of great urgency to build a potential home for a pair of lorikeets. I used this simple Kestrel nest box plan but adapted the size to cater for nesting lorikeets.The box is about 20 x 20 x 30 cm with a hinged top lid and a 6cm diameter entrance hole.

The only other adpatation I implemented was placing three perches which went right through to the interior of the box, which would allow fledgelings to climb out.

Now let's wait for occupants :-)

Nesting box in pine with Tung oil finish


Last weekend, to chase away the sadness of losing Remy I decided to build a little bookshelf / cupboard-thing for in the toilet (otherwise how else to keep a loo orderly with four teenage girls in the house??). I sketched it at breakfast, went out with John and bought the wood and built it in the afternoon. 
Finished product in Tasmanian oak
Very therapeutic.