Monday, August 11, 2014

Birth and death. The circle of life spins around again.

It's so sad when a cow loses a calf. She just stands there with it as if she's willing it to get up. She licks it and nuzzles it and sits there with it the whole day. One of our cows had a calf this morning and it was dead. A perfectly formed baby with not a mark on it just laying there on the ground. Meanwhile we are beating ourselves up about it wondering what happened. We hate losing animals, that sad feeling never gets any better. I look out the window now and see Creamy still sitting with her dead calf and feel so sad for her.

Blondie and her new little one.

I discovered Creamy had a calf this morning after I had walked down the paddock to check on Blondie, who had her calf yesterday. Blondie's calf is strong, following mum around and drinking well. It didn't look good as I approached Creamy and saw the calf laying still on the ground. I stood with Creamy for awhile and talked to her saying it was alright, don't worry, these things happen sometimes, next time will be better. Yes I know I'm too soft. We weren't expecting any calves until next month so these are a surprise. We will be keeping a good eye on the rest of them now.

Petunia's new piglets.

We also had one of our Wessex Saddlebacks pigs, Petunia, farrow yesterday. She had sixteen with thirteen surviving. This morning Perky, another of our Saddlebacks farrowed. She had six little ones. It always amazes me that when you have the worst weather that's when one of your stock gives birth. Yesterday was a day of rain, showers, cold and snow on the ridges. I am now waiting on my Black Faced Suffolk girls to lamb. Let's hope all goes well with them. Hopefully they will lamb underneath the new shelter we have just put up for them. I noticed the girls have started to use the shelter where as before they didn't want to go near it even though our ram Leo was using it. Leo (Leonardo) is a good boy he loves a pat and a cuddle and a play. I have to watch out when I turn my back because sometimes he looks like he's going to bunt me and I don't fancy falling flat on my face. I know he just wants to play but he is stronger than me.

Gwendoline and Clover.

Leo (Leonardo).

The sheep shelter.
Update on our hand raised piglets. A few days ago we moved our five little ones down into the pig shed area. They were starting to really trash the garden etc. they are now three and a half months old. They are strong and healthy and look like they were on their mum all the time. None of that poddy look at all. Pinky's runt of the litter Milly has been living with them too. We really thought we weren't going to be successful in hand raising piglets but we did it. When the time is right to sell them I will be selling them as breeders. After hand raising them for all this time and becoming close to them I don't want to see them go off to the other place. 

Our 5 hand raised piglets and Milly.

The pig feed. Cadburys chocolate and grains.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Loss on a farm can be heartbreaking.

As I look at our previous blog post I see it's been four months since I last wrote something. That four months has just flown by and I wonder where it has gone. So much has happened. Sometimes it just goes by in a blur. 

Roisin with a previous litter.

It is with a sad heart that I write this new post. On April the 25th we lost a very dear member of our animal family. One of our Tamworth Sows Roisin is no longer with us. She was the last of our Tammies to give birth this round and she had a massive prolapse while farrowing. It's a terrible sight to see and one I wouldn't wish on anybody. We have never had this happen before. We were devastated and through our tears we had to come to grips with the situation rapidly. We quickly weighed up whether to keep the surviving piglets. It didn't take us long (a matter of minutes) to say yes we'll try and hand raise them. There were seven piglets alive and we made sure they had time to have some colostrum. We then gathered them up and made a warm bed under a heat lamp in the laundry. The next and very important job was to stop Roisin's suffering, if indeed she was, as I don't really know if she was in pain as there was no signs of it. She was probably in shock. There was no way we could have saved her, believe me if we could've we would have. I said my goodbyes and left, then poor John had the task of putting her down. I know you are suppose to be tough when you are a farmer but as we are getting older we are getting more softer. 

When they were just born.

Sometimes where there is death there is also life, so they say, and consequently it was for us, here in the form of seven little wriggling squirming ginger piglets. We pulled out all stops to try and help save these little guys who had lost their mum. We googled articles on how to hand raise piglets. We found that one of the best milks to feed them was goats milk.  Luckily we live right next door to a goat dairy. So with the help of Mathom Farm we collected goats milk about every third day. We then mixed it with egg yolks, our own untreated honey and a bit of charcoal. We fed them every two hours and watched for signs of diarrhoea and upset tummies etc. They say the first two to three weeks isn't so bad but once you get over that stage it can turn nasty and you can lose them. At about the three week stage we did lose two little ones. They just didn't do so well and died. The five who were left just thrived and now at the seven week stage they are growing in leaps and bounds. They have been moved out into the wood shed next to the house with their heat lamp and straw bed. We have weaned them on to a calf replacer milk powder and I am still adding the egg yolk, honey and a little charcoal. They are still getting their warm milk feed every two hours and we have introduced some grain mix to them as well. The smallest one is still bottle fed and the others now feed out of bowls. They are very demanding and take a bit of time out of the day. 

Getting into mischief inside.

I've hand fed plenty of lambs, calves and even a wallaby over the years but piglets are very different little critters to hand-rear. Even though you are connecting with them while hand feeding, they still don't like being picked up and fidget, wriggle and squeal every time. They follow me around and jump on my lap when I kneel down but don't get over friendly like a calf or a lamb does. They certainly have a mind of their own. They do make you laugh with their antics and if I accidentally leave the door open and they come inside they quickly get into lots of mischief. One of the cutest moments is when they sneak onto our old dog Smudge's bed and lay together in a pig pile with little smiles on their faces. So far so good with these little guys they look like they are going to survive. They are strong, healthy, lively and robust. Only time will tell but I think they will be okay. 

The smallest one is still getting bottle fed.

The others are on bowls now.

RIP Roisin you were a great mum and a gentle soul.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

It's Fencing Time.

Well we are finally getting around to fencing our top paddock. Having just one large paddock isn't the way to manage your pasture here in Tassie. We were used to very large paddocks in far western Queensland which doesn't work well here. We are cutting it up into five paddocks starting with a Bull paddock for Monty. John and I were out fencing in the blazing hot sun last weekend (yes I did say blazing hot). Hey it does get hot here in Tasmania although it took a little longer to get that way this year.  We had a late start to Summer which didn't help my vegetable seed planting one bit. I've only got a small selection of veggies growing this season, much less than I originally planned.

Fencing time has started.

This years calves are growing in leaps and bounds and Mums are doing well too even with this dry feed we have. Can't wait for Autumn to roll around again and the regular rains to fall. These fenced up paddocks are going to come in real handy when we are ready to wean them. Two of our Wessex Saddlebacks (Perky and Petunia) have had another litter of piglets each. They caught us on the hop late one evening with both of them having their piglets in the paddock. We left them there overnight as it wasn't cold weather. Both are very good mothers so we weren't very concerned. Came back in the morning to check and they had been sleeping facing each other belly to belly with piglets in the middle keeping warm. We needed to move everyone up to the maternity section of our shed so the little ones could sleep under the heat lamps in a sectioned off corner known as 'the creep'. This way they stay warm and also safe from the possibility of maybe getting rolled on. They are able to get under the sectioned off corner but mum can't. We moved the piglets first, in a wheel barrow and a crate and then enticed mums up with some food. There were 25 piglets in total. After a couple of days we opened the pens up to the outside and everyone can come and go as they please.

A barrow full of piglets.

We moved the piglets in this crate and the wheel barrow.

The 'creep' where babies stay warm and safe.
The Dung Beetles have been busy. Marvelous little creatures.

Hello from Genevieve.
There's been a bit of news on the sheep front. Our Black Faced Suffolk girls, Gwendoline and Clover now have a ram to boss about. His name is Leonardo and he's a good looking Black Faced Suffolk boy. The girls recently went down the road to another farm to get shorn. They look much better now with their new hairdos. Less weight for them to carry around too. We got told they were a tad obese so that was a bit embarrassing. We've put them in the Jenny Craig paddock for awhile. We sold a lot of Geese just before Christmas so we are now back to a manageable number again. Hopefully this year will be better for breeding as last year the flood washed a few nests away. Luckily there weren't any goslings hatched in any of them at the time as they had just started to nest. Well that's about all the news at the moment. Life is still revolving nicely on Leven River Farm.  Michelle.
It's always nice to get a good licking.