"We must achieve the character and acquire the skills to live much poorer than we do. We must waste less. We must do more for ourselves and for each other. It is either that or continue merely to think and talk about changes that we are inviting catastrophe to make. The great obstacle is simply this: the conviction that we cannot change because we are dependant on what is wrong. But that is the addict's excuse, and we know that it will not do."
—Wendell Berry

Monday, 27 June 2016

The month continues

This has not been a good month.
The Quoll attacks have continued. I was late shutting the chooks door one night and the Quoll managed to get in and slaughter almost every chook remaining. I was appalled at the wanton savagery of the attacks. The Quolls did not eat anything, nor carry off any of the dead, they simply slaughtered. I then took precautions to protect the remaining four injured chooks. Unfortunately the largest Quoll managed an impossible leap to an air vent at the back of the pens and finished his work last night. I arrived too late and saw the culprit sitting at the top of the air vent. In a fit of pique I managed to dong him with the chooks feed bowl to send a message and he took off into the dark.
We buried the chooks under fruit trees to at least make some use of the carcasses. I suppose the only up side is that we were soon going to replace the entire flock anyway as they were mostly beyond laying. I just wanted their ends to be a little quicker and kinder than this.
On the same day little Sen was run over by a car on the road out front of the property. We are all very upset by this. She was a beautiful, delicate, little thing. Her sweet nature perfectly countered Reis' tomboy-ish nature. Rei is distraught and clings to me constantly. She will get over it though. Unfortunately that is just the way of farm life. It is a dangerous environment and the Australian bush can be very unforgiving to the unwary.

Thursday, 23 June 2016

The month of blood!

Sounds like a horror movie doesn't it? This month we have been besieged by predators all around. I don't know why, food must be hard to come by at the moment.
The pigeons have been constantly stalked by a bolder than usual Grey Goshawk, the Pythons are on the move in the warmer than usual weather, the mouse plague is still going strong despite the efforts of the three cats and wild dogs are roaming nearby each night although our maremma, Alessa, has been keeping them at a distance.
Last night the chooks were attacked by Quolls. We had finished dinner when we heard a commotion from the chook shed and the sound of a chook in distress. I grabbed a torch and ran out to the chook shed in thongs (footwear- not the undies!) pausing long enough to grab the axe as I shot past. I was fairly certain a big scrub python was running amok in with the chooks. However, when I got there I was confronted by a sizeable Quoll busily savaging a chook and feathers everywhere. The strangest thing was that he was completely unconcerned by my presence and continued killing his meal with me standing close enough to touch him.  It was only when I began banging the wire and making a fuss did he reluctantly retreat. A large Rhode island red chook lay dead and half eaten, a bantam hen lay dead and savaged and another hen was wounded. I was amazed at not only the savagery of the attack but also the complete lack of concern at my presence. I secured the chook shed, which had been left open through my own neglect, and removed the bodies to a nearby location so the quolls could hopefully finish their meal and not try to dig into the pens. The large, I am guessing, male quoll was soon joined by a smaller quoll, probably female. Once again largely unworried by the nearby humans.
Here I am conflicted. Quolls are an endangered species and so I overjoyed at having them living in the area. Conflicted with the need to protect my livestock. I suppose the solution will be to ensure all possible prey are secured each night and to accept the losses of any that are not.

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Spare milk

There is never really any such thing as spare milk. What we don't drink we make into cheese. Failing that it will go to fatten pigs or meat chickens. However, on days we do not save the milk for ourselves in the sterile bucket, there is always a little extra for the cats.

June update

It has been a very odd beginning to the winter this year. A month of mucky weather before finally turning on a week of beautiful skies and cold nights. Finally it is cold enough to have a fire at night and snuggle up under the doona. The rain, out of season, was hard as it mucked up my work schedule.
In a fit of desperation I tried to clear an old garden bed of a noxious vine (I always understood it to be called Brazilian Passion vine but a search has yielded no results). It is a rampantly growing vine that strongly resembles domestic passion fruit vines in every way except it bears no edible fruit. It is also a strong grower and will readily smother whole trees if left unchecked. The vine was well entangled in the undergrowth and had climbed up into the trees above. So in a fit of either brilliance, stupidity or possibly desperation I took a long length of one inch rope and tied it around the middle of the vine. My intention was to use the tractor to pull the vine free of the garden bed in one mass. I have done this successfully several times before on a smaller scale. Unfortunately the vine was well anchored at both ends. The tractor ended up snapping the rope several times and then gouged deep ruts into the orchard lawn.
This gave me the "Irrits" so I fetched my trusty chainsaw and cut away everything the vine was attached to. This meant felling every tree in the garden as well. I then cut it all up and burned it off as much as I could. The bigger stuff will need more time to dry yet so I will have a bonfire towards the end of winter.
It is a pity I don't have a before and after shot as the effect would be quite dramatic. I also intend to fell most of the trees in the foreground leaving a rather handsome Tibouchina. My wife was rather taken aback at the extent of my glorious victory over the rampant vine hordes. Apparently I was just supposed to be "neatening up the garden beds". Oh well.
On the plus side I think we have found a good site for my new potting shed.