"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

Friday, 16 September 2016

Spring Update 2016

This year it actually feels like spring. This is not the usual in northern Australia as we usually get a more simple variation of only two seasons. Hot and dry or hot and wet, also known as winter and summer. It has been an unusually wet winter. We had not needed to pump water from the creek even once so far. This has been good for the grass but less than optimal for the outdoors jobs we traditionally save for this time of year.

Nevertheless we have managed to put a lid on the second household water tank that has languished lidless for a year or more. The lid or roof to a tank is important as it keeps the water therein dark and cool. This prevents the growth of algae and other such nasties that I would prefer to not have to drink.

Unfortunately other jobs have not gone so well. The hothouse over the veggie garden remains un-assembled. This is partly due to needing some materials but mostly due to my own overbearing inertia. We did attempt to get the tractor in there a few weeks ago to bore out the footings. However the bees began to object strongly due to the proximity of the tractor to their hives. Point taken, I will suit up next time I try.

A month ago, or so, we purchased six ex-battery hens to give us some sort of egg supply until we can replace our original flock after the quoll attack. Now I must say I was dubious indeed about getting ex-battery hens. I had done this once before when I was a much younger man and it was a terrible experience- The birds had spent their entire lives crammed into tiny cages and had no idea how to simply be chickens. They did not recognize any food but factory pellets, could not scratch and did not even know to move inside out of the rain let alone perch. I had to teach them all of this. Their beaks had been clipped so severely that they were left with a horny stub making it all but impossible to eat. On this point I will say that in my experience with poultry (of over some twenty-nine years) there is absolutely no excuse for beak clipping under any circumstances! It is a completely barbaric act akin to cutting the nose and lips off a child. For that matter there is no excuse for keeping any animal in battery conditions either.
But back to the case in point. The six ex-battery hens we purchased were certainly an improvement on my previous experiences. Although they had been beak clipped it was at least fairly moderate, not that I approve still, leaving them with a reasonable ability to feed themselves. They were a lot more alert and learned much more quickly even though I still had to teach them about scratching, perching and greens. My wife found it hilarious to see me squatting down beside the hens showing them how to dig for worms (Before anyone says anything, I used my fingers in the dirt! I did not scratch like a chicken with my feet...). I suppose it is good that they get a chance at a new life in a way.

In other news we have taken both cows off the milk (ceased milking) so they have a rest period before dropping their calves late this year. We are hoping everything goes well after last seasons shenanigans. Mind you, the two dairy heifers we raised sold readily and paid quite well upon sale, clearing a few bills. Bonnie's calf, Arthur, is growing well. He looks a lot like his dad, Francis, (We did not name him) although he has his mothers pugnacious attitude. He has been sent over to the neighbours place to spend some time with his dad and keep the grass down. He is developing a magnificent build and I hope to grow him right out to three years.

Today I am continuing the clean out and rearrangement of my workshop. Over the years my acquired tools and materials have threatened to smother any chance of actually working in there. So I have ruthlessly begun a major throwing out of rubbish, evicted the resident pythons, several rats (much to the delight of the cats) and one small termite colony in a pile of beautiful old laminate sheets I was storing for eventual use. Not too happy about the last. Then comes the process of storing all of my tools as well as the tools I have inherited from my father so that they will be safe and preserved. In addition I have given myself back a work place. I hope this will be my last clean out  before I build the new workshop.

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