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M on May 14th, 2011

The property has seemed really empty since we sold our first lot of Dorper sheep at the end of last year due to the drought.  It was lucky that we did as we certainly would not have had enough feed for them and the horses through summer, especially as we are still hand feeding with no end in sight.  Thats also the reason that the shetland pony and my TB gelding will need to go to new homes as soon as possible.

Its hard to imagine that most of the country is flooding while we are in drought.  The little bit of rain that we had early in the month has started the spread of green on the paddocks, but a few nights of frosts has caused some damage, it certainly makes you realize how dependant our farmers are on our fickle weather – I can’t imagine what it would be like to  gamble hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of seed and fertilizer on the hope that the weather plays nice for the season.

After getting the horse float back after being fixed (from the broken draw bar which is another story), we were able to collect ten new dorper ewes, one had twin boys at foot, and several more are ready to drop in the next 4 weeks or so.  They were all running with a white dorper ram, so the lambs will be mis-marked, but still self shedding.   The plan for this lot then is to wether the boys and grow them on for the freezer, the girls from this lambing will either be sold or used for breeding our own meat lambs.

We also came home with an Inky.  With his perfect Border Collie markings, how could we resist?  He has absolutely no idea that he is a sheep.  As far as he is concerned he is a dog – and an inside dog at that!  He will also be wethered and the plan for him is to be companion to our ram when he is separated from the ewes.

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M on May 6th, 2011

Well today is hatch day here at Eagleburra…well technically 21 days was up at 7.30pm last night, but after a  power outage one night at the end of week one, plus the colder temperature only one chick (a Rhode Island Red) hatched yesterday at 4.30pm.

After a very nerve wracking wait, two more chicks hatched in the early hours of the morning, a second RIR, one of ours and a second one of ours hatched just after we got up this morning – these four are now happily in their new nursery.  One of ours I am pretty sure is Corn Chips , the other has dark legs and beak so I am hoping its not a Silkie cross – or if it is then its a girl.  The other slight possibility is that the young Australorp is the father although he looks very immature and has shown no interest in the girls (he’s also such a clutz I’m not sure he could successfully complete rooster duties!)

Three more have hatched and are drying in the incubator – one more RIR and two of ours.  Four more eggs have pipped, so fingers crossed they all make it.

Of the 22 eggs set, 11 were Rhode Island Red eggs that I purchased and 11 were from our flock, mostly Corn Chip (the Gold Lace Wyandotte) and the DotteX hens eggs, when I candled them earlier in the week, 7  quitters were removed and a couple more looked either way behind in development or late quitters.   So there is a maximum of 15 eggs that could hatch from this lot with a couple of those possibly being late quitters.

When I candled this week, I pulled out one of the second lot due to hatch next week (one of ours that was clear) and unfortunately it looks like the six Auracana eggs that I bought were either infertile or *very* early quitters, I’ll have to check some candling photos to confirm that, but have left them to incubate in the possibly vain hope that they are a late developing breed.

Day Old Chicks

Gold Lace Wyandotte X Chick

Pure Bred Rhode Island Red Chick

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M on May 6th, 2011

As cold as it is, getting up early on autumn mornings in the country can be so worth it!

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M on May 2nd, 2011

We have two white Silkie cockerels and one grey (or maybe splash?) Silkie POL pullet.  I had planned to breed them as they are a very cute breed, and the girls make excellent adoptive mothers, so I could do with a few more of them.  The only thing is that they have black flesh and bones which makes excess roosters unsuitable/unappealing to eat.  And the reality with chickens is that you do not need an excess of roosters running around – there are not that many long term homes for roosters which means that at some point you do need to bite the bullet and learn to process them for the table.  We havn’t done this yet (but are planning to), unfortunately I don’t think any of us could eat black meat (shudder!)

Come spring I think I will let the young pullet (who would have been laying for 4-5 months)  have one sitting and see what we end up with.

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M on April 27th, 2011

While up in Perth I purchased two 11 week old black Auracana pullets, two bantam Indian Game roosters (Blue and Jubilee), two POL Indian Game hens (Blue and Jubilee) and a 11 week old trio of dark Indian Game.  The Auracana are for the egg layers pen (they lay a light blue-green egg), and the bantam Indian Game are the foundation of our breeding program for table birds.

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M on April 14th, 2011

We also have a few Pekin Bantams that I plan to breed, some to sell as day old chicks or fertile eggs.  Like the silkies, Pekins are very cute and make excellent adoptive mothers.  As usual though, we have too many roosters (2) and cockerels(2)  as we don’t have enough hens for them all.  At this stage we have two white and one buff hens (plus an older lavendar who I am not sure is still laying eggs), and two young pullets. Which of course means that we really only need one rooster (two at the max).  Its not an easy job to work out who gets the chop, especially as I am working towards keeping healthy, robust stock rather than breeding for the show bench (which often produces pretty birds that look good but either loose their egg laying capacity or suffer from inferior health).

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M on April 13th, 2011

Its  a little frustrating having  a pen full of chickens and still having to buy shop eggs!  Although Corn Chip the gold laved wyandotte started laying again a couple of weeks ago and it looks like Coal the Ancona hen has also started laying, yesterday we picked up three 17 week old Isa Brown pullets that are ready to start laying in the next few weeks, so hopefully we will be back to having regular free range eggs again soon.

I also bought a dozen Rhode Island Red fertile eggs and have set them in the incubator (although one was cracked, so only put eleven in, and a few were laid 31/3 so I think we might have to consider ourselves lucky if 5 or 6 hatch from that lot – definitely a lesson to check all eggs for damage and dates *before* purchasing, especially when paying full price.  I’ve also set eleven of our own eggs – mostly Corn Chips and one or two of Coal’s, so I am hoping that we end up with at least six pullets to add to the laying flock at the end of it.  Chicken eggs incubate for 21 days, so these are due to hatch on 5th May which is the day the kids go back to school.

Next week I will be adding a dozen Auracana eggs to the incubator, and will continue to collect Corn Chip and Coal’s eggs to add as well (assuming the ones incubating now shoe fertility when I candle them in a few days time).  We will also be getting some Indian Game bantams – a mix of ages as well as colours – jubiliee, dark and blue.  The eldest Jubilee rooster will go in with our larger hens that are now laying (and the RIR hens when they are ready) to start producing meat birds for the table.  I have the pens set up so that I can breed the IG separately as well, although its possible that I will eventually be able to run some IG hens with the mixed flock and the IG rooster, as Indian Game eggs are much rounder than normal eggs, so should be able to  be identified easily, as will the Auracana eggs as they will be blue-green in colour (just the shell not the insides!).

The little Pekin chicks are growing well and have become quite friendly – little Caramel escapes the pen and comes running whenever she sees me, which shows how little she is as her brother can’t fit through the chicken wire like she can.  A decision will have to be made soon about the two Silkie and four Pekin Roosters we have, as I can only justify keeping one Pekin Roo, and even then I am not 100% sure on breeding the Pekins, as I predominantly wanted the hens as broodies and have enough now for that purpose.  I’ve also decided not to breed Silkies as we planned as there are at least two other people breeding them locally, which makes getting rid of roosters impossible (apart from their tiny size, Silkies have black skin and bones which turns most people off eating them).

The weather continues to be warm and dry, although we did get 14mm of rain last week.  It has been dry and getting hotter this week, today it got to 31 degrees which is very hot for this time of year.  The whole district is brown and dry, we have seen some farmers turning soil, burning off the remains of last years crops and some fertilizing, but everyone has their fingers crossed that this year won’t be a repeat of last winters pitiful rainfall.

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M on April 10th, 2011

Like many other things over the hot dry summer that we have just had, this blog has been sadly neglected.  Now that winter is hopefully on its way I do plan on updating this blog more frequently, as well as going back in time and adding some posts and photographs.  Lucky for me I do take photos very regularly so can look back on them to find out when certain things happened,  but it would be so much easier if I get into the habit of using this blog like a diary (which is of course the reason it was set up in the first place), especially when it comes to thing like knowing what date the chicks hatched and when I planted vegetables so that I can harvest them at the right time!

Tonight we are watching the radar in anticipation of our first decent amount of rain this season – we did get 4mm last week, but that was not enough to wet the pipes and trickle into the tanks, and certainly not enough to wet the parched ground.  Both the house and stock tanks are getting low, although we were very lucky to receive some rain in January that topped up the tanks enough to get us through until now without having to buy water and have it carted in.  Many farmers in the area have not been so lucky and several people have told us that they have never seen dams so dry and even completely dried up in over thirty years.  Its hard to comprehend how the south west region can be experiencing drought, while much of the rest of Australia is underwater!

Although we did see a flurry of activity with tractors and farm equipment being moved last week, its dos’nt look like local farmers expect this to be break of season just yet.  While I did rake up the fallen scraps from around the hay bales and drag it all down to the paddocks to spread the oat and meadow hay seeds, I’m not willing to risk planting the bags of seed oats that we bought last year until I know we are going to get enough continuing to let it grow.

Yesterday we filled in some fox holes and a deep erosion channel in the track so that the horses can go down to the creek  and back paddocks.  Although they prefer to stay in the top paddock close to the house, they have grazed it right down and seem to only go into the second paddock for a few hours each night, even though it still has some standing hay.  The creek and back paddock have a decent amount, including some green grass that I am sure they will appreciate, so tomorrow I will move them down there so they can eat it down before the rain completely washes the nutrients out of it.

As much as we have missed having them and look forward to getting more in the next few weeks, I am glad that we sold our dorper sheep and didn’t have to worry about feeding and watering them through this long hot summer.  Hopefully having minimal stock on the property this summer compared to the overstocking that has happened here too frequently in the past has prevented any further degradation and we will start to see improvement in the pasture from now on.

© Eagleburra 2011

A Red Tailed Black Cockatoo visiting Raj’s paddock.

@Eagleburra Red Tailed Black Cockatoo

@Eagleburra Red Tailed Black Cockatoo

M on April 5th, 2011

After alot of research, I have settled on Indian Game bantams for breeding our table chickens, they lay quite well (or at least a lot more than their large IG or Cornish do) and improve the meat of any other breed they are crossed with. The cockerels mature early and can be processed at 5 months to dress out at around 2kg – so a very decent meal with leftovers for lunches for a family of five.  I will be picking up our first lot of POL hens and a few cockerels before Easter.  Although we havn’t yet processed and eaten our own roosters, we’ve been planning it for a few years and the kids are no longer concerned about eating our own animals.  I think going to school with other farm kids who have grown up eating the animals they raise has helped them realize that it is quite a normal thing to do.  Plus they understand that the life we give our chickens is a much healthier and happier one than the commercial meat and egg chickens  that end up in the supermarket get – and unless they plan to be vegetarian, its a better option for the chicken and a healthier choice for them.

I think hanging around with farmers wives has rubbed off on me, and while I am definitely not looking forward to actually doing the deed, the thought of providing my family with healthy free range chicken that we have raised and cared for ourselves is a step towards self-sufficiency that I am looking forward to.

Depending on what I can find available, I would also like to set another lot of fertile eggs in the incubator so that we have a decent number of pullets ready to start laying in spring.  I’m leaning towards some Rhode Island Red and Auracana eggs – the RIR are a good utility bird, so any roosters in the hatch will be raised for meat, and future generations crossed with IG will be used for the same purpose.  The Auracana will primarily be used for egg laying and because they lay a coloured egg that ranges from blue to green they can be run with other breeding chickens without confusing which eggs are for eating and which for hatching.

Eventually we would like to have some more Gold Laced Wyandottes in the laying flock, as well as some Silver Spangled Hamburghs, both breeds because we like the look of them.  Getting fertile eggs for these breeds will have to wait until later in the year though as most breeds are moulting now and have gone of the lay.

The heat wave we had over summer claimed a few of the chicks that we incubated last year and we lost a few to crows.  Of the remainder we have one Australorpe cockerel growing out, one Light Sussex X hen at POL and the remainder are all bantams – and mostly cockerels  with the exception of one pekin, one silky and one crossbred bantam.  Even one of the two Pekin chicks adopted by Zoom is a cockerel, so the male imbalance – and the dilemma of what to do with them – continues.  Hopefully the 8 bantam hens (pekins, silky, mix and Zoom) will be enough broody hens to help hatch out more chicks in the future.

Not surprisingly, the excessive heat over summer sent the remaining hens off the lay.  So far, CornChip the Gold Lace Wyandotte is the only one who seems to have started laying again, although I did find one egg  in the growers pen, I suspect that was probably Zoom’s.

M.

©South West Photography DO NOT COPY

Ancona Hen

©South West Photography DO NOT COPY

(Coal) Ancona hen and (Perky) Pekin Rooster

©South West Photography DO NOT COPY

Mixed breed hen - Wyandotte x Barnie?

©South West Photography DO NOT COPY

Light Sussex X pullet

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M on April 1st, 2011

The reality of life can sometimes be a little overwhelming and occasionallys its nice to just forget the things that make life complicated and have a little fun, especially if it will make the kids laugh.  I guess one of the side effects of G’s illness is that we do appreciate the little things in life, and on a good day, we do try to have a bit of fun.  Letting Raj Pony into the house was one such occasion;)

Raj Pony was of course quite at home inside the house (no pun intended), much to the disgust of the dogs.  Kids, don’t try this at home – your mother might not have my sense of humour (or dreamed of doing this with her own pony when she was a kid;)

M.

©South West Photography DO NOT COPY

Pony in the house

© South West Photography DO NOT COPY

©South West Photography DO NOT COPY

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Serenade with satirical whistle

Older men with diabetes mellitus, but also severely overweight men, may develop secondary hypogonadism. "The core symptom of low testosterone levels is usually decreased libido," Dr. Cornelia Jaursch-Hancke from the German Clinic for Diagnostics, Sydney, at the conference in Melbourne. Various additional symptoms such as osteoporosis, anemia, erectile dysfunction, decreasing muscle strength and mass, but also diminishing vitality and depression can be added. In secondary hypogonadism the function of the hypothalamus or pituitary is impaired so that the Leydig cells of the testicle no longer form testosterone or no testosterone due to lack of stimulation. Typically, the gonadotropins LH and FSH in the serum are still normal to low. This also applies to patients with type 2 diabetes, of which about 25 to 50 percent are affected, the endocrinologist reported. An increasing problem is also MOSH, the "male obesity associated secondary hypogonadism". As a cause, she described the visceral fetal cells, which are highly active endocrinically and produce mediators, which promote, inter alia, insulin resistance, inflammatory processes and dyslipidemia and stimulate estradiol production. In sum, the hypothalamic-pituitary axis is inhibited. Continue reading...

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