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Down on the farm....

It's been a full-on week here at the Estanscia, and at a time when most folks are off enjoying a long weekend and scouting for chocolate eggs, I am sitting at my office desk trying to seek inspiration to write. You see to write well, I need to be meeting quirky fuckers, doing random shit with my time, and feeling the fear and doing it anyway.

I am doing none of the above currently, and as I sit here looking over the barren landscape that surely must be the only unirrigated corner of dirt in Eiffelton, watching green grass blowing in the wind is a distant memory. The place is as bare as a badger's arse – even a rabbit would have to cut a lunch to get across the property at the moment so things are grim. Three nights ago I nearly danced naked on the piece of dirt that used to be my lawn as it had finally started to rain. It has rained once this year here. I know that because my highlight of the day is checking the new rain gauge I brought myself for Xmas. I have taken to doing it every day hoping to find a good measure of water sitting in the bottom of it. Much like the good measures of gin I have been pouring myself to keep myself hydrated. 3mm was all that was in it when I tipped it out two mornings ago and as I listen to the nor wester scream around the house as I write, the old saying “pissing into the wind” comes to mind. The 3 mm wouldn’t have touched the surface and by now it will have pissed off into the wind!

My livestock continue to thrive despite the barren landscape because it seems that you can thrive on sunshine and a view if your mad owner pours untold dollars of supplementary feed night and morning into you. Feeding all these bludgers is becoming quite a chore and the joy has disappeared somewhat as I try and fit my lifestyle block chores (life sentence currently) into an already jam-packed day. The only consolation is that this next week, instead of feeding those bludgers in the dark with a headlight on before I leave for work, I should have a bit of daylight to do it in. I’m like the meals on wheels van in the morning, and the minute I open the door I am overcome with the dulcit tones of the farmyard orchestra demanding breakfast. I’ve lost count of the bludgers here at the moment but I can assure you that it is in excess of 29 hungry mouths to feed. The moonboot on my leg is slowing me up somewhat, but when I enter the yard it’s a case of “be quick or be dead” as I am mobbed by all these bludging bleeting, mooing, baaing neighing, crowing bastards I own.

Maisy and Daisy are two little calves I have been bucket rearing for about a month. They bellow their guts out morning and night and have been known to send me arse over tit as I try and beat them to the feeder to pour the milk they are eagerly awaiting. They are getting stronger and faster as they grow and it seems I may be getting the exact opposite! Their bellowing signals to the unruly mob of sheep on the property that the mad woman is up and doing her rounds and before I know it I am trampled by a bleeting , bunting small herd of maggot taxis that have no respect for any electric fence or barrier between them and a potential food source. They were joined this week by Duncan the Dorper Ram. Why I am asking myself would I want any more of these poking bitches? Old habits die hard and I know that in the spring when I have grass and new lambs arriving I will be pleased I got the old sheep shagger in. I did an 80km round trip to pick him up mid-week after a 10 hour day of work, knowing that those girls would not be far off cycling and didn’t want to miss my flip. Somebody might as well be getting a bit on the property – it sure as hell ain't me. True to form, the minute he got into the paddock he had the sniff test going, and his sights set on one of my virginal hoggets who still looks traumatised by his arrival if I'm honest.

Miss Marple hatched out three chickens this week. Three from the 12 eggs I set under her isn’t a great percentage but I am told that it's too late in the year to be raising chicks so I am thankful enough to have got the three. I'm not even sure what sort they are. I didn’t trust my own rooster Boris Johnson was firing live rounds, so brought a dozen fancy fertile eggs off TradeMe and waited with bated breath for them to hatch. Unfortunately Miss Marple is such a big fat bitch that ones she hadn’t kicked out of the nest during the hatching period, she managed to squash once they were out of the egg. I will watch with interest what these cute little things turn into and will be annoyed if I have just bred three more roosters. Boris is a prick of the highest order that starts crowing at 4 am every morning and I can’t bring myself to silencing him permanently as he is quite a handsome fellow. I appreciate anything that enjoys the mornings as much as I do.

I’m fond of the hens. I am meant to be at a hen show this morning, but I noticed one of my sheep unwell yesterday and have put her wellbeing above my time out. She had disappeared from the mob and so I went looking for her. She was lying down on the side of the creek in obvious distress. Normally prior to putting the ram out the sheep get what’s called a tup crutch – a crutch prior to mating that makes all orifices involved in the mating ritual attractive and easily accessible. I have no facilities for sheep and so while it was on the to-do list, I hadn’t quite mastered a plan. I have the electric handpiece needed but holding and restraining a heavy ewe when you are 50 something, unfit and in a moon boot wasn’t painting an attractive picture. Anyway, I should have done it as my young sheep has consequently been affected by what's known as flystrike. Flystrike in sheep is a condition where parasitic flies lay eggs on soiled wool or open wounds. After hatching, the maggots bury themselves in the sheep's wool and eventually under the sheep's skin, feeding off their flesh. Its brutal happens quickly and needs to be dealt with immediately.

Well, you sure would have liked to be a fly on the wall last night when I was trying to catch this affected ewe. She still had enough energy to give me a run for my money around the place. It was much like a low-brow circus act. The small unruly cairn terrier and I set off with a lasso and a pocket full of binder twine. I managed to corner her in a small piece behind the shed, throw a lasso over her neck and quickly tie her to a post to stop her in her tracks. The dog was yapping, I was out of breath and while she nearly strangled herself in an effort to escape and slid to the ground it gave me a moment to hogtie her with the twine to stop her escaping. I was stuffed and 150 metres from the powerpoint needed to get the handpiece into action. I tried lifting her into a wheelbarrow to move her without success and eventually resorted to having to drag her inches at a time to the side of the shed where the equipment was set up.

It wasn’t pretty by the time we had got there. She was exhausted and I was nearly in tears but like a woman possessed I was going to sort the situation with the limited resources I had. I'm not sure how successful I have been and know that I will have to go through the same prick act today to check on progress.

Apartment living is looking attractive about now but like everything I do, I will give it the 48-hr rule. It will rain sometime, the madness will die down and it will become another one of those memories that will remind me of how hard I have worked to get here and how much I need to make the most of the madness as it wont always be that way.

Happy Easter peeps.



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