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September/October 2017

Preparing to strain Northern Boundary fence.

Our new property at Dereel has been taking up a considerable amount of time, with a fair amount of fencing needing to be done.  Our new partners, Chris and Helena, have been thrown in the deep end and are willingly learning the ropes (or should I say ‘strands’?) of fencing.

…and these little piggies didn’t make it home.

Unlike our property at Rowsley, we have feral pigs calling Dereel home so our fence needs to be pig-proof.  We have also decided to exclude kangaroos so the 1.8m high, feral-proof fencing is new for us too.  We have found it to be much slower to erect this fence, with a few small issues along the way: we have to stand on ladders to bash in the star pickets, straining fabricated fencing really does need two strainers, and travelling 45mins-1hr before and after work makes for a very long day!

The kids have all been brilliant, as usual, with putting up with their crazy parents who bite off too much all the time.  They explore the new ‘playground’ and help with the fencing when we need an army to help out on some jobs.  They also put up with late nights and early mornings.

I now have a new term in my vocabulary and on my shopping list – Dereel dinners.  This is used when we know it’s going to be a long day and we take dinner (tea) to eat.  On the shopping list, it means buying tinned veges, fish or lentils, which are super-easy to chuck in the car fridge and use with pre-cooked pasta or rice to whip up a quick, hearty meal for the end of the day.  Maybe one day I’ll share some of my Dereel dinner recipes with you all.

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Road Trip

Thanks to everybody’s favourite site, Gumtree, we purchased some stockyards at a fraction of the price of brand new ones.  Such an awesome buy meant that there had to be a catch.  Yes, they were in NSW.  A road trip was necessary – but still worth it.  So we hired a car trailer, borrowed a neighbour’s car trailer, hitched them to the two Landcruisers and headed off up the Hume.

First lunch stop and first issue: trailer brake line was broken and dragging on the highway!!
Good ol’ duct tape!
It was a clear and (very) cold night on our first night staying in the Namadgi National Park.
Breakfast was the first job of the day.
The well-setup camping areas at Orroral Campground.
Trailer brake repairs were the second job of the day.
Orroral Campsite in the Namadgi National Park – complete with flush toilets and BBQ shelter.
Small river crossing on the way to pick up the yards.
Crossing the Murrumbidgee River at Angle Crossing.
The mighty Murrumbidgee
The 11MW solar farm at Williamsdale.
Finally! The yards in a stack in the corner of a paddock.
Halfway there – one trailer loaded, one to go.
Just outside of Canberra. We didn’t have time to go see that big childcare centre in the middle of Canberra while we were passing through. Yes, you know the one – the one that costs taxpayers far too much money every year.
Dog on the Tuckerbox toilet stop. No, that’s not the toilet in front there.
Home at last! We had no issues for the rest of the trip and arrived back home safe and sound.
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August: Lamb – 1, Fox – 0

This month we have a guest blogger (read: I strong-armed Child No. 3 into writing a paragraph for me). Round of applause, please.

“We were checking the sheep since they had begun lambing and happened to see three pairs of eyes in the back paddock.  Two pairs were the ewe’s and her lamb’s eyes, and across from them in the Brisbane Ranges were another pair of eyes.  They were the fox’s.  He crept through the fence towards the ewe and her lamb.  The ewe ran at the fox and attempted to headbutt it.  The fox quickly ran back through the fence and stopped to watch the ewe.  Dad then fired the gun and killed the fox.  The ewe only jumped slightly at the sound of the gun.  She walked back to her lamb still keeping an eye on the dead fox.  We walked over to the fox and she continued to watch it.  We walked away and she must have known the fox was dead because she stopped watching it.  Later we saw that the other sheep had ran away at the sound of the gun but surprisingly that ewe hadn’t.”

Thanks, Chloe!

This story shows the fantastic mothering ability of Wiltshire Horn sheep.  They are extremely protective mothers who are willing to go after a fox if they have to.

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June 2017

We have some exciting news for June!  Linners Lamb is expanding!! And no, I’m not just talking about our lambs growing up and getting bigger.  We have taken on new partners and have bought more land.  This will enable the business to produce more lamb for more customers.  We are very excited!

Our new partners are Justin’s brother, Chris and his family – Helena, Charlotte and Bethany.  Chris and Helena both currently work in the environmental field.  We are looking forward to sharing the highs and lows of farming life with them.

Our new property is at Dereel, which is south of Ballarat.  It is slightly bigger than Rowsley at 220 acres.  It is very picturesque with big old trees scattered around the undulating hills.  Our first priority is to make sure all fences are stock-proof so we can cart some sheep over there to fatten up.

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May 2017

May has been a beautiful month – with sunny autumn weeks making it a pleasant task to work around the farm.

Our farm improvements continue with a new trough plumbed up to a tank.  That’s always the issue with creating paddocks – each one needs to have water in it somehow.  Multiple paddocks are crucial for managing pasture by allowing palatable grasses to regrow and compete.  Rotational grazing is where you move stock from paddock to paddock allowing one paddock to rest while the next one is grazed.  With enough paddocks, you can rotate quickly in which the stock just eat the tops off the grass, meaning it regrows quickly and vigorously.  Too slow a rotation and you overgraze paddocks, meaning they take a lot longer to recover.  It is a delicate balance and involves making some tough decisions, especially if Mother Nature has decided to not play nicely.

Fencing season is upon us once again.  Last May, Justin broke his leg making our 2016 fencing season very limited.  We are currently cleaning out a line for a new fence along the creek.  This is the last of our Melbourne Water funded fencing that we have to do.  The “cleaning” consists of cutting down overhanging limbs, moving rocks and working out the easiest line.  Bonfires are a great help in disappearing the removed sticks and branches.  The larger limbs are cut into smaller pieces and left to dry for a year or so, after which we burn them in our wood heater.

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April 2017

April has been a busy month with school holidays and Easter to fit in also.

School holidays are always good as I (Katie) can get lots of work done around the place.  With the kids, I pulled down an old fence which was a bit of a hazard for both man and beast.  We also chipped out Bathurst Burr on our flat, while Justin sprayed out the thistle rosettes.  No. 2 Child grumbled to me, “They’re called holidays for a reason.”

We also bought a new feeder from Advantage Feeders.  This one is a trailing unit and we will use it to follow the ewes around. For the time being, we have put Grower pellets in it and separated out the bullied lambs from the big bullies.  Shy-feeders are an industry-wide problem and we are testing a prototype reader (brown wooden panel in pic) which will log the animals’ EID ear tags.  This will show us which animals are eating from the feeder and which aren’t.  Splitting the animals up does help, but we find that we just create another paddock with bullies and bullied.  We are still trying to work out the answer to this question – along with the entire meat industry.

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March 2017

Here we are, pretty much back where we started with the blog posts – the rams have been put in with the ewes to produce more lambs.  Last year’s lambs are fattening up nicely with half of our wethers already gone.  With the extra demand (see below), it looks like it’ll be a short season this year.

Our biggest news for this month is that we have found a butcher who will take most of our meat.  This takes a lot of stress out of direct-marketing for us, as he will take the bulk of the lamb.  The butcher is Meatsmith, situated in Fitzroy, Melbourne.  He is a specialty butcher specializing in exotic meats, hence his interest in our Wiltshire Horn meat.

Linners Lamb is now on Facebook!  Check out our very basic page (at the moment while I get my head around it) here.  We would love it if you could ‘like’ us or even leave a review for us.  Apparently that bumps us up on people’s newsfeeds or something like that…still not up to speed on the Facebook lingo.  Share some photos or recipes of how you’ve enjoyed Linners Lamb!  (By the way, we’re planning on getting some cooked meat photos, but it disappears so fast with our hungry horde that the only shot we get is the empty plate! :-))

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It’s just too hot, man…

Summer is the time of year where we retreat to the shade and wait out the hot weather. Come to think of it, that’s what our sheep do too.

We have spent February doing our jobs either early in the day or late after tea.  The lack of rainfall means that the feed on offer is getting dry and low.  We have kept the lambs and the ewes supplemented with both hay and pellets so they don’t lose condition.  Joining time is coming up again so we don’t want our ewes to lose condition.  The health of the ewe is directly related to how many lambs she’ll produce, which is fairly common-sense when you think of it.  Since we want to produce lots of lambs each year (that is how we make our money after all), then we try to ensure our ewes are in top condition at joining time.

Our ewes and rams recovered nicely from their Scabby Mouth.  The lambs got it mildly, but most were unmarked.  They did go off their feed for a week or so, and drank more water than usual, but are now back to their sheepy selves.

PS The sheep in the photo was perfectly fine.  She was just tired from being chased around and finally caught.  We decided to have a bit of fun with sunglasses to get revenge for exhausting us!