Monthly Archives: July 2014

Greening Australia!

We have wanted to plant about fifty native trees down this slope for a while now. We did plant some a couple of years ago, but it was at the end of spring and then we had a very dry summer and only about a dozen survived.

So Jasmine and I headed out one day last week – a very blustery day. In fact we just had every thing unloaded and were ready to start when it started raining and then HAILING! So we spent the next 15 minutes huddled in the ute, waiting for it to pass. This was our view…..

It finally cleared and we were able to get started. Here are the species of trees we were planting.

Their common names are:
Eucalyptus ficifolia – Red flowering gum
Eucalyptus sideroxylon – Red iron bark
Eucalyptus polyanthemos – Red box gum
Eucalyptus caesia – Silver princess gum
Banksia integrifolia – Coastal Banksia
And the tall one at the end is a Black Wattle, I’m not sure of its botanical name.

Here’s Jaz trying to get a tree out of its pot – some of them are very tough!


A tree in its hole…..


Jaz again, holding a collection of empty tree tubes.


And here’s a view of some planted….. We put juice cartons around them to protect them from the weather, and from rabbits!


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Happiness is…….

20140717-101623.jpg Winter vegie harvests

20140717-102153.jpg Garden creatures – Stumpy tail lizard

20140717-102654.jpg Motherly love

20140717-102806.jpg Fresh rhubarb, ready for jam

20140717-103445.jpg Rainbows and Shadows

20140717-103842.jpg Renewable energy, Balancing Rock Farm style!

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Family long weekend

Last weekend we managed to get Cam off the farm, and Archie away from footy for a long weekend at Wye River. Wye River is down south on the Victorian coastline, not far from Lorne. Originally we were going to camp, but as we had been having so much cold, windy weather we ended up getting a cabin in a caravan park, which turned out to be a good decision.

We were actually quite lucky with the weather. When we woke up each morning it was pouring rain. So we’d have a bit of a sleep in (a treat in itself!) then head off to a cafe for a leisurely breakfast. By 10am the sun was out and we’d head off for a walk somewhere. Then, about 4pm each day the clouds rolled in, and it started raining again.

Here’s some of my favorite pics from the weekend……

20140713-173448.jpg Cam at the bottom of Sheok Falls – a 40 minute walk in from the car park.

20140713-174730.jpg My three little mountain climbers.

Some beach pics……. A couple of brave swimmers amongst them.




Here’s a little fairy village that was on the lawn, outside our cabin.


On the last day, we headed home via the Otways National Park. Here’s a photo of the fam doing the Treetop Walk, which is a fabulous walkway, that is up in the rainforest canopy. Bit nerve wracking for some of us, but others in the family loved it.


And has you know, I love fungi pics, so here’s a couple from the rainforest.



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Easier to feed now!

I mentioned in the last post that we are up to five orphan lambs now, which makes it very tricky for one person to feed them. A few years ago we invested in a milk feeder that will feed 5 at a time, and we’ve used it nearly every year since. One year we actually saved 7 lambs, which was manageable because I could feed 5 with the feeder and then a bottle in each hand!

A nosey chook in the background!!

And here’s the view from above……


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Five bottle lambs now!!

So we have five orphaned lambs now! The original one, Mischeifa, is going great. He’s grown lots, and is really fit and healthy. The second two lambs we got were named Bobby, and Boris. They were both found off by themselves on different days, and quite weak. Not sure why – we have had a few sets of triplets this year, and sometimes the weakest one can get left behind. Anyway, they both took to the bottle very quickly.

The last two I came across on the morning of the Chook Pen Disaster! It had been a terribly wet, cold and windy night, and when I found them they were very, very weak and barely alive. In both cases their mums were standing over them, urging them to get up, but I knew they wouldn’t last another hour if I didn’t take them home and warm them up.

20140707-152041.jpg Here they are in front of the fire, with Jaz keeping an eye on them while I make up their milk. You can see how weak they look! The big one I don’t think had been up since being born as he still had the orange birth fluid on one side where he was lying and the ewe couldn’t get to it to lick it off. Maybe it was a difficult birth as he is quite big. The smaller one looked to be a couple of days old.

When they are so weak like this, they can’t drink from a bottle, so I had to “tube” them. We have a special small, thin tube, that is attached to a little cup.

20140709-102530.jpg To use it, you first measure the distance from the last rib (roughly where the stomach is) to the end of the lambs mouth, so that you know how far the tube needs to be inserted. For the big lamb, it needed to go in right up to the cup, but there was a couple of cm left with the little lamb. I always grease the tube first with a bit of vegetable oil, to help it to slide down easier.

When the lamb is lying on their side their side like this you open their mouth using a finger in the side of their mouth and place the tube over their tongue, towards the back of their throat. Then you need to gently keep passing the tube through to the stomach. I usually check for signs of swallowing, which is a reflex action that even very weak lambs will do as the tube passes down their throat, and this is a good way to tell that you havn’t accidentally gone down the windpipe. Also, the lungs are closer up the body than the stomach, so you probably wouldn’t be able to get the tube down all the way, if you had entered the windpipe. Often you can also hear a weezing sound of their breathing if you are in the wrong pipe.

Once you have the tube inserted correctly you lift the cup and pour in the milk. I was actually able to catch one of the ewes of these lambs, which I always try to do if I can, so I can milk some colostrum from them. The more colostrum the lambs get the better their chance for survival. So both these lambs got colostrum for their first couple of feeds. I usually only give about 30ml for each of the first few feeds, so their stomach has time to adjust -little and often!

Depending on how weak the lamb is they may struggle and try and maneuver it out with their tongue or by shaking their head. This is a good sign – it means they have some fight in them still, but even ones that don’t, can still be saved! It usually only takes a few tube feeds and then you get a surprise when you suddenly hear a loud bleat. Before you know it they are starting to stand up, and then you can start trying to train them onto the bottle!

Here they all are, out in the paddock. Today we are going to set up a multifeeder for them, as it is hard work feeding five lambs with bottles. It takes at least two of us, ideally three! Jasmine gives them plenty of love!

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Lambing continues…..

We had another lovely day yesterday (today is exceptionally cold, rainy and windy!! Great winter weather), so I couldn’t resist grabbing my camera as I headed out to check the lambing ewes.

Lamb photo

I love this shot of this little lamb, high on the hill. It looks like he’s all alone, but his mum was just out of shot, keeping a careful eye on him as she was grazing.


Twin lambs photo

A brand new set of twins. As you can see they actually come out covered in an orange film, which the ewe then licks off them, usually within the first few hours.

Lambing photo

They are pretty content overall at the moment, particularly here: warm sunshine, plenty of fresh green feed, and new babies to love!

Look away now if you don’t like gory/ unfortunate photos. This little lamb has had its tail bitten off by a fox. He obviously has a very brave ewe as a mum as she was able to frighten the fox away before he could completely drag the lamb away. We occasionally see lambs that this has happened to, not often. Usually I suspect the fox manages to drag the lamb away completely.

Twin lamb photo

The lamb on the left has the end of its tail missing, due to a fox trying to drag it away.

I managed to catch this little fellow, just to make sure that it was okay, and not injured anywhere else. Besides his tail, he was fine. He could still run around, and suckle, so I know he’ll survive. One of the lucky ones!

Its hard to gauge how many lambs we lose to foxes. We occasionally see lamb carcasses in the paddock that have been chewed on, but I suspect that they have died due to a natural cause, and the damage we see is actually the hawks, eagles or crows pecking at the lamb after it has died – getting an opportunity feed. I think when a fox takes a lamb it actually drags it back to its den, to share with the rest of its family. Overall we’re pretty happy with how it’s all going.

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