A Greenhorn's Journal


Overrun with beasties
Oct 31, 2021
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Northland, New Zealand
Plans for the property are finally underway!

We've decided to build a 30sqm office attachment for the greenhouse so we can have a lockable kitchenette and livingroom with AC as the temps in the Greenhouse have been soaring to around 45C lately (110F).

We're starting to make a move to get quotes together as this will be a DIY project, but thankfully, my family have experience in this area from their own bach builds, so should be quick to bang out once we get all the bits here and delivered.

I'll be renovating our horrid yard and adding a crush so it's easier to pick out individual sheep for health checks and maintenance. There's also lots of 'shanty' gates to replace with real steel hung gates. We do have a few good ones, but I'll need at least a few 5' or 10' to really kit the place out and get rid of all the wired together bedframes (seriously) and pallets strewn across openings in the fences.

A few days ago, our neighbor across the way came over to give us a demo on homekill and butchering. So now I've officially culled and field dressed a lamb - left the butchery work to my DH after we left them to hang outside overnight. Not ideal - eventually, we'll have to get a fridge kitted out with a topbar so we can hang them properly. Did two, one of which being my only other problem ewe who was having hoof trouble, so now my flock are finally on the up and up.

I'm thinking I might start moving them to the yard weekly to get them used to, and less afraid of checkups.

For future planning, I've decided I'll get rid of the Ram and Cull\Sell down to 5 ewes and keep the wether to help with moving them from the main field (he's a real glutton for sheep nut). Next year, I'll get a weaned or nearly weaned intact arapawa ram and new wether and raise them up by hand so I can start converting the flock to purebred arapawa the slow way. The ones we have that have obvious feral blood are much hardier than the white romneys - their hooves were less overgrown, better body condition, better famacha scoring, more active... just hardier in general.

So sheep will be staying long-term as a meat source and I still eventually want to get goats, but will need to get an energizer and run a few additional perimeter lines. - Once again, going to go with hand-reared and pay it forward in regards to husbandry so i get tame does. - will leave billies out of it for the time being. There are plenty of studs around and I can just send them off when the time comes in their second year.

There's also the matter of building a proper shelter as all the sheep have at the moment are some ancient trees and a few shade cloth structures. I have two solid wooden bedframes - 1500x3000 which I'll be using as the base for a 3mx3m stable.

I got the chance to meet with a local goat rescuer and had a good look at her setup, med kit, feed and supplement routines and fencing. It was definitely an invaluable source of info and resources I'm sure will come in handy for more than just the future goats.

My husband has been hard out converting the raised beds from monocrop to more useful mixed beds properly spaced, weed resistant, and now planted with crops we'll actually use. We've always had more of a summer cottage gardening style with lots of companion planting, pollinator attracting plants and a more natural layout. The main field will be slowly getting converted to a food forest with swails, fruit and nut trees, and interspersed crops. In about 5-7 years, we should have something very diverse and productive.

The kune kune have been hard at work making garden paths and beating back the overgrown undergrowth around the future deck area while demanding their belly rubs and treats when they decide to pop back into the greenhouse for a midday snooze. Our smallest, Rusty, has the odd habit of foaming up and squeaking his gums after a big meal while he's snuggling up for a nap. There's plenty for them to do around here to the point that I'm not concerned with moving them to the orchard any time soon.

By the end of the month, my roosters may be ready to start mounting some hens! It's been kinda hard enforcing that 1m respect rule, especially since the turkeys and pullets are all still allowed in my inner bubble, but I don't want to end up with disrespectful randy boys I can't trust. My broody has decided now is the time to start brooding when I have no eggs to give her, so not sure when I'll be able to start hatching. I can't trust the spanframe for incubating right now - it just gets way too hot during midday. There's still my new silkie I bought as a second broody. She should be POL, but I have yet to see an egg from her and I've had her for nearly two months now. I know silkies are slow to develop, but she is full size... actually bigger than my original silkie. Starting to wonder if maybe she's a dud.

The quail are doing well - though we lost one of the coturnix to drowning in a drowned proof bell. I'd heard they were particularly prone to it, but never had one drowned in this kind of bell when we used them at birdcare, so was a bit surprised. I've stuffed it with rocks now, so no more drownings. The coturnix are well on their way to being fully feathered and California isn't far behind. Only problem is, the coturnix are white, so I have no way of telling if they're boys or girls! They both seem to be the same size so far and look to be feathering in at the same pace, so may be a mono flock - just not sure which way! Guess I'll have to wait a few more weeks for eggs (geeze they grow up fast!).

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