Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The menagerie...........

Damian and I are in the process of applying for our gun licences. We feel it is important on the farm here to be able to put down an injured animal if needed, or shoot a fox, wild dog or wild pig if they are being a menace to other animals on the property. We went and did our safety course on the weekend which is a pre-requisite for applying for a licence. I have never shot a gun before, but managed quite ok and managed to hit the target on most occasions. We later did some practicing with some friends air rifles and managed to hone in our targeting skills quite a bit. We are planning on eventually processing our own beef, lamb and pork on the property, so a gun licence will be essential. There is a lot of cost in applying for the licence, the safe to keep any guns in, permits etc and then the cost for the firearms themselves. Just to set ourselves up with 1 gun would be in the vicinity of a couple of thousand dollars, a lot of money. It also takes quite some time to obtain a licence, which is a great thing these days.
We are also gradually increasing our animals here on the farm. I have purchased a couple of purebred Bichon Frise puppies, I hope to do some breeding down the track as a source of income. I wanted to get a dog that is good for Kasey's hayfever and allergies and also for Toni's allergies to dogs, so these would be perfect as they don't shed hair as they have a woolen coat. Diversifying is how to make the farm profitable, so looking at different options and income sources is essential.
(This is Sam, he is now 3 months old. He is full of personality and is very cheeky and loveable)
 (This is Stella, she is 5 months old. She is very tiny, elegant and refined...a real girly girl)
Stella came to me from another owner, and she hadn't been wormed, hadn't had her update vaccinations and was eating human food and cat food. Even though she is older than Sam, she is smaller than him. I have managed (with persistance and bribery) to get her eating a really good quality dry dog food and she has put on a little over 100 grams since getting her 3 weeks ago. She was also very shy and timid, but is now starting to come out of her shell a little and is more trusting of us. It makes me really cranky that people don't do the right things by their animals. At least this person had the common sense to re-home her...
I am also working on getting my heritage chicken breeds more established. Kasey wants to breed Guinea fowl for some pocket money, so we are working on getting her some grown ones of her own that she can breed with. The guinea fowl that hatched 3 weeks ago are powering along, we lost the first one born on about day 3 unfortunately, so only 2 of that batch left now, but I learnt quite a bit about the incubation process in the meantime.
(Guinea fowl keets at 3 weeks old)
I am increasing my chicken varieties all the time, and I have quite a few roosters at the moment too, so I need to get the girls to match them, so that I can keep the purebred heritage lines. It is really important to keep the heritage breeds, so I only breed these instead of cross bred chickens.
(Ancona Hen, she is a really good egg layer, a bit flighty though)
 (Ancona Rooster and Plymouth rock Hen, this little girl has just started laying. The rooster is very flighty, all the plymouth rocks are pretty laid back though)
 (Light Sussex hen - this girl is huge, a good dual purpose breed, good layer and good meat, she would weigh at least 4-5 kgs, not real keen on being handled but not a flighty bird)
 (A little pekin bantam, I got her for her broody qualities, so she can hatch eggs for me instead of using the incubator, very docile and easily handled, great kids pet)
 (The little pekin rooster - to breed more little pekin mothers, also very quiet and easily handled. Quite protective though)
 (My favourite - my gorgeous silver spangled hamburgh rooster. He is a stunning bird, and I am just waiting to find a couple of girls to start increasing this flock, he is just lovely)

(White leghorn hen - she is pretty flighty, but a good egg layer, she just got out of a dirt bath, so is pretty dirty!)
I also have a couple of girls sitting on eggs at the moment. I have the little frizzle, she is sitting on about 6 or so guinea fowl eggs. I was keeping the guinea fowl eggs in the corner nest for the guinea to nest on, but the frizzle beat her to it! She is a very determined egg sitter, and nothing will take her mind off her task.
The little araucana quickly followed suit, and she is also sitting on a couple of guinea fowl eggs.I did have her sitting on a couple of frizzle eggs but while I was away last week she escaped from her nest and sat in her old one, so I had to toss those eggs and put guinea fowl eggs under her as well. I am also wanting to get an araucana rooster to breed these. I really like the araucana's, they are great little layers, she lays green eggs, and they have a lovely temperament and love to be handled.
I also have a lovely speckled sussex rooster, he is huge and he is just starting to crow and also 2 other huge plymouth rock boys. One of the plymouth rock roosters will have to go, I don't need 2, and because they are so big they eat a LOT! They would all weigh about 4-5 kgs as well, and they look so funny when they run along, a bit gumby looking because their legs are so long and they are so big.
(One of the plymouth rock roosters with the girl the same age behind him)
 (Speckled sussex rooster, very pretty with burgundy, brown, green, white and black plumage)
These 4 seem to hang out together, but they all hatched at the same time. Even though there were 4 roosters out of the 5 eggs that hatched, there is no major fighting amongst them at the moment, we'll have to wait and see if that remains
This is my purebreed Australorp, I did originally have 2 of these, but I think Reggie may have dispatched of one. You can tell a purebred Australorp by their black legs and pure black eyes (no brown in them at all) They don't seem to like to be handled, but are great egg layers and make great mothers, they go broody once or twice a year.
 And then there are my guinea fowl. I only have 3 remaining adult ones left out of the 12 or so purchased (again thanks to Michael's dog Reggie) I did have a gorgeous lavender girl as well. So I am hoping to seriously add to this brood with the recent hatch and the ones that are due to hatch soon. I only have 1 adult female and 2 adult males, one adult male is the 3rd wheel at present. They can be noisy, but not too much, mainly when they are letting you know something unusual is around. Both the little white dogs have been bailed up by them, so they don't go near those big birds now. The guinea fowl do harrass the chooks though as they are very territorial, but not so bad up here on the farm, it was much worse on the smaller acreage.

And then there is my big boy - Ziggy. He is a purebred Quarter Horse. He is pretty laid back, but is a bit more on edge with no other horse around up here. I am hoping to get hold of a horse that needs a home to be a companion for him and that Kasey can learn to ride on, she is itching to learn. He is keeping in good condition bordering on fat on just the grass here, I have just started to give him 2 cups of pellets morning and night to get him coming up for rugging now that the cooler weather is closing in.
And Max and Diesel, they are still causing mischief as usual. Max is a big sooky lala, full of personality red cattle dog...
And Diesel is a very lazy blue cattle dog. He has serious front leg issues, so he has every excuse to be lazy. He is very hard to get cross at when he is naughty.
There is also 18 cows around here somewhere. We have just had the crush installed and Damian is in the process of moving the cattle yards up to where the crush and ramp is. Then I can look at getting Buttercup the Jersey cow put in to calf and start on that journey. We are not sure whether we will get a bull and breed from the other 17 brahman cross girls we have here or sell them on and concentrate on breeding with a specific breed of cattle suited specifically for good quality beef...just not sure yet. On the still to get list is:
:A donkey or 2 - just love them
:Alpacas - just love them too
:Heritage breed pigs - sussex or berkshire probably - Damian's want list
:Maybe some sheep - would only be for meat
:Maybe some angora goats - not sure on this yet, will research their temperament
:Maran chickens - want to get some for their chocolate brown eggs
:Partner chickens for the ones I already have to match up and complete breeding groups

So I am being called Mrs MacDonald and Mrs Doolittle by our friends, but that's ok. What's a farm without animals!