Saturday, 28 May 2016

Lessons Learned

I thought since I am trapped inside I would write my next blog. Have been procrastinating over whether to tell the story of the Horses (tissue alert) or something a bit more light hearted. Think since its dark and gloomy I should chat about the funnier things that has been going on. The weather report looks like I may have time to write about the horses tomorrow!!! 
So here goes! Probably best to not be eating when reading this
Well I have been ‘Coo Girling’ it now for the past five months. I have never worked nor been up close to cattle (other than a horrific incident when camping at Robin Hood Bay) Actually now I mention it that should have been enough to make me realise what I was in for.  You see I have discovered a few things about farming; I call them ‘The lessons learned’
Figured I would bullet point them (could be useful for anyone else embarking on farming) especially if you are like me and was raised in the city.

Lessons:
  • Its hard work. I mean REALLY hard work. I have never worked so hard.
  • It costs money. If you have a budget, double it! Starting up is not cheap, especially if you want to ethically farm. Meaning, providing paddocks with shading and safe fencing methods. Our budget was dwindling fast, so decided to GST register. Turning our little farming venture into a business. Exciting stuff but incredibly daunting. This has to make money. Thankfully I studied business and marketing is something I am confident with. Stay tuned for future post on this and our new upcoming products and website.
  • Be prepared to get dirty. You know when you have been farming for a while when gumboots and bush clothing become your fashion accessories. We have clean gumboots and dirty gumboots. I go grocery shopping in gumboots, am over giving a shit on how I look, as I know as soon as I get home I have more shit to pick up. Perfume is the perfect investment to convince yourself you are still civilised. Make up is a waste of time (the coos don’t appreciate it)
  • A manicure is scraping under your fingernails and praying it is dirt.
  • It’s probably time to have a shower when the cows start grooming you.
  • Farming is all about poop, picking up poop, inspecting poop, finding things to do with poop, harrowing poop…POOP! It’s everywhere and I have become quite obsessed with it. I can’t pass a cow pat without kicking it and/or inspecting it. Poop gives you the information you need to determine the animal’s health. Did you know you can collect poop take it to the Vet to get it tested for parasites?! And they can give you an egg count?! Fascinating stuff! I bowled into Murchison Vets with two bags of poop, Gems (number 3 child’s horse) and Williams. I was pretty stressed as William was not doing well, and I had no idea what was wrong. Taylor was having a similar issue with Gem (she was not putting on weight) and asked me if I could take Gems poop to the Vet to get checked, so I figured if they count horse poo surely they do the same with coo poo. Thank God for plastic Shopping bags!! Filled them up and slapped it on the Vets counter. I knew at that point that poop fascination is quite normal in the farming world, as we were all in the Vets office (receptionist in all) inspecting Williams’ poo, and googling poo. I couldn’t wait to get home and tell William about how interested everyone was in his poop. So Gems poo count came back alarmingly high, hers was 1900/gm egg count, normal range is 150-200/gm (Gem is in next post, a sad heartfelt story) William was suspected to have Liver Fluke, We have been told our area at certain times of the year is susceptible for Liver Fluke,  IMPORTANT TO DISCUSS HEALTH PLAN WITH YOUR VET. They are an encyclopedia of information and more than willing to help educate you. THERE IS NO SHAME IN ASKING FOR HELP. Sad but true but Child number 3 and I couldn’t wait to get outside to inspect the horses poop after we wormed them yesterday. Excuse the pun but it’s a shity job so one needs to find some form of entertainment.  Williams came back negative for Liver Fluke but positive for Tapeworm. Apparently most farmers are not too concerned about tapeworm, it is thought to not cause much problem in cattle, however for William it was creating an issue. So he along with the other babies where drenched. Stress on cattle can make infestations worse, so we figured the stress of his big trip from wellington to us was enough to create a problem.
  • Don’t cook pasta the night after discovering tape worms in your coos poop. I will never eat fettuccine again! (vomit)
  • Don’t over groom an adolescent bull calf. He may get the ‘wrong idea’ if you know what I mean, resulting in a 150kilo calf mounting you and smart enough to pin you down by standing on your thumb! Still feeling violated. Naughty boy! And as you probably can imagine Mal saw it all, and instead of coming to my rescue he roared with laughter and proceeded in spending the rest of the day giving me grief about it. Grrr
  • Remember that coos have dam good memories. If you do something once… for example…feed them cow nuts in the black rubber bowl…they will recognise the bowl as something wonderful. I decided to herd the girls into hill paddocks, thought it was a great idea to use cow nuts and popped them into the rubber bowl, I figured since I am walking up there I may as well take some hay. So in one hand, cow nuts and under the other arm were a few slabs of hay. I walk out of the barn calling the girls. Now at this point I should have considered the thought of keeping tabs on what was going on behind me, as there was a thundering sound coming from behind…and the thought did cross my mind that perhaps it was Loretta but shrugged it off as she’s pretty lazy. And once Ruby ran past me jumping and carrying on (you would have still thought I would turn around) but I was on a mission to get up the hill loaded with hay and nuts. I stopped briefly to catch my breath and that’s when I decided to turn around and check where the noise was coming from, well I went white with horror, I was faced by a charging coo, her eyes were glazed over in full focus on the cow nuts, and she was not going to stop for anyone. Including me! Next thing I took off… cow nuts flying in one direction and hay in the other. Bloody Bitch! I patted myself down (checking this wasn’t an ‘outer body’ experience) nope still alive…phew!
  • The best way to a coos heart is….COW NUTS.
  • Sprint when carrying cow nuts.
  • Yards are a structure to safely contain cattle when treating them. Way better than chasing them around the paddock.
  • Paddocks are not yards.

Last but certainly not least
  • If your husband is embracing the wild and decides that shaving is no longer required and growing a mullet is a great idea. Take it seriously!
    (Tips on containing the beast would be very much appreciated.)

I have learned a lot about farming already, and at the same time a lot about myself, our marriage and our family. Strength is in working together and supporting each other. Yes life must look great from the outside, and yes we are living the dream. But nothing comes easy and at times we get so exhausted that everything seems so shit.
But if everything came easy what would we have to appreciate?  I feel blessed to live here. I have learned a whole new level of respect for the essentials (and not so essential) in life, like water, power, food and sunlight (and really good deodorant) we are heavily reliant on these.  I have removed our microwave, we will never be able to use a hair dryer, a food processor is now replaced with, bloody good elbow grease and vacuuming gets done when the generator is on (making us aware of when things start costing money) I find it very fascinating what appliances cost the most to run, and it’s the ones you would never think of. We no longer have a toaster, toast is now cooked on the hotplate of the fire and nothing is better than a nice pot of pumpkin soup cooked and simmering on the fire. We have a new found respect for the simple things in life.
Happiness now comes from the environment we live in, from spending time with the Coos,  watching number 3 child ride her horse, lying in bed looking at the stars and listening to the moreporks at night or simply sitting on the deck and watch nature at its best.

You see Mal loves me when I am covered in hay, poo and stink like an old sock. He can see how happy I am which in turn makes him happy…and likewise (except for the mullet).

Update on Booboo
Look at her now!!! And she has little horn buds…so cute!!!

Booboo (left) and Bobby (right)
William Wallis our breeding bull calf and very naughty boy!
But gosh I love him!!

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