On 13 June, the coldest morning of the year at -3 degrees, Hilda, one of our black Dexter cows, went into labour & by daybreak she had given birth to a black calf. When Ken reached the paddock he found she had just dropped another calf, this time a brown one, just like its father, Sunny. The twins, both girls, were soon moving about & coaxed into the sunshine by their proud mum.
The following day was unusually windy & by mid afternoon our other black Dexter cow, Trudy, had given birth to a male calf. These are Sunny’s first offspring & he did his job beyond expectations as it is not common for a Dexter cow to have twins. Over the following months they have grown well & cavorted about the paddock together. On 20 November they were joined by another calf, when our dunn coloured heifer, Honey, gave birth to a black calf. She is a very protective first time mother so at the moment we cannot confirm its gender, though feel sure it is female.
The Dorper ewes began lambing at the end of August & there were soon quite a lot gambolling about, as there were many sets of twins.
Alas there was an abandoned lamb, very bright & vocal, so I had my first lamb to bottle feed. He soon settled into a routine & we called him Argy (after Remo, whose initials are RG).
Another abandoned little boy joined us, who obviously had to be called Bargy & the two were soon at home outside in the garden when Ken fenced off the lawn between the house & the fridge garden. A couple of weeks later there was another motherless lamb, this time a female, so she was soon named Nigella, as my cousin Nigel Isherwood was visiting us at the time. Then another 2 weeks later one of the maiden ewes abandoned one of her twins & we took in a gangly, bright little girl who we called Ali Baabaa in honour of my cousin Alison Smith who had just arrived for a visit. Feeding 4 lambs became quite a task with 2 bottles in each hand, but they all grew quickly.
The boys were taken off to join the rest of the flock when they were old enough, but when we put the sheep into the house paddock, they would come back to visit us & want a cuddle. After a few weeks, the sheep went to graze in East End paddock & Nigella joined them. Ali Baabaa was not happy on her own & became exceedingly vocal about the situation, so she too went off to join the flock & soon assimilated. The 4 lambs have different ear tags to the rest of the lambs, so we won’t forget who they are. & I’m sure they will always want to greet us.
Our new Wiltipoll ram, Stones, is now getting to know all our ewes, so we will have lambs again at Easter time. However we will sell most of the current crop of lambs after they are weaned.
The bird life have had a wonderful wet season with the geese producing 5 goslings, who now have their adult feathers & are almost as big as the adults. Sadly though, Frankie departed life, after being ostracised by the flock. Maybe they knew she was ailing.
We have had plenty of activity to watch on & around the dams as the mountain ducks reared 5 ducklings to flying age & there have been innumerable families of wood ducks & Pacific black ducks as well as coots & swamp hens. Still sitting on eggs are a pair of grebes, who built an intricate nest mound in the middle of open water, just attached to some submerged rushes.
There are an endless variety of small birds, the most colourful being the robins & the blue wrens. Amongst the bigger birds are some of the noisiest: kookaburras, black cockatoos (both red & white tailed) & the 28 parrots. However, the best songsters are the magpies who visit in their large family groups. With the bird books & the binoculars to hand, there is always plenty to watch from our newly extended veranda.