Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Back home, update

Well we had a wonderful time in Perth. And have to admit, we would seriously consider a future move to WA... though not yet. I would definitely have to see what the winters were like. As it was very dry (at the moment, as they have a Mediterranean climate), so cooler, wet winters do not seem appealing; though would be necessary for growing and pastures. Guess any move would be complex, but in the right ‘thing’, I think we would be very tempted.
Back to Queensland, and our absence saw a few ups and downs. Our poor house/ animal sitter had his hands full. And we are very grateful for his help, though I think over all he enjoyed his “farm stay”.
Anyone eho owns 'property' will know, going away is a little more complex... anyone with a pet can appreciate the planning and worry that goes into taking holidays. So finding someone willing to take on a larger property with a variety of animals is rare- so we really are grateful.
The night before our house sitter came to stay- as he stayed from the Sunday, though we didn’t leave until Tuesday morning, so we could show him the ropes and the dogs could get used to him being there, and being the one who fed them. Any way Saturday night, we lost the first of our Christmas hatchlings; think the wet weather just got to it- found it lying in an undercover corner in the wet. Though we are always sad to lose a bird, it was one of the 2 Sussex hens, we had hoped to keep.  So we moved them to higher ground- although they still had an upstairs area to their hutch/run to be high and dry. We even put them all inside in the evening, only for them to wander straight back out and huddle in the rain!
Unfortunately our house sitter had to deal with finding them one, by one. We agreed with fewer numbers, in the larger side of brooder box; whilst not ideal, would be the best place for them... sadly we came home to one little sussex hen. So “Lucky” will hopefully have a long and happy life with us. We just have to wait for this rain to stop so she can be let outside! I have been handling her often (since we’ve been home) and taking her for a “walk”, morning and evening- where she happily sits on my arm or shoulder and has a good nose around, spreads her wings and even met Madog- much to his confusion.
 I still hope to desensitise them to birds (or at least Madog), but don’t think I will ever trust them, with them... as our recently purchased Mammoth Muscovys were testament to. Although we’re upset to lose them, neither of us can bring ourselves to be mad with the dogs. Especially as the birds made it into their run, so I guess its instinct... I guess if they were left to fend for themselves they wouldn’t starve; Ffion especially.
On a happier note; before we left, we had purchased a few new Indian Game additions. One of which had begun showing signs of an eye infection. Unfortunately this and respiratory infections seem to be common- though we had been told to treat them with ‘Breath-easi’ and had previously picked up an antibacterial eye ointment that appears effective.
But as we were leaving, we had separated her into a cage in the shed and asked our house/animal sitter to spray her morning and night (and feed/water her obviously). To be honest, we hadn’t expected her to survive. But to our surprise she had, and although the tissue in the eye lid is still swollen and her eye was watering, she appears healthy in herself. So I am currently bathing her eye morning and night with warm salt water, then applying ointment to the eye and misting her with regularly with the breath-easi. This appears to be helping, but I did catch her scratching the eye yesterday, so I may need to fashion a cone for her. As she seems strong and we want her eye to clear up ASAP, so we can have her free ranging with the others; as although I know she has “enough space”, we hate seeing any animal confined.
On the plus side we did have 3 new arrivals whilst we were away- 1 Indian game chick, 1 Indian game- Old English Game cross chick and an Old English Game cross Rhode Island Red chick. So we will see what comes, in terms of sex etc. As I missed the opportunity to sex them by their wings (again)- which apparently you can do from day old to 2-3 days. But I have a feeling the more distinctly marked bird (which is surprisingly the first to have hatched, the Rhodie Red, OEG cross) would be a male... purely as males tend to be more colourful, and as chicks would be more marked... guess we’ll see.
The pigs and cows were fine- guess their relatively self sufficient and resilient. I have to admit I can not wait for the rains to ease, so we can look at separating part of the pigs paddock off to let it grow! At the moment it is just a mud bath... Not that the pigs seem to mind.
As for Streaky, I am afraid our plan to separate her and Smokey was not successful. The 3 weeks came and went (pigs estrous cycle is an average of 3 weeks- 18-24 days) and we left her out- partially as she was getting frustrated and the pen’s ground was becoming very muddy, as she was tearing up such a small area. But also as the others needed access to the permanent shed for shelter from the rain. So on the Friday we left her out, only for her to come into season on the Sunday! So I really don’t know whether I will be able to get another chance. I hope so, else she will be for the freezer and we will have to source another gilt/sow.