2009-10-25

A week of it featuring cattle lice and ridiculous rules I made up in my head


Sometimes we have to stop and make some hard decisions that aren't nice to make. When it comes to living on a farm - some decisions are even harder than others. For me a very difficult decision had to be made about two of the animals here on the farm. Micah our bull is now a two year old. After running rampage in Terry's paddock for three days and being downright dangerous to approach - we finally have him back and contained. Bulls can never be trusted regardless of how quiet they are. He's quiet for now but in another few days I have no doubt he'll get wind of Terry's Dairy herd again and start roaring again - that's when he is a problem. Only one decision can be made now and that's putting him down. There is no other option but to do that. I read stuff on the internet from animal welfare organisations who say farming is cruel. They like to make out that all farming is wrong and shouldn't be happening. I disagree with some farming practices - but in the main most are ethical and properly managed. Micah is going into the freezer - that's life. We have three bull calves here that shortly will be castrated for obvious reasons. I think those who say castration of calves is cruel should have a rethink. Bulls are dangerous - more so at breeding time. I never enter the paddock without a cattle stick in my hand with Micah to do so would invite serious injury - he isn't predictable. As many of my farming friends know never trust a bull - ever. Time for him to go.
29 years old and slowing no signs of slowing down. Our old man Edward

The second decision was even harder to make. Sasha our 23 year old Thoroughbred mare had been having problems with her joints. Her age was catching up with her. The weather here has been awful to say the least. Unpredictable weather has made it difficult . Rock and a hard place. She was having trouble walking. I had to go and get her out of the bush the other day because she couldn't come up for her feed. It took a while to walk her slowly out. Franz came on Thursday to trim her feet and sadly shook his head. He felt Sasha was nearing her time and so did I. I hate having to make hard decisions. I had Sasha around the house here so she didn't have to walk too far to have her feed and we had plenty of grass for her. But it was all too clear Sasha was fighting a losing battle with her age and her joints were causing her pain. I couldn't stand it any longer. Thanks to a good friend we were able to arrange for Sasha to have a comfortable slow trip in a horse float to a farm where she was humanely euthanised then buried. Inaya was devastated and so was I but it was the right decision. Sasha is resting now and no longer in pain. Edward our other old horse is missing her of course. He is in fantastic health and at nearly 30 is showing no signs of slowing down. One day I might have to make that same decision for him too. Not easy to do.

Cattle Lice!!!!!!!



I hate cattle lice and this year the nasty little beggars are really at their worst. Everyone has been having problems with the pests. The best option is a pour-on lice treatment for cattle and deer. We'll be applying a product called Eprinex which is a rainfast pour-on. If you're on a small block in New Zealand and have never had cattle here's the main clue for spotting if your cattle have lice. Hair falling out is a prime sign - your cattle won't look so pretty with bald patches for a while until the hair grows back. The lice are quite easily spotted being small and brown - similar to the headlice children get. Your local vet should have a 250ml lifestyle pack pour-on for cattle and deer. Eprinex is very effective and also treats several types of worm parasite.


RULES I MADE UP IN MY HEAD

Rules for Kiwi Lifestyle (Life Sentence) Blocks - tongue in cheek version made up in my head of course but they are useful and truthful - disregard those silly comments in brackets it wasn't me it was someone else (Why is my nose growing?)

  • Be nice to your neighbours. If you're nice when you need help they'll be the first to lend a hand (Are those hippies next door...hmmph!)
  • Don't ever think you can learn everything from a book. Get advice from those who know what farming is about and listen to them they know far more than you do. (I read in...)
  • Possums are not cute they are nasty pests - kill them with traps or shoot them (But...!)
  • That little calf your kids are raising for calf club ends up growing big and becoming a cow. Be heartless and eat it or you'll end up with too many pets (guilty as charged)
  • Yes cows smell - so what don't complain (where's my nose peg)
  • Cow poo on the road can be washed off - don't make life hard for the poor dairy farmer who has a road splitting his property in two and has to cross his cows over to get to the shed. (Which is why they wrote letters to Transit NZ who told the councils the farmers had to fork out stash for 'permits')
  • Yes the droning noise is a plane fertilising your farmer neighbour's land - we get buzzed several times a day here- get used to it. (Really how inconsiderate of them!)
  • 5 horses, several cows and many sheep on ten acres = SPCA or MAF visit in winter plus a huge feed bill. Don't over stock your property. (But my kids love all the animals?)
  • Free range hens sound delightful - until you step outside in your good shoes and stand in chicken poo - pen them in then you'll find their eggs as well. (Oh chickie..I have a nice roasting pan for you to sit in..)
  • Silage stinks - get used to that too. Cattle have to eat in winter. (But it's.....smelly!)
  • Get your hay ordered well in advance. Get more than you need you can always use it later if it's kept dry or you'll end up paying through the nose for it when you really need it. ($30 for a bale of crappy hay? You have got to be kidding! Nope you're not kidding)
  • Maintaining a block of land is expensive be prepared to pay out loads of stash - backache is common. (Then there was the weed killer course you had to fork out $300 for because the government said you needed to be an approved handler for sprays)
  • New Zealand winters are wet horrible affairs - you still have to feed out and still get to work on time. (Or end up with some nosy sod sticking their beak out of their car window, then complaining to the SPCA and you will get an unwanted visit even though you are feeding your animals - premise "A lack of Grass" neither has anyone else)
  • Remember all those preset notions you had? The nice post and rail fences? The keeping everything manicured and the idyllic perfect country life? - be prepared for a big shock. Post and rail fences cost the earth, the sheep ate your garden and you found out the supermarket is an hour's drive away. Welcome to the sticks (I'm going to stay with mother!)

4 comments:

  1. I get you Liz, those are some good and helpful ideas for living on a lifestyle block, when its my turn i'll make use of them - i promise. So sorry about the problem with micah and you and i both know you did the best you could do with sasha, if she's in pain then what sort of life is it for her...

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Liz,
    I now know why the herds of deer around here have patchy coats...lice..ugh! As if ticks that carry Lyme's Disease weren't enough.

    I think that I will nominate you as the "Martha Stewart" of farm journalism! I appreciate your stories and your helpful hints.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hello you two!

    Amy thanks for that. Micah is a problem. He was roaring last night. I hope he's not out..again! Sasha we had no choice with. I'm relieved to be honest. No more problems with her poor old girl. We do miss her though but she was in too much pain. So it was the right thing to do.

    Patricia the Martha Stewart of Fam Journalism hah hah hah! I'm laughing. Actually I watched a movie about Martha Stewart when she was sent to prison and how she changed everything why she was there. And it's about time I got back to what matters. I'm supposed to be writing a book but for want of title I've been stumped. I think now I might have just come up with it. Hugs

    ReplyDelete
  4. Sorry to hear about Sasha and Micah, but it is for the best. Sasha had a good life on your farm. Micah did his job and now will feed your family.

    Good luck with those neighbors! :-P Stepping in chicken poo isn't too bad... compared to cow or dog poo!

    Jennifer

    ReplyDelete