Saturday, 30 August 2014

Dry, dry, dry...

It's amazing what a source of historical information my blog is turning out to be for Rman and I.

When I want to check on how we ran our water or electrical conduits during the building, or on weather from years gone by, etc. I am able to quickly find the info I need on it.  So, forgive me if I babble on now - this posting will help us in the years to come... :) 

For those of my followers who don't know South Africa, the Western Cape Province (wherein lies our smallholding) is a winter rainfall area.  Winter in the Cape becomes the Green Season as far as tourists are concerned - a complete and welcome contrast to Gauteng Province (Johannesburg / Pretoria area) which gets it's rain in summer, and has a dry, brown grass appearance and runaway veld fires in winter.

This year we've had a below average rainfall - so much so that RMan's oats - which he spent so much time preparing the ground for, and planting so carefully - suffered very badly.
Who did I spy in the field, with a hosepipe in hand?
So, I wasn't surprised to see him in the middle of the oat field armed with a hose a couple of weeks ago.  (At that point in time we had only had 20mm of rain since the begining of July - and, trust me, the ground was d-r-y!!)  He was trying to water the oats, so that he could harvest at least some of the crop for the alpaca's as a reward for all his hard work.
I traced the pipe back to our rainwater tanks...
You recall we have seven 5,000 litre rainwater tanks.  They certainly came in handy this winter :)  Even the frosty mornings caused a trickle of melting ice into the tanks - admittedly, not much, but every single drop helps!
...and it stretched for 100mtrs to where RMan
was standing
All RMan had to do was purchase an extra 100 mtrs of 15mm irrigation pipe, hook it up to the one rainwater tank, switch on the 300watt pump, open all the stop valves...
Not easy watering an entire field by hand, so
RMan chose half of the field and gave that
some concentrated watering
...and out poured the water from all the tanks.  Totally free and 100% chemical free rain water :)
Nothing like a cold beer to quench a thirst :)
Naturally, seeing all that liquid squirting out causes a thirst in humans as well, so when I shouted to ask him if he was thirsty, the reply was "Yes please!!" :)  A cold beer (or two) sorted out the human thirst at least :)

What is the point of having rainwater tanks if one doesn't utilize the water they are holding when one needs it? :)

This past Wednesday, Thursday and Friday we had 25.5mm of very welcome rain fall, but RMan has decided that the crop is past saving.  It's barely above ankle height and very patchy.  So he is going to leave it to mature and dry out, and then he is going to turn the entire plant matter into the ground.  As it breaks down it should help to feed the soil so next year's crop will hopefully be a successful one.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Another sign of Spring

We're hectically busy here, so this is just a quick post to keep in touch.

RMan spotted these two the other day, and rushed in to grab the Canon to take a pic.
I don't know what type of birds these babies are,
but boy, are they cute :)

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Minky progress

Minky - just after  birth
If you were a follower of my blog back on the 3rd March 2014 you'll remember that Foothills Michael, a.k.a. Minky, was born and we experienced the first ever birth of a farm animal - our precious Minky, the Alpaca cria.
Minky - in all his
Miranda has been an amazing mother and has cared for him beautifully and that is evident in the change that is now visible in Minky.

Minky has certainly grown.  And then some...
This pic is deceptive - his coat has grown...
and even his face is covered with a blanket.
Just as well - it helped to keep him warm
on the coldest nights this winter
He's now just over 5½ months old and is almost as tall as his mother.
Because Minky is so tame, he insists on "smelling"
your face whenever you enter the paddock and has
the gentlest nose that you ever felt :)
Because he has not been left in a paddock with other alpaca's with no human contact expect when they need their inoculations / deworming, he been "humanised" and is extremely friendly - to the point that anytime anyone enters his paddock, he rushes up to give their faces, necks and ears a good sniff LOL

I have read on quite a few alpaca websites that alpaca's don't like to have their heads or necks touched - obviously Minky hasn't been told that alpaca trait!  There's nothing he likes more than a good rub of the fur on his neck or on top of his head.
Minky's not too keen on the water splaching on
his legs or feet - it makes him flick his
feet - maybe it tickles LOL
Initially, Minky wasn't as mad about water as his Mother and Kris.  Now...
"Give us a drink, RMan"!!
With the drought we have been
experiencing, RMan was watering their paddock
with the water from the rain tank.  Minky
rushed up and shoved his mouth in the streaming
...he can't get enough, and will even try and drink it as it flows out of the hosepipe.  And, like Miranda and Kris, has stated cushing in any puddles that form.  Strangely enough though, when it rains he rushes under cover?!
Mother and son - what a difference!!
Minky, although very friendly, can be "difficult".

He is obviously going through the Terrible Two's / Troublesome Three's and the moody teenager phase - out of the blue he has been known to give RMan a welcoming sniff, flatten his ears, and then give him a dose of the contents of his stomach - probably just practising for when he needs to spit as an adult. Thankfully, with his immature spit, it's not as bad as when an adult does it to you LOL
Oh, brother - that fur is going to take time to
get clean again!
There is nothing he loves more than to roll over in the loosest grass he can find - not ideal as he works it right into his fur, and it is an extra chore when it is time to give him a brush.  That fur will have to be sparkling clean before he is sheared in a month or two - otherwise the blades get blunt very quickly.

His playfulness with his mother extends to nibbling the back of her legs, until she gives him the same treatment.  That stops him in his tracks LOL  Then they have a session of neck rubbing -  similar to giraffes - or he tries to walk under her stomach as though he is still a small cria.

He can be a handful - just like all small children.

And, he also is not terribly neat.
The original midden is the circle at the back -
the "skid" mark is the midden as Minky moved it
closer and closer to the stable area.
Due to his laziness (?) the midden that Miranda created near the stable has been stretched from it's original position, and now reaches almost to the stable.
Alpaca's are incredibly agile - it always amazes
us how he can bend down to suckle from Miranda
His body fur is an even mink colour, his face is a slightly lighter shade - almost like coffee with milk, and...
Dark, dark fur round his hooves.  Almost as though he
is wearing dark booties LOL
...the fur round his hooves is dark brown
Who wouldn't love that face? :)
He almost looks like he's smiling for the camera,
doesn't he.
For all his nonsense, we love him.  Life at Foothills Farm wouldn't be the same without Minky - or Miranda or Kris :)

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Sharing the love

I wrote here about feeding the ducks their grain / oat seed under water.

This was in an attempt to prevent my feeding the entire valley's rodent population - which would be an expensive exercise, and would encourage them to take up residence close to their convenient food source - just what I don't want.

It is amazing - even the wild birds watch out for me.  As I walk towards the bowls in the duck enclosure they arrive en masse and perch wherever they can until I leave and they can get to it.
The wild birds look out for me too - and all line
up in anticipation of a good munch
The other day as I was walking away from feeding the ducks I happened to glance back to see if the ducks had settled into muching and I spotted this...
Cheeky things - they barely allow me to
leave the enclosure before they climb into
the contents of the food bowls
 Birds, birds and more birds - of all descriptions...

I spy birds, and someting else...

... and not only birds.  Can you see what I spied in the bottom right corner of the photopgraph?

As the wild birds were busy with the one bowl, this ruddy field mouse proceeded to the second bowl, and, maling like the bird in the 2nd photo above, it proceeded to straddle the edge and reach down to the water to get the sunflower seeds which were floating on top.
Yeah, it's cute -
but it's still a rodent.
And it eats my veggies!
No wonder I found empty sunflower seed shells scattered round the bowls.  I thought it was strange that ducks would shell the seeds, and figured that the birds weren't big enough to do so.

All is now clear.  I have said before that sometimes I am slow - this is just another example ;)

So, when I go to town at the end of the week I am going to have to find some bowls which are shallow enough for the ducks to reach into, but too deep for the mice...  (and may I add, I have no problem if they do try, and they happen to plunge in and drown because they've stretched too far - there is absolutely no danger to the mouse population and any that do meet their maker will do so without poison and are thus safe for other wildlife to munch!)

I will not be thwarted in my fight against the rodent problem LOL