“I want to stand as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all the kinds of things you can't see from the center.” Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

New Zealand farm and wild life

We have 5 chicks, hatched from eggs by our Araucana hen. She's a really good mom, but didn't lay any of the eggs she hatched. The chicks are a Barred Rock cross. One of them has 5 toes, and another has blue/grey eyes, different from the others with golden eyes. They hatched just after we returned from our Labour Day holiday in October, so they are about 4 weeks old now. They've joined the rest of the girls in the yard, but are still snuggling with Araucana at night.
This photo is the new trailer we bought in association with my sister and BIL. It has a cage around it, that is removable, for transporting small stock. Lots of work has been going on at our land in Maungaturoto:
The building pad for our KiwiSpan garage:
The fence around the orchard is finished: We have a large gate for access from the driveway, and there's a personal/walk thru gate on the opposite side. The small gate gets us down to the stream to fetch buckets of water to water the trees. The dogs love to play in the stream, playing tug and fetch with old branches or logs from trees. Sadly for Fargo, he bit his tongue trying to run through the personal gate (3 feet wide) while carrying a 4 foot long log in his mouth. I was worried he'd broken a tooth, it bled so much. The wound healed really fast, to my delight. As we watered the trees recently, we noticed small freshwater shrimps in the buckets. We rescued them and re-homed them in the newly-created and still filling pond at the ravine crossing of our driveway. We heard a splash while there, and suspect a toad has moved in. Good! We've also noticed rabbits in that ravine. Also in Recent Wildlife News, we saw a turkey hen with an adorable, fluffy turkey chick. Yes only one, and we suspect the hawks we see flying around have taken a few. Finally, do you know that song, Thank God I'm a Country Boy by John Denver (watch here on YouTube, funny!) Well, there is a bird that sounds like it's singing the tune to this part of the song (lyrics):
Well I got me a fine wife I got me a fiddle
When the suns comin up I got cakes on the griddle
It is incredibly annoying, being reminded of this song and having it go through my head as I walk up and down that hill hauling water. In all honesty though, I must agree with him that being out there on the farm is incredibly gratifying (despite the lack of pancakes).

Two weeks ago, Darin and I took our new trailer up to our farm and camped overnight for the first time. We went possum hunting along the ravine after nightfall, but didn't see any. We have seen them as roadkill up there, and we worry for our tender young fruit trees. We worked so hard planting them, and the cost of them and all the gas/petrol going to and from the farm to water them almost every weekend is large. So, when Darin spotted a possum as we walked past an area near the road this weekend, he killed it. We knew something was wrong with it- possum are nocturnal, and live in trees. This one was on the ground, in the middle of the afternoon. When it was dead, we noticed that it had a road rash on it's back. It had been hit by a car, but survived, and crawled down the embankment onto our property. We brought it home as food for our pets. I've blogged before about possum, that it's a pest in NZ, and good to eat (for people and pets). The major benefit in my eyes is that it is a wild food, so no factory farming, no dis-assebly- line slaughter, and it's free (except for the butchering time). Darin found when he butchered it, that it's back was broken. It probably had happened earlier that day, because it still had food in it's guts. So he actually stopped the possum from suffering an agonizing death by killing it right away. Awww, poor fellow...er, I mean, wait, not this evil nasty beast?!Well that is the before photo, and here's the after: A VERY happy kitty, who was eating an animal about his own size:Here's a photo of the dogs' dinners. You can see that they also got some homemade vegetable soup (chard, potatoes, carrots, squash, tomato paste, Emeril's seasoning, ginger, olive oil, and oatmeal) and fresh apple.

The reason this was all very exciting is that possum is very healty, for both the environment and the eater. I think more people would feed it if they knew where to get it. I did find this canned dog food, a New Zealand product, called Possyum. I haven't fed it to the dogs yet, but it looks quite good. It also has venison in it. I think it cost about $4 or 5. I can also buy raw possum quarters for pet food from K9 Raw Food Barn for about 7 or 8 dollars a kg (2.2lbs). For the readers among you who want more information about raw feeding your dog or cat, look here.