Tag Archives: hay

Mouse in the house

As it’s a good season here in South Australia with rain, crops and hay so much so that the mice are breeding rapidly. Farming and mice go hand in hand and I dislike it very much. Most farm houses have cats for this reason, they catch the mice, they eat them and keep the numbers down.

Not so much in this farming enterprise, we have 4 cats, they were born feral, by that I mean feral. They were wild and as kittens my husband found them in his header and shed and got the dogs to help catch them. They lived in a cage in the shed on old woollen jumpers / sweater, then they were moved by the hay forks on the tractor to the back porch, then inside as it was a very cold winter. The farmer use to sit there and put his welding gloves on and pick them out of the cage one by one to pat them. They now after 7 years living with us, like the comforts of home, sleeping on beds and chairs.

The fourth cat Gatsby was caught, mid winter cold, starving and on the road, he now also resides inside and his favourite sleeping spot is on the top bunk. He climbs up there and sleeps. But what these four cats do is enter the house through the two cat flaps that my husband has had installed. They bring with them mice, hares, rabbits, the odd bat and reptiles of the lizard kind. They are so well fed they sometimes bring these mice in via their mouths, cough like they have a fur ball and spit the mice out, 8 out of 10 are eatenĀ  and the other two are left to run free…. in my house.

It’s not abating, I had to travel to our major city the other day 300kms where I picked up our reusable shopping bags, left them in the car overnight. I drove to appointments and then at the end of the day without thinking about it, I grabbed them outĀ of the car, put them in the trolley and went about my shopping. I came to the cash register, handed over my bags to the gentleman, started unloading my trolley to hear the cashier saying “ooo, ooo, umm” and as I looked up towards him I could see he was backing away from my bags. I did the eye roll and asked “is there a dead mouse in there?” he turned and looked at me “oh no love, it NOT dead.” he said I walked up to the bag, took it from him and walked it outside the shops. I emptied it into the carpark, watched the mouse run off and went back inside to complete the transaction.

The cashier looked at me and I said “it’s a country mouse and not likely to survive in the city, it’s travelled over 300 km’s to get here. He said “OMG, the last time I saw a mouse my partner saw it and screamed like a girl!’ I laughed and said “I think you nearly did too, didn’t you?” “oh yes, did you notice that?” it was funny as everyone within earshot stepped back as I went to take the bag outside to empty out the mouse. I have no idea how to be rid of them, I wish it wasn’t standard practice in farming hat you need to adapt to them, any ideas how to keep the cats from bringing them in? If you do feel free to let me know.

frank-look-alike-caryying-a-mouse

Hay raking whilst the sun shines

When growing up I knew where eggs, meat and produce came from, my parents gave us a very rounded education. I knew hens laid eggs, lamb, beef, chicken were producers of the meat that we eat and farmers grew crop so that we could have food. My grandfather on my mothers side was a fisherman and we use to travel into the ocean in South Australia and fish with him, fillet them and cook them to eat.

Until I married a farmer I never knew how much they had to know to bring this food to the supermarket shelves and to our tables. They have to consider animals first and foremost if they produce meat for human consumption, their care and welfare are never far from farmers minds. In producing crop to sell and people to eat they need to know soil types, rainfall and what will and won’t grow to a saleable quantity. They also need to know how to drive really big tractors, trailers and trucks so that they are safe and they can and do use these as tools of trade.

The first time I was bogged (by the farmer) on the property I asked to be taught how to drive a tractor so that if one day I was needed to rescue someone, him or pull equipment I could do it safely and thus have gone on to learn most of the tractors on the farm. I have also been taught how to mix formula for baby lambs and calves so that I can feed them and raise them when they are orphaned. Nothing scientific but like humans too much bring stomach issues and too little brings starvation.

The farmer tells me most days and did before I moved here what he’s up to, not because I am interested (which I am) but for work health and safety and also if I ever feel like driving out to him I know where to look, find him and or bring him a coffee if I feel like being nice. I have taken him, coffee, morning and afternoon tea and sandwiches for the days he is out for hours at a time.

This year he got the crop in when we had good rain, the last 3 have been below average rainfall and things have been difficult. The paddocks have been dry and we have had to purchase feed stuff for the cattle and sheep. But the farmer likes to grow our own feed stuffs for the animals and at one stage last year when it was very dry (it was a drought actually) all he wanted to do was get out on the tractor and plough the soil, plant seed and watch it grow to reap it, bale it and feed it out.

We have had good rains this year and I went out to film him raking, I knew raking was not about your garden style rake but something bigger even before I did see one as he told me it needed the tractor to pull the rake. But one could be forgiven for thinking there were tools made like the garden variety rake that were attached to a big stick and then pulled along by a tractor , but alas, no here it is.

Why do we rake hay? I ask these questions even though I think I’m supposed to know but it is to take any moisture out of hay, especially as it has rained since it was cut. When baling hay they work on moisture content, if too high they stop. packing approx 600kilos of hay into a bale when wet or too green is a recipe for disaster. They can cook from the inside out and combust. I fed last year while the farmer had a break off the farm, when hay is baled it is done in brick sections in the baler and I pushed my bare arm through the brick and it was burned. I then realised the bales were too hot. After feeding out I took the tractor and took the bales one by one and placed them on the ground away from each other so that if they did catch fire we wouldn’t lose much and it wouldn’t spread very far.

It’s a great day in the Upper South east, firstly I have internet proper been about 8 weeks and the farmer is out working hard whilst I do book work. Have a great season.

hay-raking

Farming Life

There is always something on when you marry a farmer, and not only the weather dominates days, for croppers and for graziers alike. Everyone waits for the break of the season, where everything feels like it’s new again, farmers happily jump on tractors to plough paddocks and bulls can be put with the cows to start the mating season off.

What do they all do in the meantime? you ask, We have had a couple of bulls roaming our house block, we have our house on a 20 acre or 8 hectare block and it is fenced off so that we don’t have roamer but every now and then it is good farming practice to bring the sheep in to chew down overgrowth and or let cattle in to do the same. The only problem here is the beautiful working dogs, have to go to their compounds so that they don’t spend their time rounding things up and chasing them into corners as they are trained to do. We also have hay we are feeding out in the house yard so letting animals in they chew bottom rows and sometimes cause a collapse which can kill others. it also reduces the amount of food available during the summer.

Daily as I do book work, house work and run the business from my office, I can hear the comforting sound of the tractor running as he puts hay on to a trailer and then takes it to the cattle to feed them. But the last couple of days we have had a couple of the large bulls wander In and slowly much on the grass. It has been interesting to watch the cats stare at these enormous animals as they roam the front and back yard. The cats will happily watch from the security of the screen doors but should they be outside and the 500+kilo animals walk past them then we can watch as they running to the comfort of being under the house or in through the cat door.

Our bulls are very gentle and are quite happy to wander around and the dogs are not so keen to take on such large animals. I sit in my office and the floor is bare – my beautiful Pete (Golden Retriever) is gone and I have washed and folded his blanket and placed it on the chair as I am not ready to put it away so Gatsby the ginger cat has taken it over and casually stretches himself in it and on it and sleeps there until the farmer comes in to move him and sits in the chair. Gatsby has also taken to spread himself in my chair at the kitchen table and now uses his paws to push me off it when he wants to stretch out (he is the king of this castle) see picture below.

Gatsby

Gatsby

Life is interesting and as we wait for the break in the season it means we work until it rains and then once it rains we work at different things. In the meantime we watch and care for the animals we have and plan for the future, but if you call in here at the moment drive slowly as we don’t want them hurt, this is the welcoming party. See you can tell we promote grass-fed here.

Our 'pet bulls" in the house yard

Our ‘pet bulls” in the house yard