Sunday walk, Shearing shed, Misty, left to the elements, replaced with new.
Sits silent with memories and secrets, waiting for sheep, waiting .
Sunday walk, Shearing shed, Misty, left to the elements, replaced with new.
Sits silent with memories and secrets, waiting for sheep, waiting .
The farmer is an animal lover and as such has cats, dogs, cattle, sheep and anything else that comes along. One day he sent me a photo of two baby foxes he saw living in our cattle yards and I banned him from bringing them home. We have a property that has kangaroos and he won’t go out and kill them because they eat minimal crops, he will occasionally shoot predatory birds that peck at baby animals that are being born so other than that most animals are welcomed into our home. I am currently hand rearing 2 calves Rosie & Delila and a Lamb – Josie who now live in my vegetable garden
We also have the 3 lovely shed cats (called this because he found them in the shed and they now don’t live there) rescued from a freezing winter in 2009, Gatsby (a ginger cat)was rescued 2 years ago this month. All of them are desexed as I didn’t want excess of litters all over the farm and in the cold months of winter (and the hot days of summer) they live inside.
Many a night we have had parades of mice: alive and dead, rabbits: alive and dead birds alive and dead, bats 99% alive, gecko’s mainly alive that we have put outside and frill neck Lizards alive that leave alive as the cats have not worked out how to get through their tough exterior and frill when they protest. Our motto is that if we catch any of these things alive we lock the cats inside and let the animals go free outside.
Many a night I have woken to the sound of crunching and am so none fussed about it now I roll over and go back to sleep. If we hear noises we will get out of bed to try to chase the cats outside with the animal intact. Other times there is a “look at me, look at me” flinging and rolling with the animal (dead) in the spa bath. Where the cat shows us the prey and then eventually the creature is left intact and we are left to clean up the mess.
We have watched as these cats over-estimate their abilities and their prey – the farmer has seen Frankie stalking a kangaroo (as if she was ever going to catch it) we have seen Gatsby jumping in the air to catch swooping birds as if they were going to fly into his mouth, Matilda has on a few occasions stalked the chooks when we use to let them out, the chooks are confined to their pen as the working dogs try to round them up and chase them till they die.
I don’t mind it during the day but in the middle of the night I could do with out it, you know when you have to get up early, you set your alarm and you wake almost hourly hoping you don’t miss it? That was last nigh t and I was back into sleeping when I could hear a growling, at first I asked the farmer to roll over as I thought he was snoring loudly so he did but the noise got louder and I realized it was coming from his wardrobe.
Bloody Cats fighting in the wardrobe, so I spring out of bed, turn on the lounge room light so as not to blind myself or the farmer but to shine light on the area, open the door and see nothing, I move clothes around to see if I can catch them hiding but I see nothing, so I shut the doors, stoke the fire and as I go to turn off the light I see 3 cats casually walking around the lounge room, squinting at the light with the innocent look of no it wasn’t me, I glare at them as I go to back to bed, it’s 3am. I’m back sleeping when the slow and loud growling starts up again, this time I’m cross I jump out of bed, step on the remote control, stub my toe on a laundry basket I have left in the way, go out to the fire, pick up the poker and come back to the wardrobe and one by one open the doors and thrash it about (hoping I can collect one of these cats as I do it). I look to see Gatsby’s tail disappear out of the wardrobe and run around the corner to get away and Rita slowly slink out heading towards the door. I shut the wardrobe put the poker on the floor and go back to bed, I note it’s now 4am.
Both of these cats go outside and as I drift back to sleep I become aware Gatsby is back in, he has jumped on my foot, shaken himself off as he is as wet as anything and flops down on my bed at my feet. When I do get up at 5am I note Matilda is standing by the wardrobe door, sniffing and I begin to think perhaps the other two were fighting over a late night slaughter. I didn’t have time to check before I left the house and I bet whatever it is will still be there when I get home this evening.
We have a spot I call slaughter corner, where some mornings we can wake up to find no evidence of the animal except a blood stained wall. We occasionally have a kidney or the bottom half of a mouse, if it’s a rabbit sometimes I get the entire gastrointestinal tract with pooh intact. Feathers of a bird are common and is the foot or tail of a rabbit. These can also be found out by the cat flap if they can’t carry it in or in the spa bath if we don’t hear them. Anything and everything is foul and I wish they would stop, once I asked the farmer “what’s with the green feathers in the corner?” without missing a beat he said “I didn’t like that grass parrot anyway!”
I occasionally say to birds, “You all need to live 1km away from the house as these cats will get you if you are closer. I feel exhausted before I even left the farm, getting home tonight will be a bit of a struggle, it is about 220km’s away.
The farmer didn’t like my post yesterday, he thinks I have no understanding of what we do here on the farm, when it comes to drought management and animal husbandry. Having been with him for 13 years (I know a long time) I have marveled at how he manages the farm, the cattle, the sheep and the crops. I have long stated I won’t have time to learn what he has forgotten when it comes to farming, business planning and management of animals.
Why did he take offense? because he’s thinks the work he does I don’t see and when I comment it’s a criticism of his abilities and it’s not. It is far from it, he doesn’t see that I worry about the animals that I can’t help with, other than the odd assistance or (slavery as I call it) I can help with lamb marking, putting rings on tails & testicles, whilst vaccinating them, I am no good at crutching or shearing. We rely on our great mate Ronnie to come and help pick up, put up and as a team we can do over 300 in a day. It’s hard yakka, bending, lifting, drafting (I can do this as well) we manage to work together and enjoy each others company (thanks Ronnie).
I can help with ear tagging the cattle, mustering and weighing, I can’t do the ringing of testicles as the size of these animals scare me and he gets to them young enough they are only about 200 kilo so it’s not so hard. When we ear tag them we have to put them in the race, head bale them (hold their heads with metal doors) whilst I grab their right ear and pierce it and put the legislated ear tag in it. Boy they can make a large noise as they bellow in protest, it’s the same as having ones ear pierced.
I have watched over the summer months as he has gone outside to check waters in troughs and dams, if they are out of water he has to locate the problem and fix it. We spent the best part of one Christmas day – missing lunch with my family to dig up water pipes clear them and wait for the troughs to fill over the farm in 40 degree heat (104 fahrenheit). Cattle and sheep can die without water in one day in this sort of heat.
I have watched him go out and feed hay to animals when our feed has declined, I see him jumping on and off a hay trailer whilst the ute is moving slowly so as to spread out the hay to keep animals fed. He does this every day maintaining the quality of our animals and their food source. I have watched him and gone with him checking things over our 5000 acres, I have taken him drinks and lunch whilst he is sowing, reaping, raking and fencing. We have spent weekends planting up to 3000 trees per year to give animals shelter belts and to re-vegetate tops of hills that blow with sand.
I have adapted to farming and I do have a deep love of what it is I don’t see and I don’t have the passion nor the drive for all of it like he does. I rarely criticise anything he does as I am aware he drives heavy machinery, he can build a shearing shed from plans drawn up with Ronnie on a scrap piece of paper, he can swear like a farmer (as only they can) at anything and everything, he can care deeply for small animals which is why I am hand rearing 2 calves & a lamb currently.
How to shut me up – sorry Chris it won’t happen.
It’s funny (not funny really) that since the myth has been debunked about the treatment of our sheep and lambs during shearing, there has been no word or apology from PETA. I have started the facebook page, requested photos and pictures and I live the feedback it is getting, so much so I may even have to create a webpage. In the 5 days I have had it open there have been over 2000 likes, keep spreading the word.
What it shows us is there are an enormous amount of farmers, families and shearers who take so much pride in their work, the industry and each other it really is heartening to see. Keep those videos coming – I am more than happy to promote good high quality shearers and their work.To the shearers out there, send me your details or a picture of yourself – so that we can promote it through the page. It really is an industry unless you are in it, no one knows how tough it is, how respected most of you are by those that employ you, how frustrated we are that we can’t get you (you are all so busy) especially if the word of mouth says how good a team you are and how good your skills are. If you have a show coming up jump on the facebook page (click here and it will take you too it) or email me firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll put up an events page where people can see where you’re doing displays or competitions get the public out there supporting us.
I know there are teams of you that travel overseas for demonstrations, come to country shows and have competitions and put hours into your craft. Shearing the wool off the sheeps back is exactly that, it provides an income for families, including your own, it provides the industry with high quality wool for national and International sale. It is used for many different purposes and mostly puts wool on bodies all over the world.
Mr Barnaby Joyce MP said it best really so I have copied the you tube video for you to listen to. Whilst I don’t subscribe to name calling, it would be nice if someone from PETA would admit that the treatment of lambs during shearing does not produce the kind of image that they have displayed. https://youtu.be/sPYdio-hCP0
I have also received a spiel about a cottage industry (Australian) of course that uses aged sheep manure, bags it and people buy it to add liquid and it turns in to 100% natural fertilizer for their gardens. Not only do they produce wool but they have turned what could be years of poop under the shearing shed into a business. Their fund raising idea is fabulous, get on over to their website and have a look, promote it on your page and get the industry talking about all of the great things it does. They call themselves Baa Baa Brew, great name too.
We are hearing the terms ‘organic’, grass-fed, ‘free range‘ and feed lots lately and in relation to cattle, sheep, pork & chicken. Do you have any idea what this means and have you wondered why it affects you and should you change your purchasing meat requirements to go organic? This is a question I get asked a lot, are you ‘organic’ – no we are ‘grass-fed’ you can not claim to be something that you are not without implications.
Organic is what it says it is, these producers must adhere to strict standards including not using antibiotics, hormones, pesticides, irradiation or bioengineering; they must adhere to certain soil and water conservation methods; and to rules about the humane treatment of animals. Certified organic producers are audited and inspected annually and are subject to surprise inspections to ensure compliance with the strict guidelines. “Organic” and “Natural” don’t mean the same thing. Organic producers work hard to produce quality meat whilst sticking to these strict standards, it also costs them a lot of money to have the herd, flock or mobs or animals certified, in setting an enterprise up like this all animals and property need to be assessed and maintained in this permanent state to maintain the certification, both here (Australia) and in the US.
All products that come off that property will then have the rights to label it ‘organic’, it does not mean however that animal has spent all of its life in pasture, it means that they had access to pastures, not given hormones, no antibiotics or injections. Their diet is based upon naturally occurring grasses, hay and can be given a percentage of grain which also has to be certified organic. Some producers feed their animals significant amounts of grain, a proven way to speed their growth and increase milk production. The more grain in a ruminant’s diet, however, the lower the amount of omega-3, CLA, vitamin E and beta carotene in their products.
It has been said for optimal nutrition, it’s got to be grass-fed. By this it is taken to mean, the naturally occurring grasses limiting gain feeding, that will grow within that specific region, under climatic conditions of the area (not introduced) and on properties that have limited human access. This means, humans walking from one property to another getting dirt & seeds on shoes and they become planted accidentally. If the animal needs a supplement say of hay then it is best to try to buy from within your region so that they still are getting the natural nutrition or grow and cut your own (which is what we do) Raising cattle and sheep on grass, boosts the beef’s level of a conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a group of polyunsaturated fatty acids found in beef, lamb and dairy products. Over the past two decades, numerous health benefits have been attributed to CLA in animals, including a reduction in cancer, heart disease, onset of diabetes and accumulation of body fat.
What does free range mean? this relates to the captivity status of the animal such as with chickens that are kept in cages against chickens that are allowed to wander over a substantial grassed area so they scratch and peck at the naturally occurring food sources, not just grain, barley and seeds with human feed scraps. For larger animals this means the same, not kept in close proximity to each other as in feed lots , but are able to walk through paddocks that are fenced purely to keep stock from swapping properties. To not be free range does not mean this is bad, neither does feed lots, it puts a different finish on the taste and quality of the meat.
For those wanting to know if you get a tough piece of meat, be it beef or lamb, it can be because the animal was stressed at slaughter or that the butcher has carved against the grain. This will be another topic for later in the week. Regardless, buy meat for protein and pleasure and get the most you can out of the hard work of all producers, ask your butcher, check the labelling and most off all enjoy.
Isn’t it funny how a bit of sunshine after a long cold, rain filled winter brings us ‘out’ of the house. Living on a property one can see how sunshine after a persistent winter can bring changes. Despite the farmer being born and bred on the land, we drove back to the property after spending a lovely weekend with family in the city celebrating my parents 50th wedding anniversary, he commented on how the ‘grass had grown.”
I always look at him in amazement when he makes comments like this as we all know ‘grass always grows with water & heat.’ He also made a comment that he wondered who would eat it and as an answer to his question I spotted a kangaroo (they are wild on our property) and said looks like mum (kangaroo) & joey (baby kangaroo) are. They were standing in the afternoon sun and quite peaceful where they were sheltered from other animals and cars.
We drove past the front paddock where there is sheep and baby lambs, they are all looking very healthy and ‘fresh’ is the terminology. Lambs when they are free range and grass-fed always look good. They have a thin coat of fat under their skin and they actually skip as they walk. This is a sure-fire way to know the flock of sheep have a balanced diet and not living under constant stress of being fenced in and fed with lots of grain. This look will appear on them in the markets, this brings a higher price and will also ensure the consumer gets high quality lamb. If you ever travel to a farm, one way you can pick this is the flock looks clean – no such thing as white wool / grey maybe due to environmental factors but more importantly around their rear end it does not look dirty from faeces or ‘dags’ as clumps of dried faeces can do. This can be – but not always a sign of worms and the flock will need to be treated. Treatment does not change the quantity and quality of the meat but left untreated the lambs will not look happy or healthy and the meat may be dark in colour.
To see flocks of lambs sitting in the sun and not eating means that they are well fed and relaxed. Ewes will only walk a short distance from their young unless disturbed which on farms can be by dogs / humans / horses and vehicles, which are all used to move them from one paddock to another. Our lambs are ready to go to market so we are hoping they will come to a store near you soon.
Following my blog yesterday where I endorsed the virtues of Australian meat producers and abattoir, the beauty of life is that you can be proved wrong at any turn. All I really needed to do was google 🙂 but here is where our Australian Standards takes over. The difference between ‘Australian substitution (not that I advocate any substitution) is no horse meat. They just put older lambs in the place of younger lambs. To the lamb eater, there is a different taste, but some people liken this to the difference between grain fed to grass-fed. For those that wish to read about it, go to the following link. http://www.beefcentral.com/processing/article/2721
Here is where the line ‘mutton dressed up as lamb’ applies. Till I lived on a farm I had no idea there was a difference.
What is the difference between ages of lamb and what are their names?
1) Lamb; a young sheep under 12 months of age which does not have any permanent incisor teeth in situ. The meat is firm textured but tender and the meat is pink to dark red in colour with a firm white fat covering, best on lambs that are 6 months to 8 months old
b) Prime Lamb: is a young lamb under 12 months of age that is raised purely for meat. The meat is firm textured and pink in colour with a white layer of fat covering. It will be tender to eat.
2) Hogget; a sheep of either sex having no more than two permanent incisors in situ, over 12 months old but not 24 months old. Hogget by definition “is overwintered lamb between about 12 and 18 months old” which means it has lived in a winter where food is abundant and they are well-kept and cared for. The meat is rich in flavour and with a firm texture, the fat covering is white and thicker than an under 12 month old lamb. This is meat that reflects its upbringing.
3) Mutton: a female (ewe) or castrated male (wether) sheep having more than two permanent incisors in situ. This means that the sheep may be over 2 years old and the flesh is less tender and the meat is darker red in colour. The meat has a stronger flavour as it is older and contains a higher concentration of species characteristic fatty acids mainly due to connective tissue maturation, it is commonly used and recommended for use in casseroles and stews due to the ‘chewier meat’. The fat covering can be yellowish and stringy making it if cooked incorrectly quite horrible to eat.
With these in mind in the NSW meat substitution you can see how “mutton dressed up as lamb” is deceiving and a ‘rip off’ to the consumer. Our food inspectors are well versed in quality and the looks of the meat, so you should if you are purchasing meat to feed yourself or your family.
To my American readers, may not know of these terms as they are not recognised by American standards, mutton may be known but hogget will not be. These terms are recognised in Australia and Saudi Arabia as they have stricter meat standards than other countries. Americans may know these as Yearling Lamb – a young sheep between 12 and 24 months old.
What are the benefits of eating lamb? Is any “age” lamb bad for me? The short answer NO – as long as the meat it not ‘off’ and you prepare it correctly, it can provide nutritious and beautiful meals for the family and for entertaining. Here are some Healthy Stats for you
Calorie wise 3.5 ounce or .2 lb or 1 kilo serving of Lamb loin is only 6 calories more than an equal serving of salmon and approx 11 calories less per ounce, kilo & pound than beef.
Lamb & protein. A serving of lamb delivers 30 grams of protein, 54% of the daily recommended requirement for men and 65% for women.
what is a serving you ask? approx 50 grams in size
Lamb is rich in iron, zinc and vitamin B12
There has been reports that the niacin (vitamin B3) in lamb can provide protection against Alzheimer’s, promotes healthy skin and retards the risk of developing osteoarthritis.
Lean lamb, prime lamb and ‘hogget’ is a selenium-rich food”. A mineral which has been reported to raise mood levels from poor to good, selenium is further known for its antioxidant properties which boost the immune system and promote good health.
Happy, healthy eating.