Some Yuletide Cheer

We had Christmas lunch with Allison’s family in Sydney, bringing my son Owen along as well as wwoofer Nicky. Our other wwoofers, Pat and Nellie, preferred to stay on the farm. We came back for a Christmas evening dinner, and brought Allison’s intellectually disabled uncle, Andrew, for a few days.

The thistles are flowering now, so it’s a great time to chip them out. We’re each doing at least an hour a day on them. Pat and Nicky have been helping me assemble a greenhouse that arrived just after Christmas, and Nellie has been sewing up some colourful medieval banners.

Pat and Nicky decided to have new year in Byron Bay or thereabouts, so they’re gone for about a week. We have a new wwoofer, Sujin from South Korea. Allison had noted an excess of testosterone with three men on the farm, so now we’ll have just one, with three women. I’d better watch my manners.

Warhorse breeding program

Domino the horse arrived on Monday.

I bought her in July, sight unseen over the internet.  She’s a black half-clydie with sabino colouring, with a history of having black foals with dramatic white flashes.  She cost $1500.

She was originally at Wallendbeen, somewhere near Wagga Wagga.  The seller helped me find a stallion for her, Volo Peter from Wagga, so I got her trucked directly there without coming to Yarra first.

Volo Peter is a mighty black clydie stallion, so there’s a good chance of getting something impressive.

The previous owner did warn me that Domino was hard to catch, and has not been broken in.  She has never been known to kick and bite, but is not sociable.

Domino

When she arrived, she was put into the goose paddock.  She wouldn’t let anyone get closer than about 20m from her.

About 10 days before her arrival, we got another horse on agistment.  Rav is a stockhorse (or similar) yearling gelding.  He came to us because although weaned he wouldn’t leave his mum alone, so he was a bit lonely at our place to start with.  We visited him every day, and took some bread sometimes, and he’s a well-mannered and friendly youngster.

I’ve been applying some horse psychology.  I’ve been wandering down to their paddocks, giving Rav some bread and then offering some to Domino.  If Domino doesn’t come, I give her bread to Rav, who’s delighted to get the extra lollies.

On the first attempt Domino was coming within 4m of me, and on the second attempt she was heavily conflicted at 40cm away.  Hopefully, I’ll get her eating from my hand soon.

In the meantime my friend Sasha tried some natural horsemanship on her.  We got Domino into our round yard with the assistance of all hands.  This involved some terrifying moments for Allison and wwoofer Nellie who are not comfortable having large muscular horses charging at them.

Sasha worked Domino around the yard, trying to get her to meet her in a calm centre.  We ran out of light before that was achieved. The next day, Sasha got her farrier friend to have a look, who decided she was intractable. (Actually he said he would shoot her, after she tried to bite and kick him, but he was pushing her pretty hard.)

So we’ll keep Domino on her own terms. She will now eat from a bucket I’m holding, and I’ll work up to patting her. I never expect to be able to ride her, but fair enough as I would have paid at least another $2000 for her if she were ridable.

We make a tourney fence

The wwoofers were looking for a new project, so we decided to make an SCA tourney fence.

This will be used in tourneys, also for equestrian events.

We used lower-grade pine timber, available for $1.21 a metre, half the price of construction grade.  Actually the timber quality was quite reasonable, but we had to work around some knots.

I made up some patterns in vinyl, so that we could mark up each piece for easy cutting with the circular saw (straight bits) and jigsaw (curves).

Our friend Brett helped us set up our Aldi router, to put chamfers along the rails and uprights.  And we used the drill press to put three sunken quatrefoil patterns on each rail.

The whole lot was painted purple, with white quatrefoils.

The credit goes to wwoofers Pat, Nicky and Laura, plus Canadian wwoofer Nellie for finishing the painting. Laura had to leave us for medical reasons, but we caught up again in Sydney later for a lovely lunch at Cabramatta.

A community christmas

This was a big community weekend for us.  Saturday was the Fire Brigade Christmas Party.

In the country, the locals *are* the fire brigade.  If there is a fire anywhere in the district, all the able-bodied people are expected to show up if they possibly can.

The Parkesbourne Brigade Christmas was a very pleasant barbeque and quiz night.  I won the door prize of a fruit platter from Divalls Greengrocers.  (I nearly always win the door prize, particularly if toasters are involved…)

Sunday was the local landcare group Christmas party.  A very enjoyable day with our local community, with special thanks to Marie for her trifle and Nancy for her fabulous jelly slice.

Actually all the food was delicious – we took some medieval fare.  Rissoles dressed up as hedgehogs (or perhaps echidnas), an onion and walnut quiche, and a herb salad with figs.  Allison made her famous mint cordial.  A lot of it came from our garden.

This was the first use of the tennis courts, and good fun if awful tennis.

Our first ducklings

Last week, our first lot of mallard ducklings arrived.  We have another mallard sitting, though her laying hole got swamped in a downpour so maybe she won’t be so successful.

We have seven fluffy ducklings, all bobbing up and down over the grass.

No muscovy ducklings, as we only recently got Nicky the Duck.  Nicky has decided that he really wants to come into the house, and regularly has to be discouraged from this notion.  We’re settling on a compromise that he’s allowed to sit on a step at the end of the verandah.

Nicky the duck, lobbying for entry

Laura the wwoofer has taken over looking after our ever-increasing poultry.  One useful project was upgrading the security of the main chook shed, because a possum kept sneaking in at night and pinching the eggs.  The silkie hens are interested in going clucky, so we might eventually get some offspring from Rufio, our charming and colourful silkie rooster.