Animal rescue

This weekend I did a WIRES (wildlife rescue) course. WIRES is a volunteer group that retrieves sick and injured animals and rehabilitates them for release back into their local environment.

I’m expecting that this will involve mostly joey kangaroos and wombats, and maybe some birds, that have been hit by cars along the highways near our place.

With the animals, we’ll be handing them over to specialist carers as soon as possible. With birds, we can probably look after the simpler cases at Cockatrice Farm, or again pass to specialist carers.

Looking after orphaned baby animals sounds fun, but I was amazed at how much time and expense goes into looking after them. We won’t be in a position to do much of that, but maybe we could provide a halfway-house for young animals before they are ready for full release.

It was the Goulburn Poultry Auction on Sunday. We got a female peacock, now named Maelmoire, a present from Sarah. And another goose.

The peacocks

We finally let peacocks 2 and 3 out of their enclosure.  Allison was terrified that they would decamp to a neighbour’s house, and that she should be personally held to blame for this, so they had been in there a little longer than maybe they needed.

So the new peacocks are wandering about now, with the other one, and have formed a little club.  So far so good.  The first peacock is very friendly, so he will help tame the others in time.

The peacocks suspect that Nellie the Duck (our only brown mallard) might be a peahen, which might not be much fun for Nellie.  It’s the poultry auction this Sunday, so Allison will try to get the peacocks some girlies.

The peacocks are followed everywhere by the little kids, the guineafowl.  Wwoofers have never heard this name, so they mostly get called “ugly chickens”.  But they have cheery little personalities, and have forgiven Cara the dog for “retrieving” two of them.

Sometimes the guineafowl perch up high and sit there watching us.  When they’re doing that, I call them the vultures.

We have a new poultry addition as of the weekend.  Our friend Orit called by, and kindly (!!) dropped off their pet chicken Ming Ming, who was suffering the attentions of their cat.  Ming Ming is a people chicken, who doesn’t like other poultry and chases humans around.  She likes to sit on your shoulder and nibble your ear.  Ming Ming is going to have to adapt to a farm life, but has been molly-coddled by the women at Cockatrice Farm.  If Ming Ming turns out to be a boy, he will find out all about coq au vin.

Lisa the Silkie Bantam has gone clucky, and was sitting on a clutch of eggs.  Alas a possum came by and took most of the eggs, so their cage (the old pigeon house) has been reinforced.  Allison’s going to try for some more fertilised eggs at the poultry auction.

The rest of the world

Cockatrice Farm has had pleasant sunny days lately, though we had our first severe frost on Monday.  Our remaining tomato plants are pretty unhappy, but otherwise we have weathered it well.

Our wwoofers Sean and Alice have been busy with many projects, including plumbing in our new tank off the double garage, to supply the greenhouse.  But generally things are quiet.

I might take this opportunity to muse on the Global Financial Crisis.

Australia seems to be coping fairly well.  Goulburn is bustling; I hear that some businesses went dead from about December, but most seem to be muddling by, and some are even doing well.

Sydney’s financial district took a big hit, but again many businesses are now running at capacity, though nobody’s putting any permanent staff on.  NSW is doing worse than the rest of the country, and the consensus is that the State Government is overdue for a change.

The Rudd Government at Federal level has run two stimulus packages, with lots of infrastructure spending in last night’s budget.  On one level, I’m deeply suspicious that the solution to too much borrowing is a bit more borrowing.

On the other hand, in the early 1990s I was running some government labour market programs, and the lesson there was that when older workers lose their jobs in a recession they are unlikely to work again.  If the stimulus can keep things ticking over enough for some people not to lose their jobs, it may well be worth it in the long run.  “A hair of the dog that bit you” as my Welsh aunties of blessed memory used to say.  So I’m with the Prime Minister so far.

As for the US, they haven’t had nearly enough pain for the mess they found themselves in.  I’m expecting a further crash in the stockmarket, to new lows.  Based on recent news, this prediction seems quite unlikely — there’s been a steep rise in the stockmarket.  But the pattern of other serious recessions is that you get “sucker rallies” on the way down to the bottom.  Things don’t really turn around until they are hopeless, and magazines proclaim “The Death of Equities”.  So I’m expecting further problems there, and note that US house prices haven’t stopped dropping yet.  You can’t destroy that much value without serious repercussions.

In Australia, we haven’t had a serious house price collapse.  Government subsidies for first-home buyers (in effect, subsidies for existing home sellers) will tail off over the next year, and I expect prices to drop somewhat then.  While immigration rates stay high, there will be housing shortages and prices shouldn’t collapse.

My guess is that Australia will recover in 2010, with a strong performance by the rural sector, and America will pick up a bit in 2011.

Grab a shovel guys

It’s warm again in Goulburn.  Last weekend had absolutely delightful weather.

We went to the Collector Pumpkin Festival on Sunday.  Collector is the next village towards Canberra, and Canberra people were there in their thousands.  It must be a record attendance.

The festival seemed mainly to be food stalls, all doing great trade.  There was a display of giant pumpkins, as well as a scarecrow competition, vintage cars, historic machinery, and a few llamas.  There were various gourmet preserves stalls, some local and some from further afield.

Because of the lovely weather, it was a pleasant day, and at $5 per car it wasn’t expensive to attend.

The men (myself, Marco, Sean and Edgar) spent the afternoon digging out our sewage trench.  Alice bailed out the treated waste with a bucket.

All of our waste water runs to a septic tank, where the solids are ‘digested’ and the liquid overflow goes to a transpiration trench.  Unfortunately, the trench was failing and liquid was spilling out into the grass.

It turned out that the existing trench was just a run of gravel, and over the years it had clogged with biofilm.  So we dug a new trench with special leaky agricultural pipe, surrounded by heavy road base gravel.  So this should spread the outflow better for soil absorption and transpiration.

Our wwoofers Marco and Edgar are heading off soon.  Marco was leaving on Monday, but decided to stay till Tuesday because Sarah has promised to cook kangaroo steaks for tea.  Must remember to run over one on the way home….  (just kidding)