Link to Tig’s blog

For anybody who has actually subscribed to this one, you might like to read Tig’s story of the collection of the gypsy wagon …

A madhouse

It’s while since I posted.  A lot has been happening at Cockatrice Farm, mostly not involving me.

Will and Tig and Maud, with our friend Jochen, went off to Wollombi out the back of Newcastle to pick up an old horse-drawn wagon I picked up on the internet for $300.

This was all fairly well organised, but they hit a major storm that dumped on Sydney and caused all sorts of delays and problems   Including getting an ancient wagon out of thick mud in the dark.  Tig wrote it up on her own blog and you can read their adventures there.

The wagon is back, and being cleaned out.  Apparently it’s been sitting in a shed for over 20 years, and it looks like it.  The original plan was to kit it out like the wagon in the Luttrell Psalter, an illuminated manuscript from England in the 1300s.  But I’m not sure that suits this contraption, so we may kit it out as a cheerful gypsy wagon instead.

The rain flooded the paddocks.  All the dams overflowed except the largest, which is not quite full.  When inspecting the property after the rain, we had to ford a temporary river in our gumboots.  Robin didn’t have them, so he went into a handstand and walked through the water on his hands.  He can do some rather impressive acrobatics.

Our neighbours Shayne and Sam dropped by to give us a hand with marking (gelding) Tasty the Calf.  The idea was that Tig and Robin would distract the mum with some oats, while Shayne and Sam grabbed the calf and slipped a ring on.  Tasty squealed, and mum moved rather quickly to protect him.  Things got quite tricky — again, you can read about it on Tig’s blog.  Suffice it to say that we have Tasty the Bull until further notice.

Will and Jochen have been armouring furiously, with the assistance of our new local medievalists Shane and Craig.  The plan is to field an Okewaite fighting unit at Rowany Festival (Easter).

My son Owen and his friend Kai were staying over Saturday night, and told me in the morning that they had felt the room shake.  Sure enough, I looked it up and there had been a Level 3 earthquake centred a couple of kilometres north of us.  Will said he was woken by it too, but neither Allison or I felt it.  There was apparently another one a week before of Level 1.9, just west of us.

Also on Sunday, the alpaca shearer came and gave Viggo and Kruiser a trim.  They have a very efficient setup and it was done quite quickly.  Afterwards, the alpacas were still willing to hang around the humans, though one was muttering rude things under his breath.  So we have two fleeces, which we’ll think on after Easter.  And two rather skinny alpacas.

Tig has been teaching a variety of medieval crafts.  One of these is lucetting, a clever medieval way of making cords, along the lines of French knitting but somewhat simpler.  Allison and Maud have been making metres of lucet cord, which apparently is ideal for lacing corsets.  Lots of other sewing happening too.

At the last poultry auction, Allison bought a dozen guineafowl eggs for the incubator.  At some point we had to move the silkie bantams, and found one sitting on a single egg, so we put that into the incubator too.  Anyway, Mignon the chicken resulted, and had more than a week as the sole inhabitant of the brooder box.  Mignon has had regular cuddles and thinks she is a person, and has now been joined by seven guineafowl keets.

We have just waved farewell to Andre, a German wwoofer who has been here for 3 months.  Andre is a quiet fellow and a little too logical, like having Mr Spock from Star Trek wwoofing for you.  He has been plugging away at the serrated tussocks, and there is just a tiny area left down near the highway.  (Then we have to go over the rest of the property and mop up stragglers.)

Andre has been helping me with some new software for use by co-operatives.  I went to the NSW Co-operatives Conference  last week.  The sector has been taking a battering lately, losing existing co-ops and no new ones starting.  But there were a number of good news stories, and quite a bit of innovation.  The experience supported my view that co-ops are due for a resurgence.

We have had Allison’s daughter Jessica with us for some weeks, and grandson Deacon, hence plenty of (delightful) grandad duties.  And various friends dropping in.  I’ve probably only summarised half of what’s happened in the last two weeks.  Life is always an adventure at Cockatrice Farm.

Tree stuff

We have had a lot of rain lately, and our dams are full.

We bought 40 red-stemmed wattle tree tubes. Our north-western boundary has a windbreak we planted last year, and not everything survived, so we’re filling in the gaps and perhaps extending the planting a little.

Trees take about 7 years to be impressive, so it’s important we get them in soon. We didn’t do much last spring because we put our efforts into getting rid of serrated tussocks. Hopefully we’ll do a better job this spring.

Our neighbours on the corner, Tony and Menka (sp?), have planted some magnificent windbreaks. They have put in permanent fencing, and worked hard to get their trees going. We really need to do more of the same, noting that we have a lot more perimeter.
The red-stemmed wattles are a good choice because they are local natives, resistant to borers, don’t burn well, and are good in droughts. They are also somewhat permeable to the wind, which perhaps surprisingly is a good thing in a windbreak. If you stop the wind too suddenly, you create eddies and turbulence.

The neighbours have used Leyland Cypress or something like that. These will make a tall thick hedge, which will help screen out the highway. These have worked well enough that I’m tempted to do the same — though they would have to be a higher fire risk.

New website cometh

I haven’t posted yet this week. I’ve been away in Melbourne testing a new database system for work, and my mind has turned to mush.

I can announce that a re-vamp of our website is underway. It will now be implemented in WordPress, which will give us lots of bells and whistles.

For instance, you will be able to subscribe to the blog and get the postings emailed to you each week.

Tig has been helping me to copy over the old posts into the new format. We still have to re-load the graphics, and then we’ll be right.

If you want to look at the draft of the new format, go to cockatricefarm-dot-wordpress-dot-com and have a look. Leave comments, whether about the new format or anything else!

For our past wwoofers, how about going to the “Wwoofing” page of the new site and putting in a quick paragraph on your experiences when wwoofing with us.

The new blog will move to once it’s fully operational.