Our journey – July 2018

Our Journey- July 2018
The highlight was the birth of our two first lambs.

July has come and gone at a blink of an eye. Too quickly for my liking, but isn’t it always that way when you’re having fun?

The event that was a highlight this month was the birth of two lambs.

⁃ Bastille, born on the 14th

⁃ Antoinette, born on the 16th

I had watched for signs that would indicate their arrival, however, we had recently been told they weren’t ready so I relaxed and stopped observing. We woke up on Bastille day(14th July), my husband looked out the window and low and behold he could see extra feet near Coffee our ewe. Coffee had given birth to the most gorgeous black headed lamb I’d ever seen. We named him Bastille.

The next day, Caramel’s udders had dropped, which we were told was a sign that she would soon give birth. Next morning our little Antoinette was born. As a contrast to Bastille, she is totally white and a complete little lady.

Baby lambs are so cute. I could watch them all day; their curiosity, the way they frolic in the paddock with not a worry in the world, their playfulness, it’s all so beautiful.

On our journey occasionally there are some unexpected twists and turns. This time it happened towards the end of the month. We found one of our calves in a pretty bad shape. She looked as if she was dying. We did what we could to care for her, but had little expectation of her surviving. By evening she was back on her feet and has been well ever since. I believe she may have suffered from grass tetany, although I have been told that it is unusual in young calves.

As we watched her almost lifeless, we were confronted with thoughts of discouragement. Why are we homesteading? Is it really worth it?

I didn’t dwell on those thoughts for long, as I believe it is worth it. Life on a farm will include the occasional loss of an animal. It is part and parcel of the lifestyle we have chosen. I am convinced that the positives of living on a homestead outweighs the negatives. We truly feel blessed.

Time to Reflect

Six months into this wonderful journey of homesteading. What have we achieved? We have:

⁃ Built cages, chicken pens and shelters for the animals.

⁃ Rebuilt several of the fences.

⁃ Welcomed into our farm: a cat, a dog, pregnant ewes, calves, cockatiel, two canaries and chickens galore, quails.

⁃ Set up a veggie garden.

⁃ Painted our kitchen, hallway and living area

We cannot omit the amount of time spent increasing our knowledge about homesteading, farming, gardening, etc. Thanks to the internet and the many homesteaders’ blogs, our learning curb is simplified.

Our biggest achievement, in my opinion, is taking the step into the unknown and making this new lifestyle happen. Nothing can replace the peace and serenity that we are enjoying. Sitting on our hilltop, admiring the surrounding beauty, breathing in the fresh unpolluted country air while taking the time to vocally thank God for His awesomeness, His creation, His love, His mercy and His grace towards us, is something that I deeply cherish.

In retrospective, there is nothing I would like to change. We are grateful for this opportunity given to us.

 

The Day We Lost Our Neighbour’s Herd

Success is made up of many failures along the way. I believe you need to have a great sense of humour or you could die of embarrassment in the midst of a failure. My first experiences in the face of failure would leave me with negative emotions and a sense of worthlessness.

Over time I realized that most failures are minor mistakes that are instrumental in perfecting my skills. I learned to treat my failures as friends and not as foes. In my career, I ensured I trained all to embrace their mistakes and learn from them.

To bring this to our day to day experience on the farm. Five months into this journey, we are building knowledge with Google information, Facebook pages, blogs, magazines and even acquiring knowledge from fellow farmers. We don’t want to fail.

Steers grazing in our paddock

No matter how much we learnt, nothing prepared us for the day we lost our neighbours’ Friesian steers. Last summer we weren’t ready to place cattle on our property so we used it as agistment. Our friendly neighbour, who we consider as our ”mentor” on farming matters, agreed to allow seven of his steers to roam in our field. We had one paddock closed off due to poor fencing. As the grass became scarce, we thought we may need to open the gate to that particular paddock. The neighbour came with us to inspect the fencing and gave us his opinion, which was favourable. My husband, still unsure, thought it best to buy a cheap solar battery operated electric fence energizer. Finally, we opened the gate, the steers went in as they pleased.

Daily my husband would check the energizer. To our dismay, it kept failing. A new battery was sent to us, but with no improvement.

We noticed that the animals weren’t keeping to the boundaries. They had no fear of an electric fence that didn’t work.

One day we came home to an empty paddock. No steers left. We knew the neighbour was planning to remove them imminently so we weren’t surprised. When we saw him next, we asked him about it.

Yes, he had taken them back, but we were surprised to find that he’d found them wandering the neighbourhood. Thinking they were from another farm, he began herding them towards it. A few minutes later, one of the steers turned around and came towards him and licked him. It was a strange reaction for the animal to do that unless it was one that had been bottle-fed, hand raised by him. After further inspection of the herd, he realised they were his steers. They had escaped from our property. That day five we’re found. The other two appeared a couple of days later.

How embarrassing! What an epic fail in our agistment business. A few laughs, a reprocessing of the event, and more laughs. If we can learn from our mistakes, don’t buy the cheapest thing out there. Ensure it will do a good job. In this particular instance, just fix the fence.

Lesson learned. We are ready to move on.

Different Foods

Why, oh why!!!??? No one joined me for lunch!

The menu consisted of

  • Fresh mushrooms sautéed in a butter garlic sauce
  • Liver fried in fig flavoured vinegar

The mushrooms were freshly picked this morning and given to us by some friends of ours.

The liver was sourced from our neighbour’s freshly butchered lamb.

It was delish! But no one joined me for my lunch time experience!

If you were around, would you have joined me for lunch?

Sheep at SoggyBottom Homestead

When we bought our homestead last year, it came with a Wiltshire Horn ram. The previous owner was unable to round him up with the rest of his herds when he sold them. As a result, we inherited it. I find it interesting that the next door neighbour chose to leave one of his ewe with our ram for companionship.

I took several photos of these two sheep. The prospect that they could become the first of our flock on SoggyBottom Homestead filled me with excitement. In no time at all my first wishful balloon popped. Apparently, it was an old ram which would have had little or no use to us. That’s right, I consider all my wishful thinking or dreams that doesn’t become realities as balloons. It pops and disappears and with it comes some form of disappointment. I liken it to a toddler holding his first balloon. Watch how his emotions change when the balloon either pops or flies away!

So my balloon popped. The ewe found a way of escape as our fencing needed repair. A few days later, the ram escaped too. Needless to say, they both received an appointment with the butcher.

Six months down the track, we have fixed our fencing. We have bought three supposedly pregnant ewes. They have been with a ram, but the farmer who sold them to us was unable to confirm if they are impregnated.

Our three ewes, Snowball, Caramel and Coffee have settled well. They follow us at a distance and come running if we give them some treats.

Snowball is always the first to arrive. She is not afraid to eat out of our hands. Coffee, who has the darkest face, is cautious of us and will not come too close. She is the dominant one and decides from which bucket to eat. The others don’t have a choice as she will push them away from her bucket. Caramel is somewhere in the middle. A slightly brown face. Although she isn’t afraid of us, she is too timid to eat out of our hands.

I would so like to touch them, pat them as I do the calves. Maybe one day. For now, we will wait patiently until the lambs are born.

Welcome to Soggybottomhomestead

Over a year ago we took a big leap of faith into the unknown. We sold our house, went into a rental and began the search for a “a new home”. What that new home would look like was a bit of a mystery.

We knew we wanted a different lifestyle. We were dreaming of a country home, away from the hustle and bustle of the city and suburbs, yet I had a job I didn’t want to give up. We decided a weekender would be great, one that would turn into our retirement home when we would be ready for it. That definitely sounded good.

The search began, nothing seemed to fit our inner desire, whatever that was. It’s only over time, and looking at many properties that we finally came to understand what we actually wanted. Once we knew, we were able to narrow down our search and before we could understand what was really happening, we had bought a 10 acre property on a steep hill.

The weekender soon became our permanent residence as I gave up my job.

This blog is about the journey we are on. We invite you to join us and enjoy our lifestyle with us. you may even get inspired to do the same.

We will be sharing some of the amazing views we get to enjoy, awesome sunsets, additions to the homestead, thoughts and opinions. Oh yes, we will also share some of the undesired adventures that we experience, we wouldn’t want to inspire you with just the one side of the coin, it wouldn’t paint the reality of life on our homestead.

So sit back and enjoy. Welcome to our homestead.