This week on the farm

Nearly naked alpaca.

By Judy Barnet, Farm Columnist

The evocative scent of the wisteria that is out in bloom right now brings back memories of the time we came to look at buying the farm. I had a job interview at the nearby Riverton mine and afterwards we came to look at Tilba Tilba.

The vendors Doug and Sandra Walker were incredibly welcoming and made us lunch as soon as we arrived. They said “it doesn’t matter if you buy the farm or not – this is country hospitality.”

I have tried to live by this mantra and no matter who arrives, be it the electricity meter reader or a prospective sheep buyer, they are offered a cup of tea and something to eat.

I remember Doug showing us around the farm in a Great Wall. I was sitting in the back seat a bit nervous about the gradient of some of the hills we were climbing while Doug chatted away to John – pointing out where the water pipes ran as if knowing we were the ones that would be buying the farm.

At one point Doug backed into an old fence and we went about 500 metres before decided we had better unhook it from the vehicle! The other thing I remember very clearly is when we drove down the driveway there were six Fallow Deer sitting under a tree chewing their cuds, casual as can be.

I haven’t seen them since, I reckon Doug must have hired them for our visit! Doug and Sandra continued to mentor me through the years. Sadly Sandra passed away in 2017 but Doug continues to mentor me and give advice.

Lambs continue to be born at a steady pace with hardly a day going by without a lamb or two being born. Our last cottage guests were Alex and Marnie – as soon as I met them I was sure we would be life long friends.

They arrived on Thursday afternoon and we did the usual farm tour which they thoroughly enjoyed. A lot of the sheep are very quiet and a shake of the grain bucket will bring them running.

This delighted Marnie and Alex and they were able to hold the twin Shropshire lambs pictured in last week’s paper, this was a first for Marnie who incidentally is a vegan. We have had a surprisingly large number of vegans visit the cottage – and I usually pick up the sheepskins and calf skins in the cottage in case it offends anyone but Marnie took it all in her stride.

I left for work the following day giving bottles of milk for Alex and Marnie to feed the three poddy lambs and two goat kids and farmsit for the day. They did a wonderful job!

Marnie mentioned she would love to see a ewe giving birth and the following day which was the day of their departure, did not disappoint. At around 5.30am they witnessed the birth of a Border Leicester Ewe giving birth to triplets!

My friend Alex is a talented photographer and had asked about coming out to take some photos of the garden. I happily agreed and he asked what time I got out of bed as it would be good to catch the early morning light.

4.45 am, I advised him. Well, I was not telling fibs as that is the time Richie gets up and brings me a coffee in bed anyway but I didn’t say that to Alex!

It was a slightly red faced embarrassed Judy this morning appeared in her dressing gown at 5.45am in answer to Richie’s call of “visitors at the door” on his way to work!

Poddy Lambs Rosie, CJ and Bronte continue to grow and are on their third bag of milk powder now. They have been joined by a little ram lamb from my 13-year-old Southdown Ewe who ended up with mastitis – she looks after little Harry but I am the one who feeds him.

The twin doe kids from Nubie I mentioned last week were able to drink off her after a couple of days and no longer want to know me.

The project Gypsy Wagon is getting closer to its facelift. We are recycling the old “Redcliffe” iron from our roof – it is getting re-rolled and the roof getting curved – by Highfields Pioneer Village Members Ian and Peggy Williamson next week.

Our four guardian alpacas took a trip over to our friends at Border Rivers Alpacas (Texas) for a haircut and arrived home looking sleek and slim if not a bit naked.

They are very well mannered Alpaca and despite my concerns at being spat at they have only ever spat at each other, even when in the race for a drench and we grab them around the neck they have not looked like spitting.

Last but not least an aftermath to the Rogue Goat Saga – I have a big thanks to give to the young man who was able to catch the one that got away and delivered it back to the saleyards.

Until next week when I will write from the above Pioneer Village and hopefully get some good photos for you, take care!