Tuesday, January 31, 2012


Entropy, my high school physics teacher told me, is the tendency of the universe to want to tend towards chaos. He thought that we could all easily study the theory by examining the state of our teenage bedrooms but if he wanted a true study he should have come and had a look at my farm.

Lantanaland is just a hobby, but that comes with its own challenges because I can't afford the solid, stand the test of time fencing that proper farms have. All my fencing is electric. I have run into a few unique problems with the electric that have given my cows a holiday in the lush paddocks of my neighbor.

Strange that it might seem after all the rain last week we had a very dry December and January. So dry that all the star pickets my fencing was on loosened and the fence fell over. There is one sure way to tell when an electric fence has failed and that's when you see your cows on the far side of the hill. Unlike fencing a couple of thousand of acres it's pretty easy to walk the fence and redo the lines. The cows were pretty easy to get back, they wandered up the top of the hill after a week and I just called them back in. My beautiful black and white jersey, Dolores was so happy to see me that she didn't even want the food I was offering, just some pats. She is hopefully pregnant and I can't wait till she calves cause she is so beautifully mannered that she will be a joy to hand milk.

The next prison break happened ironically because of all the rain. I am stretching the energizers a bit far around the farm and I don't poison my fence lines. When it's dry, no worries, but wet weather like we had means every twig and thick stem of grass touching the lines becomes an earth point. The fact that there is better grass on the other side is simply an incentive to test the fence. Still, a few days out and some tempting grain and they come back.

Still on a place like this entropy can also work for you. the cows spread tomato and pumpkin seeds everywhere, ready fertilized and mulched for the next rain. There are tomato bushes all over the place and the ones that survive tend to yield some ripper tomatoes. I'm also hoping that the rain will finally give the grass the kick it needs. I have probably over grazed this year, I really need to fence the wildest paddock down the bottom, which means cutting fence lines through sometime ten foot high lantana thickets. The beauty of that paddock is that it has the dam in it and I would love the cows to clear around it a bit so I can get in and plant some things to stabilize the bank and boost a bit of biodiversity, maybe even put a duck island in the middle.

Still I can't complain too much about the forces of chaos on the farm. Considering the resources we have, most of the chaos is working in my favor, not against. It's not like I rely, yet, on Lantanaland to provide my income, I can't imagine what floods or drought or a falling tree or escaped cattle does to a real proper farm where fixing the fences might take a month, not a day, a pile driver, a pair of scissors and some gumboots.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Competitive Reading

I find that I don't read anywhere near enough, that I need a kick to get started into books. I spend too much time on what I call light immersion, the net, twitter, Facebook, bit of TV. Not enough time writing or reading.

Maybe I just need that touch of competitiveness to it. In my first year in high school, my awesome English teacher was talking to me about reading while we set up a record of what books we had read in the back of our workbooks. I tried to show indifference even though I loved reading. I did mention that I read quickly and in a flash he had summed up a young boy who loved sports. Put it to me as a challenge. "I bet you can't read 50 books this year!"
"50?! I'll smash that easy Sir" I proclaimed.

So despite doing athletics and cricket (badly) I hit the books, hard. He fueled the fire, suggesting authors to me and by the end of the year I had read 135 books. I think he was a little shocked but probably chuffed that he had suckered a kid into being addicted to books.

It was with interest this morning that I saw on Facebook that one of the Herdsharers, Tony, was trying to read 52 novels this year. I saw an opportunity to get myself to read a bit more, to immerse myself again, so I threw out a challenge to him. Whoever can read the most books in a year, new ones, gets a novel of their choosing from the other. Sounds like great fun.

Tony has a bit of a head start on me but I have a few queued up that I have been time wasting on the net and not reading. 2 of Birmos books, a crime novel and the new Game of Thrones which I read two pages of, then got distracted by something shiny.

I wonder if he'll let me count reading books at bedtime to Curtis.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Hoarding is a skill.

There is no denying it, my dad is a hoarder. Some have even suggested that despite him not being my birth father, I have inherited the hoarding gene. But you see hoarding is like the dark side and for every dark side there is a light and that is innovation and recycling.

I can always remember Allen recycling, even though I was too young to even understand the concept then. We had a beach shack on Curtis Island, and Allen built a home made hot water system running off the fire at the back, which was replaced by a home made solar hot water system. But the one that sticks in my mind was the back shed.

Completely built over about ten years from timber and steel salvaged off the beach and from the local dump, it was almost complete. All it needed was a tin roof, but no one at The Island was feeling particularly wasteful so Allen bought some new tin in town. Considering it had taken ten years to build at this stage, while he'd waited for materials to be washed up or dumped, this caused many jokes to be told at family dinners at his expense.

This was back in the days before The Island had a barge and the tin was too big to safely put in the boat so it was strapped to the little dingy and towed over behind us. We went a dead low when there is less swell but once we got through the gut it got a bit choppy. We were almost there when disaster struck, a rogue wave hit the dingy, flipped it over and all the tin slid off and down to the bottom of the harbor.

It wasn't until about a month later when Allen found a bunch of used tin at the dump that we were able to make jokes about the shed not wanting anything new to be added to it.

Mum and Allen have been down here helping us with the baby and Allen couldn't help himself. He had picked up some clamshell kids baths off the side of the road on the way down where they had been dumped or blown off a trailer. Perfect for cow troughs. He'd also spied some old guttering that had been replaced where one end had rusted out. A days work and he had rigged it up so that the drain that runs under the driveway and down the hill is now diverted into a water trough for the cows. Genius. Anyone else would have driven past those baths as junk, or tossed out that gutter. Allen wouldn't and I hadn't thrown that gutter out cause I knew I'd find a use for it.

Now all I need is to find a second hand tank of some sort so I can store the water and rig up a float switch. Maybe I'll go for a drive.