Thursday, February 9, 2012

A New Addition to Lantanaland (with video)

There has been much excitement and fussing this week at Lantanaland. No, young Cutis hasn't decided to walk a few months early, rather my dexter cow, Candy, has finally had a calf. Considering that she was due in roughly September/October, I think I was the only one who still thought she was up the duff. The problem with cow pregnancies is that they are hard to get to go to hospital and a vet call out fee would probably be more expensive than the cow so it is wait and hope and lots of both.

Still, when the result is a beautiful little girl calf like this you are not that phased about the wait. I came home on Monday and started throwing in a bit of fruit for the cows when I spotted the wobbly gait of a newborn. So cool. Indescribably cool. We all rushed down to have a look. Candy wouldn't let me get close enough to check her, but a bit later I lured her away with some food and took and educated guess about her sex.

The next morning I lured them into the milking paddock. I did all my jobs and was just getting ready when Ryno turned up for a look. A fairly happy cow but no calf was found. My heart sinking I scoured the small paddock with no luck. I couldn't believe it, 12 hours old and I'd lost her. Ryan went off down the street and I had one last look. There, through the fence where it was a bit high, in a hollow in the lantana was one sleeping calf. It turns out I know less about cows then I did about babies. Reunited with mum I left for work, now worrying that I hadn't seen her feed and what to look out for to make sure Lantanaland's first calf was ok.

Luckily I have some great mates who I have made through various mediums and they imparted all their knowledge. It was a great relief and gave me the confidence that I was going ok. Mum is going good too, becoming more protective by the day, the next big challenge is to train her up for milking.

The calf will get named by one of the herdsharers. It is run like the nba draft. The herdsharers who recieved the least amount of cheese and milk in the last year get the most chances in the draw. It then slides up to Simon and Ryan who I see every week, so they are probably the only ones I could legitimately charge the Herdshare fee to. They get one chance. The best two suggestions I have seen come from my dad who liked Faith, "because you were the only one who still had faith she was pregnant" and Sally, "Gurty, you know, yoGhurt."

In the past when something like this happened someone in your street would have cows and you would be able to lean on them. Despite my semi rural locale, no one here raises cows, a few people have them as grass eaters but not as milkers. So it was great to be able to ask questions of people through the net for some help, in particular Andrew and Maree at Silverwood Organics, two lovely people who run an organic sheep property in Western QLD who I met through work and who chipped in to the Herdshare, even though they rarely are in Brisbane. They happily took my call and questions.

My beloved twitter also came in handy, the fabulous Marian Macdonald, a dairy farmer and blogger in Victoria who increased my knowledge one hundred fold with one phone call and a series of tweets. I was also able to send her some video and photos and ask specific questions. So my farmer community might be a bit spread out, but it is still a bloody good one.


I was asked to do a little guest post on the excellent Flavour Crusader blog, which does excellent work in pushing fresh sustainable food and eating. So I did and here it is.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Lantanaland experimentation.

I make a soft feta when I don't have time to make a more interesting cheese, which with a newborn around and all the other farm jobs is pretty much all the time. I do get bored easily though and when I was cutting and salting the cheese this arvo I had an idea to combine it with one of my favourite food items, preserved lemons.

I dry salt the cheese at first anyway, to firm it up a little, before adding water to make the brine. So I placed a layer of sliced lemons under the cheese, well coated in salt. I love citrus and can't wait till my trees at Lantanaland are big enough to supply me year round. Will it work? Doesn't matter if it fails, but if it is good, genius!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Photo walk round Lantanaland

Curtis was being a bit grumpy so the one thing guaranteed to settle him is strapping him into the chest carrier and go for a walk. So I went for a bit of a photo walk, unfortunately not with my good camera as I'd left all the SD cards on my desk or in the iMac at work.

This is Dolores, my youngest cow. She is a black and white jersey, which is a bit rare. Hopefully she is pregnant. She is in the top paddock with the best grass as she gets bullied off the fruit and hay the others get. She also treats me a little like a 14 year old girl would the Bieber, minus the screaming. She absolutely adores me. I can't wait for her to have a calf cause she is so placid she should be a joy to milk.

This is Lafayette or Laf. I have been milking her for a few years. She loves me too but more like a marriage. She reserves the right to be in a bad mood or give me a kick if I don't touch her right. She is also an absolute greedy guts and will bellow if I walk past and there is a chance of a feed.

With all this rain around plants that have seemed a bit sad either from lack of correct treatment from me or a brush with escaped cows will make a mad dash for growth. This is a lemon. I have a fair bit of citrus round the place as we use bucket loads of it.

Another fruit I am very fond of, the passionfruit. We had a fantastic vine on the old chook pen but it never survived the transition to the chook Hilton. This year I made sure I was well stocked and planted four plants and a whole heap of fruit from my mums vine. These ones are down the driveway and they too have had a few setbacks from the Escaped Cow Fruit Tree Pruning Service. The best one on the chook pen is fruiting now.

The planting around the chook pen that I did to help bed in the mesh is also producing some chillies, there is also arrowroot, rosellas, cucumber and comfrey.

The garden on the outside is big enough now that I can let the ducks and chooks out to forage a bit, get some greenery and explore. Unfortunately they don't eat lantana.

The view down the western boundary. Not sure if you can see them but the neighbours cows are having a lie down in the lush grass at the bottom.

Everything booms after a wet spell in summer and the bamboo is no exception. New sprouts shooting on the bunch next to the bees.

The first fruit from the pineapples I planted down the driveway when first at Lanatanaland. They are hardy buggers surviving the long grass that encroaches on them and even the occasional trim when a mate helps whippersnip the yard.