Sunday, 30 March 2014

88 ... Two Fat Ladies

What a difference a week makes.

Eighty-eight millimetres of rain emptied from the Bottle Tree rain guage during this weekend's visit.  And though falls of over five hundred mils were reported not far from us, only forty-nine fell at Rock Wallaby.

Meatworks cattle were trucked.

Late afternoons enjoyed.

Fat heifers admired.

Unfit horses ridden.

And the very last of the calves branded.

Sally has had a very rough weekend, as sick as I've ever seen her.  Burning fevers resulting in sleepless nights and quite likely a doctor's visit tomorrow.

Our weekend's are never dull.

Monday, 24 March 2014

Same Old, Same Old

Like others who blog I frequently ponder whether blogging is becoming 'oh so yesterday'.  And though being a little behind the techno eight-ball holds little concern for me I do fear I tend to re-hash the same old stories week in, week out, which unfortunately is often the way of my life.  Look at cows, bemoan the state of the market, look at radar, bemoan the state of the weather ... repeat.

And then I remind myself that this blog isn't meant to be a gripping read, but instead an opportunity to freeze a few moments in time, a little window into certain aspects of our life that I will enjoy looking through in years to come.  And while the four youngsters of this family continue to be its greatest fans, I shall continue to record for their benefit.

We headed to Bottle Tree again this weekend, trucking heifers from Rock Wallaby and arriving late Saturday.

Two weeks since my last visit and a noticeable change in the landscape with Summer conditions experienced over the past week.  With no water runoff into dams as yet this season, we are hopeful the current weather system heading our way may alter that situation.

Despite the less than average season, cattle have responded well and fat cows are raising fat calves, all one can ask for really.

We finished the last of the branding and started putting aside cows destined for the meatworks next weekend.  Bulls were taken out of those paddocks we had through the yards.  Now begins the task of keeping them removed from cows for the Winter.  Barbed wire fences don't seem to always suffice.

Having recently re-watched the movie Australia, Sal worked on perfecting her cattle-singing, Nulla style.

Only two short weeks and these girls will be home for holidays.  They've had several weekends in this term and I'm really missing them.

So as days again race into weeks, we'll be holidaying in no time.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Celebrating Gender Equality

We didn't realise it was International Women's Day yesterday when we headed to Bottle Tree to check fences and brand a few calves.

'Twas an all-girl  team ...

except for Dad of course.

With Wallace still recuperating, we were grateful to have a friend of Sarah's visiting for the weekend to help.

Some cows apparently didn't get the memo that calving was meant to end at Christmas.

Perhaps a late calf is better than no calf.

Especially when as cute as this.

The girl team's enjoying a slower-paced day today with drizzle in these parts most welcome.  Baking's in progress, movies are being watched, kitchen cupboard doors still being painted.

And Dad's on the dozer.
Being a girl most certainly has its advantages some days.

Friday, 7 March 2014

Bits and Pieces

I'm sitting hospital bedside today.  Nothing serious ... though Wallace may beg to differ.

His super healthy baby molars just haven't been prepared to give up their positions to their permanent molar big brothers, causing all manner of pain as the permanents try to bully their way through.  He's had five rather unceremoniously removed this morning, which he's hopeful will get him out of some branding action this weekend.  And may also prompt Mum into some custard and jelly making.

On the homefront we've welcomed Buttercup to the fold this week.

And what a sweetheart she is.  Undoubtedly more photos to follow.  She's had a couple of days at the yards, learning to negotiate her feeding station.  At eleven years of age, Priscilla's udder is huge and rather low to the ground, tricky for a newborn, though Buttercup has mastered the art quite quickly.  I've frozen fifteen litres of colostrum and look forward to enjoying some real milk next week.

One could be mistaken for thinking with only two children in the house, baking would be a breeze.

Not so, when one desires Carrot Cake, the other will only eat Chocolate.
Spoilt much?

Approaching her ninth birthday, my beloved Ella is showing some signs of ageing.  We bought her a new memory-foam mattress this week.  She won't have a bar of it.

The ride-on mower broke down at the end of last year.  Push mowing wasn't such a chore while it was still dry.

The team are starting to jack up though now that the grass is growing a little quicker.

Sarah made all of her siblings boxer shorts for Christmas.  Coupled with an inexpensive singlet, it was a great gift.  She's inherited her mother's non-perfectionist attitude, which will stand her in good stead for a life of near enough is good enough (at least when it comes to sewing/painting/cooking)!

We're watching the skies again with another low in the Coral Sea, all hopeful of a little more of the wet stuff.  The wet season's been very disappointing, no water rain at Bottle Tree resulting in dry dams.  Not a good feeling at this time of year.

Must be time for another coffee, this hospital stuff's fairly taxing.  Happy weekend.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Feeling Flushed?

Thankfully hot flushes are the furthest thing from my mind at the moment, though a collection of our donor females may be excused from feeling a little that way this evening.

Yesterday, with the big fella due home from a Brisbane work trip at lunch time, we had heifers yarded in anticipation of his arrival.  The recipient females were run through the crush to ascertain which ovary they'd released an egg from the week prior.  By determining the presence of a CL (corpus luteum) on an ovary, we can establish that an egg was indeed released and into which uterine horn we need to deposit a transferred embryo.

Home for the weekend to offer assistance, Sarah and Jessie absolutely rose to the challenge and were wonderful offsiders.  Though at times a touch cheeky.

Those not used to the ultrasound technology may be excused for anticipating a cyclone on the horizon, those in the know keeping a close eye and able to accurately guage a CL.

Today saw pink shirts in vogue and the A team busily retrieving embryos from donor females.

Our donor cows are those deemed the most 'special', those from which we wish to breed more calves than 'naturally' possible.  By superovulating these females with a series of hormonal injections over four days with needles twice daily, they are then AI'd (artificially inseminated) to produce embryos with the genetic traits we wish to have within our herd.  Seven days after fertilisation the flushing and transferring process takes place, when embryos are 'flushed' from the donor female, graded and readied for transfer into a recipient (surrogate) heifer, whose cycle has been synchronised with that of the donor.

In theory, the recipient female will maintain a pregnancy, as though her own and raise a calf for us.
Pregnancy will usually result in greater than fifty percent of transfers.

Results were rather disappointing today, the quantity of embryos procured less than we'd have liked.  The great book of excuses was again pulled down from the shelf and we're blaming the late break to the season for all ills.  We'll line them up again in six weeks and hopefully have a different tale to tell.

Troops were eager to bed this evening, an early start tomorrow morning to have girls back to town and Wallace off for his boarding school interview!

Three at boarding school next year?  Now I'm feeling a little flushed.


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