Do kookaburra count as farm animals?

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It’s been seven months since we made the move down under. For the most part it’s been good. Actually, compared to the first move down here in 2010 it’s been FABULOUS. Interesting fact: it’s as if the Man and I have swapped personalities since last time. When we moved here in 2010 I was very sad and it took me about six months to settle in.  He, however, was super happy, and excelled at this work. This time around, I’ve settled in quite nicely but he struggles. But, I digress.

When you move from one continent to another, you expect that things will be challenging, that you will miss the familiar and your heart will ache for your family. What I didn’t expect was how much I miss the small hobby farm that was Baldwin Acres.

Here in Oz, we are awakened by a cacophony of bird noise. Can’t say it’s songs because there seems to be much anger in some of it. A family of kookaburra live in the big gum tree behind our house. They share this space with some Common Miners and some little birds that I can’t identify.  Every morning the kookaburra engage in seemingly heated exchange. Is someone stumbling in late? Did they run out of geckos for breakfast? Who knows. Maybe it is the language of love in kookaburraeeze, whatever the cause, it is very loud in the morning. And, annoying. On Baldwin Acres with a few roosters in residence, it was loud in the morning as well. But, a little calmer loudness. I miss that.

I didn’t think I would miss the animals so much. Not just the sound of the rooster, but the bleat of the sheep and the strange noise the goats made. I miss being greeted by everyone when it was feeding time. They were all ranging free so even when I was just out tooling around they were eager to see me. Nudging my leg, nibbling my shirt hem. smelling my boots. I miss the way our very large sow, Olive, would leaning against my shins until I scratched at her side until she flopped down and exposed her belly for more rubs. I miss Bob, our male goat, who followed the Man around the same way our boxer Remus did. I miss fresh eggs and waiting with broody hens for their charges to hatch.

I don’t miss the sometimes rough odor, or all the poop. There was a lot of poop. I am not sure why that took me aback because obviously every living thing does…but so.much.poop. was really unexpected. I don’t really miss trimming hooves or chasing curious wayward pigs back through the woods to the house. I don’t miss when the little chicks, or tiny piglets for whatever reasons, didn’t make it. But, I do miss them. All of them.

We go back and forth here about rescuing a dog or a cat. Which of course would be lovely, but seriously, they’re no pig or chicken. How could such a small farm make me so attached?

It’s not only the animals I miss, it’s the orchard with plums, pears, cherries and apples. The garden with lettuces, kale, tomatoes, squashes, onions, garlic, herbs, tomatoes, potatoes, cucumbers, beans, peas, carrots..all fresh and ready to be eaten right from the picking. I miss the feeling of accomplishment achieved when we were able to eat, can, butcher, gather, all the things our own hands produced. God richly blessed us.

So now, what to do? I have a small plot and a patio tower in which I am growing I pepper, basil, aloe, lettuces, tomatoes, herbs, not the same as the raised beds, but still getting my hands in the dirt and freshness in my belly is amazing.

We’re in the waiting phase right now. Waiting on God to show us where we go next. He has already set the path before us, but right now it’s difficult to see. As we wait on Him, and seek His will, we will enjoy the memories of what was,  relish the moments that are now and expectantly look forward what will be.

Daily visits from the kookaburra’s and patio produce, will keep Baldwin Acres busy until then.

 

 

 

 

New critters at Baldwin Acres. First, meet our Mountain Beavers.

As our weather turns a bit warmer and a little more dry, we delight in spending more time outside. In addition to the farm chores – which, by the way are much more enjoyable doing dry than to tackle them while rain soaked, we also opened the pool, turned up the heater and had our first swim. The pool area bumps up against a piece of our property that is forested. On this particular day, the Man said he saw something furry scurry from the under brush. We had noticed the rabbits have returned, so we initially agreed that he probably did see something furry and it was, no doubt, a rabbit. Then, the little critter scampered out again. He was no bunny.

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At first, we couldn’t figure out what the critter was. Not a bunny? No. A wild guinea pig? Is there such a thing? He certainly wasn’t a mole, or a groundhog. I grabbed my camera and took a few steps to the field where he gathered the weeds and waited for him to come.

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He or she, would race out and never stopping tug mouthfuls of weeds before running back into the brush. They don’t have pocket cheeks like chipmunks do, so they simply carry as much as they can and head back to the burrow. The burrows are incredible. They are so profuse they fell young trees because of root system disturbance. They can fell people too.When our little pig Pork escaped into the brush, we went searching for her. She was in the thick of the wild blackberries. As we walked on a patchy path, trying to see her little all black body in the shadows, my right leg sunk up to my knee into a hole. Startled, I ‘umphed’ and my son, who had been in front of me, turned and helped me out. The only thing that stopped me from going further was not that my foot touched the bottom, but that my leg got thicker than
the hole! Those tunnels go deep.

Although research tells me that the Mountain Beaver is as elusive as Jack-a-lopes, Bigfoot and Snipes, ours were not afraid of us at all. They took turns gathering weeds and taking them back to their tunnels. I moved positions several times and each time, they took no mind.

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The Mountain Beaver is thought to be one of the most primitive rodents. So primitive they are the only ones from their species – Aplodontia rufa. They only have two to four young when they breed. And, of course, they aren’t beavers, and we don’t live in the mountains, but they do gnaw tree roots, bark etc. thus they’re named after Canada’s national animal. They are only found around the coast of Southern British Columbia, through Washington, Oregon into California.

We won’t be doing much with these guys. They won’t need their hooves trimmed, or their fur combed for fleas – although, interesting fact, the largest flea in the world, Hystrichopsylla schefferi, at 1/4 of inch resides only on the little guys. Our pasture is in sad repair some (because we had no idea what we were doing and now, a year into the venture, we know a bit more), so we’re happy to let them feast away on the banquet of weeds

“And, God said, ” Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds-livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.” And, it was so. And, God mad the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.” Genesis 1 ESV

We do have a few new ‘real’ farm critters to introduce. Bob, our beautiful Nubian buckling, Pork (2) and Beans our Kune Kune/American Guinea Hog pigs, 6 white Broad Breasted turkeys, 5 Royal Palm Heritage Turkeys, and Mic and Mac two adorable kittens who will be our mousers. Oh, we also have Roo. He’s a beautiful colorful rooster, but seems, perhaps, he doesn’t know what to do. Until next time….enjoy life, don’t let the turkeys get you down.