I should’ve touched wood…or hopped, blindfolded, backwards…consulted the local magpie family…recited a scene from Macbeth; how could I have been so naïve? Of course, the moment I branded one of our paddocks as only requiring cursory care the fates would step in. That’s just the way things roll, here on the Homestead.
This week has been one of those where, having flicked through your upcoming week on the communal calendar (we’ve now entered the digital age – much easier to work out exactly when the septic tank man can call when you have everyone’s commitments in your pocket), you just want to go back to bed and wake up on Friday evening with a glass of wine in hand. Off Homestead activities tend to be of the obligatory, set in stone genre and this past week was riddled with them; that’s my excuse, anyway, as to why I didn’t pick up anything untoward was going down in the goat paddock until almost too late.
It all seemed so mundane: Sandra had bounced back from her stomach woes with the usual goatie nimbleness, everyone seemed happy, everything seemed totally unremarkable as I ripped through my paces each morning in order to get to whatever or whoever was demanding the attention I really should be giving to the Homestead herb garden (most herbs are really weeds, right?!). It was only when I was getting the washing in on Wednesday that I noticed Xiomara (Xo) had removed herself from the flock. A quick visit to the paddock showed her to be a bit dozy but happy enough in herself and I made a mental note to keep an eye out. Next morning she seemed fine, leading the charge for breakfast as usual; the same at my high speed dinner time recce, too. But on Friday morning…
This week we learnt what flystrike looks like; through blind luck or haphazard management, we had never before encountered what happens when the common housefly lay their eggs in a sheep’s wool. Luckily, when setting up the Homestead animal’s first aid kit, Maggo was something we tucked in the back – kind of like an insurance that we would never need to use it. Extra-luckily, The Farmer has dealt with such afflicted sheep before and, extra-extra luckily, he was home when I discovered what I thought was our dearly departed.
I’m not going to go into details or post any pictures; suffice to say it was not nice. Maggo has to be one of the scariest potions I have ever had to use, but also one of the most effective. As I type this, our boss lamb Xo is now back to holding her own and keeping the others in line, with the nasty evidence, now so beautifully clear and clean thanks to chemicals I would rather not dwell on, already beginning to scab over. Could I have realised earlier, on a routine week when I could meander about my chores, that things were not as they should be? Possibly…probably…who knows…whatever, now we can chalk up another experience. I’m determined not to fall for this one twice.
And just to balance the scales (and add some photos), a happy story. It’s harrowing time again and in the intervening twelve months we had not magically obtained or built anything to do the unglamorous but necessary task. Online and anecdotal suggestions required way more nous, equipment, time, or dollars than we currently have on hand as we whined over morning coffee…and then The Bean Counter got “that look”. It’s best to leave him to it when he gets like that, so we just avoided the barn area for a while.
“He’s driven the ute over there,” the Resident Engineer commented out of one corner of her mouth as we pretended to be busy in the vegetable garden.
The joyful fanfare on the ute’s horn summonsed us over.
It’s amazing what can be achieved with a length of it’s-too-handy-to-be-burnt picket fence, a couple of concrete blocks, and the tie down someone dumped outside our place in the dead of night.
Flies defeated, paddocks harrowed: the stock and humans are once again all smiles at Union Homestead.