Flies in the Ointment

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.

Colin has inspected the Bean Counter’s work and passed it as sound

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.

Sending it flying – as it should

Flies defeated, paddocks harrowed: the stock and humans are once again all smiles at Union Homestead.

14 thoughts on “Flies in the Ointment

  1. That sort of thing only ever happens when you’re ultra busy with other things and as an aside can I say how impressed I am that you can get everyone to input their schedules? The business with Xo sounds horrible, thank you for sparing the details. A young friend here was less fortunate with a newborn lamb she’d named Maggie for reasons related to your story – Maggie had been attacked by an unleased dog which strayed into their sheep paddock from a nearby walking trail. Em did her best to keep that little one’s wounds clean and dressed, but sadly the outcome was not positive. Clearly they needed the magic of Maggo. So glad Xo is better. And how do you pronounce her name?

    • Im a bit embarrassed about the maggo…we try to do be organic and that stuff is toxic in the extreme…but it did do the job. Xo is pronounced Zo as in go. btw, one bright spot in my week was “chatting” with you as I waited the 2.5 hours in an over airconditioned (freezing) room waiting for one of those time set in stone obligations. Thanks for that 😊

      • You’re welcome…I am always confused about the time difference, so wasn’t sure if I was catching you at breakfast or bedtime…the only part I’m sure of is that you are in tomorrow :).

  2. It seems to me that the care of livestock is an ongoing nightmare. I speak as one who broke a rib chasing after chickens who had flown the coop. I am sorry that you had to use toxic chemicals but this sounds like a case of needs must. I am glad that things seem to have turned out well.

    • It is a bit of a nightmare, but at the moment it feels worth it.
      Chickens are very good at keeping you on your toes…I can easily see how bones get broken chasing them.
      Our animal control relies very heavily on keeping them incredibly well fed…they, like the rest of us on the Homestead, are ruled by their stomachs😁

  3. Hi, Sometimes you need to roll out the big guns. There’s no point being touchy feely when Armageddon is at hand. Now that you know the early warning signs of fly strike, you will be hyper vigilant and get in early before things get out of hand.
    I have never seen fly strike but once attended an exhibition by a textile artist who did the most gorgeous work. One of her textile pictures featured a maggot infested sheep – amazing what inspires creativity! I am glad Xo is back cracking the whip and between you are a range of really useful skills and experiences you can utilise.

    • It’s all about acquiring knowledge, isnt it?! You learn, up your game, dont repeat your mistakes…every day’s a schoolday 😊
      I can understand why the different textures and hueswould inspire an artist, but its not a piece I’d want hanging on the wall!

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