Well - this week was plain survival at Middelmost. As the rain poured down and poured down and poured down; my back paddock followed Atlantis, the piglets disappeared into the flax bushes, Luke and Last Thyme had covers that resembled armour and the cows said in unison "Sod it!".
So - what to do? Prevention rather than cure being my motto I swung into action on Tuesday and brought everyone in. Luke and Last Thyme were boxed; Mrs. Pig and her ten piglets were rehoused in the forest with extra straw under the hedge to warm up in; the calves were kept in the milking shed and I risked the olive trees and gave the cows the luxury of the orchard. Luke and Last Thyme looked happy; Mrs. Pig and her family rearranged the arrangements into the old woodshed; the calves didn't care so long as there was food; the cows didn't touch the olive trees but demanded twice as much meal, and I stuffed grocery bags into my gumboots because they had sprung leaks and were in danger of joining the back paddock in Atlantis. By Thursday the precipitation was still consistently evident and depression was looming. So - what to do?
At Middelmost we feed barley straw. I have access to good quality conventional bales at $3 each and have fed it to horses, cows, and calves alike for years. The animals love it and, because it is cheap, I can feed out as much as can be eaten; there are no prickles; it is light to handle; it is dust free, and it doesn't spring unwanted flora when mulched down into the garden. But, I do buy several bales of sweet-smelling clover hay for emergencies.
Considering depression to be an emergency I broke open a bale and everyone's spirits were picked up on Friday morning with a little slice of heaven added to their breakfast.
By Saturday, the torrential rain and howling gale had turned to light sleet, and the barometer was on the rise. Sunday dawned fine and everyone was liberated to enjoy wet, but not damaged, grass.
Although it meant quite a bit more physical work for me, I felt I had done the right thing. The stock didn't suffer any trauma from the weather, I slept well each night knowing everyone had plenty of shelters and the citrus garden benefited from an abundant supply of 'mucking out'. One would expect the sudden change of diet and routine to have had an effect on the cows but it certainly didn't show in the milking bucket.
The only major hassle was several jobs not being done because we were in survival mode. One urgent task was ear tagging, but that will now wait until a sunnier time when the cows are less likely to suffer added stress. I discovered today that, despite the weather, the pepino's are producing new fruits. I thought I had picked the last of them about three weeks ago and I had been told I should give them a hard prune (but never got around to it). Please check out "Your Place". I am hoping someone may solve my problem of what to do.