POO!

Trip Start Oct 30, 2012
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Trip End May 30, 2013


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Flag of Australia  , New South Wales,
Friday, March 8, 2013

Our first day as sheep farmers! First we had to get properly kitted up. Our keen sandals, wonderful though they are, were not going to adequately protect us from snake bites and hoof stamping (and we saw a large brown snake the previous evening). Loading up the 4x4 we and
the dogs were up in the back hanging on as we rumbled over rough rocky tracks for a farm tour. Still early in the morning, with every new rise of the land we would scare up roos that bound over the hill out of sight until a new batch takes their place.

We stopped to see the rams in the first paddock. As top breeders and showers these 'boys' are some of their pride and joy, and they know it!

Next stop was the 'specials'. These are mostly ewes that have been separated from the other groups for various reasons and get a little extra attention. They also help to integrate new sheep and serve as easy sheep to show. Instead of running away from us, these sheep ran towards seeking out attention (and food). Little Milo is a dwarf who loves to be held and petted.  Several others showed their affections and soon I was surrounded by maaaaaaas and fluffy wool. These sheep are merinos, so their wools is so incredibly soft to touch and they are the most wonderful natural shades of browns and greys.

Now poo is an important part of animal husbandry – whatever animal you tend. I learned more about chicken's poo during the brief time I kept them than I care to describe. Every day you need to examine (not in detail) as it's one of the best indicators of health. On this sheep farm, they take this one step further.

One of the main jobs today was to collect poo to test for eggs of parasites. Since the 'specials' don't move from paddock to paddock certain pathogens can build up. But we couldn't collect just any poo. Only the freshest will do! This basically meant that we were chasing sheep around holding little baggies under their bums.  Squeals of excitement whenever one of us would see a tail lift and we would run over to pick up the warm stickiness. Since we needed a good sample of the population, we needed to collect from at least 10 different animals. We felt like Stifler trying to get the wedding ring as we stood around waiting for sheep to poo.

Later in the afternoon, we mashed it all together, took a sample, mixed with salt solution and examined it under a microscope to see the eggs. Good results on 2 groups of sheep. Both very low or non-existent, so there's no need to treat the animals.

In the afternoon, there was nothing to do but enjoy the silence, only broken by the occasional buzz of flies, squack of birds or bleat of sheep under a wide blue sky.

As the sun starts to set, the light splashes all over the clouds creating an artistic masterpiece across the sky.  The intensity grew until someone turned out the lights and all of the clouds went grey making room for the stars as they started to blink on one by one.


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Comments

Bonnie on

ummmmmmmmmmm ! Interesting !

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