New Year’s Visitor – 1

bucks-iconMy last post about the new piglets for Christmas sets the scene for this follow-up New Year’s Tale.

In addition to the 3 Kunes, I have 3 Boer cross does, the remnant of breeding that I was into some years ago.  These doe goats have lived on their own with me for 9 years and they tidy up around the place.  It’s a nice, peaceful arrangement.

Or, it WAS a nice, peaceful arrangement.

On New Year’s Eve I went up in the late afternoon to give the piglets their evening meal.  One of the does was standing just inside the fence in the paddock that leads up the back, and as I glanced at her, my eye was drawn to something in the gorse a little way behind.

Unless I was much mistaken, it was the top of a buck’s head.  Though I couldn’t see much in among the gorse bushes, I knew the cut of a buck’s horns only too well.  And what’s more I could smell him.

As if to answer my unspoken question, he stood up even as I looked.  Quite a big boy, too.   And I had a good idea how he’d got in – through a breach in my back fence made by wild pigs this last winter.   Though I was planning to fix it, pinning down a contractor at this time of year is not the easiest. In the past, I would have grabbed some waratahs and done the job myself, but when I last thumped in a couple of standards a few months ago, I wrecked my back again and got a telling off from my chiropractor (plus a bill or two).        It pays to be careful.

The doe waggled her tail – yes, she was on heat, all right.  Drat!  This really puts the cat among the pigeons.

The buck even had a bit of a Boer look about him – could have escaped from the Boer cross farm a few miles off over the hill, where I got the current does.

I went to feed the piglets, mind in a whirl.  When I got back, I could see there was a second, younger buck a little further behind.  The leading buck had quite a spread of horns – near 3 feet, I guessed, so he was a seasoned campaigner and definitely the one in charge.   Drat!   Drat!

I was quite upset that evening.  The scenario in my mind ran something like,  “I was getting everything set up nicely and now this happens.  The other 2 does will be brought on heat by the bucks, and I stand to have at least 6 kids arrive this year, with all the dramas of ringing or destroying any buck kids that arrive, and making sure the buck kids don’t starve the doe kids by hogging the milk supply.  More mouths to feed.  And above all how do I get rid of those 2 adult bucks?

Knowing the bank where the fence had been breached, I couldn’t see them getting out again – and obviously, having found some does, they’d be more likely to stay.

I had some good Deerstalker friends who had destroyed a mature buck for me some years back – the wife was recognized nationally as the top female shooter in NZDA for some years, and extremely accurate.  But that was then and this is now.  We are all that much older and I wasn’t sure even if she was still shooting.  Aaaargh!  And I don’t really like killing things, and I don’t want to let just any old shooter loose around my does…

Next morning when I went up, the does were at the shed.  No sign of the bucks.  So I closed the paddock gate.  Later I went up again with some more feed and heard a mighty rattling in the side fence.  Sure enough, the lead buck had his horns caught in the bottom of it – no doubt the does had gone up into another paddock behind there and he was trying to get through.  I had a great view of his back end as he twisted and turned, pulled and pushed at the fence wires.   He was an entire male, no question about that.

This was all getting to be a bit much – and on a New Year’s Morning!  If that huge spread of horns was well and truly caught in the fence, I’d have to get someone to deal to him smartly.  I have 8 wire high tensile fencing built specifically for goats, so the gaps at the bottom are narrower than usual – oh the power of testosterone!


Fortunately, when I went up again later, he’d extricated himself – these guys are SO smart.  It also became clear that both bucks had now got through the fence and were in with the does.   Later, they all came down to the shed and it seemed a second doe was on heat as well.   Problems, problems…

There was a lot of stamping, gobbling and roaring going on – and a few other unmentionable things that bucks do to entice their females for mating.     Talk about Bad Moon Rising!

This carry-on isn’t any good for fences, either.

More next time.


A Christmas Present – In The Lord’s Good Time

kunesThe week before Christmas, I bought myself a present of 3 female Kunekune piglets, about 12 weeks old, from a breeder down south near Whangarei.

Their purpose is to help me with weed control – specifically an overgrowth of Wandering Jew (Tradescantia fluminosa), reaching seriously epic proportions in the rich volcanic soil all around my house. This weed is becoming a real problem here in NZ, wherever it gets a hold.  I’d been asking the Lord for a solution for months – no years – but not one solution I investigated seemed to be workable.   Frustration!

I’ve had Kunekunes before.  They are a delightful pig, smaller than the large commercial meat breeds, but the boars can tip the scale at 200 lb nonetheless.   A few weeks back I was led to look at a blog I wrote at the time, and the fact that Kunes eat wandering jew hit me in the eye.  Of course !!    At that time, the problem was less serious, which is maybe why it had slipped my mind.

I knew from previous experience that Kunes need to be very strictly contained in their first days in a new home.  I carefully strengthened up a side pen to my goat race up at the shed, and when I got them home, installed them there.

It has been very successful, with the double advantage of getting me walking on rough ground again (now that I am largely pain-free and no longer limping – thank you Lord!).  So I carry feed up to them at least 3 times a day – water too, until I solved the problem of why the tap up at the shed was suddenly not working.  Now my legs are getting stronger again: one single solution to more than one problem.  Doesn’t the Lord love doing that?

So now swathes of wandering jew are being pulled out and fed to these little darlings by the sackful – the dastard weed goes in one end and out of the other comes great fertilizer – AND it’s not the least likely to sprout again!

It’s a wonderful solution, because normally the big question when you pull some of this stuff out is – now what do I do with this?  Every little scrap of this plant that is dropped or thrown on the ground somewhere, will grow as a new plant.  The only really successful solution I’d read was to put the weed into a 44 gallon drum, top it up with water and put the lid on.  12 months later voilà – some great fertilizer.  But I hate to think how many 44 gallon drums I’d need – or maybe a few water storage tanks?  And an impossible amount of work.  Hmmm…

Burn it?  The strictures on lighting fires up north here are massive, plus I’ve no desire to start a raging bush fire in the kikuyu grass.  So the wandering jew problem seemed insurmountable.  The only other option was to get a contractor in to spray the stuff – not guaranteed to be a success, and the cost and toxic chemical exposure potential are both pretty prohibiting.

So the cute piglets (growing like weeds on kikuyu, tradescantia and feed pellets) really are an inspiration – as well as being great fun.  I’m getting ready to let them down into my back garden, once I’ve tidied up the fencing, with unlimited access to grass and jew.  And ultimately I can rotate them around even more areas where the jew is flourishing…

This whole episode has been a huge lesson to me in the value of waiting on the Lord.  The wandering jew problem is of long standing – going back to when I looked after my mom with alzheimers full time – and one possible solution after another has seemed to be blocked.

How often has that happened to you, when steps you might have taken don’t materialize and then later, the solution comes along and you find yourself thankful that you waited on the Lord’s timing for that solution to appear and didn’t do whatever else you had in mind?

How many times have I thought to myself, “Maybe I should get a contractor in…”?    We often wait so unwillingly!  Or berate ourselves for ‘lack of action’.

The bottom line is, I could not have done any of this until I could walk pretty much without pain again – and that has happened only in this last 5 or 6 weeks.  Amazing!

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.  Isaiah 40:31