With very little rain in the last months of 2019 we received nearly 200ml of rain in a week leading to us being flooded in for the 2nd time in 4 years. I also somehow managed to forget about our firefighting pump down at the front dam which was then covered in about 1m of water when the dam rose.
Then in February, Ellie, our faithful companion and right-hand dog when rounding up cows, died. We first got Ellie when she was just a 5 month old puppy and we were renting and she then came with us when we moved onto Gracemere. Whatever was happening on the property, Ellie was right there to supervise and make sure nothing went wrong. One of Ellie’s favourite animals on the properties was the goats, especially Lavender the first goat kid born on the farm.
Lavender was born all the way back in 2018 but in 2020 we doubled our goat herd with 5 new kids being born. First we had 2 sets of twins born within a couple of days of each other and then a baby girl born 3 weeks later. Forest (the father) certainly did his job well. We also decided to upgrade the goat house at the same time to accommodate the new arrivals. Coming from a rudimentary shelter to a 2-storey palace was certainly an upgrade for them and they loved it.
After we finished the goat shelter we decided to upgrade our milking parlour and brooders as well. Bethany first built the milking parlour way back in 2017 when we first got Clover and it was a little rough to say the least. It wasn’t very secure for any rouge cows and had quite to a significant lean to it. Our new milking parlour I think was quite the opposite. Cemented into the ground with a big roof and a sturdy head-gate. After milking for so long in a half broken run down milking parlour it was lovely to milk in a dry environment.
After the milking parlour came the brooders. Our old brooders were a collection of trailers that we had purchased cheap over time and then converted. While they were good we couldn’t fit in many chicks and had to upgrade. After much contemplation on the design on the brooder we settled on a raised-floor design with 4 big doors for access and ventilation. Well-insulated and rodent proof it was perfect.
2020 was also the year we said farewell to our pigs. The pigs were very hard to manage with such fragile soils (drought, then flooding) and we were struggling to sell the meat, so the hard decision was made to send the rest to the abattoir. While we did lose the pigs, some new and rather unusual animals did make their way to Gracemere.
The unusual addition to Gracemere was 5 donkeys. Donkeys are great for scaring off wild dogs and were essential to help prevent chicken losses. We first got two donkeys (a jenny and a jack) with the jenny possibly pregnant. 10 days later the jenny had a foal and then there were 3. A couple of weeks after that we received two more donkeys to make up our little donkey herd.
We also had to make a change to our market sales. 4 markets were too much to handle so we cut down the number of markets and deciede to trial online deliveries. The online store has been a success so far and it is continuining along with our attendance at Yamba Farmers Market on Wednesday Morning