I'm sorry that you don't get to celebrate a billion seconds quite yet. However, I hope the next 11,322 days are even better than the last 11,322 were. Because you are awesome and deserve all the good things. ♥
This weekend was one of those satisfyingly good ones. You know those weekends that at the end of them, you feel rested and accomplished and .. satisfied? Given that it started with maggots, that's saying something I reckon.
Saturday morning it was raining. Witness my superpower - it hasn't rained in ages and the MetService says we're unlikely to get any significant rain before May, but I book in sheep and hello! I decided to work anyway because one client only had two sheep and the other can get hers undercover. The first ones were Wiltshires that hadn't fully shed out - one literally only had a band two inches wide up the middle of her back like a mohawk. I've no idea why the owner didn't just take to them with the kitchen scissors, buy hey. Now they look just as silly but in reverse, as the rest of them had one inch of wool covering, and she didn't want them fully shorn this close to winter. Personally I think they'd be fine (about another inch would grow before the first frost), but you know, not my call.
The YoT was driving me around because he's approaching Restricted Licence time, so we're cramming as much practice in as possible. He doesn't even moan at being dragged out of bed at OHFUCK o'clock on a Saturday to go mess about with sheep, partly because I flick him a few dollars in return for catching them for me. Win! Anyway, the next job was way out towards the South Coast, where the conditions on the floor of a steep-sided river valley (morning dew, no wind, heat convection) have made it ideal for flystrike, and a mob of Polwarths just starting to suffer. Polwarths, being a merino derivative, have very dense, fine wool and a wrinkly skin, and those folds of skin around the tail create the perfect environment for maggots to thrive.
It used to be that in Australia they would cut the wrinkles off the sheep's bum leaving bald scar tissue (known as mulesing - WARNING: GRAPHIC), in order to prevent this happening. This process is now being outlawed, and rightly. It's possible to breed the wrinkles out in a few generations, and that's what they should bloody well do. I feel strongly about this.
Anyway, these Polwarths are not quite as wrinkly as a merino, but some of them (particularly a white strain bought in from the South Island) still have the two folds each side and one fold over the tail, and sure enough, these were the ones suffering from flystrike. From a mob of 25 there were only 4 that had actually been struck, but we doctored the whole lot. This involved trimming the wool away from around the tail so it's dry and there's nothing smelly to attract flies, then giving each sheep a good dose of preventative pouron. This stuff basically prevents flystrike from getting established by preventing larvae from developing to their second stage, and protects the sheep for (it says on the container) up to 16 weeks. I reckon they're safe for about 6 weeks as the conditions of application were not ideal, but an improvement on 'no protection'. The struck ones got a bit more attention, because the Clik doesn't actually kill maggots, so they had to be removed first and dealt to. Not fun and a stinky, unpleasant job, but ultimately very satisfying. There was at least one there who probably would have died if we hadn't got to him this weekend, the others were just getting started. Kudos to the sharp-eyed owner who spotted a problem before it got too bad.
Also, I'm pleased to see the new ram that's running with the flock is more-or-less wrinkle free, and not dirty or maggoty. Being flystrike-prone is partly a genetic trait, so with any luck in a few years there won't be any more problems in that flock. Meanwhile, we keep it at bay with horrifically poisonous chemical applications. I had a really long shower when I got home..
Anyway, this drought is getting serious. People are using their winter feed now, and those who are smart are buying up the spare because we're not expecting rain until it's cold enough for the grass to have stopped growing. What this means is that when the slower (or poorer) folks go to buy it, there'll be a shortage. This winter could end up being quite heartbreaking. I predict the price of livestock bottoming out as people try to unload livestock before it starves, and some people potentially losing their farms if it continues. Meanwhile, anyone who has fat lambs at Christmas this year is going to clean up because there's likely to be a shortage of them too. Everyone else will be a bit fucked. And all the while in the back of my mind, I'm going "Better get used to it, farmers, climate change will make this a regular occurrence." But it's sad to watch.
On a more pleasant note, Sunday was a day of pottering about. I like pottering about. We pottered up to Jaycar via a coffee shop in the morning, where we both purchased various bits and bobs we needed for Sooper Sekret Projects. Oh, and a robotic arm. Because they had one. We walked in the door and Dr Wheel was all "OMG ROBOTIC ARM!" and it turns out it's one you can control from your computer through USB and I was all THEY SAY IT'S YOUR BIRTHDAY and so now we have a ROBOTIC ARM.
I did not get a robotic arm. Instead I made a stand for my soldering iron out of wire. Check out mah skills:
What? I'm proud of it. And then grist came round and we did some more work on the Magister's Staff, while Dr Wheel beavered away on the other end of the table doing something Sooper Sekret that involved aerials and black boxes and much maniacal glee. And coffee.
So we got all the switches soldered into the Magister's Staff (including the one the YoT sucked up the vacuum cleaner and which I rescued by going through the contents of the bag, which was only marginally better than dealing with flystrike). It now switches on and off, and also switches between 'just on' and 'heartbeat' mode. And then I put it together! I mean, properly, with the gubbins in and everything! And then tested it out in darkness:
Eventually, you won't be able to see the light source as it'll be covered by the decorative exterior, but you get the idea of what it'll look like. I quite like that the acrylic tube isn't really visible - it just looks like a light source floating in space. Magic, even. Excellent!
So that's only got its cosmetic finishing to do, and then it'll be done. And I will go YAY! And make a rack for all the staffs we now have in our house. Because Cold Blooded is also only 2-3 weeks off finishing too.
And then the YoT cooked us corn on the cob and Proper Farm Sausages (given to us by the grateful Wiltshire owner), and I made yoghurt that came out better this time (shorter heating time plus longer cooling time before adding the culture = smoother yoghurt), and then I woke up this morning and it was Dr Wheel's birthday and life is good. ;-)
I'm reminded of rivet's check-in question. Are you enjoying yourself? And yes, I am. I really am. This is cool.