The issue with our rearing pen at Craig's is that it's difficult to herd the birds when they are very young - at that stage they have no life skills whatsoever and are the mercy of weather as well as predators. We'd lost a bunch on Xmas Eve due to a sudden downpour - they huddled in a corner rather than getting undercover so the ones that weren't smothered were killed by exposure. When I arrived at Craig's we sat and yakked over a cuppa and he gave me his thoughts - we'd put in a corridor extension around the northern end of the pen, where the birds can be released into as chicks. Thus they can be rounded up in the narrow corridor and herded with ease.
|Birds in the main pen|
Our job was to put in the posts. Given the ground was studded with rotten rock as well as rocks as hard as iron we couldn't use the tractor with rammer to knock the poles in. *sigh*. Spade, crowbar (to break rocks) and rammer it was. Craig is pretty much a world class fence post hole digger, and his modified long handled spade put my little garden spade to shame. So he excavated while I broke rocks with the bar and rammed around the poles.
By lunchtime we had 2 of the three sides done. A couple of cold beers with a lunch of fresh rolls and smoked snapper and kingfish made returning to the task a bit difficult, especially as along the eastern edge the ground is pretty shitty with buried obstacles. So the final 3 holes took a bit of effort but finally we were there.
|Note Craig's modified spade front right|
Back to base for a cuppa and a quick look at the cricket (doh!) before we moved the cows around to a fresh paddock. We scoped out a few likely spots for pond development (time & money!) then headed back to the house. After dinner we decided to go and look for a pig. The wind was a stiff westerly up the valley from the sea, and with overcast but no rain it was an ideal evening to be out. We drove to the drop off then walked in on the baits before heading south to a ridge overlooking the valley to the south, and the sea to the west. The view was stunning and we pretty much sat and said very little for an hour. As the light began to fade we headed back over the ridge when Craig spotted a ginger pig about 600m away. I loaded the rifle and we stalked in. The pig was feeding toward us and with a strong wind blowing away from him we had no trouble getting in close. I took the shot head on and drilled him between the eyes and he dropped like a sack of poo. On inspection he turned out to be a young and very fat boar, an ideal eater. Craig gutted him and then I carried him back to the car and propped him on the bull bars for the ride home. A few photos and we hung him to cool overnight.
Next morning we skinned and broke him in half to go in my 60l chilli bin - he only just fit.
I left Craig ruminating on his upcoming trip to Kyrgyzstan where he hopes to hunt for Ibex and headed north to Tui Ridge.
The recently constructed pen needs a few finishing touches and my job was to peg down the netting around the pen, involving hammering in some 300+ pegs. I have to say that it was quite enjoyable doing such a menial task in the sun with my iPod plugged in my ears; and I was done within a couple of hours.
Back home for some butchery - sausages here we come!