Friday, 11 April 2014

We've accidentally become "shepherds"

We have begun doing a Family Walk and Talk at 5pm every afternoon. We shoo out the neighbourhood kids, get everyone into socks and sneakers, and head out walking along the dirt road out of town. The second afternoon we saw a fox several times as it cut across two paddocks either side of the road. The next day we saw another fox and also a big black bull that had been put in one of the paddocks. These sights and others have led to some interesting discussions.

Yesterday, when we were almost to our turn around point (we walk a bit further every day), we found a newborn lamb outside her paddock's fence on the road verge. The lamb had probably escaped under the fence where it crosses a creek, but her mother would have been too big to follow, and the lamb could not find her way back to her mother. The mob of sheep in that paddock had all wandered off and seemed determined not to return. The ewe had possibly abandoned her lamb because they were separated for too long and the mother gave up on getting her back. Alternatively, the lamb may have been abandoned because she was a twin or not healthy. We’ve been told ewes have a habit of deserting lambs they don’t think will make it.

Abigail, our resident tender-hearted would-be-mother, began to cry at the thought of the lamb being killed by the foxes we had seen before. We decided to take her home and call some of our friends to ask for advice on raising a lamb. So now we are accidental shepherds!

We have decided the lamb's name shall be Gertrude Little (as in Mary had a "little" lamb), Gerty for short, although Sam has announced he will call her Cutey.

Our farmer friends came over after the kids were in bed and brought us half a bag of lamb formula mix, as well as some electrolyte medicine to prevent dehydration, and gave us lots of advice on how to care for Gertrude. We have to feed her three-hourly during the day but only very small amounts (about 50mL) for the first day or two, because abandoned lambs can die from overfeeding when being handfed. We have been warned "not to kill her with kindness.”

Gertrude’s poops show she is a very young lamb, possibly only a day or two old. She still has her umbilical cord hanging down, dried black and withered. We laid down newspaper in the chick-raising cabinet in the mud room that Joshua got for his birthday (which has not yet been used to hatch any chicks) and she slept in that last night. During the day we are putting her in the chicken run, though we will bring her in at night until she is bigger, because of the colder temperatures.

There was a big frightened fluster among the chickens when I carried Gertrude out to the back yard this morning after Abi and Sam had helped me feed her and she had promptly pooped all over my pyjamas. The chickens are presently too frightened of Gerty to come out from the far side of their coop where they are hiding from her under the tree, even though Lizzy Blizzard, Sharp Toes and even Snowy are probably bigger than Gertrude Little. I think they are worried she might be a dog and therefore dangerous.

The kids are all very excited to be shepherds, especially Sam and Abi. And me too! I can hear her bleating at the moment, but her bleats are not as loud as Sharp Toes’s crows, although he has been very silent today. Poor chickens. I hope they get over their fear of Gerty soon.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Book review: Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins

I chose to read Gregor the Overlander because it is written by the author of The Hunger Games but is written for younger kids like me. I enjoyed reading this book because at every twist and turn of the book something unexpected happened. It was also very funny in places.

Gregor lives in a New York apartment building, where he discovers a way to go underground, to the Underland. There he finds a hidden city, meets a princess, and goes on adventures with a giant rat, a giant bat, a giant cockroach and his little sister Boots.

I recommend this book to people who like to read about adventures, strange lands, prophecies, wars and dangerous quests. Gregor the Overlander is available from our school library. There are four more books that continue the stories of Gregor’s adventures. These may be borrowed as ebooks from the State Library of WA.

Reviewed by Anna, age 9.

(Anna wrote this for the school newsletter at the suggestion of our school librarian.)

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

A quote from the foundation of my nation's history

"While men continue to think freely, they will judge variously."
~ Watkin Tench, Captain of the Marines,
Sydney Cove, Port Jackson, New South Wales, 10 July 1788

A Narrative of the Expedition to Botany Bay, 1789