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The week beginning the 21st of July 2007.


Saturday the 21st

The cows spent the night around the house after their 7in1 vaccinations yesterday because I hoped it would be fine enough to give them a copper injection today - can't do the copper at the same time as anything else.

By this afternoon the weather had cleared to a few heavy showers, with time enough between to get some work done.

After their nasty treatment, I got Stephan to cut a bit more of the Puriri down and we let them in for a munch.  I'm trying to get as much of the leaf-matter into the cows as I can before it wilts and drops away and is wasted.

cows eating the fallen Puriri

My doctor sent me a little note in the mail, telling me the head scan last week found nothing unusual.  You'd think he could have phoned and shortened my anxious wait when he found out, wouldn't you?  Anyway, that's very good, and good of them to have investigated so quickly too.


Sunday the 22nd

the bulls

The bulls in the sunshine out in the Swamp paddock.

As a matter of interest, if those gorse bushes weren't dead and brown, they'd be far larger and green and by now would be covering significant areas where grass now grows.  I always think they look so untidy in the photographs, but better small and brown than large, green and yellow-flowering, for all that they'd be prettier that way!

And from up on the PW hill where I'd gone hunting ragwort, I looked back to see the two big boys, fighting again!

bulls fighting

Monday the 23rd

Stephan and I walked the "fat" cows out from the flats to the PW gateway this afternoon.  Below, in the front row, are Isla, 349 (of the missing teeth) and 446, who's the lovely daughter of 360 and the mother so far of two very good calves.  It is obvious from this picture that 349 is not missing out on anything due to her gappy dentition!

Isla, 349 and 446
Onix

Onix, having caked herself in mud from one of the banks as she entered the paddock.  Some of the cows derive much obvious pleasure from rubbing their heads hard into bare dirt banks.  I don't know what prompts them, whether it's the smell of the soil, or the presumably delicious feeling of rubbing the cool dirt into their skin.
Most of them will do it, sometimes looking like they'll almost somersault over their own heads in their excitement and enthusiasm!

I like photos in which the sunlight catches a cow's eye.

Ivy, 494 and 470, walking along the lane from Flat 1, towards some bins of molasses, on their way to have a nibble around the Puriri tree.

Ivy and the two heifers
wide-load Dotty

Dotty is ridiculously wide!  A little of it is the length of her wool which sticks out and gives her another inch or so on either side, but most of it, presumably, is lambs.  This will be her second lambing.  She's part-Suffolk and so I wonder if there are more than two in there - Bendy, whose mother was a Suffolk Cross and who is Dotty's paternal half-brother was one of triplets, if you recall.  Triplets are not a regular delivery around here, twins being most common.

Behind Dotty is one of last year's lambs (hers or not, I can't be certain) and yes, it has a dirty bottom!  They could do with drenching, but as they're still looking pretty healthy and we had intended that their next stop would be the freezer, we haven't done them.


Tuesday the 24th

I spent five hours in a Kaitaia Vet Services meeting today!  It was actually a really interesting day and I enjoyed myself.  I'm not so sure about one of the other people though, the one who started to sneeze violently two hours before the meeting finished!  I suspect his cold remedy had worn off and his infectious status suddenly became apparent.  What's the chance of avoiding that, I wonder?

On checking my email when I arrived home, I discovered a message which had arrived at 10.03am, which I would excitedly have answered within minutes, had I been here!  It was from the editor of Growing Today magazine, following up on a short conversation I had with her at the Fieldays at Mystery Creek, where she had asked if I would consider becoming a regular columnist for the magazine.  You bet I will!  It's been a long-held wish to do what I enjoy so much, i.e. writing, for income.


Wednesday the 25th

Most of the little heifers were at the gate ready to be moved this afternoon, but eight were missing.  I walked out onto the Bush Flat paddock looking for them, couldn't see them anywhere!  Eventually, peering into the stand of Kahikatea trees, I caught sight and sound of them and they came out and across the river.

They are at least three in the photo, if you look carefully.

heifers in the trees

This is an area I want to get fenced off, since it's obviously of little grazing value!  The cattle probably have a lovely time in there, but I've heard Kiwi in the vicinity and its fence boundary with the reserve land next door is not the greatest, so excluding the cattle from the area would be a good option.  It's an amazing little area, with all the Kahikatea trees growing so densely.  There are also some Northern Rata and it's a great area for finding tiny seedlings from a wide variety of trees.

empty nest

When I went across to check on the cattle in the Back Barn paddock, I went back to the tree where I saw the Thrush nest a little while ago, expecting to see nearly-fledged chicks.  But that red smear around the nest doesn't look like anything good happened here.  There were some little feathers, some Totara leaves and I detect the presence of RAT!


Thursday the 26th

I slept in this morning, then had a quiet day not doing much at all.  It was very pleasant.


Friday the 27th

Terry, who does pest trapping for the NZ Kiwi Foundation, came out this morning and we went for a walk so he could set some traps around the base of our bush reserve.  He mostly does areas which are under QEII covenants, but because some of our bush forms corridors between the surrounding covenanted areas on our boundaries, and because I've seen Kiwi footprints and heard their calls, it is useful for traps to be laid here.  Apparently the best places to catch the pests Terry's after are around the fringes of the bush where it meets pastoral land, so many of the traps are just over the fences, wherever there's an obvious animal trail in the grass.
Together we walked the southern and half of the western boundary, Terry setting some new traps and checking previously-set ones, talking about our views on ecological conservation.  Terry told me about the habits and capture methods for different pest species, and I talked about how we manage this place and we discussed how we can most helpfully cooperate with each other.  It was a very pleasant walk.

Terry setting a tunnel trap
cows in the Middle-Back paddock

At the top of the ridge where the Big Back paddock meets the Middle Back (in which the cows are pictured) I left Terry to continue on down his usual trail while I came down the middle of the farm to check on the cows and open up some gates.

Grass is getting pretty short, so I've been gradually opening up the area over which this mob of 22 cows ranges.  Today, having had access to the PW and Middle Back (around 10.7ha in total), I opened the gates to the Big Back and Pines paddocks as well, giving them a total area of just over 25 hectares.  Because cattle are herd animals, it's usually reasonably easy to track them down again - although there's always some individual with an independent spirit, who will take ages to find!

Back down on the flats, as I was moving the bulls, Ivy and the young heifers, I could see Stephan over by the house, wandering around looking lost: he's now unemployed, as of the end of his run this afternoon.

Terry appeared not long after I got back to the house and together we took him to see the wonderful variety of old trees which stands on a peninsula adjacent to our house, upon which grows the huge Puriri in which our favourite Paradise Duck family nests.  At the base of that tree, Terry set a trap, because it is in such places that mustelids (stoats, ferrets, weasels) are apparently often found, being partial to Paradise Duck eggs and chicks.

Just before dark I could hear an oddly insistent call from across the flats from one of the cattle, so walked out to have a look.  Yearling heifers can be extremely loud when they're coming on heat!  There was no other sign than her piercing call and a bit of running around.  It's good to find that calls which sound like alarm are actually about nothing alarming at all.


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