The week beginning the 5th of January 2013.
Saturday the 5th
tidying rubbish

Lance lives in town with his grand-mother, who likes to send him out to the farm for some good male role-modelling, social and work experience.  It is school holiday time at present so Lance has been asking to come out and help with some farm work and today was a good day to have him.

I suggested to Stephan that a job I'd really like to see completed is the clearing of the rubbish dump pile in the Windmill Paddock.  Stephan and I started working on it last year (where does the time go?) and never got back to finish it off.  A couple of weeks ago I suggested to Stephan that he spray the Kikuyu which had grown all over what we'd left, so it would be easier to work there again during the summer.  I make all these suggestions without doing any more of the actual work, because I consider it Stephan's rubbish, not mine.  There are some things around here which are like that.

sparrow chicks

Sparrow babies in the nesting-box by the gate.  This is the second lot; I don't actually know what happened to the first clutch of eggs/chicks, because the last time I looked at them they were eggs and the next time the nest was empty and there was not enough time in the interim for the chicks to have grown and flown.

cleared rubbish site

During the day Stephan and Lance took a ute-load of rubbish to the transfer station in town, and by the end of the day they'd cleared the site sufficiently of all the big stuff and the best way to finish it off was to add soil and flatten the whole area.  There will still be rubbish underground, but it will just have to stay there for the time being.  One day, if we have more money than we know what to do with, we might spend it cleaning up further.

Sunday the 6th
girls on a slide

A friend brought her three daughters for a swim in the pond and to try the slide.  It's been fascinating seeing the variations people have tried for sliding.  They all seem to work without injury to anyone, the only pain being the occasional slap of water on skin.  It has proved to be a fantastic addition to the pond facilities.

Beggar's Tick plants

A large population of Beggar's Tick plants (Bidens frondosa), wafting in the breeze out in the Back Barn Paddock.  Last year Stephan experimented with spraying the plants which seemed to work well.  He'll need to come out and do that again before too long.

So far I've only discovered a few of these plants in other places around the farm.  It's obviously time to be on the look-out for them again.

buried cow

604's grave.  I had a little more of her to inter this afternoon, having kept some of her intestine for closer inspection (for a little longer than I should have).  Jill and Stephan walked ahead and upwind of me, and we reunited the bits of cow with the rest of her.  I wanted to see if there was any obvious cause in 604's intestine for the intussusception which occurred.  I need to do some more research and reading.

The light-coloured bits on the grass are 604's sun-dried rumen contents, which were spread as she was transported from where she'd died to the burial hole.

Stephan and Jill

Stephan and Jill.

Heredity is so interesting.  I knew both parents of both of these people and can see each of their parents in their respective faces.

Monday the 7th
Kanuka flowers
Manuka flower
Manuka flowers

Kānuka, Kunzea ericoides (left or top) and Mānuka, Leptospermum scoparium (second and third pictures).  The Department of Conservation website outlines the various differences between them very well.

Tuesday the 8th
Angus cattle

What a life.

Joe 90 and his cows in the Camp Paddock.

threatening duck

Female Putangitangi are not very kind to cats.  I watched an exchange between Storm and Foxton the other day, during which both hissed at each other and Foxton took several swipes at Storm to make her leave her alone.  Finan is much more timid, and runs away when Storm harasses him.

stressed Kahikatea tree

A stressed-looking Kahikatea tree.  I noticed the calf at the bottom nibbling at the bark and there's some obvious damage down there.  The cattle don't usually have any noticeable impact on Kahikatea.

cheese presses

Lots of cheese presses for Cottage Crafts.  Stephan has been enjoying doing a bit of income-generating work in his workshop.

Wednesday the 9th
Bantam hen and chicks

The latest bantam chicks are doing well.  I'm glad we caught the resident stoat back in November or these chicks probably wouldn't still be running around.


Murphy, Jill's Cockatiel, who's been living next to our Budgies since I brought him up in December.  Today my sister Rachel came up to collect Jill and Murphy and take them home to Auckland.  I miss Murphy and the Budgies are strangely quiet.

Angus cattle

There are small carrotweed (Parsley Dropwort) flowers all around the farm.  The plants don't grow as large later in the season as they do in the early spring, fortunately, which means they remain more palatable to the stock for longer than earlier in the year when the flower stems get quite thick and hard.

unripe blackberries

The blackberries are fruiting heavily this year.  It looks like being an excellent season for them, with enough rain early on and now blisteringly hot weather to ripen them to perfect sweetness.

Angus cattle

I have been pleased to observe that 604's son (centre) has apparently avoided any gastric upset in the interruption to and change in his feeding regime.  His rear end has remained almost entirely clean since I have been feeding him.  Zella's milk is probably a bit creamier (higher fat) than his mother's would have been and the quantities he's getting will be a bit different in total and per feed, which is often enough to upset a calf.

Thursday the 10th

Earlier this week there was a "To the Resident" letter in the mailbox from the company which owns the wood mill in Kaitaia, and the trees in many of the forests around the district.  I contacted them last year to ask about their logging program, once they began running the machinery and trucks up Diggers Valley Road, and knew they'd be starting up again this summer.

The letter says they'll be logging continuously for the next three years!

That same afternoon I received a phone call from one of the neighbours, wanting to start some neighbourhood action to protest about the safety implications of multiple movements of huge trucks up and down the narrow, winding valley road.

This morning Stephan, Jane and I walked up to that meeting, primarily to ask some specific questions about the truck movements, times they'd be on the road and so on.  I think the company's communication with the neighbourhood was a very positive move and the two men who came to the meeting were informative and cooperative in addressing people's concerns.  Public meetings are always interesting, the various agendas of the attendees becoming apparent as the meeting progresses.

new tractor

We left the meeting at 10.30, because we were expecting a particular delivery.

Just before 11am this truck turned into our driveway, with a very orange machine on the back: our new tractor has arrived.

old and new tractors

Two people came to deliver the tractor, one as driver and the other a sales and technical representative to go through the tractor's various features and requirements.  The nice man with whom we made all the purchase arrangements has been ill and could not come.

After driving the new tractor off the back of the truck, the driver got on our old tractor and backed it up onto the truck ready to take it away.  I sold it on trademe for around the price we'd been advised was fair for its condition and age and I arranged for the delivery truck to detour to the old tractor's new owner's property on their way back to Whangarei.

new tractor


I believe Stephan likes it very much.

It doesn't quite seem real yet.  We don't actually start paying for it for a couple of weeks.  I told Stephan he wasn't allowed to move it until I'd rung and insured it!

logging truck

A logging truck on its way up to the Pine forest.

They're not quite as frightening to meet on the road when they're piggy-backing their empty trailers as they are on the way back down, when they're full of logs and very long!

dust floating up from gravel road

The dust the trucks kick up is going to be one of the major issues for the residents along the road.  I'm very glad we don't live right beside the road, as many do, because we're getting quite enough of it drifting across the flats even where we are.

Angus bull

We have enough dust, thank you!
Joe 90 decided we needed a bit more.

Angus-cross cow

I have no idea what 517 can have rubbed her face against to create that pretty green stripe.

Angus-cross cow

Her elder sister, 470, in the other mob in the Small Hill Paddock, was standing in the shade, pushing her nose onto small twigs to itch her nostrils, then sneezing great showers of snot everywhere, some of which only narrowly missed me as I passed.

flowering Northern Rata

One of the Northern Rata trees in the Bush Flat Reserve is flowering.  The Rata and Pohutukawa are having a very strange season, extended over a much longer period than usual.  It has been my observation in earlier years that the Rata flower before the bulk of the Pohutukawa.  This Rata is flowering a month after I saw the big ones in the Maungataniwha Range.

succulent plant in flower

The succulent plants in my greenhouse have had an extended season as well, although part of the cause may be that I repotted them earlier in 2012 and they've responded by flowering more and for longer.

Friday the 11th
cows and calves

Zella is a lovely cow.  Zella (on the right), Dexie 101 and the three calves were grazing in Flat 5d and when I walked around them to herd them out of the paddock this evening, Zella saw the gate and walked directly to it.  The others were not immediately so cooperative.

I've given Stephan some great presents!