The week beginning the 9th of February 2013.
Saturday the 9th

A seeding Ragwort plant over the boundary fence at the top of the hill Over the Road.  Those black plastic things through which two of the wires pass, are insulators for the electric fence, so you can see it would be difficult to climb over the fence without receiving some uncomfortable shocks.  At my height, I need to stand on the wire below the lower electric wire, so my ankle would contact there and it would be impossible not to have my thighs touch the top wire, especially since it is slightly offset from the rest of the fence.

I walked back down the hill to turn off the electric fence and climbed all the way up again to climb over the fence and carefully bag all those seeds.  My GPS device tells me it's a climb of 60m from the bottom of the paddock to the top.  It doesn't sound like a long distance, but it's quite a climb on a hot afternoon.

Kikuyu grass hillside

Back down the hill again (to the new gate on the road around the corner), I noticed this interesting difference between the part of the paddock which was ours but not part of our farm for decades and the rest.  I left this green bit ungrazed for 18 months after the boundary fence was moved and it is now greener than the rest of the paddock, despite now being under the same management.  It is a fairly steep hillside and I don't believe it received any fertilizer during the "ownership" of the neighbours, so was it the fallow period two years ago which made a difference to its appearance now?

remains of a Putangitangi

I think I found the missing duckling - or what remains of it.  These feathers were on the edge of the stream in the area the Putangitangi family spent most of their time.  There's no way of telling what killed the bird and there's nothing else left of it.  I think it possible that a very large eel resides in the stream and caught both the juvenile bird and its father's leg.  I wonder, from the way in which the feathers are dispersed without any bones present, whether part of the body ended up on the edge of the stream and was then scavenged by a hawk, which would have pulled the feathers out in this way?

Angus cows and calves

I brought the mob of cattle out of the Camp paddock to the yards so we could weigh the calves.

For some reason the calves seem really small.  I wonder if it's the presence of the lovely yearlings in the same mob which make them appear smaller than they really are?  The average weight of all the calves is 187kg at an average 17 weeks old.  Their average daily growth-rate is 1.26kg/day, so they're doing nicely and must be their usual size.  A few are already over 200kg.

Sunday the 10th
farm view

Firewood collectors (extended family in this case) bring all sorts of vehicles to transport the wood they cut.

fire-wood gatherers

Kanuka makes wonderful firewood, partly because of these tall trunks without foliage.  They are not so helpful in areas one wishes to grow grass, because of the tight canopy they form.

One of this group is a young man whose visits always cause me to think of new rules I need to create for him before he comes again.  He seems entirely devoid of social awareness and consideration, demonstrated this afternoon by his turning the stereo in his vehicle up so loudly (as I had just entered the neighbouring paddock to check the cows and calves) that my cattle all came thundering down the hillsides in alarm, to find out what creature was being tortured and killed in their vicinity.

Unnecessary noise is something I find very annoying at the best of times, but when it's in my own usually quiet environment and is upsetting both me and my animals, I get a bit tetchy!  I didn't have the energy to go back around to ask him to cease the disturbance and he did not stop on his way out.  Perhaps his next visit will not be permitted until he's matured by another decade or so.

While I was checking the cows, Irene 35 stood (as in appeared to be on heat) for one of the others.  Bearing in mind the unsettled state of the animals, I'm not sure that indicates anything meaningful.  Sometimes a cow won't move out from beneath another if she's distracted by something else and some of them will give some appearance of being on heat on the date when they would potentially return to oestrus, even if they're in calf.  I'll watch her carefully in another three weeks and see whether there's any further indication then.

Several of the calves are now developing a dirty, smelly scour, just like the others did Over the Road a few days ago.  Something in their feed changes after mid-summer rain and it doesn't agree with them!


The ewe which was flystruck the other day was still being irritated by flies (although there were no live maggots in her fleece) and there were flies also following Lamb and annoying her, so I suggested to Stephan that it would be wise to shear the sheep.

Lamb turned out to have a patch of strike around her tail, although I had seen no outside evidence of that when in the paddock earlier in the day.  With their fleeces removed, their skins will be drier and less attractive to the flies.  We don't routinely use a fly-strike preventative treatment, preferring instead to monitor closely and shear them twice a year so that we reduce the incidence of the problem.

Monday the 11th
Angus cattle

Time to move the cows Over the Road from the Western slopes which overlook the rest of the farm, to the smaller section of the paddock with its two shades of green.

I checked they were all present, then walked down the hill calling them.  Eventually they careered down the slopes and then through the gate to the new grass.

Tuesday the 12th
Angus cow

470, looking very round this afternoon, as did most of the cows up on the hill Over the Road.

I took the photo thinking it would be useful as a "when do you think this cow will calve?" example, showing that there's no way you can tell from the shape of a cow, whether or not she's pregnant.

There is, I presume, a very small calf embryo in there somewhere, but it will by now be no bigger than a mouse, so won't be making any impact on its mother's shape.  All that roundness is the result of a Kikuyu grass diet.

In the distance you can see our little group of pine trees in the middle, the big pine plantation all over the one hill behind them and the highest point up to the right is Puketutu, whose summit is at 420m.

Wednesday the 13th
native trees

I cannot presently find any reference to when we planted these Puriri trees along the boundary of the Flat 5d paddock.  They take a long time to grow.

Lovely Ms Duck is buried in the foreground (there's a marker there, but it's hidden by the long weedy grass).  Her grave needs a tree again, the earlier one having succumbed to frost.

When I first had a computer in about 1990 or thereabouts, I got stuck into working out how to make it do things by fiddling around in the Disk Operating System.  I found it fascinating that I could write some code which in any other context made no sense at all, and it would make the computer do interesting things.  Fortunately I didn't follow my inclination to get completely engrossed in that interest, or I'd probably still be sitting in a darkened room somewhere.  But in the coding which makes websites appear as they do, I've found another outlet for that fascination.  I've been slow to learn some things, but have been fiddling with cascading style sheets (they're bits of code which this page refers to to understand the colours and layout it should produce).  When I started writing the website, I used a programme which allowed me to drag things into place on the screen and it wrote the code which made it all happen.  Nowadays I write the code on a white screen and then check that it appears the way I've intended on a computer browser.  There's a lot I still don't know.  For instance, I have no idea how this site looks to you if you do check it on a small mobile screen, mostly because I never have the opportunity to do that myself and while I hope you can see what you want to if you use that technology, this is a primarily photographic site and is probably best viewed on something a bit bigger than a screen that will fit in your hand, so I haven't yet delved into how to ensure it works on those devices.

When I had to learn the html (hyper text mark-up language) code behind webpages, because my trial copy of the software I was using expired, I adopted whatever methods would do the trick.  Over time I've naturally gained experience and I'm also quite keen to make sure the coding conforms to the various internet standards which ensure websites work as they are expected to, whatever browser they're viewed in.  Over the last couple of days, I've spent more time than is sensible recoding the large pages which contain all the pedigrees of the cattle.  They won't look much different to anyone, but they're now compliant with the codes.

Other people tell me I could more efficiently work with a programme which does some of the code production for me, but I haven't yet found one which won't cost more than I wish to spend and does what I want it to without having to spend hours working out how to use it.  I might change my mind one day; but I might also keep enjoying what I'm doing now.

Thursday the 14th

Nine of the dozen sheep still remaining, about to be reduced by two more.

I took the opportunity, it being nearly the end of our financial year, to formally note which sheep still live here.  Since we don't tag most of them because they're intended as walking dinners, it's a bit hard to keep track of who's who, except that when they're young, their teeth tell us which group of lambs they belong to.

There are two tagged yet-to-lamb young ewes in the mob who are the daughters of Tag-ewe and Yvette.  We'll probably get a ram ... actually I suppose we should be thinking about it now.

sheep and goose

Ten sheep returned to the House Paddock and because the goose had come out of the Chickens Paddock, we chased her along with the Sheep, so she could stay with her preferred companions again.  She must surely be lonely on her own when the sheep are out here.


The man who comes and cuts firewood from our hillsides has been helping Stephan by clearing the slope above the new reserve fence around the Big Back swamp.  This will be a "before" photo in a couple of weeks.

Angus cow

Alone on the far hillside Over the Road, Dinky stood out against the interesting textural effect of the maize crop planted in the neighbouring dairy farm's front paddocks..

Friday the 15th

A website-creating day today, for my one legally-defined brother-in-law, Roger.  As he hasn't yet approved its form nor submitted the actual written content, I'll have to keep that one under my hat for the time being.  I promised Roger a website in exchange for decorating Sarah and Karl's wedding in 2006 and it's been a long time waiting for both or either of us to decide what was needed.

When I went out to check on the cows, I discovered the mob over the road standing around their empty trough looking disgruntled.  I spent some time pugging around in the mud where the pipe had come off the fitting, reattaching it and trying to work out why the water wasn't running properly.  I did what I should have done when the cattle went into the paddock, erecting an electric tape around the area where the pipe comes up a bank to the trough, so that they couldn't knock it around with their feet.  When Stephan arrived home, he replaced the brass arm of the ballcock fitting, which the cows had broken as they tried to find water where there wasn't any.

Then we went out to dinner with some friends we've not seen for some time, where we're always fed so very deliciously that Stephan doesn't like to invite them back here, because his culinary skills seem far less refined in comparison with Jackie's fabulous creations.  However, since friendship is not a competition, of course we'll have them anyway.