The week beginning the 12th of April 2014.
Saturday the 12th
spreading fertilizer

Ryan brought a truck-load of fertilizer out this morning and took Stephan for a ride around to look at the farm he no longer sees.  They did most of the flats, and now we'll wait for some rain.  The cattle are all out the back.

In other years we've spread fert on the hills first, in case we can't get up them after the first rains, but this year I need the flats back in production as soon as the rain comes because time is marching on and I need to start weaning the calves.

We'll hope for some dry weather afterwards.  This is why farmers are always complaining about the weather, one way or the other; so much depends upon it.

Sunday the 13th
farm view

The little bits of rain we've had have started the Kikuyu moving.  This is its biggest growth period, so even a tiny bit of moisture will kick it off.


Lilo and Peter came over for dinner, bringing all sorts of lovely treats.  Peter baked these creatures, which initially looked like rabbits, but the more I look at them now, the more they don't.  Peter makes all sorts of delicious breads.

woman and cow

Lilo and I went out together to get the house cows in.  Her negotiations with Zella were amusing to watch.

The posts in the foreground mark the grave of Iona 04, who died in 2002.  There used to be some fencing to exclude the cattle, but as there's no electric feed here, the fence was gradually broken down.  Some time we'll put some rails on the posts and plant another tree.

Monday the 14th
Kahikatea tree

This Kahikatea tree on the edge of the Bush Flat has lovely orange berries.

orange Kahikatea berries

The colour difference is definitely between trees, not just a matter of ripeness of the berries.

Tuesday the 15th
Angus cattle

Victoria (on the left) and her two friends have been grazing the laneways.  I was hoping Victoria might gain some benefit from walking on the gravel.  I'm beginning to think she's not going to benefit from anything, but she still keeps coming on heat, which suggests she's still feeling reasonably healthy.  I wanted to take the bulls through this area and the simplest way to manage it was to shut the other two heifers further up the lane where they were already grazing and then put an electric tape around Victoria, to stop her getting to the bulls, which she was very keen to do, or vice versa.

Wednesday the 16th

The remains of Cyclone Ita, which was given much less media attention than the previous similar weather event, Cyclone Lusi, ended up having rather more impact than Lusi did.  Here we had some very strong winds and 90mm of rain, which fell at a very satisfactorily constant rate and will have adequately washed all the fertilizer off the grass without washing it away.  The rain started falling at around one o'clock this afternoon and kept on going ...

Thursday the 17th
blown-over chicken cage

Most of the strong gusts were during the night and this was the only casualty I've so far found.  The wind must have caught the lid, opened it so it acted like a sail, then tipped the whole cage over.

blown-over chicken cage

The hen may have saved most of her eggs by being firmly sat upon them - only one of the eight broke.  This morning she was sitting happily on the former wall of her little hutch.

Later I checked the eggs with a torch and it looks like none of them are fertile anyway.  The previous setting of six all hatched into the chicks in the other cage.  The rooster must have been off his game.

cows and calves in a paddock

Now the fert is all washed in I can put cattle back on the flats again.  It's good to get the house cows back into Flat 1, so they're easier to get in at night than they have been from other paddocks.

fallen tree

Another victim of the storm.  That'll be making it a bit tricky for the cattle to cross the stream; but there's another path they take just around the corner, so they'll manage.

Kahikatea berries on the track

The strong gusts have brought down most of the Kahikatea berries.

I fancied that this cow pat looked a bit like a strawberry-iced chocolate cake.  On second thoughts I don't think it looks quite so appetising.  Pretty though.

Kahikatea berries on the track

These are the berries beneath the orange-fruiting tree around in the Bush Flat.

Friday the 18th
flooded stream

A woman who lives about a mile and a half up the valley phoned this afternoon to say the stream was rising rapidly and was about to flow under her house.  I could see rain up in the hills behind us, but here it was dry.  I went down to have a look at the stream and it was running only a little higher than usual from the day's rain so far.

Half an hour later, a roaring noise from outside drew me out for another look, to discover the stream from the back of the farm was nearly coming over the corner, which would put it through our pond.  There was still no rain falling on us, but there must have been a huge downpour out the back somewhere.

In this picture I stood on the road side of our bridge and looked downstream to where we cross the cattle to Jane's place, where the other stream meets this one.  The level there is higher than here (you may be able to see a strip of lighter-coloured water through the trees).

flooded stream

I watched in astonishment as the stream flowed upstream under our bridge.  It's a little hard to see in the picture, but is indicated by the debris gently floating on top of the muddy water on the right, which is moving toward the bridge.  Usually when the stream is this high, it's rushing from the left to the right from this vantage point.  The flood reported from upstream took another ten or twenty minutes to get down here and the whole lot went over the bridge as usual.

flooded stream

I went out on the bike to check on the levels of the two streams which run through the farm and discovered the water wasn't primarily coming from our closest stream (from which we source our drinking water), but from the one which runs into the farm from the Bush Flat reserve.  It had obviously been extremely high through here, much higher than I remember ever seeing it before.

flooded stream

There must have been an almighty downpour up the valley and in the hills behind the farm, none of which fell on us at home.

This is the crossing to the Bush Flat gateway (off to the left).  The electric tape (white in the photo) is being pulled by whatever has caught in it and the pressure of the water flowing down the stream.  When the levels fall, I'll have to come and sort that lot out.  The tape is still there to exclude the cattle from the watercourse at the bottom of the gully and the sump Stephan created to trap silt at the bottom of the hill before the water gently trickles into the stream.  During floods like this, it's all under the water.