Diggers Valley: 12 July 2014.
The week beginning the 12th of July 2014.
Saturday the 12th
Angus cattle

Still, sunny afternoons are much enjoyed by the cattle in winter, especially after rain.  Just under 180mm (over seven inches) fell during the last four days.


I found someone locally with some spare Budgerigars and this afternoon we took a short drive to select one.  Here is our new resident, who has a piercing chirp.  Her healthy sleekness makes Eco look particularly dishevelled.

I've been trying to think of a name.  Daffodils are yellow on top and green at the bottom, but I've also been seeing a lot of gardens planted with yellow-flowering Polyanthus, and I think that would be a good name for a small parrot-like bird.

Sunday the 13th
Angus cattle

This has been a kind winter so far.  Being able to move the yearling heifers into this much grass in mid-July is an uncommon treat.

Angus cattle on a hillside

The heifers Over the Road are also happily grazing, although nearly due for a move.  122 looked like I'd given her a tremendous fright when I walked up there; I wonder if there are sometimes dogs wandering around our hillside, upsetting the cattle and making them unusually nervous?  I can't see the whole paddock most of the time and there are ongoing problems with uncontrolled dogs in this neighbourhood.

Monday the 14th
Angus cattle

We brought the heifers down off the hill Over the Road and then I led them out to the PW.  Stephan appeared behind them as I walked, ensuring they all came along together, rather than dawdling in the lanes.

As she often does, Gem 698 led the way.


There's a huge slip on one of the hills which must be part of a property on Te Rore Road.  That's an enormous amount of soil to displace.  Zooming in on the photo, it looks as if more of the hillside could slip to the right.


Stephan's foot continues to improve, although usually remains slightly swollen.  His recovery plan (set up by the Occupational and Physio therapists) has him returning to his trapping work in three weeks from now.

Tuesday the 15th
fungi on cow pat

I was setting up the yards ready for the cows this morning and noticed a cow-pat with little orange fungi growing.  Beauty in the midst of refuse and decay.

You can see how much of the plant matter eaten by the cattle doesn't get digested.  The grassy portions of this cow-pat are particularly obvious after the finer matter has been washed away by so much recent rain.

Puriri tree trunk

This is the Puriri tree which grows beside the driveway near the yards.  The big trees often have these wrinkles where large branches grow out from the trunk, as if the branches have become too heavy and the tree has relaxed a little.  As there are wrinkles in other directions too, it's probably not the result of such a fanciful process at all.

Angus cows

I gave the cows their Copper injection early this afternoon.  Some of them are showing mild signs of pigment loss in their hair, which is an indicator of Copper deficiency, but can also simply be colour loss in old hair which is weathered.  As they've not had copper since just before weaning, they're well due for one now.


Everything looks delightfully green again now, after the earlier frosts bleached and killed much of the grass.  The temperatures in the last six weeks have been very mild.

Tonight we went to the public meeting of the Internet Mana Party at Te Ahu Centre in town.  You might have gathered that we're unlikely to be fans of the conservative side of the political spectrum and have interestedly followed the radically left-wing Mana Party's activities in and out of Parliament over the last few years.  But recently they've formed an alliance which I cannot fathom at all, with a very rich individual whose politics seem unlikely to align with theirs, but who is funding their campaign.  This evening we went to see if we could understand it better by listening to their first public meeting of the election season.  I still support what the Mana Movement has to say about inequality, poverty and affirmative action to address those issues, but I came away feeling slightly grubby, having been subjected to several overly long speeches by a megalomaniac m/billionaire.

This election is shaping up to be extremely interesting, with several small parties now in the mix and people really getting to grips with strategic campaigning and voting to shape the next Parliament.

Wednesday the 16th

I have a nasty feeling I missed Zella and Imagen last time I did the copper injections.  I'm generally very careful about writing things in my notebook, knowing how unreliable my memory is, but also couldn't risk giving them a double dose if they'd actually already had one and I'd just forgotten to write it down.

Imagen's in great condition, having weaned her calf and then had access to the extra feed Zella gets as the milking cow.  Zella's been gradually losing a bit of condition though, so we'll stop milking her soon.  She's not due to calve until well into November (since I missed her return heat after the first insemination) so we could theoretically carry on milking her on into late August; but it's hard to feed the cows through August and as she's already losing weight, I'd rather not continue that stress on her.


After so much rain lately, I was surprised to see how firm the ground is when the cows had walked into a new paddock.

Angus heifers

701, reconfirming her "empty" status.  She was on or coming on heat, trying one of the younger heifers, who quickly moved out of her way.  I am quite disappointed she's no longer in calf, but these things happen from time to time.

Ella arrived on the plane this evening, for a week's holiday with us.

Thursday the 17th
walking the milking cow to the shed

Ella and Stephan bringing Zella in to be milked.  We still get about nine litres each morning, which is apparently not very much for a dairy cow but more than adequate to our needs.  When Stephan doesn't make cheese, I now freeze milk for use when Zella is not being milked.

roadside bank

Surprisingly the corner out on the road is still (sort of) intact.  I thought it entirely likely it would have slumped in the recent heavy rains.  A huge chunk appears to be just sitting there, with a large gap behind it, so it will come down sometime, no doubt.

R3 pregnant heifer

Endberly is holding condition, not really putting much on, but she's healthy enough.  It's always hard to keep these R3 heifers in good nick, after they wean their first calves and get pregnant for the second time.  The good ones gradually pick up condition over the next year, while they rear their second calves and get pregnant for the third time.  If they do all that well, they're generally reliably productive for the rest of their lives.

building a kitchen cabinet

Stephan and Ella, working on a new kitchen unit.  It's not part of the permanent upgrade Stephan has been planning for years, but a temporary amendment to allow a gas stove-top to be installed, since most of the elements on our latest recycled stove have ceased working properly.

Eco the Budgerigar began singing again this afternoon, for the first time since his new companion joined him.  Polyanthus continues to ignore him.

Friday the 18th
the selfie

The "selfie"; I despair.

Ella wanted to send pictures of herself with ice from the top of a bucket of water (a heavy frost this morning) to all her friends at home, where no doubt there are far heavier frosts this morning.

But then in a library book I recently brought home, The Best of PUNCH Cartoons, I found a 1922 cartoon by Ernest Howard Shepard depicting a mother turning to address her young daughter who was preening in front of a mirror. Mother: 'Jean, darling, you mustn't be vain. Nobody will like you.' Jean: 'Oh, won't they? Well, I shall.'
There are no new problems.

frosty morning

It was cold this morning.  This will wreck all that lovely green grass again.


Later on in the lovely sunny afternoon, Ella wanted to swim and Kerehoma was keen to join in.  Elizabeth, William, Sarah and the two boys came out for the afternoon and evening, which was nice for Ella, meeting and spending time with some of the cousins she'd not yet met.

We (Sarah and I) were instructed to video Ella for the current "ice challenge" craze doing the rounds on the internet.  Somehow it raises money for some good cause.  Not being a trend follower, I'm cultivating my blissful ignorance.

walking in the bush

Afterwards we took the little boys for an exploratory walk through the nearest reserve area.  The trees are so lovely.

three children

Our visitors had brought contributions to a meal we then shared and the children afterwards entertained themselves with their various electronic devices.  It keeps them very quiet ... unless there's a fight over who's got which device.