The cows are in the House Paddock, doing the annual pasture clean-up round. When I first looked out the window this morning, these two, Eva and her younger sister, Emma 93, were standing head to tail in what looked like a very companionable manner. Most of the time when cattle do this, at least one of them is coming on heat; but in this case it's simply two sisters being close.
It's a nice time of year, once the cows are all settled again after weaning and they rediscover their long-term relationships with each other.
I probably should have thought this through a bit better: both big bulls ended up being able to roar at and threaten each other across the lane this afternoon. There are enough electric wires between them to stop any nonsense though.
Over the last week or so with the continual rain, the pigs have turned their enclosure into a disgusting belly-deep swirl of stinking mud. Proverbially pigs are happy in these conditions, but I'm not so sure. They have at least had their concrete-floored house to go in to, but they really need to get out of the mud.
Stephan spent a couple of hours today preparing an electric-tape-boundaried run for them, as he'd originally planned before he hurt his toe. The pigs quite quietly exited the muddy swill and went out onto the grass under the two Totara trees. They seemed much happier, although still quite contentedly head back through the wet mud when they think food might be provided in the usual place.
No doubt they'll soon turn over all this ground too, but at least it's likely to stay a bit drier under the trees.
They're used to being closely confined, so didn't go charging at the tape fence. I think the boar got one nose-tingle and then stayed away from it.
Counting in Base Goose: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, goose. If there were more, I suppose we'd continue on: goosey-1, goosey-2 etc.
The weaners are a pleasure to move. I am always delighted when I have managed to train them this well - it's a big paddock and the gate isn't quite in the corner and if we spooked them, they'd all bounce off and run in every other direction.
I took them to the yards and gave a copper injection to those which weren't done a few weeks ago.
This perfect toadstool was growing in the big collecting yard, near the loading ramp. These usually grow beneath pine trees. Perhaps they like Oak litter too.
The larger heifer calves have already started cycling; white-faced 746 was on heat today and I suspect Curly's daughter 742 may be close to being so too. The two of them were over 260kg four weeks ago, so it's not surprising.
That's a very satisfactory sight: heifers grazing right up on the higher slopes of the Small Hill Paddock. I suspect that many of the cow mob don't bother to go up there, but if I have heifers which habitually go looking for food around the whole of the paddock, I'll end up with a more efficient grazing herd.
I feel a bit anxious about putting the weaners out into the hilly paddocks for the first time on their own (did they learn from their mothers where the dangerous spots are to avoid them?) but this might be a very positive outcome of doing so: they develop new grazing patterns which they might not have done, had they simply followed and learnt from older animals. Most years the weaners go out with the yearlings, but because we have a TB test coming up and these youngsters don't require testing, I decided to keep them separate.
I didn't think we were going to get all the fert on this year, but Don rang yesterday and said he'd found ground conditions on other properties like ours were still good enough. He was right!
We had closed off this gateway, making it part of the fence; but Stephan wired it so if we wanted to open it up at any time we could and it took him all of five minutes to do so this morning. The tracks up through the other gateways to this paddock are too shaded and slippery to risk at this time of year.
We haven't had fert up on the hill for a while, so despite a bit of breeze blowing some of the dust away, I was delighted to see it going on. Better here than sitting in town until next summer.
Don came back with a second load (brought it out in two three tonne lots, to ensure the trailer wasn't too heavy on the not-dry ground) and I took him out the back. I'd intended it to be spread up the other side of the farm, but it's too steep and greasy up there now, so the north side of the farm got it again - last time two years ago.
There were a lot of these little orange fungi in the grass. I wonder if the cattle eat them and if they do them any harm?
The tractor tracks were obvious on the hill Over the Road. We'll need some just-right rain now to wash the fert off the grass and into the ground, without washing it away.
An Occupational Therapist came to see Stephan today, to develop a programme for getting him fit and back to work. These things are funded by the Accident Compensation Corporation, which is currently funding our replacement income as well. Without that, the last three months would have been far more stress-filled.
When Don came in yesterday he commented that my grass wasn't looking very good. I thought that a bit odd, until I realised he'd only been looking across the flats where the cows have been chewing the paddocks down hard, since this is when the Kikuyu grows the most and needs to be kept under control.
Flat 1 was finished today - lots of the dry bits the cows reject sitting around on top and only the bits growing over cow-pats being left ungrazed to the ground - so the cows were keen to move.
They went up the lane to the Mushroom 1 paddock, where they spent the first ten minutes bellowing and leaping around the tree under which Victoria's decaying body lies. Once they'd got over that excitement, they settled down to graze the grass and were calm and contented again.
We had some hard rain during the night, but fortunately it was in quite short bursts. It will have washed the fert of the grass very well, without creating enough ground-water flow to wash it away anywhere.
I spotted these trespassing piglets in Flat 4 this afternoon, and ran over to frighten them back to where they'd come from. Three little pigs ran all the way home and Stephan followed them later with a phone call to their owners to make sure they knew they'd been out and where they shouldn't be.
Over the last week Stephan has been working on a slight adjustment to the loading race. This is what it looked like before. Behind me are rails and the gate from the main yards working area.
An hour or two each day is about as much work as Stephan can do before he has to put his foot up again, but it's getting better and he's feeling better about being able to do things again.
Stephan dug a new post in at the end of the concrete pad (this is the site of the old woolshed, so there's concrete in places it's no longer particularly required), then extended the rails back this way, making the narrow part of the race longer. It's just a small change, but will make quite a difference to how the animals approach the loading ramp; they'll be less inclined to turn back from it.
The gate is something Stephan's talked of putting in for a long time, to make loading easier, otherwise some animals give us the run-around if others are slow going onto the truck and the rear ones decide to turn and come back.
The last of the sold weaner calves are off on a truck this morning and while waiting for it to arrive, Stephan straightened the battens along some of the Pig Paddock's fence. A tidy frontage is much more pleasing than a ramshackle one!
I prefer that Stephan does the loading these days, having had too many problems with trigger-happy truckies with electric prodders. They won't always listen to me, but they will to a big bloke they think could physically overpower them - not that he would, but that's the nature of this part of the world.
Later in the day I moved the remaining heifer calves (I've kept eleven) to the Pines Paddock. They're a lovely group, with which I'm very pleased.
I usually do a list of the cull cows and the reasons for sending them away at this time of year, but maybe a list of the kept heifers and my reasoning would be useful too.