I moved the cows and calves so Stephan could remove some fencing along the bottom of the PW and the other side of the lane, but I only counted 70 animals out of the gate. It's easy to miss a calf in that many, so I went and did a roll-check to find out if anyone was really missing.
137 started calling from the top of the PW before I'd finished looking for him in the new paddock and Stephan went off to fetch him, so he wouldn't come down and have to cross loose wires.
William came out to help Stephan cut some Kanuka trees where one of the streamside fences needs to go, timber which will make very good firewood in a couple of years.
Looking down into a lovely little area I like to walk through, which is now within the riparian reserve on the north side of the Back Barn stream. The tree canopy is so well established that there wasn't much point including it in the paddock area, since it grows little grass.
We've had to adopt a "scorched earth" policy on most of the tracks because of the number of strange weeds which came in with the Bellingham Quarry lime rock. I spoke with one of the owners about it but he was very dismissive about the extra cost and bother we've had to go to because they don't apply enough weed control around their quarry. I understand that the Regional Council is supposed to police weed control in those areas (because from that one source, a new weed could be spread far and wide on farm tracks and public roads), but they didn't seem overly exercised by the problem either.
Sadly Stephan had a bit of an over-spray problem and caught a few little Cabbage Tree seedlings inside the fence. I'd been watching these trees with great pleasure, as they grew up through the grass from their secret germination where birds had dropped the seeds.
This is one of those "can't make an omelette without breaking eggs" situations: we have to make a bit of a mess in some of the crossings to make long-term improvements. If we get this bit right, the crossing will remain flat and the gravel which we'll eventually drag up each side will stay where it's put and vehicles and animals will be able to pass through the stream without depositing a lot of soil in the water.
The wires of the fences on the other side (to the right is the PW, on the left, the other half of the Swamp paddock) were all lying on the ground, awaiting realignment as part of the stream fencing job.
I'd moved the cattle from the Back Barn across the stream into the new Spring paddock and had to drag Stephan away from the fencing to install a trough so the cattle would have water.
We decided that putting the trough down near the gate, where the cattle would be used to coming for water out of the stream, would be the best plan and it was not too far from where one of the water pipes runs along the southern edge of the paddock on its way out to the Middle Back. Stephan used the back blade to dig a trench for the pipe to go underground here, then we lay it along the ground inside the new fence down to the trough.
Emergency was the first cow down from the hill looking for water and she appeared a bit uncertain about the sudden appearance of the trough.
I've always thought they recognise the black plastic water source, but I wonder if they are more spatially oriented, knowing where each trough is, rather than what one looks like in other contexts?
The crossing between the Back Barn and Spring paddocks will require a load of metal but I'm hesitant about getting a load directly from the quarry because if it's full of weed seeds, they'll end up all the way downstream and we'll have a hell of a job finding and controlling them! We might have to get a couple of piles delivered and then bring it out by tractor bucket after some time has passed and any seeds have already germinated and been removed.
Here's that muddy crossing again from the other side. There was a silly corner in on the left where the fence at the bottom of the PW wasn't close enough to the track and stream, where calves always ended up getting lost when they should have followed their mothers through the crossing. The strainer in the picture now brings that fence down to the edge of the track, which makes more sense and should make moving cows and little calves much easier next year.
The tractor in the picture above would be sitting in the middle of this picture, through the trees. This is part of the Swamp Paddock; the trees Stephan and William were cutting on Saturday were in that group along the stream bank.
This eroded track in to the stream is at the very left of the photo above. Fencing the streams will prevent this sort of damage to the banks. We'll have to put some rocks and soil back in here so the calves can't use this as a way to get under the fence when it is built.
758's castration scar is now healing nicely, after the scrotum fell off last week. The area is still a bit lumpy, but some of that will be fat, in this well-fed calf.
The flaky stuff is probably the remains of a bit of pus and old skin. He and his mother probably didn't lick this area when it was sore with the dried scrotum still attached.
It's a nasty sort of thing to do to an animal, if you think about it, which sometimes I do. Mostly I just get on with the things which are necessary and try to cause as little distress as possible. Generally, after a couple of days of firstly pain, then discomfort, the castration by rubber ring doesn't appear to affect the behaviour of the calves very much. Castration is a very necessary management tool.
775 was the first calf born this season, to heifer 725 and she's turning out to be a really quiet little animal, which is one characteristic which earns an animal a lot of "stay on the farm" credits.
This is 743, the daughter of last year's two-year-old heifer 703 and she has surprised me with her good growth to mating size and continues to improve in appearance.
She's the only Kessler's Frontman calf I kept from last year, because they didn't look very impressive by weaning; but she must have just kept on growing all through the winter. There are three more heifers by that same bull this year and I don't think they look that great yet, but based on 743's progress, I'll look forward to seeing how they develop over the next year.
White-faced 517 (left) gave birth to 601, who wasn't a very good cow in the end, because she had horrible feet and was a carrier of the genetic defect Neuropathic Hydrocephalus, inherited from her sire. But 601's daughter is lovely 714, just moving to lie down in this picture. She's turning out to be a very good little cow. Her calves grow very well - chunky 768 on the right is her son this year and last season's daughter is yearling 749 who is growing into a fine young animal, now in calf I hope.
I think these two were edible mushrooms, but wasn't game to try them. They looked and smelled right, but they were growing in an unusual location for field mushrooms, under the trees near the first stream crossing along the main track.
Stephan completed the fencing along the stream in the Swamp Paddock, which is now divided by the stream into north and south. More names needed: the north bit will remain the Swamp Paddock, since the swamp is there, but we haven't worked out what to do about the other bit, which will now have its fence built along the other side of the stream.
517, pictured above, has this little growth on her eye. White-faced cows are prone to cancer-eye, which will eventually make them unacceptable at the meat works and unfit for human consumption. I don't know if that is what this is, but will have to find out. She's a great cow, now nearly ten years old.
Calves feed in the most inconvenient places sometimes but they don't seem to care. It's hard to really get a sense of the angle at which 759 was standing from the picture (I was above them on the slope in the Middle Back), but he had to make constant adjustments as he slid down the hill too far under his mother.
Dexie's son 137 is looking good. His rear feet are up the hill a bit, so he looks impressively tall against his mother from this angle.
Stephan went up to check the orchard and came back with a plum! I can't remember which tree he said it was from and should have made a note, since it's the first one. We probably ought to have saved such bounty to share with Elizabeth and William, but we thought it might go off by the time we see them, so we ate it. It was delicious!