Nephew Jonathan and Char-Lien came out for a farm walk. Some kids, big and little, like fighting thistles with sticks.
This is the north-eastern corner of the back of the farm, with the big pine plantation up the hill to the left and the stream off over the edge straight ahead. Behind me is the slope up to the back of the Spring paddock.
Jonathan and Stephan carried on across the Middle Back and down through the Big Back North paddocks while Char-Lien and I went back and drove around the bottom to meet them and check on Ida 145, who's now up to day 275 of pregnancy.
As we were about to turn right into the Mushroom lane, I noticed the shadows on the new Mushroom 1 fence, reminding me of that other marvellous example I saw on my way to Auckland in 2009. New fences are lovely.
Ida 145 being my last two-year-old first-time calver, I got up and checked on her during the night, riding out on the bike at 2.10 and then getting up for a 6.30 check just after dawn.
As I rode past the Windmill paddock at 6.30, the cows and calves had all just got up for the breakfast feed.
I checked on 145 at three-hourly intervals and, just after noon, found her like this, with a couple of feet and a nose bulge already visible.
Less than fifteen minutes later the calf was out; a very easy birth for a heifer mother.
It's such a relief when all the two-year-olds are successfully calved, since they are the most likely to have difficulty. Ida 145 was the next up in size from little 146 (who we had to help), so an easy birth for her is a lovely thing to see.
The calf is a bull and as Ida is an AM carrier, unless he shows great promise over the next few weeks, he'll become a steer. If he looks likely to grow up to be a very good bull (he'd have to be a lovely shape, grow fast and have an excellent temperament), it would be worth the expense of sending his tail hairs away for testing to see whether or not he has inherited the AM gene. Otherwise, as a steer, it won't matter and he'll make great beef.
Fancy 126's daughter, learning about water and drinking.
This year's daughter is, thankfully, vastly quieter than her sister, 156, last year. 156 has reportedly calmed down quite a lot since she left our farm. Sometimes I wonder if I'm as good at stock handling as I think I am. Maybe I upset them more than I know. My cattle are terrible at answering anonymous handling surveys.
I do not recall the Kahikatea trees being so coloured by pollen in any previous springtime. They are the conical trees with the brown tinge. Those which are their ordinary green are presumably the female trees. They go spectacularly reddy-brown in the autumn when the trees are covered in the little red or orange berries.
701's daughter, on the run for the first time in her life (second from the left). Five days after we started a course of antibiotics, she's obviously feeling a great deal more comfortable and galloped across the House paddock with the other calves this evening.
The watercress which grows in the garden waterfall (the seed comes down with the water from far up in the bush) eventually grows so thickly that it blocks the water's flow through the channel which takes it on down to the big pond. So today Stephan attacked it, pulling it all out, along with the dreadful buttercup plants which root so deeply they're difficult to remove.
The cress is past its best for eating, now that it is flowering.
Little calf didn't want to be alone with his white markings, so tried to paint someone else?
Curly's sore teat, looking worse than last week but actually getting better. Last time I saw her calf feeding she was on this side, which would mean her teeth weren't cutting into the teat where these cracks or cuts are.
Just before eight this morning we went up the road to shift the non-pregnant cattle across to the hill Over the Road. It was cold, so there's lots of breathing steam and a vehicle had just gone past, kicking up dust from the road. Stephan is just visible across the road in the other gateway, opening the gap for the cattle. Installing a gate there instead of the bit of fence he has to keep undoing, is becoming more pressing, now we're using this small paddock more often again.
Grass is short everywhere on the flats where the cows and calves are still grazing. I've spread them out as little set-stocked groups to try and provide enough feed until we start tagging and then moving them further out across the farm.
This morning we moved the four pairs from the House paddock because the ewes are due to lamb in the next week and I want them near enough to watch carefully and often, so they need to come in here.
The ewes are fat and have slightly more wool than I'd prefer. The first ewe is due on the 3rd, based on past lambings, and the other two on the 10th, based on the gestations of their mothers.
When cows approach calving, some of them get extremely loose around their nether regions and this extra little fold of soft skin down the inside of Demelza's tail is part of that effect. The skin becomes all soft and feels as if there's more of it.
Here is a pollen-covered Kahikatea tree. The browner ones have older, more-mature pollen, I think, but it is this lighter colour when first produced.
It is unusually abundant this season.
701's daughter looked terribly lame again yesterday. I watched her several times during the day and concluded that she had over-done running around when she suddenly felt better the other day, and made herself all sore again.
Our first check this morning found the Young Ewe (she's the oldest of our three now, but that was always her name) with this unfortunate lamb's head protruding from her vulva.
We took them to the yards, turned her over, and with lots of lube on my hand I had to gently push the lamb back a bit, then find a shoulder to start working a forelimb up and out of the ewe, to enable the birth of the lamb. They can't be born with the legs back because that position makes the shoulders too wide. Sadly we were too late for the dead lamb. It had no siblings, being a large, single ram.
We left the sheep grazing near the yards so Young Ewe could remain with her lamb for a while. When they went back to the paddock we took the dead lamb there for her, to where she kept returning, the place she'd originally selected to give birth.
Not a great start to our long-awaited lambing.
We tagged and weighed the first four calves this morning, giving the little lame calf (now 810) her last antibiotic injection before sending them quietly out to the Tank paddock, so they're not too far away for ongoing checks.
The three smaller calves of this group now weigh around 60kg.