The week beginning the 2nd of July 2016.
Saturday the 2nd

Cold this morning, our first frost of the winter.  It was bound to happen sometime.

Today I bit a bullet I've been bloody-mindedly ignoring for a couple of years: I sat down to learn what I needed to do to make websites "mobile friendly".  My stubbornness stemmed from the lack of cellphone coverage here which means I've never owned a smart phone with which I might peruse the internet and thus I decided that anyone without a computer monitor could put up with however the site appeared, or not bother, as they wished.  But that's rather a pointless position.  For some years I have also intended to go back and tidy things up, make pages more readable and so on - my selection of colours in some places was a bit extreme, or perhaps monitor rendition of them has changed.

It turned out that the changes I needed to make to the coding behind these pages was really minimal, that other changes I'd adopted in 2013 enabled the addition of a few lines of code and now, if you're viewing the site on a mobile device of some kind, it should work a lot better than it did before, back to some time in 2013.

Before that date the reworking will be a little more involved, because of my first study of style-sheets had not taken me quite far enough.  Further back than that the task becomes quite involved, although during this week I managed to change the whole of 2005 and a bit of 2006.  Work continues ...

I have concluded that if I do not embark on this project, the website may eventually become unreadable by most devices and having been threatened by Google (a general threat, not just to me) that they would cease indexing non-mobile-friendly websites a year or two ago, I decided it was time to change my mind!

Besides all that, some of my income-gathering work involves building websites for other people and I definitely needed to improve my skill so I can upgrade those websites I've already built as well as ensuring any future sites work appropriately!

Angus cows

Time for the cow mob to move from the two-thirds section of Over the Road to the smaller part, where the grass is probably more out of control than it was in the other bit.  There's quite a lot of feed and the cows very happily climbed, eating all the way, up the hillside.

Angus cows

I kept calling, waiting for the last few who'd not come down.  It's entertaining watching them come down the hill so fast, aware they're missing out on something good.

Sunday the 3rd

Another frost.  They're cold but not the worst we've seen in recent years.  I doubt those strawberry plants will look very healthy after this assault.

cut firewood

On this fine, still, cool day, Stephan went out to carry on cutting scrub in the Middle Back.

I went out in the early afternoon to see how he was getting on (I haven't looked since he started this particular job) and was startled to see so much cleared hillside.  I tend not to have many good "before" photos of places like this because there were so many trees, it was quite hard to get pictures with depth - and dark under the trees too, making it tricky.

cutting trees

The previous helmet (yellow), having shown its worth in protecting Stephan's head from a falling branch the other week, then fell apart - not the helmet itself but the attached ear-muffs were no longer at their best.  We prioritise safety gear for this sort of work so lack of income notwithstanding, Stephan went to the Stihl Shop and bought a new, superior helmet.  He says the face visor is great.

old fence

This antique fence will eventually go, for all that it may be a historical artefact.  The Puriri posts would have been hewn from felled trees, carried here on strong backs (or perhaps dragged using horses), the Totara battens similarly formed by hand from trees which grew here.  The fence line would of course have been clear, the Totara having grown up through the wires over some of the many years since, when insufficient maintenance was done to ensure they did not do so.  Now though, the trees are what keeps the fence standing and the wires tight, since most of the posts are so old they've broken off at ground level.  Stephan thinks the fence may be 70 to 80 years old.

On that note, Wally Thompson died today at 90 and when Stephan attended the funeral (on Friday), he discovered that Wally was born in the old house out the front by the road, where Muriel, Patrick and Stephan used to live.  This fence could have been built by his father.


This is Flat 4, looking across to the neighbour's pasture.  I have long felt unhappy about the fertility of Flat 4 and a couple of years ago did some soil and pasture tests to try and find out why half of it looked better than the rest.  Having applied a heavy dressing of fertilizer over the less fertile part, I sowed it with the rye/clover mix this year and right now it's looking rather good - especially compared with next door.  The differences between here and there are in fertility and pasture management.

Monday the 4th
low cloud

The clouds were right down low over the hills this morning.

Angus cattle

After setting out an electric tape in Flat 4, I brought the yearlings from Flat 2 to graze it for the first time since sowing.

Angus heifer

Emergency's daughter (who really needs a name of her own) has always been noticeably hairy and is even more so now in her winter coat.

Angus heifer

Tuesday the 5th
spider web

This spider web was here yesterday in the misty morning as well and is still almost perfectly intact.


While I was shifting the electric tape for the yearlings, Stephan appeared to address a problem about which I've been doing some serious swearing: I keep getting nasty shocks off the steel gates, particularly in wet weather.  The solution is to run a piece of No.8 as an earth wire down the strainer post, stapled to ensure contact with the anchor wires of the electric fence and shoved as far into the ground as one can get it.  The shocks from the gates occur not because of direct feed from the fence, but induction through the end wires.  Earthing those takes nothing from the fence power but will certainly make my working life a great deal calmer.

Then he went home and started installing a bath on the deck, as you do.

native bush

Walking along behind my pregnant heifers this afternoon, I am quite sure I heard cicadas singing over in the Bush Block in the warm sunshine.  The noise did not go on for long but cicada singing is an unmistakeable noise.  It's also an alarming sort of thing to be hearing in early July!  This has been a very odd season.

Kanuka seedlings

I walked over to the bush hoping to hear the insects again but the temperature must have changed and they were now silent.  While there though, I did a bit of scrub clearing, pulling all these tiny Kanuka seedlings from the soil while it's damp and they're small enough that it's no different from garden weeding.  This regrowth happens all over the farm on areas where the soil is less fertile than down on the flats.  Left to grow, this little bank would soon look no different from the area Stephan has been clearing out in the Middle Back.  My primary concern just here though is that this is where many orchid plants grow and they won't bloom if there's too much shade.

That little bank is behind the trees in the photo below.

frost damage

The two recent frosts have caused some serious grass damage.  I don't ever recall seeing grass turned a dark brown by the frost.  Kikuyu usually bleaches out to a light cream/white in the days following a freezing event.

Wednesday the 6th
Angus cows

The twins, together on the hill Over the Road.


Just to the left of them this little spot, presumably sheltered from the winds (the hill behind me and big trees to my left) in a slight hollow and a comfortable overnight resting place for one of the cows.

Kikuyu grass

This is poorly-managed Kikuyu pasture.  It's tough stuff to manage, since grazing all of its rapid autumn growth would require many more animals than one could then carry through the winter.  So we sacrifice a bit of quality and get the cows to clean it up as best they can.  In a couple or three weeks I'll bring them back here and they'll eat a bit more of the tough stolon material along with the leaf matter it will by then have grown.  They also tread it into the ground and the bits in contact with the soil grow roots and so it does get restored to productive pasture over time.

Angus cows

There's something about cows on the skyline I really like.  It's better if there's enough light to actually see some of their features but often, with black cows, extra light makes no difference so it still works as a picture.  We had come down the hill and climbed over the gate and out on to the road, ready to walk home that way.

native orchid plants

On the ledge of clay left as part of the corner remodelling work done in 2012, I spotted a couple of healthy-looking Sun Orchid plants.  And I'm pretty sure that's an ancient piece of Puriri from which they're growing.  Puriri would appear to host the fungi which makes it possible for Orchids to grow, since it is on Puriri that I have found most of them around our farm.


Looks like I need another book in my reference library: mosses.  I've no idea what this is, just thought it particularly attractive.  It grows on an almost-vertical part of the clay bank.

Titoki trunk

Around the corner, still on the bank beneath our hill paddock, I looked up and identified Titoki foliage and this is that tree's interesting trunk and roots.

Ti Ngahere

This lone Ti Ngahere was what I was particularly searching for, having discovered it in 2012.


Here's a tree I'm pretty sure is a Coprosma but I cannot figure out which one.  There's another just up the drain, in the background.  I'll have to get better pictures, close-ups of the leaves and try again.


Having given up on television we now dine at our table each night and as we sit down, Floss gets very excited, repeatedly saying "hello" until we give her a bit of our dinner.  (My reading on such birds tells me this is an allowable addition to her regular seed-based diet.)  Tonight Stephan gave her a dish of her own and I pulled her perch near to the table so she could join us.  I'd never have let a cat dine at table and find the presence of dogs anywhere near my food repellent but a bird seems somewhat different for some reason.  It turns out she really likes rice.  Spaghetti is also a favourite: she holds the end of a long piece between her left toes and gradually pulls it through her foot as she eats the end.  I'm not entirely sure this kind of diet would be good for her in more than very small quantities, so it is only a nod to inclusion in the society of dinner.

Thursday the 7th

I went over to Taipa for a Rural Women mid-winter lunch.  As an individual member of RWNZ (not a member of a branch) I don't usually go to their meetings or do much more than attend these sorts of gatherings if I'm invited.  Lunch was at the Taipa Resort, now named something else I can't remember but as lunch was entirely forgettable, it hardly needs a link.  Last time we went there was for cousin Christina's 50th birthday and obviously things have not really improved.  Since I don't generally have the opportunity to eat fish, I chose the "fish of the day", advertised as locally caught.  Being at Taipa, sitting with the sea just behind me, I imagined a fish from Doubtless Bay or just beyond its heads and didn't think to ask what the fish was, until after it was served: an almost tasteless, somewhat flaccid piece of very white flesh.  It wasn't unpleasant, just a sad waste of some creature's life.  I asked the waiter what it was the next time she passed; Ling, she said, to which someone across the table commented, "hardly local!".  It turns out she was quite right, Ling being caught in deep waters down around the South Island which nobody here would consider local.  It's also described as tasty, which might suggest the fish served wasn't even fresh.

Poor service, inaccurate menus ... whatever happened to pride in delivery of a great experience?

Happy Birthday Website, 15 years old today!

Friday the 8th

Ella was flown up to Auckland from Whakatane this morning and then Lois drove her up to visit us.  Waiting for them we spent the day rearranging the living room, since everything was still arranged in favour of the position of the TV, which is no longer there.  I even cleaned the floor!

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