Moving the fat cow mob today from the Middle Back to the Route 356 metal track in the PW, I noticed some very tender feet. Lime rock is reasonably 'soft' on their feet but at this time of year, in such ongoing wet conditions, the cows' feet get quite soft and so they don't cope with stones nearly as well as they do in the summer. They'll be alright, just need to be allowed to take their own time to avoid causing troublesome bruising.
In the afternoon Stephan and I did something we'd planned to do during my birthday last week and worked to tidy out and reorganise my greenhouse. Stephan sorted the pots I'd been firing in under the benches when I couldn't find anywhere else to put them, threw out the broken and useless ones and piled up spares to offer to other people. He built some new storage shelves for the rest and then removed a couple of rotten benches and replaced them with better ones, upon which I placed plants as I repotted them.
I found some germinated Kowhai seeds I'd forgotten about - fortunately just in time to protect them from further assault by snails, which killed the last seedlings I grew. I suspect this has been a fantastic season for snails and slugs, with all the water about.
I brought the thin cow mob in and quietly gave them all a copper injection, then stood stroking them for a while in the roundabout afterwards.
Eva at the back was licking Queenly 107's ear, perhaps commiserating about being the thinnest of the thin cows.
A pinch in feed takes about six weeks to show in cow condition so I'm not expecting them to look any better than this before calving but I must stop them losing any more weight. I drenched this lot a month ago, to try and help but we really need the rain to stop and the grass to have a chance to grow.
I let the fat cows chew out the little (fenced) riverbank area beside the lane along the bottom of Mushroom 1, before bringing them in for their injections too.
I like the idea of all that copper circulating, going into those little calf bodies in their last weeks of gestation, hoping it'll make them calm when they're born.
That little patch of white in the top centre is a Clematis vine in flower. It's the first I've noticed around the farm this year, although I saw some flowering brilliantly down at Kate and Geoff's place a couple of weeks ago.
This is a pretty hopeless photograph against the light but it shows the leaves of the Clematis vine growing near the Back Barn gate, where it has grown across from its original tree and into the spreading branches of a larger, neighbouring Totara. There are a few flowers blooming but they're not the frothy mass of a long-established, large plant. Hopefully here in this reserve area, it will have the opportunity to become one of those.
This evening I gave Zella and Demelza their first lot of Magnesium Oxide in molasses. Zella has turned into a terrible bully, pushing Demelza off her bin just as she did to her mother, Imagen.
Zella's about ten days away from calving and Demelza perhaps 14.
It's getting harder and harder to feed the cows, so I pulled the ten-cow thin mob out of the Pines and split them in half, five into Mushroom 1 which had some lovely grass (on still too-soft mud) and Mushroom 2, not nearly as much grass but next door so they can spend a night near but separate from each other before being moved further away.
Rain during the day had brought the streams up again, fortunately not too high here now but nearly over the bridge again at home earlier on.
Once the water level had dropped we went to move the thin/pregnant heifer mob from the Road Flat back across the stream to Flat 4. It was still deep enough to go over my gumboots but not too deep for the cattle, as it would have been during yesterday. I would have preferred to move them then, had I been able to, before they ran out of grass!
We walked up Over the Road to check the youngsters and I took Stephan across to inspect the hole in the hill. There's quite a bit of water trickling through it but it's hard to know whether it's surface run-off or from deeper underneath.
We got Zella and Demelza in for their copper injections and I watched Zella as she walked off down the driveway, with an extraordinary-shaped calf bulge on her right side. I wasn't close enough to take a picture and it must have rearranged itself as she walked, back into a more normal position.
Demelza is so slow in the yards that I jabbed the injector gun at her neck as she stood in the bottom yard; she barely flinched. I tried the same with Zella but she's a different story. She had to go up the race. It's not something I'd try with any but the quietest cows but figured it would save Demelza the effort of going all the way up to the race.
I went out to shut the gate between the Middle Back and Spring paddocks, then came up and over the Spring hill to see what the paddock looks like before the heifer mob comes in here: hoof holes all down the hill but there's been a little growth. It'll have to do.
The five cows from Mushroom 2 on their way along the lane (you've seen this picture before). There is a bald spot on Gem's left shoulder, which I suspect is the result of a knock during the thunderstorm. There are a few such spots showing now.
We put Zella and Demelza back up where the pig lived and the sheep usually stay. There's some nice grass there and it will give Flat 1 a rest. I brought them back to the House paddock for the night though. Demelza's udder doesn't always get really big before calving now she's older and I would not like her to surprise me with early twins or something - not that that's particularly likely when carrying that much condition still.
787, last again.
Look at that blue bit of sky. Even on the fine days it still rains.
I took five containers and then molasses and Magnesium out to the cows in Mushroom 1. It was a struggle to get across the paddock with the bins, through ankle-deep sludge.
Gina took some time to decide whether or not she liked the new taste. She will, then she'll be hooked, just like the others.
The other four cows were up and grazing and eventually I spotted Eva sitting under a tree (through binoculars from the house). I went out to check on her, since this sort of behaviour is slightly concerning. She seemed quite happy and alert and for all I know, she may only just have gone to sit down.
I sludged my way back across the paddock to one of the big Puriri and picked her an armful of leaves, for which she got up very ably as I walked toward her. Probably fine then.
I am a little suspicious of the other possible reason for sudden weight loss in a pregnant cow (and I'm always thinking somebody will do this and am usually wrong) and that's the presence of twins. If that's the case, we'll probably all be wrong with our calving date guesses.
Out standing in his field.
Eva and her friends were passing, on their way to Flat 2, so the bulls came down to greet them.
And again, let us have a twins guessing competition too. This year they are in calf to different bulls: Gem 698 was inseminated on 11 January and Meg 699 was with the bull on 12 January.