There was distressed mooing in Flat 1 late this morning from 773, whose daughter had somehow got into Flat 2.
I drafted 773 out of Flat 1 and up the lane and Stephan arrived to help me get her and her calf back in again when I'd reunited them. The calf is the one furthest to the right in this picture. I opened the Flat 2 gate, stretched a spring gate across the opening so the cow wouldn't go in but the calf could get out.
Imogen 155's calf had settled in the little area where she was born, for her three days of "lying in"; Imogen seemed unwilling to move away from her and I worried she would need water. Last evening I carried a five litre container on the back of the bike, repeatedly returning to the nearest trough to fill it again.
I did the same today and then watched as Imogen scratched her nose on the corner of the container, then deliberately overturned it. She did look a bit surprised to see all the water soaking away into the ground. That's it, she can go and get her own.
The gates are open for her to walk along the lane to the Mushroom 1 trough, so presumably she'll go when she's thirsty enough. And there's not much grass here.
Later in the day I found her away down along the Flat 4 lane (the lane in the first picture), grazing. I checked on her calf and watched her stand up and stretch, then move a little further away into the long grass in the reserve area, where she settled down to sleep again. They seem to know to just stay where they are and remain hidden until their mothers return for them.
This is going to be a fabulous season for flax flowers! We'll be mobbed by Tui, as they come to feed on the nectar.
This will not do! For some reason Zella's calf is stealing milk from 807.
Sometimes first-time heifers aren't very good at noticing calves other than their own feeding and don't kick them off. 807's calf looks to be growing nicely and she's in lovely condition but she might struggle if this needless behaviour continues.
Stephan walked out and made the calf go away and find Zella and he settled in for a feed from her.
The last two cows were still in the lanes this afternoon when I noticed 787 looking like she might be in early labour. I gently prompted Ida 145, 775 and their two calves to leave 5d and join 729 and her calf in Mushroom 1, leaving 5d free for 787 and 746.
At 7pm I came back out to check 787 and found her with two legs and a calf tongue protruding from her rear.
The bull calf was born within a few minutes.
787 started shoving him around and here had shoved his back end over so that now his neck was bent around! Silly young cow. He eventually jiggled himself about until he was straight again.
This calf had reached day 275 of gestation, born five days earlier than last year's calf.
Now only one left to calve.
Zella often does this at the end of milking. She pushes her nose hard against the rounded gate-staple and then snorts violently, sending globs of snot and spray for several metres out behind her. It pays to be aware she's doing it and stand clear!
Zella, 807 and their calves mainly inhabit the House paddock, occasionally also grazing the Pig paddock by the yards. I erected some tape around sections of the House paddock last week, so some of the pasture could grow a little longer.
We've reached that time in the spring when the Parsley Dropwort suddenly shoots away and it is only worth grazing when it's young and soft, so it's already time to let them have this saved section.
There are lots of little rabbits appearing all around the flats. They rarely reach problematic numbers here, so are entertaining, not annoying to see around the place. This one sits outside the kitchen window, eating plant flower stems like children eat spaghetti. Occasionally I've seen it lying on its side seeming to have a dust bath like the chickens do, flipping itself over on the ground.
We've concluded that if you have an unkempt lawn (don't mow it to look like a bowling green), rabbits will stay out of your vegetable and flower gardens. Neighbour Jane has regularly-shaved lawns and complains bitterly that rabbits eat her garden plants.
Many weeks ago I took my Ship's Clock to Auckland and left it with Jude to arrange for a nice man to overhaul it, since it had stopped working. He rang on the afternoon we were helping 807 calve, to check that I approved the proposed work and his price and said that he would likely be up north in November and could probably bring it back to me.
This morning on the phone I invited him (and I presumed his partner) to lunch and, standing beside Floss's cage at the moment she screeched, missed an important part of his reply but we went ahead and prepared to host the two of them whenever they arrived.
They duly came and I watched in surprise as five smiling people emerged from their small vehicle. At first they said they couldn't possibly impose upon us for lunch since there were so many of them but we assured them there would be plenty for all of us.
They were the nicest of guests, all pleased to be pleased and so interesting to talk with.
In the picture are Glo, Jean, Stephan, Robert (the clock man), Gloria and Paul. Paul and Jean are Robert's cousins, visiting from afar and they'd all come north to stay with Glo, who was house-sitting for someone near Kerikeri.
And so the blank space on our wall is restored to its proper order.
So much is this clock and its chimes part of our lives that we didn't notice the bells for the first hour and had to stop at two and listen, to make sure it chimed.
Robert said he was entirely used to it too, it having been ticking away beside where he works for the last month, since he replaced its worn bearings and restored it to working order.
Stephan has been doing more yards site preparation, getting ready to have some base gravel spread.
Calves grow so quickly. Endberly's pretty daughter is still lovely.
I couldn't get a nicely posed picture of Eva's daughter, so determined was she to come to me for a scratch.
The hen and chicks are ranging further on their evening forays. (There are still six chicks, the other must be behind the hen.) The chick in the foreground is one of the two I helped hatch.
Ida 145 and her daughter.
I have a number of hopes for this calf: I hope she has lovely temperament, that she grows well, that nothing ill befalls her and, finally, should all those hopes be fulfilled, I hope she doesn't carry the AM gene, as her mother does.
This little rabbit, now about twice the size it was when I first saw its tiny form, lives in the culvert at the top of Flat 1. It took a couple of days to work out whose fast movement I'd seen, dashing off the track and flipping down into the drain as I rode along the track on my bike. It was so small that at first I thought it must have been a stoat or weasel. But eventually I saw the tiny rabbit, as it ran for cover from further away.
Grey 807 had left the paddock so quickly that I only just caught her back end in a photograph this evening. She's proving a fabulous Zella companion, improving Zella's cooperation markedly. Zella is often quite hard to move out of her paddock, but will usually go if the other adult has already left. When both cows have gone, the calves, if they're being too playful to shift easily, will usually follow.
Two black rabbits!
I wonder what colours there'd be if big soft rabbit and the mother of these got together?
I've only ever before seen one black rabbit at a time around the farm.
I spent some time sampling the delights of the public health system again today, having accepted an offer from a surgeon at the hospital to excise a weird lump from my shoulder. I feared that without surgery to remove it, it would grow uncontrollably and I would eventually have to take up a permanent position in a large cathedral tower.
I waited around for time enough to knit another inch of sock for Liz, then spent probably only ten minutes listening to the mad banter of the surgeon and nurses in theatre, before being given a delicious sandwich and a cup of tea while I sat for a little while back in the waiting/recovery area.
In the evening we were required to go for a walk across the flats to sort out another lost calf who'd gone through the Flat 2 fence and got confused amongst the cows in Flats 3 & 4. One of that mob was also upset, thinking the lost calf was hers calling, while her daughter was sleeping peacefully only metres away; they get quite overwrought at times.
The hungry, lost calf eventually went back through the fence where we'd propped the wires apart and went straight to the wrong mother, 742, who at five years old should know well not to feed someone else's calf but seemed not to mind at all. That left Jet, the calf's mother, still frantically hunting for her daughter. I had to get between the calf and 742 and redirect her to her own udder.
When the calves are all born, we'll turn the bottom wires on again, which will stop these older calves casually climbing through the fences. In some places I can turn individual paddocks' bottom wires on but in others, they're connected with the paddocks where the calving cows are grazing.
The first load of limerock for the yards arrived this morning, followed by two more, covering the lane area and some of the yards square.
Stephan has been hatching plans for a bridge to the island for a long time. The last bridge, a solid plank of timber, was taken away by one of the last floods - I think I've seen it in a tree some distance downstream, on a neighbour's place.
This one will be created using some long posts from William, when he'd removed some of his grape vines, and a heavy beam from someone else's house renovation.
The larger of these budgie chicks is two and a half weeks old. Their parents were raising them very ably and I cleaned out the nest box each day and checked on them. They were growing lovely white down, as would be expected and then on Sunday, both were suddenly bald and pink.
I puzzled over that change for a while and during Monday realised that their mother (presumably she, since she was so often in the nest box with them) must be pulling their down out. Surely that must be a stressful thing to endure!
So with my Oranga Manu Pī* hat on, I uplifted them from their home and took them into care.
*Oranga Tamariki is the Ministry for Children, formerly unfortunately named the Ministry for Vulnerable Children. Manu are birds, pī are chicks, in te reo.
I had thought to hand-rear another bird, one from this pair, but had put off taking a chick because I was busily doing other things but now my hand is forced. I have ample hand-rearing formula in the cupboard, ready to use.
In warm sunshine we walked around the corner to see if the orchids were flowering today and found a couple of the Sun Orchids blooming.
The earlier-flowering Maikuku is still blooming as well. These have lasted much longer than I expected.
A big purple truck and a different driver brought today's metal.
Stephan is very excited; I am slightly nervous: this is a big job and a lot of spending.
I sent the cows and calves from the Windmill and Flat 1 paddocks out to the Frog this afternoon. The calves coped quite well with their first water crossing.
Later I went back out to check on them and met a calf in the lane at the bottom of the Windmill paddock. She was one of those six I'd earlier moved and fortunately trotted along ahead of me all the way back out, across the stream again and then back into the paddock with the others. She must have come under the fence where it's a bit high alongside the track, got a shock for the first time and not wanted to go back.
746 was looking anxious at eight-ish this morning, so I took her some Magnesium in molasses, wondering if she was starting labour. When I went back to have another look at eleven, I could see two feet and a black nose. She lay down and hardly pushed and the tiny head was out and at 11.10 stood up and dropped this baby on the ground. Our 20th heifer for the season, of 29 calves.
This one's gestation length is 274 days, nice and short, four days shorter than her mother's previous average. I thought her sire, bull 160, might have contributed to a slightly longer gestation.
So that's calving finished, more easily and relaxed than I remember in any other season. Last year was awful and this year has been, apart from having to help 807 on the first day, a breeze. Everyone has survived and is thriving and now we just make sure they're all fed and growing and then I'll start putting next year's calves back in again.
Bridge building continues.
Work conditions are tough around here: the water was quite cold. Actually I don't really know how true that was, since I wasn't in it, just standing on the side, chuckling.
Nearly there, just a handrail and some side-ways strengthening to add and it'll be finished.
Unfortunately the sun wasn't shining brightly when I passed these paddocks this afternoon, which would have made the yellow really stand out.
I stopped because there are paddocks like this in several places around the district and I'd wondered if there was a new crop of some sort being grown. But it's not, this is buttercup growing where maize was grown last season. Buttercup infests wet areas and any land used for such cropping prior to this spring has turned bright yellow now.
I began organising the other spread-out mobs on the flats, ready to move them.
These (eight pairs) cows and calves were ranging across Flats 3 & 4 and 5b & c. I quietly shifted 792 and her calf through the gateway from where I stood to take the photo, then shut the gate, leaving them in Flats 3 & 4, ready to move later in the day.
Stephan has begun spraying gorse and ragwort, getting onto the job earlier than is often possible because of wet ground conditions; this year it's already dry and firm in many places.
729's daughter's face is even more striking now she's clean and growing.
Emergency pawed the drain tailings all along the fenceline as the cows from the other mobs passed by.
Fortunately all the calves (except for a confused escape attempt by Emergency's daughter) stayed where they were supposed to be, in the lane on their way past, or watching from the paddock.
Now there's a combined mob of 11 pairs from the flats, right out the back in the Back Barn paddock.
All along the boundary fence on the right, feral pigs have rooted up the ground. Vandals.