Young calves are so lovely to look at. Fancy 166's daughter began life with a weirdly ugly face, but now she's settled into her life at six days old, she looks relaxed and gorgeous.
Dreamliner 787's daughter is a little different from everyone else; her hair does not lie flat like the others. She also has a very clear centre-face hair whorl, so I can always recognise her.
Here she is outside the House paddock, having slipped through the fence along the lane.
I noted Eva in early labour this morning. Just before noon there was some clear mucous and she was stamping a rear foot. I stood and timed her contractions from 1.40, noting them every three minutes or so until she stopped for nearly half an hour. She had a few more up to 3pm and stopped again. It all seemed to be taking rather too long.
At four o'clock we walked her in to the yards, so I could check what was going on. I probably could have done an internal examination in the paddock but with my back still recovering from whatever happened four weeks ago, I didn't want to risk having to move quickly on uneven ground if Eva protested.
Her calf was where it was supposed to be and when I grabbed one of its feet to see if I could help Eva a bit, it pulled its leg back out of my reach. It's always reassuring to feel a lively calf.
We let Eva out of the race and sat watching her for a over an hour, while she wandered around grazing, only occasionally lying for a contraction like this. She was obviously in no hurry, so we let her, with Zella and her calf, walk back to the area near the milking shed.
I thought of her mother, Demelza, as I took this picture, it being where Demelza lay when she took her last, peaceful breaths.
Eventually Eva got on with the job of delivering her calf.
Less than two minutes passed between this and the next photo.
Eva got up and sucked up the fluids that had come out with the calf, as her baby hung from his hips.
And continued to hang, for the next two or three minutes, obviously keen to get out.
Eva seemed to be unable to push his hips out while standing and I wasn't keen on her trying to lie down with him in that position, so took hold of his legs and twisted him a bit as she pushed again and he flopped to the ground in a soggy heap.
The time was 6.23pm.
Here they are at 7.10pm, the calf having had his first feed - you may be able to see that Eva's right-side quarters are now higher than the left, milk having been extracted by the calf.
Stephan was very pleased with himself, being only one day out but having guessed the sex correctly but our congratulations go to Sue, from Levin, our Murray Grey breeding friend, who guessed the correct day.
Thanks again to everyone who took part in this bit of annual entertainment.
That important business having been concluded, I went out to check everyone else.
These bare patches of soil were exposed earlier today, when Stephan removed the piles of posts that had been stacked here before we moved the fence. The posts and battens have been a real bother for calves in particular, who don't always know not to try and walk in amongst or over them. I'm very glad they're gone!
749 is in Mushroom 1 and her white-faced calf is in this paddock, having come through the fence. She'll find her way back to her mother when she's hungry.
The injections we gave 613's injured son have obviously made him feel very well. I watched him for several minutes as he sprinted up and down the fenceline - his mother is the cow on the right on the other side of the fence. I'm pleased to see evidence of him feeling good. Calves don't play when they're sick or in pain.
Emergency's daughter has a huge wart at the base of her left ear.
Warts on cattle are like acne on human teens and will go away in time. They rarely require anything to be done about them although I will sometimes spray them with Iodine if I have the opportunity.
We went out for coffee, there being nobody in labour.
I forgot to take a hat for sitting outside so Alan found me one from his collection, a completely impractical thing with a large bow that Roz had once worn to a wedding.
Alan grows Amaryllis lilies and as many were now in glorious bloom, he wanted us to come and see them.
773 calved early this morning and having had her first feed, the calf had wandered into the long grass in the reserve at the bottom of Flat 3, along with 742's day-old son and both mothers spent a lot of time standing at the fence bellowing for them. The calves, being in their newborn sleeping-in phase, ignored them, snoozing until they were ready to emerge for another feed at the end of the day.
I've been looking out for the little fleshy tree orchid flowers. They are a bit late this season, perhaps because of the lack of rain?
I had decided to look for the Clematis vine I'd noticed a couple of weeks ago, when looking from the Swamp paddock. It wasn't quite where I thought it would be and I found another, without flowers, nearby.
Stephan has begun setting things out for the new yards, with string lines and bits of timber to help work out where everything will go.
The day was beautifully fine and warm; great for growing grass.
I could hear someone mooing insistently when I got up, so went out to find out who wasn't where they should be. Ida 145's calf was in the wrong paddock and only needed a little prompting to go through the fence's bottom wires and back to his mother for breakfast.
It's always weird when our hills disappear.
613's son's mouth looks a little less messy but those teeth are not where they should be. He's due another pain relief injection today.
Eva's son has a single white hair on top of his head.
Zella's daughter is extremely pleased to have company at last and bounced her way around the new calf as they came in to the Pig paddock for the day.
It wasn't long before new calf found a cosy sleeping-in spot, to which he returned again and again over the next couple of days. I watched him as he went through the fence and down the bank into the long grass, waiting to ensure he didn't go too near the edge, where he'd be in danger of toppling into the stream.
I like to identify their sleeping-in spots so I know where to check first, if I haven't seen the calf for a while.
We brought the cows and calves of the mob with the injured calf in to the yards, since it would be impossible to run 613's son down to give him his next injection in the paddock.
It's a slow process, getting little calves to walk so far without upsetting anyone.
When sorting out the ear tags for this year's calves, I discovered I should have ordered more. I have been buying them every second year but last year hadn't needed to and had forgotten to check before this season. So we tagged six calves of the seven, leaving Glia's son untagged, since I can identify him easily anyway. I'll have to order tags first thing tomorrow.
We had a look at the injured mouth, which is now much less bloody, and gave him the pain relief injection again.
I've been second-guessing myself since he was first injured, thinking I should really have had the vet out but still it would have been such a long way to walk him when he was in pain. I'll keep them all near the yards after today, and have the vet come out when he's due his next antibiotic and pain relief, to check the damage and make sure he doesn't require further intervention.
We inserted his ear tags but decided not to castrate him today, while he's still dealing with the mouth injury.
Those new ear-tags both look a little bit high in his ears: we'll have to evaluate our tagging practices.
With the big cattle crush we also bought a sliding gate for the end of the race, Stephan having long and bitterly complained about the absence of a gate at the end of the old race. There a rail pushed across the race stops the cows from backing out but never holds the calves, who go over or under it.
Stephan had dug a couple of very large, deep holes, for the gate posts. All the race posts will be dug and concreted in, to make sure the race is perfectly straight. When they're thumped in, they sometimes hit something hard underground and end up slightly out of line which, in this situation, would be unhelpful. The rest of the pens can have their posts thumped in but we don't want an uneven race width.
Several of the young mob heifers were visible on the top of one of the hills Over the Road.
The things calves have to put up with! A lick and a promise?
This is Gina 142 and her son, a week old today.
Stephan said he was struggling to carry a strainer post to its hole when it dawned on him he has a digger to do the heavy lifting.
The last pregnant animal on the farm, Eva's daughter, Gertrude 162. She's up to gestation day 281. Her mother's average is 278 and her sire's, 275; her own gestation was 280 days.
I'm uncertain which bull she's pregnant to, having had difficulty when inseminating her with the Harry bull and then, not wanting her to miss out, let bull 176 serve her on the way back from the yards.
A rainy start to the day.
Here Stephan was bringing Zella in to be milked.
By the afternoon the day had returned to being fine and sunny.
The heifers had probably come down the hill for a drink at the trough, then happily lay around in the sun for a while.
Lots of careful preparation is going on in the new yards.
Calf behaviour is often very upsetting to new mothers! Someone in the Flat 3 group had started running, so the others joined in and then the newest mothers panicked and ran with them and the whole lot came tearing over to the fence and four calves hurtled through the wires. They must hurt themselves in all sorts of ways I don't see, although rarely as badly as 890. They gradually learn about paddock boundaries and fences.
I moved the cows and calves from Flat 4 along the lane to Flat 2 and then opened the bottom gate so the Flat 3 group could join them when they sorted themselves out.
I watched in amusement as 607's calf played at fighting his mother.
I always find watching motherhood in my cows fascinating.
Injured calf's bottom lip is now less extended and its unevenness suggests he may have lost one of the two loose teeth.