We spent a few days away in a colder part of the country again at the beginning of this week. It's nice to be somewhere else when it's cold, thinking that at least it isn't that cold at home and when we return to all the deep wet mud, at least we can cheer ourselves with the thought that at least we're about 4°C warmer here than where we were!
We attended an audition/play reading this evening for the next Kaitaia Dramatic Society play. We've both been cast in it, but I'm doing some serious thinking about whether or not I think I can sustain enough energy for that as well as all I need to be doing here, for the next three months.
The play is called "STiFF" by April Phillips and is a very funny, rather risqué play about a sex-worker who inherits a funeral home.
A fine and sunny day! I went out and wiped rushes with herbicide and thought about Gisela (our now-lost German friend) and Ms Duck (our now-dead constant companion) and the time of the year and enjoyed the sun on my bare back - mid-winter in this part of the world in sheltered spots is still very hot!
This is Virago Arran 20 AB, son of the lovely Isla and he's an utter ratbag! He has worked out how to negotiate the electric fencing tape with which I break up the paddock or exclude the cattle from the garden or other areas I don't want them grazing, so he can go wherever he likes! He keeps coming up to the windows and looking at himself and then realising that he can actually see things through the glass as well.
I've mislaid a cow! Darian (#363) is missing and we've spent hours hunting for her in the paddock in which she was supposed to be and have found no trace of her at all. The weather is atrocious, although not really cold, so if she's in trouble somewhere, her chances of surviving aren't that great. I last saw all of the cows on Wednesday afternoon when I moved them into the paddock but when I shifted them again today, Darian was nowhere to be seen. Stephan and I have hunted up and down all the gullies, around the swamp, walked across and around the whole paddock several times and seen and heard nothing. I'll go and have another look tomorrow morning and see if she's just turned up on her own.
Another walk around the back of the farm and there, at the very top of one of the muddiest hills, was Darian 363, alone and lonely!
I have no idea how she got into this paddock. She must have come through at least two fences to get here and I had to walk her back through the Taranaki gate (looks like part of the fence to the right behind her), along to the gate into the Big Back swampy paddock in which we'd been searching for her, and down the hill and around to rejoin the rest of the cows.
Everyone is again accounted for so I went home for lunch!
The six big animals which have spent the last few weeks on the hill paddock over the road, were booked to go to the works today, but at the last minute the company cancelled the booking, so now they have to wait until Thursday. Having brought them down to spend last night next to the yards, we had to put them back over the road again! They must think we're mad, but were glad to go, since they now consider that paddock home.
There are four big steers and a heifer, plus one rather "light" steer which will never get much bigger than he is now, so it's time he went.
The first day of what's really winter time. Although the temperatures have been so mild thus far that it's hard to believe it's this late in the year already. We've not even had a frost yet! It is, however, getting very wet underfoot, but of course we're used to that at this time of the year.
Since the big steers and heifer will be away tomorrow, we moved the cows to the paddock across the road from the hill. It's a pain of a paddock, being accessible either along the road with its attendant dangers and inconvenience, or through the river, where the banks are deep mud because of the constant flooding and not easy for the cows to negotiate. It has had fertilizer over the last three years but poor grazing management. I'd like to put the cows through here a few times in the next few months and really get it cleaned up again.
The gate to the hill paddock is to the right, where one of the cows is grazing and the new gate where they're going, is just in front of the cows on the left. The animal at the left is probably Maunu Sybil, who looks a bit boney because of the way she's standing, and there's Fuzzy 357 looking straight at the camera, with Abigail trotting along behind. There are currently 40 cows in this mob.
We then went back along the road and brought the six animals down off the hill and into the yards, to await their truck. They've gone to Dargaville, since I managed to find a way of getting them there without having to deal with the unreliable works agent I've had problems with in the past. As some very large hail stones fell on the roof later in the evening, I thought of those cattle, snug in some covered yard, out of the weather for their last night.
Jane (our neighbour) and I walked up the road to move the cows across to the hill early this afternoon. There's a bank along beside the boundary fence where several of the cows immediately headed to get their heads and necks into the earth! Old #14 always does this - there are probably others who particularly like it too, but it's the "coloured" cows which I naturally remember from one occasion to the next. No wonder her white head hardly ever actually stays that way.
There's still quite a lot of feed in this paddock, since 20 acres was quite a lot for six animals and the grass growth mostly kept pace with their grazing. I'll leave the cows here for a few days or until the awful weather clears (gale force winds, continual showers and so on) and then bring them in for a copper injection, now well overdue.