I was just sitting here minding my own business, catching up with some paperwork, when I had a sudden visitor...
She/he looked so pretty I just had to take a photo or two, before I released the wayward thing back out the window.
Then I had some human visitors who came for a walk out on the farm with me and took this picture, to show what can happen to the colour of one's own feathers when in constant close contact with a duck.
Here is Crispin (right) with Granny Ivy, on the day he was fed his last milk bottle feed. His weight has reached 178.5kg, which isn't bad for being only five months old and not having a real mum. Ivy, who needs good feeding because she's old and pregnant and Crispin, who needs good feeding because he's young and growing, will go into a lush paddock with the nearly-calving cows.
Stephan got into his garden and evicted those pesky squatters again. Mother rat scarpered, leaving her tiny babies squeaking underground. There may have been more than these, but we didn't find them. Rest assured that I'd not be holding these quite so comfortably if their eyes were open and they knew how to use their teeth! It just seemed like a good opportunity to work on getting over a bit of that ridiculous rat-phobia.
Some of my readers won't want to know what I did next, so I'm not going to tell you, apart from to give an assurance that it was done as humanely as possible.
A sad day here, since it has reached the time when #32 must take her last trip off the farm. Here is #32 and her son #392, who will be weaned by his mother's departure.
This is of course the calf I helped to bring out into the world on the 7th of March and featured in the calving sequence I photographed for this site.
I've known #32 for as long as I've lived here, since she had joined the farm before I did. I don't think she was born here, but was probably not much more than two or three when I arrived. It became obvious that she was quite tame (she may have been bottle raised), and only took a short time to become used to close human contact. Because she was a 'touchable' cow, she filled a fairly special place in the herd and in our hearts, despite being a breed we didn't mean to farm. She had several calves, mostly bulls, and #112 is her daughter who will remain on the farm for as long as she's fit, having turned into a very productive cow.
#32 was never given any other name, she has always just been "32", since I first numbered the tags that we then put in the ears of all the cows here at that time. I used to think that she'd never be sent to the works, but I've become a bit less 'soft' over the last few years, and can see that digging a large hole for a cow we'd at some point have to shoot, or worse, drag out of a nasty situation after possibly days of suffering and then shoot and bury, would be an unattractive option. I think we'd be nursing her through the rest of her life as she gradually deteriorated. She was saved from certain death on two occasions, first about five years ago, when she was stuck in a swamp near the back of the farm and four of us worked for several hours to get her out. On the second occasion, she'd spent probably a day and a half stuck in the mud at the edge of one of the streams, very cold, and once out, had to be hung in a sling and massaged over a couple of days to get her back up on her feet. She is fortunate to have had such a long life, considering her misfortunes.
#32 went off with #19, who had earned too many black marks in her breeding book, to be retained. Their two calves, both now over six months old, spent the rest of the day calling for their mums. I spent the day consoling myself with the thought that at least this death will be quick.
The nice part of today was my walk out to see Abigail, to wish her a . I sang to her of course, and kissed her fuzzy nose.
Still only three calves born and one ewe left to lamb. Spring is definitely on the way, although the hot sunny weather is interspersed with nasty cold wet snaps, including enough rain in very short bursts to flood the river over the bridge twice in the last week!
6pm: I've just returned from a quick check of the pregnant cows and found #323 with a brand new heifer calf, born within the last hour, I would think. That means that Virago Lendrich 05 has become a dad, for the first time!
Here on the left is Lendrich's first child and her mum, #323. On the right is this morning's addition, the first stud calf for the year, a heifer for Queenly.
I went out this afternoon to move the 'young mob' (those two years and under) out of their rather bare paddocks. There are 34 altogether but only 30 of them showed up at the gate. So I walked out across the two paddocks they'd been in, calling all the while, but finding no sign of them anywhere.
One of the streams running through our place comes in from a bush reserve next door, where there was probably once a flood-gate hung from the boundary fence, to stop stock movements either way. Now there's only the old fence, strung across the stream which is very quiet and shallow at that point, and provides an inviting path for hungry cattle to follow. I waded in through the stream (which was naturally just high enough to fill my boots!) and looked around for any sign of where four fairly large animals might have gone. I called and called to them in vain. Retracing my steps I found some fresh cattle tracks and began following them until I came upon a huge area which had been rooted up by wild pigs and, at the top of that bank, was the sound of some large animals. It was with some trepidation that I approached the bushes from which the sounds were coming, in case I found the pigs who'd obviously been there before me!
But all was well, or at least half was well, there being two of my beasties happily browsing amongst the undergrowth. The largest steer and Isis, stud heifer, were still nowhere to be heard nor seen.
But after walking the first two back to the river, I eventually found the other two, much further into the bush and most unwilling to leave.
I was slightly nervous, being in bush with which I was unfamiliar and knowing there were possibly some rather large and fierce porcine beings around about me. Having been left alone on the farm for a few days, I also knew that I was the only person who knew where I was, and that if that situation changed, i.e. that I no longer knew where I was, then ... well, I'd know I was lost but it might be a while before anybody else did!