This morning most of the cows were sitting around in the sunshine at the bottom of the Big Back paddock: 323 and Fuzzy were both there, but 92 and 112 were still somewhere else. With great trepidation I walked back up the hill to the hole with the suspicious black mass in it - the physical sense of drag when walking in dread is astonishing. In bright light I still wasn't entirely sure that what I was looking at wasn't the tail-end of a cow, with knobbly spine showing through the hair! It was only when standing looking directly down on it, that I could sort of see that the black wasn't a big enough mass to be any part of a cow, although I still wasn't completely convinced, it being so life- (or death-) like. So I continued on around the paddock, again, finally finding 92, happily grazing, but it took another 20 minutes to find 112, when she finally emerged from whichever little patch of bush she'd been grazing in.
At least lots of ragwort gets 'plonked' while I'm doing all this cow-hunting!
I still didn't climb down into the hole to find out what the black stuff was, but I suspect it's some bit of a Ponga (tree fern) trunk, which has that black hairy appearance. At some time I'll get in there and inspect it - when I'm not so encumbered by clothing and the surroundings are not so wet!
When moving the 16 thin cows this afternoon, I drafted Ivy and the grey heifer, 443, mother of 516 with the lumpy udder, out of the mob and brought them back to the House paddock. There's not much grass back here, but after several days of really cold weather and a few light frosts, there's not much anywhere and whilst the other thin cows can mostly cope with not being moved on to the next paddock immediately they finish the one they're in, Ivy needs to be on constant feed, if I'm to get her to gain enough condition to get through this pregnancy in good health. 443 seemed like a good choice of company for Ivy, in that she has become a bit jumpy since we had to keep treating her calf in the yards and needs some quiet interaction; she's also several pegs down the pecking order from Ivy, so won't be able to steal all the extra feed I need to give Ivy. 443 has a good set of teeth, so will do well enough on the grass, even where it's quite short.
A few days ago I received a telephone call from a local woman who had found my name on the list of Angus breeders and was looking for a yearling bull to use with her heifers. Today she and her father came out to have a look at the young bulls and selected the one they liked best, so Ida's son, #37, will be off to a new home in the next little while.
We have been asked to find some fire-wood for a special event next month, so Stephan went out with the tractor and trailer and raided one of our huge next-year fire-wood piles. We have tried very hard not to need to go on such forays, since the ground is so wet and the tractor makes a nasty mess of the tracks and paddocks, but for (niece) Sarah and Karl's wedding hangi, we've made an exception.
A week having passed since I applied the pour-on drench to the young animals, I needed to collect more faecal samples for egg counting. The first three were great - as the heifers left their paddock, they did their business and I dashed in and collected some of it. I followed them all the way in to the small area down from our house and kept them there to enable easy observation and collecting. My favourite heifer, 506, then did nothing for the next four hours! What a job. Fortunately Stephan came home and made me a couple of cups of tea - although I did forget to have any lunch!
While I was waiting, the heifers investigated the turkeys beyond the gate, where they live with the chickens. They all jumped and ran away when they first heard them, but gradually worked out that they weren't going to be eaten by the strange-sounding monsters with feathers.
Once the heifers' samples were all collected, I sent them off to a new paddock, then went to fill the last three pots from the bulls. They took all of ten minutes as I followed them up the lane from one paddock to another!
Now I have a reason to have a visit to town during business hours and money expected from sold stock ...
Stephan has been out cutting the scrub regrowth on this first face in the PWHS (Paddock With Holes Steers fell in). It'll need tidying up yet if it's to grow any grass!
The truck for bull #37 is coming today, so I brought the bulls to the yards, weighed them, then carefully measured their scrotal circumferences! All but the smallest bull were very cooperative; the uncooperative one has left me with a very large bruise on my thigh from a swift kick as I approached him with my tape! The yearlings are all measuring around 27cm, and the R2 bull 36cm. Between now and mating time, they'll add a few centimetres to those measurements, so they're doing well so far.
The truck, as they often are, was quite late, so while I was waiting, I put the other bulls back into the race and injected the BVD vaccine I'd obtained from the vet yesterday. They've all been tested free of the disease, and vaccination will keep them safe from the possibility of contracting it during their first mating period this year. There is some probability of there being BVD in one of the herds one of the bulls is going to, so it seemed a sensible precaution to take.
After doing all that, I suddenly remembered that I'd meant to collect tail hairs from #37, so attempted to get him back up into the race, but he wasn't having any of it! So I spent a few minutes quietly approaching him and holding his tail while I pulled hairs. It's very nice to have quiet bulls - especially when you're up to your ankles in thick mud and trying to do annoying things to them! The hairs can be kept for genetic testing at any time in the future (up to some decades in time, if stored correctly) and I've decided it's a very good idea to get them before I send the bulls off to new homes.
Winter days when the sun is shining are fantastic!
The colour's a little off in the photo, but the green of the Kikuyu grass really is almost that ridiculously bright against the winter drabness of everything else. I think it often looks quite unreal in pictures, even when the colours are exactly right.
These are the thin cows, on their way out to the Back Barn paddock (where there isn't a barn and hasn't been for many years) where they'll have better feed than the fat cows on the other side of the farm.