The week beginning the 28th of October 2006.
Saturday the 28th

I weighed the second group of calves this morning. The only one in the group which had been weighed before was the tiny heifer calf of 488, one of the two-year-old heifers. She was just over 25kg the day after she was born and now she's 48kg at two weeks, so she's been putting on a very good 1.73kg/day!

Later in the morning we had some visitors: the new owners of "Party Pinatas", the small business my now-friend Pip created. I do a bit of work on their website from time to time and had not met them, so it was lovely to have them here, as they were in the area on a short holiday. We took them out to visit the cows and sheep, then went to see the little turkeys - and their large and intimidating sires!

Stephan and I spent the afternoon lying around feeling off-colour - not enough sleep and far too much to do had caught up with us, I think.

Sunday the 29th

Rain! Great stuff! Not much fun for walking out to check animals, but necessary if they're all to be fed.

Monday the 30th
Neil collecting soil samples

Our new fertilizer rep came out today to take some soil and pasture samples for testing.  After so much dry weather, there wasn't a great deal of lengthy pasture to cut, but he managed enough in the end - before more rain sent us hurrying for the shelter of a tree!

In the picture, Neil is walking and every now and then pushing the sampling tool into the ground, which extracts a small plug of soil, which goes into the plastic bag he's carrying.

sitting Goose

The goose has laid a clutch of eggs and is now sitting on them. Stephan says he wants to see if any Turkeese or Gookeys result, since the turkeys have been making amorous advances to the goose over the last few weeks. I suspect both Stephan and the goose will be disappointed.
Thank goodness we don't need much firewood at the moment, since it is now apparently impossible to have any from this pile.

Tuesday the 31st
Stephan and Jenny on the tractor

Stephan has been taking Jenny out with him to tidy up a fenceline he's preparing and we've discovered that as long as she's not running on the ground, the cows don't take any notice of her. (I've been keeping her away from the calving and newly-calved cows, since they get extremely upset about dogs at this particular time.)
With the back-blade on the tractor, he does a bit of track grading on his way to and from the job. The muddy tracks dried out into hard peaks a few weeks ago, so Stephan has been gradually working them back to smoothness in between the rains which make them all slippery again. It's a tricky time of year for bike riding - the hard bits are really lumpy and difficult to ride and the bike gets stuck in the soft patches and I have to get off and walk until I can get it out again!

Wednesday the 1st of November
473 and calf

Here's 473, early this morning, with her newborn heifer calf. I've been watching her for a few days, wondering when she'd get on and have the baby, since her udder has seemed ready to go and she's been standing around a lot.

She looked a little under the weather, so I took her some Molasses with Magnesium in it and she perked up a bit.

Starling eggs in the mailbox

Out in the mailbox, as is usual at this time of year, there is a Starling nest and this morning I noticed the chicks are just starting to break open their shells.

calves in the tree area

Presently the electric fences are off for a lot of the time, since there are new calves around. I'll have to start turning them on again soon, in case the mothers of all these calves, which so like sitting in the long grass, figure out that there's no pain to be suffered in reaching in for some easy grazing around the tree - or even the bark, which would entirely defeat the purpose of the fence!

stray dog

While checking on the cattle above, I became aware of a white shape in the distance - a stray dog! I'd read a "lost" notice in the paper yesterday evening, advertising for a couple of dogs, so figured this was probably one of them. I grabbed the hay-string I keep in a little container on the bike and walked out to see if I could catch the dog, which is a very brave thing for a person who doesn't, as a rule which only partly excepts Jenny, like dogs at all! The dog was large and rather scary-looking and after obviously wanting to run away for a while, eventually came to me and I attempted to tie the twine around its neck, which it made quite difficult as it put its paws on my stomach and sniffed at my fingers. I wondered if I was about to become another nasty dog-attack statistic, out there on my own with this unknown slavering monster.

I rang the guy who'd advertised and he came and collected his dog, very gratefully, in the afternoon. The promised bottle of wine doesn't seem to have arrived in my mailbox yet though, Chris!

Thursday the 2nd
PWHS from the Camp hill

This is a picture of the hillside Stephan has recently cleared, from the opposite hill. I happened to be up here this morning, hunting for three cows and their calves, which I suspected had actually left the paddock through a hole in the fence at the bottom of the hill, but I had to make sure they weren't still here.

I had phoned the vet to arrange a visit this afternoon and the nurse suggested that it would be a good idea to get the problem cow into the yards for the day to restrict her feed in case we needed to sedate her later.

The cow in question is my lovely "backward baby", 418, who has an odd swelling in her bottom jaw, which has quite suddenly become larger. We had a bit of a look the other day when they were in the yards, and I'd thought I'd have to have it investigated, then didn't think about it again until last evening, when I noticed that its size had increased.

452 and calf

Since I had these cows and calves in the yards again, I put them over the scales to see how fast they were growing - it's just a compulsion I have.

This is 452 and her calf. I suspect this habit of lying sleeping like they're dead is inherited: there's a picture of 452 as a calf in the same position in 2004.

Queenly 23, one of the two-year-old heifers was standing around this morning and I suspected she was in early labour. By the middle of the day, she'd started lifting her tail at intervals and looking uncomfortable, although there was no other sign. I began to be a little concerned that nothing was happening, but eventually some mucous appeared at her vulva and then she popped out a couple of fluid-filled membrane bags and 35 minutes later she had the calf out on the ground. I was very pleased she timed it so well, since the vet was due twenty minutes later and I really couldn't hang around watching her any longer!

418 being examined by Nathan the vet

Nathan the vet arrived right on time and we put 418 into the head-bail to restrain her while he had a look at her mouth. Nathan thinks it is very likely she had a puncture injury to her gum which was infected by the bacteria which causes a condition called Woody Tongue, which can affect various other sites as well as the tongue, but is very responsive to treatment with Streptomycin, an antibiotic. He gave her one injection while he was here and left us with another couple of syringes, to be injected into the muscle every second day and he thinks it should clear up very well. Whether or not her jaw will return to normal size and shape, I'm not sure. She doesn't appear to be particularly affected by it, other than where the swelling has caused a gap between a couple of her teeth, which could cause problems when feed is short, if it doesn't return to normal.

Queenly 23 and calf

Little Queenly 23 was quietly resting when we went back to her paddock with the scales to weigh her bull calf. He weighed 33kg and his number will be 49.

Starling chicks

Two of the Starling chicks have hatched so far and are ready for any food to be dropped into their mouths any time there's movement above them. The black thing hanging out of the mouth of one of them is a great hairy caterpillar.

Friday the 3rd
479 expelling and eating her afterbirth

Last night when I checked, 479 was looking pretty uncomfortable, so I resolved to check again at 5am. There wasn't much happening at that stage, so I returned when it began to get light and she delivered her calf at 6.39am as I watched.

This photo was taken a little later as she was expelling her afterbirth and trying to eat it at the same time! Because she seemed to be partly inhaling it as well, I managed to get it away from her as it dropped from behind and put it around the nearby young Puriri tree.

Dot 30 and calf

I must have ridden past this pair about three times before I spotted them, right beside the fence by the track! At 5am I'd seen a pair of shining eyes down in this corner and didn't think anything of it, since I hadn't seen any particular sign that the heifer was on the verge of calving, but here she is, with her bull calf. This is Abigail's second daughter, Dot 30, so this is the second of the fourth generation pedigree calves.

Dot is another two-year-old and hasn't much of an udder and the first date I had for her to calve is still a couple of days away. Short gestation periods keep appearing in Isla's family, so it's not altogether surprising.

Later in the day we went out and weighed him (32kg) and for some reason everyone went nutty when he cried out as Stephan put him back on the ground and all the cows and calves tore up and down the paddock in near-panic! Stephan went away and I walked quietly amongst them, talking to them in a calm and reassuring manner, until things settled down again.

The mob of 14 cows and older calves were in the neighbouring Mushroom 1 paddock and the mob of 12 came in along the adjacent lane from out the back, so I put them in the Mushroom 2 paddock for the night (next to Mushroom 1 - would you have guessed?) so the two cow/calf mobs could familiarise themselves with each other, and I will be able to combine them tomorrow for easier management. I needed to turn the electric fences on so that they'd all stay where I wanted them and not go pushing through gates and causing premature havoc, so was just getting that all sorted out with the various switches when there was the most awful noise from across the other side of the road and river, to which the cows all reacted in another lot of panic. Because I had my bike helmet on at the time I couldn't quite work out what it was nor exactly where it had come from, but the cows obviously thought it sounded like a calf being torn apart by some toothy predator and we nearly had some nasty fence and hoof-related injuries to the very small calves! It turned out to have been one of the children next door playing with a loud hailer microphone. I have asked that he perhaps not do that again!


Isla's been wandering around with a purposeful look at times this afternoon. She has the tell-tale signs of impending labour - the dips on either side of her tail, as her pelvic ligaments soften and stretch.

The Isla's Calving Date Competition entries may be seen here.

2006 calving tally: only four this week - 39 born (37 running around), 13 cows to calve.