The weeks beginning the 8th & 15th of July 2006
Saturday the 8th

We went shopping! We had arranged to meet up with my mother, Jill and Bruce in Whangarei, to collect my niece, Stella, who was travelling north from Auckland for a farm holiday, so we left in time to go shopping in Whangarei before meeting them. We're generally pretty anti-consumerism people, refusing to buy the latest thing of every kind, we recycle as much as we can, right down to other people's kitchen sinks and stoves (cookers) when they've upgraded their still-adequate appliances to newer models. It's partly because of our awareness of the increasing size of the western world's "ecological footprint" and our wish not to contribute too much to the great global landfill and also a get-rich-slowly scheme! It is not often that we splash out for fun - and then it's usually on things which will actually make our lives easier or more pleasant. We're extremely cheap to entertain!

Sunday the 9th
Stella waiting for the heifers

Stella and I walked out across the flats this morning, on our way to moving some of the cattle around. She said she was far too tired to keep walking and I'd have to carry her. She's now four and getting rather larger than in previous years, so I suggested that she could wait for me under the trees, where she'd be quite safe and could see me for much of the time!
I'm always terribly impressed with Stella's ability to behave sensibly on the farm. I'm not entirely sure how safe she actually feels, but can remember being four and on my God-parents' dairy farm when I vaguely recall being left in various safe places to wait while something happened. It was a bit scary, but I knew I'd not be forgotten.

Monday the 10th
Fly-struck Dotty

This is Dotty and she's demonstrating the particular stance of a fly-struck sheep! Having maggots chewing your back must be excruciatingly uncomfortable and sheep will often drop their heads like this when struck or when they're being bothered by flies in the process of laying eggs in their wool. She was also separated from the other sheep, away off at the end of the paddock, hiding out behind the old concrete pigsty walls.

We took the sheep to the sheep-yards and put insecticidal powder on Dotty's back to kill the maggots and any unhatched eggs and she looked much more comfortable. She's probably been attractive to the flies because of the odd state of her wool - there's some sort of green, presumably fungal, activity in the wool on her back, making it a bit damp underneath and strangely crusty on top! I might try washing her one fine sunny day.

teaching Stella to knit

Stella asked me to teach her how to knit, so we found some wool and the shortest needles I had in my collection and set about the task. We had several short sessions - quite long enough for a four-year-old on her first attempt - and I hope we will continue at a later date.

Tuesday the 11th
Isla and Stella

We always have to find Isla at least once when Stella comes to visit!

Wednesday, Thursday and Friday

Mike and his youngest son, Patrick, visited us for a while on Wednesday, Patrick bringing his Lego which Stella enjoyed.

On Thursday, we moved the thin cow mob out to the back of the farm again, Stella walking the whole way, there and back! Not bad for a city-slicker four-year-old!

Friday morning we packed everything up for a quick trip to Auckland. Because there was to be a car rally down the valley in our absence, I decided to move the young cattle off the hill over the road and send them out across the flats, for safety. Naturally that took three times as long as I had planned!

The trip to Auckland was great fun, playing "I spy" and various other made-up games. Stella is a bit short and was sitting too low to see everything out of the windows, so it wasn't always terribly easy! Somebody kept seeing Orang-utans on the side of the road, but I think that somebody was making things up!

Sunday the 16th

On our return from Auckland, I went for a walk to see the cows out the back, but discovered there were rather more animals in the paddock than I expected!

wild piglets

There are far too many wild pigs on this farm and I never have anything to shoot them with when I see them!

Monday the 17th

We went down to Waitangi today to have a look at John and Jos Bayly's Waitangi Angus Stud bull sale. On our arrival, we had a good look around the pens of bulls before the sale, armed with my printout of all the EBVs of interest to me. The printed catalogue carried basic pedigree and EBV information, but not quite as much as I was interested in seeing, when looking at the bulls. I half thought that if there was something spectacular there, I might be tempted to buy, and had marked a few in the catalogue for particular attention, after checking pedigrees and other information via the Angus internet database.

The Waitangi stud is a combination of the Kai Iwi and Rarewa studs and some of these bulls were those born to the cows as a result of breeding by their previous owner, but born after they were transferred to their new home. I was keen to see all the bulls together in one place.

Waitangi bull sale ring Waitangi bull sale buyers and spectators

I haven't been to a bull sale here before, so don't know how it was previously organised, but today was the first time it was held in the new shed - and the first fine sale day they'd had in years, apparently. There were a few hiccups with the new facilities and some awful chaos when one bull upended another in the race on the way into the ring! The top price was $11,000, a number went out at six to eight thousand, several were had for $2,200 and anything which didn't excite enough interest to get to that level were passed in.

Tuesday the 18th

It's four weeks since the little bulls had their 7-in-1 vaccine sensitizer dose, so I gave them the booster today. I'm getting horribly short of grass, so need to get everything done so that those which are already sold can go off to their new homes and I won't have to feed them any more!

Thursday the 20th
Karl, Anna and Sarah

Sarah and Karl, newly-wed last weekend, came out to visit, with their friend Anna. We all went out for a bit of a walk, which I turned into a "let's go and shift the cows" opportunity. Actually I think it was that which made the walk more fun for the visitors! The cows are now in the part of the year when I just move them around from no grass to a tiny bit more and a different view for a day or two.