The Farm in Diggers Valley

The week beginning the 12th of April 2008.

Because I was so sick, I didn't feel like writing my Growing Today article by the time the deadline date arrived last Friday, so had to beg for more time from the very patient editor of the magazine. Now it's really getting seriously close to absolute, no-more-time-available deadline, so I've been writing, reading, editing, rewriting ...

Every now and then I went out and checked and moved cattle.

Monday the 14th
cows and calves

As I walked up through the Big Back paddock to check on the cattle in the Middle Back paddock (pictured), I could hear quite a bit of calling. I still get nervous when I hear that, thinking it could mean somebody's stuck where they shouldn't be. On this occasion the cows were yelling because they were finished with this paddock, thanks very much, and wanted to move. They'd probably heard my bike down on the flats as I rode out to the bottom of the hill, so they knew I was coming to see them.

After doing the usual roll-check with my notebook, I opened the gate and let them through into the PW (Paddock With holes etc.) next door. Then there was lots more calling for the next hour as they dispersed around the sides of the hill, lost track of each other, and mothers and babies had to find each other again.

Tuesday the 15th
flooded stream

There wasn't a great deal of rain to cause this flood, but it fell very quickly, so the river came up as we watched. The floating stick in the water was that with which I'd been marking the edge of the water only a few minutes earlier. The water came right up beyond where I was standing to take the picture, within the next 20 minutes.

There was also a power cut as a result of a violent thunder storm! The same storm killed a man on a horse near Dargaville and heavy rain further down the country led to the drownings of six school students and a teacher on an outdoor education trip.

wild piglets

This evening at the back of the farm, these three little piglets were doing as their species do: making a huge mess of my pasture! I was able to get within a few feet of them before they scampered off under the fence and into the DOC (Department of Conservation) reserve next door. The fence needs replacing. DOC may think we should do it since we need to keep our cattle on our property, but equally, I could point out to DOC that they need to fence it well enough to keep their pigs on theirs!

During the day I received an email telling me I have won a book whose authors I heard interviewed on Radio NZ National last Saturday. Cool! It is Common Ground by Janice Marriott and Virginia Pawsey, subtitled "the true story of two friends and two very different gardens". Gardening isn't particularly my thing, except when it comes to my "garden" of a couple of hundred acres, but correspondence between women is usually very good reading. I'm looking forward to getting into it.

Wednesday, Thursday, Friday

Lots more writing for Growing Today, and I finally sent the finished column off on Thursday night, then had to sort out photographs to go with it. I'm enjoying the writing a lot, for all that it can be a little stressful when I leave things to the last minute. I've never been particularly good at getting on with things until the deadline pressure builds; but I am getting better at it, since I prefer to have a draft to work with for several days, which gradually changes shape as I revisit it over and over again.

On Friday, Kim and Paul from Kawakawa came to visit. Three years ago they bought some of our heifers for breeding, then the following year took a bull and some more heifer calves. This year they want another couple of our heifers, so came up for a visit and to have a look at this year's selection. We had lunch together and a very pleasant stroll out on the farm.