The week beginning the 15th of November 2008
Saturday the 15th

I spent today supervising NZQA Scholarship exams. The Scholarship papers are held on many days throughout the exam period, including on Saturdays. Saturday is a good day to sit an exam at school, for there's far less noise than on a school day.

Back at home in the evening, we moved the five empty cows up the road to the Road Flat paddock. They're a handy little mob to graze in this sometimes inconvenient paddock.

The Carrot Weed, or more correctly Dropwort Parsley, is coming up everywhere. In regularly-grazed paddocks it is emerging thickly as a lush green herb. In the drains and reserve areas, the plants are already flowering on their tough, tall stems.


The little starlings in the mailbox are nicely feathered now. Whenever I open the lid to look at them they scuffle backwards and squash themselves down into as small a space as they can.

Sunday the 16th

Stephan went trapping and I spent the day organising lists for the coming weeks' exams.

calves and cows in the lane

I moved the cow and calf mobs around this evening so that I could then move Imagen and Squiglet to new grazing. I set up the lanes so they could graze Flat 5a, but left all the gates and some tapes arranged so that when Stephan calls Imagen to come and be milked, she can walk back to the house.

A dry lane! A lovely change. We're all walking on top of the ground instead of through it.

cows and calves

I called the 20 cows and their calves to the bottom of the Back Barn Paddock before moving them, then watched while nearly all the calves had an evening feed before we set off out into the lane.

Monday the 17th
Imagen coming along the lane

Imagen, grazing 500m from the house, responds to a call from Stephan and his banging on the Topmilk bin in which she will be fed her molasses fix, by coming out of her paddock, along the bottom of the Windmill paddock lane and down the House lane to be milked outside the garden gate. Squiglet mostly ignores her and stays where she is.

542 calved this evening. I thought she was looking quite thoughtful just before dark, so went out to check her a little after 10pm and she was lying down waving one rear leg around. I could see that she was about to push out the first membrane bag, so when she got to her feet again I left her to it for a while.

A quarter of an hour later, there were two tiny feet showing. Twenty minutes after that there was nothing to see at all and while 542 is a very quiet heifer, she seemed not to appreciate my presence, so I went away again. By 11.30pm she had a tiny little heifer calf.

Tuesday the 18th
542 and her calf

542 and her tiny daughter. 542 looks like she'll milk very well for her calf and is still almost as wide in the belly as she was before. The width of a cattle beast is rarely a reliable indicator of the size or presence of anything she may have inside.

The week passed for me in a blur of exams.

Friday the 21st

530 was in early labour as I left this morning, so I waited all day to hear some news from Stephan. Eventually, at around 3pm, things started happening. When the calf was born, Stephan says 530 tried to kill it, pummelling it into the ground with her head, trampling it with her feet, until he chased her off and rescued it.

We did what we could to get her to accept the calf, but she wouldn't be milked and kicked out so viciously any time the calf went near her udder, that we decided we'd cease risking physical injury to ourselves as well and give the calf the frozen colostrum we milked and saved from Imagen.

We left the calf with her mother, in the hope that 530 would settle down, but anytime the calf came near, she ran and bulldozed it with her head, smashing her into the rails, gate, fences and ground. I wondered if she'd kill it or if we'd end up with a badly injured calf, but it still seemed best to wait and see if things would come right. We left them out at the yards in the large grassy enclosure for the night.