The Farm in Diggers Valley

The week beginning the 16th of August 2008
Saturday the 16th
Dotty's lambs

Dotty's lambs are now five days old and bouncing around happily.

Puriri caterpillar hole

This is the newly-constructed covering of a Puriri Moth caterpillar burrow in the base of a huge Puriri tree. I pulled the original cap off the other day when I was investigating whether or not I'd found a "live" hole. My suspicion was on account of the very wet leakage from the hole, indicating the presence of water as well as sap, which I thought unusual. Obviously there's somebody in there who has closed the door again.

Sunday the 17th

I had to go hunting for a couple of cows this morning: 371 and 418 had not been seen for several days. 418 has always been a wanderer and I've spent many hours hunting for her across the hills, so these days I don't worry too much if I can't immediately find her. Both eventually showed up.

Stephan was pushing the rest of the cow mob up the lane to go out the back again and when we met up he mentioned having seen something odd about the rear end of white-faced 416. I thought it was just a bit of mucous to start with, but as she's a very quiet cow, I was able to investigate a little more thoroughly and discovered some membrane in her vulva. How very odd. It's clean and does not smell and is firmly anchored within. She still looks heavy enough in her belly to be carrying her calf, so we'll just wait and watch.

fallen tree across the river

After moving the cows we drove a couple of miles up the road to help some very nice neighbours with a small problem. This large Kanuka tree had fallen over with all the rain and river flooding, and there was some risk that it would cause a blockage at that point in the river, which could be dangerous for a nearby dwelling and the rest of the riverbank. Stephan made a number of well-placed cuts and then we all dragged the bits out of the river.

view up the river

Parts of the river are extremely beautiful - the Waikawa, which flows down through Diggers Valley. In some places it runs through paddocks and has no vegetation to shade it, but in others it is as it probably ever was.

heifers lying around

I put the heifers into the riverbank area today (the same river as above), rather than continuing to cut the grass from there for them. They're hungry and have been standing around in the wet for so long. Many of them had a quick chomp of the grass and then took the opportunity to lie down somewhere where there isn't water in puddles beneath them.

Poor little Curly (the brown heifer) has bleeding legs because her skin has been far too long in the wet. There's not much I can do about it, but I'm glad she'll be out of the mud and water for a little while.

Monday the 18th
Cyclamen in flower

We moved a lot of cattle around this morning, fed many of them, packed a bag and left for Whangarei at 10.30. Stephan went straight on to have an afternoon's woodturning tuition and I went with Jill (my mother) to visit Bruce, who's spending a few days as a resident in the local Hospice, while they get his medications settled so he may continue living comfortably. This is not, strictly speaking, my news to tell, so I haven't before now. Bruce has cancer which is not treatable, other than in a palliative sense, and he's looking rather thin these days! We've been spending whatever time we can with the two of them, since they were enjoying those occasions and hopefully, after this short stint, he will be able to carry on for a while doing as he likes.

Jill and I went shopping and came home for her to make dinner and at some point it occurred to us that we could find out if Bruce would like to come home to share the meal with the three of us. He checked out the menu at the Hospice and decided ours would do just as well, and I went down and collected him. We dined and then I dropped him back to his plush accommodation a couple of hours later.

The Cyclamen I gave Jill on our last trip, is now in full flower and looking fabulous.

Tuesday the 19th

I finally discovered where all the cameras are for sale in Whangarei and went there to hold one that I'm particularly interested in, and to ask a lot more questions. I didn't buy, but was sorely tempted. I need to do some more research and thinking.

The thing upon which I did spend what seemed an enormous amount of money, was an 85% goose down pillow. It's glorious! I've used feather pillows for years, since a physiotherapist advised it during some neck distress I experienced long ago, but I've never had the pleasure of resting my head in such luxury! My old pillow has started to moult, with nasty sharp little quills making their way through the fabric. I calculate that this new pillow, over its expected life span of at least five years, will cost me around one cent per hour of use. The price sounds far better that way.

We arrived home by 4pm, in time to move the young stock and get thoroughly wet and muddy again.

Wednesday the 20th
cattle camping spot

A typical "camping" spot up in the Big Back paddock. The big piles of manure will have been deposited by the heifers while they lay under the tree - and there's a lot of it there! The Totara trees are favoured shelters, since the ground can often be quite dry beneath them.

Flat 2 from the hills

I can't remember what I was thinking when I took this picture of Flat 2 from up at the top of the PW, other than being interested in perspective. The paddock is about 230m long (we are looking down the length of it) and only 50m across.

The colour differences are interesting from this distance, with the wet left bottom corner being quite different from the relatively less-sodden right side.

Thursday the 21st

This morning we attended the funeral of a woman I've known for nearly all my life. Marlene Greer was heavily involved in the Play Centre movement when I was very small; she was at the Yacht Club (MCYC: Mangonui County Yacht Club) at various times during my childhood and then a teacher during the two years I spent at Kaitaia College as a student. I've spent many happy hours in her company since then, with the women of Earth Spirit, a couple of miles up the road.

Some funerals are really positive experiences and this was certainly one, in some respects at least. The highlight for me was seeing a number of people I know in varying contexts all gathered together in connection with Marlene and each other. Some of those connections I had had no idea of before.

Jackie, our friend from Ruaroa Road a few kilometers away, came walking with me this afternoon - although mud-wading might be a more apt description. I enjoy going walking and seeing things through someone else's eyes for a while.

This evening we started feeding the young heifers Dairy Meal. I have been increasingly concerned about their condition, because we really haven't been able to grow enough grass on our continually sodden farm. They're not in too dreadful a state, but I don't want them to get to that point either.

Friday the 22nd
(un)neighbourly smog

Smog. Not something I expect out here, but one particular neighbour often burns things he probably shouldn't and the revolting smell of it often drifts in our direction. I find it particularly unpleasant when walking in the still morning air, filling my lungs with what ought to be the freshest air in the world, but which smells like it should not be inhaled.