The Farm in Diggers Valley

The week beginning the 19th of January 2008.
Saturday the 19th

Bravely, or foolishly, I posted the pictures below on a US discussion forum on cattle and was told very firmly that they're rubbish. That's a bit of a pity, since they're the best of my yearling pedigree heifers. I write this by way of a disclaimer, so you're all fairly warned that in the opinion of some, I may have no idea what I'm really doing at all when it comes to cattle!

Dexie 46 Irene 48

According to the comments received (and I am bearing in mind that they only had these two photos to look at), the heifers are too straight in the back leg, too shallow and narrow through the chest - have no "spring of rib", a term I've often heard, but have yet to have someone with their hands on an animal adequately explain to me - and don't look anything like any of the other progeny of their sire! They are apparently small and immature-looking, lightly muscled - even underfed.

If anybody would like to add their own opinions, or query anything on that list of faults, please let me know.

Personally I'm still pretty pleased with them. They're not quite as post-legged as the photos show when I watch them in the paddock and really, when it comes to their ability to do their job here, I don't mind if they look immature at this stage, since in a couple of months time, they may look quite different again. Adolescent cattle, like humans, go through uneven growth periods and at around 400kg, they're both well above this country's liveweight targets for their age and breed. They are Dexie 46, Abigail's daughter and Irene 48, Irene 698's daughter, both sired by Ardrossan Connection X15. Throughout their early life, Dexie has looked better than Irene.

sheep in F1

One of the ewes was behaving oddly - twitching and running along with her head down - as if she might have flystrike, so we brought them in for closer examination. We couldn't find any maggots at all, so perhaps she was just running away from the little stinging flies which seem to be around at present.

Sunday the 20th
Queenly 23's fluffy ears

I was struck by the fuzzy quality of Queenly 23's ears as I walked amongst the cows today. Queenly is a very little cow, especially considering her very solidly large mother; however she is a couple of years away from physical maturity yet.

We vaccinated the last of the calves today; I'm glad to have it finished. Afterwards I separated Ivy and Isla from the others because Ivy appeared to be of some interest to the bull.

Tropical Cyclone Funa is on its way to us and it has been a very warm and windy day.

Monday the 21st

There isn't enough power in the electric fences! This morning I went out to rearrange a couple of mobs - take #45 bull out and put his cows with #49 - and then discovered #49 already in #45's paddock! I don't know which of them may have sired the calf 538 will probably have as a result of being on heat and both of the bulls being present. (If it's a bull it'll be a steer, so it won't matter too much, but I do like to know.)

We did some drafting and put everything right and Stephan went off in search of the fence problem.

Tuesday the 22nd
Nikau flowers in the river

These are Nikau palm flowers which have dropped from far above the river. It took me a moment to work out what they were and where they'd come from, the Nikau being so tall.

Nearby is the suspected Kiwi burrow and while it has been deserted by any large creature (evidenced by the build up of cobwebs in the entrance) it now has some new inhabitants. There is a bumble bee nest inside. I noticed a number of insects flying in and out of the large hole, so carefully went closer to see what they were. There's an eerie hum coming from deep in the hole.

Wednesday the 23rd

We had a visitor this afternoon and evening. Polly from Pouto, who has been a website reader and had occasional correspondence with us for some years was in Kaitaia on a training course, so came out for a look around the farm and a meal. It was very nice to meet her, at last.

Thursday the 24th

I moved some of the cattle this afternoon out of the Bush Flat paddock. As they wandered across the river crossing and up into the lane, white-faced 416 did a bit of river-bank browsing along the way, picking off and devouring a lovely lush branch of the very toxic Tutu. It is not the first time I've watched my cattle eat it, so I hope she'll be ok, but it still worries me. That stuff is reputed to have killed an elephant! I made sure she went into a paddock with lots of grass, so she'll have enough feed to dilute the toxicity of the Tutu.

Muscovy ducks

These Muscovy ducks do whatever they please. They fly around and into the garden and eat the ripe strawberries, nest high up in the Puriri trees so we can't get hold of their eggs, eat a lot of expensive food ...

I don't know why we keep them.

Friday the 25th

I've been spending hours and hours out picking ragwort. There's much less than there was, overall, but still pockets of it in full flower and early seed. I did two two-hour stints during today.

416 is still alive and well after her Tutu snack.