The Farm in Diggers Valley

The week beginning the 1st of March 2008.
Saturday the 1st
huge Puriri

This is possibly the largest Puriri on the farm. It's difficult to convey a sense of their size in photographs. Looking up along their enormous branches, I am always overwhelmed by the shear bulk of them.

The first branches of this tree are above six feet from the ground, although looking at the photograph, I can't remember exactly how far up they are in reality. Up in the canopy sit epiphytes as big as cows - those perching Lily plants which fall down and which the cattle then take great delight in eating - the plants still called widow-makers in reference to the number of men they have presumably killed over the years. I'm generally quite careful under these trees when there's wind, or after rain, for that is when most of those plants fall out of the trees, sometimes bringing branches down with them.

Isla's daughter crossing the stream

We had enough rain overnight to put the river over the bridge again, which meant the streams were high and flowing fast out the back as well. I watched Isla's daughter crossing this stream after her mother, looking quite perturbed as her feet kept being moved off to her left every time she tried to set them down. She had started out walking straight across the crossing.

486's steer calf

This was just a funny photo - I was stroking 486, mother of this calf and he was watching me from the other side of her. He's always been cheeky, bouncing around behind me whenever I go into the paddock.

Sunday the 2nd

Raining again, Stephan out trapping and I spent most of the day writing the website, trying to catch up on my summer-delayed pages.

Monday the 3rd
Ivy and the Squiglet

Ivy's developed swelling under her jaw again. Having drenched her two weeks ago, I doubt it's an internal parasite-related issue. Old cows will apparently develop this sort of oedema as their hearts begin to fail. I continue to keep Ivy alone with her calf because I can thus ensure she has constant access to good feed, rather than the sporadic feeding the others experience as their big mob eats out a paddock. I try to keep her in paddocks near the other cattle, for company, but that's not always possible.


This is not a good look! Demelza, with all that mud on both sides of her back legs, has been subject to a good deal of mounting by some animal/s with muddy legs. It most likely indicates that she's been on heat during the last day or two, but it is possible that like many of the cows, she will tolerate a lot of messing about by her son, which is completely meaningless in terms of her pregnancy status. I'll watch her again in three weeks for any similar behaviour and confirm her status at pregnancy testing time.

Tuesday the 4th
live capture trap

Stephan has been repairing this live capture trap for Terry, with whom he works for the NZ Kiwi Foundation. We set it on the deck to see how well it works.

trapped cat

Success! Foxton, caught.

I also managed to catch Spice, backwards, as she sat inside the trap and then backed further in when Finan started batting her with his paws from outside. There's a platform at the back of the trap with a stiff wire attached, over which goes the ring attached to the string holding the door open. When the platform is depressed, the door is released and the animal is trapped.

Live capture traps must always be checked daily, for even if the animal is one you do not value, humane disposal is essential. To dispatch the animal, the trap is gently tipped onto the door, the door slid back into the open position so that the exit is blocked by the ground, and the animal shot.

We probably won't do that to Foxton.

Wednesday the 5th
hot heifer and attendants

557, one of the unmated yearlings, was on heat. She's the tallest of the black animals in the picture, surrounded by five excited little suitors, most of which were steers.

I took the whole mob along to the driveway area this morning so a prospective buyer could come and have a look at the steers. They'll not be ready to go for a few weeks yet, but I think my visitors just wanted to ensure that the animals are as nice as the ones they had last time. They should actually be better, year by year.

Stephan spent the morning clearing another section of the road fence along the bottom of the hill over the road. Replacing it is a long-overdue job and is going to take some seriously hard work on his part. However, once done, the fence should require little maintenance for many years.

moving the big mob up the Windmill lane

Later in the afternoon I moved the big mob from the Flat 1 paddock out to the Big Back. That's hot 557 on the left, turning back the wrong way as she's circled by anyone else who wants to ride her. Being on heat must be so uncomfortable!

There's a young Cabbage Tree above the back of the third animal on the right, growing in the drain area beside the lane. The seed would presumably have been dropped by a passing bird, since there are no trees in the immediate vicinity. It's about five years old now, and I hope that when we next have the drains cleared, we can leave it undisturbed.

There's grass everywhere! The Kikuyu is again growing exceptionally well, so the cattle are moving around the farm very quickly, keeping the paddocks under control, growing like weeds, themselves. It has been an excellent season for us.

Thursday the 6th
Virago Connection 60 AB

Irene's son, #60, now nearly five months old. He's one of the calves left entire (uncastrated), being a son of AI bull Ardrossan Connection X15.

Friday the 7th

Some exceptionally nice visitors arrived late this afternoon. Sarah and Mike are coming to the end of a trip around the country, from Somerset in England. Sarah has been corresponding with me since finding the website in November 2002, and asked if they could visit while they were here.

As I have said on many occasions, this sort of contact with people we would otherwise never meet, is one of the great, ongoing benefits of all this endless website writing! Without exception, all our visitors have been delightful people. Feel free to join their number, whenever you think you might be in the neighbourhood. And, in case you're afraid to ask, no we don't charge people anything at all.