The week beginning the 1st of November 2008
Saturday the 1st

Two of the four Starling eggs in our mailbox have hatched.

Irene 48's calf

The third and last of the known Neospora-positive heifers calved today, a little heifer; mother and baby doing well after a slow start. Irene 48 looked a bit wobbly after the birth and the calf was quite weak looking. I took Irene some molasses and the calf got up and fed. She's so little and thin.

Mike and his younger two sons came out for a visit this afternoon, helped Stephan milk Imagen and then we had a very pleasant barbecued meal out in the garden together, including homemade ice-cream for desert.

Walking through the Mushroom Paddock this evening I noticed how much drier it all is since last Monday when we walked here with our Labour Day visitors. Stephan managed to do a bit of track maintenance with the back-blade on the tractor earlier in the day, making it possible for me to ride a little further out on the farm on the bike. There's more rain coming, again.

Sunday the 2nd

Nineteen millimetres of rain fell overnight and there are puddles everywhere again.

Stephan went off to a Kiwi-aversion dog training day in which the Kiwi Foundation is involved, and I got on with some writing.

Having kept the ewes and lambs out in the driveway for a few days so I could watch for further signs of flystrike, I moved them out onto Flat 1 again this afternoon.

539 had her last antibiotic injection and is now on her way back to join her mob, looking much better than she did a few days ago. The material left in her uterus will eventually liquefy and while she may be slightly delayed in returning to fertility, she should be fine.

I spent some time in the sunshine this afternoon with Irene 48's new little heifer, stroking her amazingly soft face. She's beautiful.

wandering geese

There are some geese in the neighbourhood and they seem to like our Road Flat paddock. We do not yet have quite enough grass growing to be entirely happy about this situation! However, we are assured it will be resolved before very long. Geese eat a lot of grass.

Starling chicks

When first hatched the starlings are so floppy and fragile, with their fuzzy fine down and no eyes. There are now three hatched from the four eggs.

Walking around the hillside in the PW this afternoon I heard and then saw a Shining Cuckoo and in the sunshine its feathers were most definitely shining! I'm finding them very hard to catch with the camera, because they flit about from tree to tree. They're almost swallow-like in some aspects of their flight, but rather more substantial in size.

They're everywhere at the moment, probably mating and preparing to lay their single eggs in the nests of the tiny Riroriro, the Little Grey Warbler. I haven't heard any of the chicks around in the trees yet.

Shining Cuckoo

Later I watched a Tui singing in a tree - I could only hear the occasional note, but it was singing for all it was worth. Much of the Tui's song is in frequencies beyond the range of human hearing.

Monday the 3rd
a big nail in a tree

During the school holidays a couple of Jane's grandsons did some building in our large tree conservation area. Kids building shelters in the bush are just fine; using six inch nails in very old live plants is not!

We have removed the several nails and hope the Nikau palms will recover from this assault! We shall suggest to those boys, when next they're here, that they use only natural materials they find already in the environment.

With a looming article deadline for Growing Today (about to become Lifestyle Block), I spent the day writing.

Tuesday the 4th

Today I planned NCEA exam sessions, all day, organising supervisors, seating plans, checking student rolls and so on. It's a huge job, but the sort of organisational work I enjoy. The job suits me very well because most of the pre-exam period work can be done at home, in between watching over the stock.

We caught another turkey and eleven chicks this evening, from over the river on Jane's place where we spotted them last night, and caged them separately inside the larger turkey nursery enclosure. The turkey is one of ours, but they've been nesting all over the place.

dessicated weasel

Stephan has been out trapping today for the Kiwi Foundation and brought home a desiccated weasel from one of the traps.

dessicated weasel

Those teeth can do a lot of damage out in the bush! The animal was caught in one of the kill traps, probably two or three weeks ago, when the bait was still fresh, so it is quite dry now, and quite smelly.
The animal is identifiable as a weasel because it is small and has a brown tail. Stoats are larger and have black-tipped tails.

Wednesday the 5th
Stephan bottling beer

Stephan, after talking about it for a long time, has taken to brewing his own beer. The process is rather easier these days than it once was, in that one can buy ready-mixed ingredients which only need to be mixed in a barrel and kept at the right temperature for a week or so and then bottled. Tonight he bottled the first brew.

Overnight 51mm of rain fell, which brought the river up and over the bridge in the early hours of this morning.

In our mailbox, the Starling nesting box, there were three growing chicks and an unhatched egg. Today there are only two chicks. I could find no sign of the third. This often happens and I'd love to know why - do the parents cull the smallest chick if feed supplies are less plentiful than expected? I've seen Mynah birds on the mailbox, but I can't imagine why they'd take only one chick if they were bent on destruction.
I took the unhatched egg out and threw it away, leaving the two chicks with a bit more room.

Thursday the 6th
the two-year-old bulls

I can't feed the bulls well enough here to make them look like the fantastic animals they have the potential to be, so I'll show you their faces instead. I wish they could tell me what's in their genes!

446's calf, which we treated for navel ill, still looks really odd in his front legs and joints. I wonder if he was slightly deformed at birth? Perhaps I injured him when pulling him out - it was certainly pretty hard work because he was so huge. He seems easily active enough though, so I shall just keep an eye on him.

Our water supply stopped today after slowing right down after the big rain yesterday, so Stephan went off to fix it, again. I doubt we'd put up with this unreliability if the water wasn't so lovely and so plentiful under normal circumstances.

Friday the 7th

Ranu 31 had a heifer calf this morning, so that leaves only the two late heifers to go.

It has occurred to me that the Ranu sisters, #31 and #34, could be possible Neospora carriers, because their mother came here with Irene who has tested positive. The four stud cows I purchased from Takou Bay stud in May 2003 were for sale because they had aborted their calves. The farm manager told me it was because they'd inadvertently been allowed to graze some Macrocarpa foliage. When Irene tested positive, I began to wonder if instead of a Macrocarpa abortion loss, they'd actually had Neospora (and perhaps not known it) because their empty rate for that season was about 30%. It had been a particularly nasty winter and spring, but that sort of level of non-pregnant cows was extraordinary.

I was walking in the Swamp/Frog paddock this evening and on the hillside amongst the cows were a family of piglets. I wish they'd all go away and live on someone else's farm! Or I wish we knew someone who'd hunt pigs with the intention of eliminating them. They do so much damage to pasture and our native surroundings.