The Farm in Diggers Valley

The week beginning the 26th of July 2008.
Saturday the 26th

A horribly cold and wet morning dawned to show me the young mob all gathered together in a corner of the Flat 5 paddock, as if they'd been blown there by the rain and wind. Cattle are odd in the way they often head away from the weather and won't look instead for somewhere sheltered to gather. We went out with some hay and enticed them down to the bottom of Flat 2 where they could shelter under the trees.

walking through the flood waters

There was quite a bit of rain, but as usual we missed out on the ferocity of the storm which had some pretty nasty effects elsewhere. There had been ample warning from MetService during the preceding days, so we were all prepared for the nasty weather.

Sunday the 27th

I went walking this afternoon to see if I could find all the cows in the large area they're grazing. I found 449, the cow who appeared to be in the process of losing her calf last week, with a brown lumpy lot of dead afterbirth protruding from beneath her tail. It was obviously annoying her, but she seemed well enough, so I am adopting a "wait and see" approach for the time being. After all, in many cases a cow will lose a pregnancy without anyone seeing anything, so it is reasonable to expect that this abortion will progress without any problems. I'll keep an eye on her to ensure she clears the afterbirth and that she continues to look healthy - any depression in her mood would indicate that she's feeling off-colour and that it may be necessary to intervene to ensure that the fetus is out and that no infection has set in. I'll send her to the works as soon as it's convenient to do so.

We gave Dotty a 5in1 vaccination today, in a gap between rain showers. She's due to lamb on the 11th, just over two weeks from now, so for the sake of the lambs' safety in their first weeks, she needed to have it today. I decided to do only her at this stage, because of the inclement weather, and the other ewes are not due until a couple of weeks after Dotty.

Monday the 28th
Opua ferry

This afternoon we headed off on holiday again - another of our winter mini-breaks - this time to Russell in the Bay of Islands. We drove down to Opua and caught the car ferry to the other side - there were, surprisingly, two ferries running, shuffling from one side to the other. They really weren't very full. It did mean one didn't have to wait very long for the next ride though.

Pōmare Bay

A view of Pōmare Bay at about 4.30pm, on our way from the Ferry to Russell.

The Duke of Marlborough Hotel

Our destination: The Duke of Marlborough Hotel. Jill (my mother) and Bruce have stayed in Russell on a couple of occasions lately, spending the night in a motel and dining at the Duke of Marlborough's restaurant, where they've eaten some delicious Angus steak dinners which they'd said they particularly enjoyed. This time they wanted us to come with them and planned that we would all stay in the Hotel itself, since there is an off-season special deal, which includes the room, dinner and breakfast.

Dinner was the best restaurant meal I've had in some time! What a fantastic combination of delicious flavours and the steak was superb.

Before and after we dined, we sat in front of the open fire with our drinks. It really was quite delightful.

Tuesday the 29th

We had a very comfortable night, although sometime around 3am there was some torrential rain, which caused a great deal of noise and woke us.

We had breakfast, packed up and then went for a walk about the town. We visited those art and craft galleries which were open on a wet winter's morning, including the Entrance Gallery, a cooperative outlet for a number of artists, including painters, fabric artists, a potter, jewellery creators and a shoe-maker.

Just before noon we headed home, still in the rain. I took a number of photos on the way, of wet animals, various ideas for magazine articles occurring to me as we travelled.

At home things were just as wet as they were when we left and the young stock had made a huge mess in their paddock, from which I moved them to new grazing. There's another big storm forecast to hit us this afternoon, so we'll be battening down the hatches, again.

Stephan feeding the bulls

Stephan took the bulls a load of hay, having to fend them off as he carried it out into the middle of the paddock.

wet muddy cattle in a boggy paddock

This is the state of paddocks all over Northland, from our observations over the last couple of days. I had just let the young mob into this paddock - you can see their tracks, where they've walked out from the gateway. Some of them came back to me again, obviously dissatisfied with the new offering.

Wednesday the 30th

The storm which was forecast didn't come to much here, other than a few gusts of wind and a bit of rain. It hit other parts of the country much harder.

I caught up with cow 449 today to ensure she's still looking alright. She's clear of the dead afterbirth. If I hadn't noticed her aborting her calf over the last few days, I wouldn't know she isn't still pregnant.

Friday the 1st of August
young Cabbage Tree

This is a Cabbage Tree or Tī Kōuka, Cordyline australis. This is the second one I have found growing in the same long drain which starts up alongside the Windmill paddock and comes down the length of Flat 1, where this one is. We will have to be careful next time we have the drains cleared, to try and avoid damaging them.

These sunny spells are such a huge relief in the otherwise unrelenting wetness of this winter.

wet paddock wet paddock

Flat 2, with the grass green and growing, but there is water sitting just below the leaf level all over the paddock. Every step is a squelch which creates a muddy trail as one progresses across the paddock.