The week beginning the 27th of December 2008
Saturday the 27th
travelling semen bank travelling semen bank

The semen I ordered has, thankfully, arrived in town. I drove in and dropped Stephan at the venue of a party for which he is cooking a couple of sheep on a spit, collected the bank and came home again. In the cool of the evening, I transferred the new semen from the travelling bank into Greg's bank which I have here already.

Stephan and Christina (who took delivery of it) said it looked like a Dalek and wandered round saying "inseminate, inseminate" in that particular way you'd recognise if familiar with Dr Who!

As if they knew everything was ready, the first heifer came on heat late this evening, so she'll be inseminated sometime tomorrow.

Sunday the 28th
Stephan, Bob and some cattle in the lane

Bob, my half-brother, and Shirley came to visit us today and brought us a fabulous lunch of Vichyssoise and boerewurst (cold Leek and Potato Soup and a very long and tasty South African sausage). It was good to see them here again - I'm not sure if they've been in the mean time as well, but I know they were here for my birthday about three years ago, so high time for a visit! Bob blogs.

Before lunch we went out to bring the cattle to the yards, so I could inseminate 561 when the time was right - I thought I'd do her immediately, but discovered she was still standing firmly and decided I'd leave her for a little while.

After lunch Bob, Stephan and I took 561 to the yards and I did the first insemination of the season, which didn't go swimmingly well. Heifers can be really difficult to inseminate, with their tiny wee cervixes. The heifer behaved nicely, but the insemination didn't feel like it would be a great success. Still, you never know: one little wriggling sperm might just make it to the right place.

keen bulls

Poor bulls. I brought the cull cows and young stock past their paddock later this afternoon and they're so keen to get out and do the job they're here for. It's not their fault their sires have faulty genes!

cattle next door

We took the cull and young cattle out the front gates and along the road to the Road Flat paddock and their relatives who live over the road at William and Lisa's place, came running down the hill to see what was going on. Some of them are looking fantastic! They've been fed much better than my yearlings have and I'm very pleased to see them doing so well.

blue berry

Dianella nigra growing on the side of the road. I don't think I've ever noticed it flower - my books tell me the flowers are greenish white - but the berries are very striking.

Monday the 29th
cows and calves, resting

A whole lot of the people who were here the other day turned up again today, with extras! As well as most of Elizabeth's family, a number of Karl's came too, so we had Daniel, Mere, Maureen and Geneva, Mathew, Dylan, Ryan and Sean, Sarah and Karl and Kerehoma, William and Elizabeth, Miriam, Simon, and Jill and us. Most of them went out for a walk to the hill behind our pines.

Before they went for the walk, the cows were all peacefully sitting around in the House paddock, but being a polite herd, they all stood up for the passing people.

a walking party cows and people

After the walk, the party came back for swimming and then lunch, most of which they'd brought with them. We have had a number of such happy guests lately, bringing us meals and company!

Simon, mid-air

Some people threw themselves at the water repeatedly...


Some really wanted to but weren't allowed to do so on their own, and had to be rescued before they did so by accident...

Geneva at the edge of the pond

Some people were quite happy to simply sit and watch...

Ryan in the pond with Stephan

And others, once encouraged and offered assistance, had a great time!

Tuesday the 30th
calves lining up to eat blackberries

These calves are all lined up along Stephan's finest blackberry-picking 'hedge'. They don't appear to be stripping all the fruit though, so I'm not bothering to put electric tapes up to stop them.


One of the two species of dragonfly we commonly see on the pond.

surviving Kauri sapling

The Kauri lives! I thought it was dead. We planted it in the reserve area at the bottom of Flat 1, then the heifers got in over the winter and rubbed on it and nibbled its growing tip and the sheep keep using it as a scratching post and it stood for a long time as a forlorn-looking stick. Now it's alive, I shall do something about stopping all that wicked animal damage.

cattle on pasture-control duty

After putting some electric tape and standards around the Kauri, I let the cows and calves down in to the triangle area to clean out the rather long grass. They were a large mob to fit into a small area, but that's the way to deal to unruly pasture.

Wilting Walnut

This is the Japanese Walnut I ringbarked a few weeks ago. It's still looking pretty green, but there's a slight lightness to the foliage which is gradually becoming more noticeable.

a water dam in Quarry Road

I went up to the Airport this afternoon to collect Jane who was returning from a visit to her children down in Marton and on the way noticed some nice-looking Angus stock in a paddock by the road. On the way back it was this view I saw, the cattle all having gone down for a drink from that rather lovely dam.
There are a couple of cattle in the water - there's a lot of scummy material on top of the water which has been blown into the part the cattle are standing in.

tired ragwort pickers

Back home work had been continuing in my absence. Simon and Dylan arrived sometime before noon and went out with Stephan to pick ragwort. They came home pretty hot and tired, but had done most of the right side of the farm. Great stuff!

Wednesday the 31st
Bella in a fight

We had some family visitors today whom we haven't seen for many years. This is a small country in population size, but it takes a lot of travelling to get from here to Alexandra down in the South Island - so we were very pleased that Peter and Anne came up here and came to see us!

This afternoon I brought Imagen, Bella and Squiglet into the paddock the large mob of cattle were leaving, so they could join them while they were distracted with new feed. Imagen set off and spent some time being chased around the new paddock by 478 in particular and then Bella had a to-do with some of the calves which had been slow to move between paddocks. Surprisingly she gave as good as she got, despite the steer calves being quite a lot bigger than she.

Stephan diving into the pond

Stephan said, "you can't put that photo on there!" I'm not sure why. He hasn't read the website for ages, so maybe he's unaware of all the far worse situations and poses I've caught him in.

Having a swimmable pond at the bottom of the garden during a hot summer is fantastic!

milk foam on the grass

You can always tell if a cow has been feeding a calf around here: milk foam on the grass. This probably doesn't happen if a cow doesn't have a lot of milk, but those calves in my herd which have very milky mothers always drip lumps of milky foam onto the ground as they feed.

We invited Lynn and Kees around for a barbecue meal and a few drinks to see out the year, but we were so tired we were dropping off by 10pm, so had to ask if they'd mind going home! I still had to go out for the last cow-check of the night, but then we slept.

That was 2008.