The Farm in Diggers Valley

The week beginning Saturday the 27th of September 2008
Saturday the 27th
456's calf

Onix's daughter, 456, had calved sometime in the early hours of this morning and was now sleeping in the sunshine. It took me a little while to work out that she had been fed - she looked so floppy I made her get up to make sure she was alright.

367's calf

Grey 367 had only just calved when I first looked out the window this morning and the calf was all clean and dry and fed by the time I went for a closer look. She's had another grey daughter.

heifer 539's gappy teeth

These are the teeth of heifer 539, who will be two years old tomorrow. She has lost her first two deciduous teeth and the new adult ones have not yet erupted. This is one of the reasons for being very careful about the feed levels provided to R2 pregnant heifers: just when they need the most reliable supply of nutrients, they lose the ability to harvest them efficiently. She's going into the last month of pregnancy and the first weeks of lactation, which are high-demand times for feed, with a gappy mouth.

Clematis flowers

The Clematis vine at the top of the Big Back paddock is in flower again.

Sunday the 28th
heifers on the hill

Lazy farming: counting heifers without going up the hill. None of them are imminently due to calve, according to my calculations, but I don't leave them too long between close-up checks.

woodturned Rimu bowl

Kris and Terry have given Stephan a whole lot of wood for turning, so he made them a Rimu bowl to say thank you.

Stephan's recent wood-turning tuition is paying off in his ability to finish the wood nicely and he's enjoying the work far more than he has for some time.

Monday the 29th
heifer 529 in labour

I was out during the morning and in the afternoon went to bring some of the heifers from over the road, because their calving time is getting near.

Grey 529 had her tail out and kept it that way, so I was glad she was near the gate and easy to bring across the road. Within an hour and a half she had delivered a little black heifer calf.

Tuesday the 30th

Today we had to do something we weren't looking forward to in the least. Back in May we had a fourth visit from a heifer belonging to our then neighbours. The owners of the stock had been asked and advised to do something to prevent their stock wandering, but had not done so. Because their attitude to us, or me in particular, had been belligerent and aggressively unpleasant over several months, mostly in regard to their lax attitude to dog control, we decided we'd take some action to discourage them from allowing such transgressions to continue to occur and sent them a bill for damages incurred as a result of their heifer's visit. We included charging for our time in the middle of the night to round up the animal, testing the bull which mated the heifer (because she'd been out around the neighbourhood previously and we couldn't be sure she wasn't carrying something nasty we don't want), supplementary feed for the bulls while they remained in quarantine and so on. When they refused to pay and continued to shower me with email abuse, we made application to have the matter settled in the Disputes Tribunal and today was the date set for the hearing.

Fortunately for us these people have moved out of the area and so they attended the hearing by telephone from their nearest court house. We presented the facts of the case, which were simply that the events had occurred as we'd outlined and that we had been put to significant inconvenience which had cost us money and time and that we'd like those costs reimbursed. The Respondents presented what can only be described as a long-winded whinging complaint about my character, peppered with multiple irrelevant untruths! It is quite difficult to restrain oneself from protest when presented with a load of slanderous rubbish, but I did so knowing that what was being offered had absolutely no bearing on the case before the referee. I remain confounded by people who lie when they know you know they're lying. Do they live in a different world from the rest of us? How do they sleep at night?

The referee used interesting terms like 'distress damage feasant' (which I've had to look up since, because it didn't seem appropriate to ask him to spell it at the time) and negligence and cattle trespass and so on. We were offered the opportunity to negotiate a settlement between us, but because of the nature of the presentation from the Respondents, I was unwilling to engage in that process and asked that the referee settle the matter on points of law. The hearing was adjourned because time had run out and the referee advised that the decision would be made known to us within a couple of weeks.

clearing the Pines hillside

This is the Pines Paddock hillside where Stephan and a young helper were burning cut scrub yesterday. The Department of Conservation has moved the boundaries of the area within which fire permits are required because of proximity to the forest areas, so he'd had to go through the process of permit application before he could get on with this job.

I heard the first Pipiwharauroa - Shining Cuckoo - out the back this afternoon, in the warm sunshine.

Wednesday the 1st of October
Camp Paddock boundary fence

Stephan has been working on the Camp Paddock boundary fence, where the group of heifers escaped into the bush and then on into a neighbour's garden several weeks ago. We've discussed renovating the fence with that neighbour, but they're quite happy if it's fixed up to stock-proofness again without too much overhauling, because there is no pressure from their side, the block being reserved as regenerating bush. There's now a hot-wire up most of its length which should prevent any future pushing to create holes through which animals may escape. Part of the problem with such fencelines is that Totara trees (as pictured) grow up under and through the fence where there's no treading of animals, eventually stretching and breaking the wires. It is some decades since the fence was originally built and some time since any major maintenance was done.

female clematis vine

One of my new discoveries this year: a large female Clematis vine, growing over a group of trees in the Camp paddock.

female clematis flowers

I had to go and have a look in my Native Forest Guide to find out if the sexes of the plants were separate, since these flowers are so different from the ones I usually see.

Thursday the 2nd
Mike and the boys go survival camping

Mike brought his three sons out today for a "survival camp" on the farm. They went and set up a campsite where they've been out to cut wood on other visits, went fishing for eels for dinner and attempted to shoot rabbits.

Apparently one of the party didn't want to carry as much bedding as he sensibly needed and had quite a cold night!

Friday the 3rd

Some time during the night Abigail produced a daughter to the old bull with which I'd inseminated her. I still prefer heifers to bull calves in the stud herd, because they have a far better chance of being around for a long time. The influence of a bull will potentially be a lot wider within the herd, but the relationships I have with the cows are far longer and more comfortable than those with the bulls.

Goose on her nest

Madam Goose is sitting on a nest again. We still have no Gander, so she will have no Goslings.

an udder spraying milk

An udder which just won't wait! 548 was in the middle of delivering her calf and her udder started spraying milk.

548 is one of the two heifers in a picture at the end of last week, whose sister had twins last year; 548 produced a single long-legged heifer calf this afternoon.