The week beginning the 29th of December 2007
Saturday the 29th
Paradise duck

The young duck is now alone, since her family appear to have gone away for the summer moult. If she stays here, she should be reasonably safe.

In the evening, I potted out a container of flax seedlings, counting 200 of them when I had finished! That will be a lot of flax when it grows up. I shall have to think about where to plant it out. There are a number of river banks which could probably do with some planting to reduce scouring during flooding and it's quite good for the cattle, if I can provide it with some protection from being grazed to extinction. I'll let the seedlings grow on in the little pots for a while, then plant them out.

Sunday the 30th
cattle in the House Paddock

The air was so clear and the light so bright this morning, that it seemed one could see everything with crystal clarity. Beautiful.

Before moving these cattle into the House paddock, where they're pictured, I spent some time watching for signs of heat and brushing some of them in the sunshine. 528, one of the yearling heifers, has never let me touch her before, but this morning she let me brush all over her body. Some of them are becoming extraordinarily tame.

frolicking cattle

While some of the cattle got their heads down for some serious new grazing upon being let into the new paddock, others went quite silly and ran and jumped around the place, including all over the cricket pitch.

This evening the Paradise Duck's mother was back in the paddock with her again.

Monday the 31st
Stephan and Ella, in matching chairs

Stephan spent the day making a miniature deck-chair for Ella. I measured Ella and myself and calculated that she'd need an 80% sized chair.

Dotty and Ella

A little later she and I went out to check the sheep. Dotty came over with one of her lambs, to see who Ella was.

Ella and Stephan, swimming

Then time for some swimming in the pond.

Tuesday the 1st of January, 2008
New Year's Day
Michelle and Ella and Stephan

Stephan built us another pergola out of the Kanuka poles he cut for the structure last year. (We dismantled it before the big storm came through in August last year, in case it blew down!) Then he took Michelle and Ella out on the tractor to cut some greenery to thatch the top of the pergola and give us some lovely, cool shade in the garden.

Ella herding some cattle

We brought the Insemination mob in to the yards this afternoon, so I could put heat indicator patches on those who either didn't have them, or where they'd been activated already and needed replacement. Ella turned out to be a very useful cowgirl, with excellent balance with the animals. The cattle are usually very nervous around children, but didn't seem so with Ella.
By balance I mean the ability to sense how far to walk toward them to get them to move in the direction we wanted, rather than going in too close and having them take off in the wrong direction. Some people have it, some don't. I think you can learn it, but some never do.

Wednesday the 2nd
Paradise duck

The Paradise Duck spent an hour or so outside the kitchen window this morning, then gradually made her way around to the front of the house, then down the driveway and into the pond. Then she was gone, probably over in the direction of the neighbours, where she won't be as safe from dogs or hunters. I suspect we won't see her again.

Iphigenie and her friend Francesco arrived this evening, after wending their way northwards from Auckland, via the Bay of Islands. Iphigenie is a very dear friend and Francesco, from Italy, her flatmate. Because Iphigenie had booked their accommodation some weeks ago, Ella and Michelle kindly volunteered to spend their last night in a tent on the lawn.

Thursday the 3rd
Ella in her new chair

Ella said, yes, thank you, she'd rather like the Pohutukawa-coloured paint in the tin Stephan found, for her new chair.

Michelle and Ella packed up their car and left late this morning, on their way to join Mummy Deb on a camping holiday a couple of hours south of here. They took Ella's lovely new chair with them.

flowering Northern Rata

Stephan was due to do the trap line around our boundary, so offered to take Iphigenie and Francesco with him for the walk. I met up with them when they were in the Bush Flat paddock, where I had to check some of the cattle. While we were looking at and identifying various trees, we noticed one of the Rata in flower far above us. I had assumed the flowering season was past, because the huge tree at the front finished flowering some days ago.

There are two Northern Rata in this area which will stand as independent trees after their host trees rot away. One of them is actually holding up what remains of its original host and the other is still sharing root-space and light with the host tree in whose branches its seed would first have germinated. They're not parasitic, but would appear to eventually out-compete their host trees for nutrients when they reach a good size. By that time they're often so solid that they continue to stand on their own.

Puriri berries

The berries, or drupes, of one of the Puriri trees in the Bush Flat paddock. I noticed these the other afternoon in the sunshine, in all their varying colours. Puriri flower most of the year round, but the berries are not always present.

mating in progress

Around in the Back Barn paddock things were very exciting, with three cows on heat at once and the bull trying to see to all of them. The cows were all riding each other and the bull doing his part whenever he could. I watched him fall over onto his side at one point when he stumbled on some uneven ground. No wonder bulls get injured! Why they couldn't all go down onto the flat instead of doing all this on the side of a hill, I don't know.

During my 11pm check on the Insemination mob, I watched another three cows on, and coming on heat, all of which would need insemination first thing in the morning.

Friday the 4th

Up early this morning to inseminate Abigail, her daughter Demelza and Queenly 23. I can't remember the last time I had to do three all at one time.


This is not a good look. This is 530, one of the yearling heifers and I have no idea what's causing the swelling under her jaw. It could be a bad case of intestinal parasitism or some infection in her head or mouth. She's a bit depressed, but doesn't seem particularly distressed in any way. These things always happen just before weekends. I am not quite worried enough about her to call the vet out, but will keep a close eye on her. She was inseminated five days ago.