The Farm in Diggers Valley

The week beginning the 31st of May 2008.
Saturday the 31st
delivering some weaners

Nine little calves went to their new home early this morning, just along and over the road. Lisa and William walked down and met us and the four of us walked them along from our driveway to their place and the calves went into more grass than they've seen for many weeks.

I like selling them locally for many reasons, one being the lack of hassles with getting them transported to their new homes!

Sunday the 1st of June
fencing fencing

The new fence up on the corner of the hill over the road. The strainer in the left-hand photo is the one Stephan was digging in last week. Stephan will batten the fence and the loose wire along the top will be tightened and electrified.
The posts look like they're at odd angles in the picture because of the angle from which I took the photo - well that's what Stephan reckons, anyway.

Delilah, fence pusher

Why, why, why, Delilah?

Delilah is Abigail's third daughter and the only one of her brood to have developed her mother's bad habit of fence-pushing. It seems to be something innate to some animals, rather than a habit they learn from each other. There's one other family in the herd which does this and again, not all of its members do. Barbed wire obviously doesn't stop them, since the top wire running tightly over Delilah's neck is barbed.

cattle careering down a hill

When I reached the bottom of the hill, there was an alarming thundering of hooves, as the heifers came hurtling down the steep slope. I wish they'd be more careful!

Monday the 2nd
curious Turkey

The turkeys turned up this morning and one discovered Mary Pūtangitangi. The turkey looked and sounded quite perturbed about our new lawn resident.

R1 bulls

Two of the bulls spend most of their time together, to the exclusion of the third. Irene's son #60 is always on the outer, for some reason, while #63 and #61, uncle and nephew, are usually together.

cows grazing in the drains

I brought the cows to the front of the farm and they came along the lane which hasn't been grazed for a while - I'd been keeping the cattle out of that part of the lane because I didn't want to have them obliterate Ivy's footprints while they were still clear.
The cows really enjoy eating grasses which grow in wet areas like the drain alongside the track.


I let them go at their own pace past Ivy. They're quite disturbed by the first smell of death, but seem to settle when they've been allowed time to make sure nothing dangerous is happening.

These two spent a long time smelling the air and looking at Ivy's body before eventually wandering off after the others. Neither is related to Ivy.

R1 bulls

The little bulls, still being quarantined in the House paddock, are getting hay every day to supplement the diminishing fresh grass. 61 and 63 come running for it, but loner 60 only sometimes joins them for a munch.

Tuesday the 3rd

Nathan the vet came out this morning to take a swab from the bull which was "exposed to" the straying heifer a couple of weeks ago. The procedure involved putting the bull in the head-bail and tying one of his hind legs back to a post so he wouldn't be able to kick Nathan while he probed him with a long rubber swab, which will now be sent off to a laboratory to see if he's carrying any nasty sexually-transmitted infection.

bovine pedicure

While we had him here, I got Nathan to give Irene a pedicure. She has been limping on her back right foot for some time and I noticed that the hoof had begun to grow unevenly, indicating the possibility of an injury as the cause of her discomfort. He scraped a lot of mal-formed hoof away, exposing some overgrowth of the inner tissue, which may have formed as the result of something as simple as a stone bruise. When he'd finished, he glued a plastic slipper onto the unaffected claw which will take the weight off the sore side of her foot and hopefully enable it to heal.

We kept Irene standing in the head-bail area so she'd be on dry concrete for a while longer while the glue hardened, and then kept her (and Isla for company) near the yards for a few more hours, before putting them back in a paddock.

R1 bulls in the lane

After Irene had had her standing-still time in the race, we put the three bulls around again and inserted their secondary ear tags. One or two of them may never legally require them, since they'll quite likely go directly from here to the works whenever I'm finished with them, but if I sell them to another farm for more breeding, we'll be glad we put the tags in while they were still relatively small.

The three little bulls, heading out to a new paddock at last!

Wednesday the 4th

I went out to a Women in Agribusiness day today at Okaihau, for a workshop on personal physical safety. This was not the sort of personal safety I used to do workshops on when I lived in the city when it was self defence in case of attack in the streets, but personal safety in regard to the extreme physical work one finds oneself doing as a farmer! To my surprise we learnt the maximum weight an average woman is supposed to lift is 16kg. All of us admitted to frequently dealing with weights greater than that, especially those of us who breed cattle, for there are often calf-related problems during which we end up lifting them around and none of them are that light.

Thursday the 5th
first frost of the season

Far too early for my liking: the first frost of the season.

Isla (in the middle of the picture) and the rest of the cows are cleaning up the House paddock and they didn't look at all keen to eat any of it this morning while it was encrusted with ice.


Somebody else must have got sick of the state of the road and requested a visit from the grader. We don't seem to be on any regular maintenance schedule and the road gets full of pot-holes and corrugations and then someone, or lots of people, phone the council and tell them we're sick of it and about three weeks later they send the contractors out with the grader. Usually, just after that, it pours with rain and the road is back to its usual parlous state again for the next few months.

Two of the non-pregnant R2 heifers were on heat together today, which I didn't discover until I'd already opened the gates to move them to a paddock next door to the three R2 bulls. I am very pleased that neither the heifers, nor the very-keen bulls were inclined to push or jump the electric fence between them. What I particularly mean is that they could probably quite easily go over the top if they really had a mind to, but they are well-trained enough by now not to attempt it.

Friday the 6th

I drafted five cows out of the main mob this evening as I moved the rest to fresh grazing. They are booked to go to the works and as usual it's a sad decision-making process. Two are animals which are reasonably good cows, but whose calves are enough below the others in growth and appearance to cause me to want to be rid of them from the herd. One of the others is Onix, my nephew Issa's cow, who is for some reason empty this year, but was already on the cull list. Issa wants the money not the cow, so it's time to finish that project.