The Farm in Diggers Valley

The week beginning the 5th of April 2008.
Saturday the 5th
Fertilizer spreading

Happily Ryan phoned this morning and said he could bring out the last load of fertilizer and spread it all over the flats. The conditions were near enough to perfect, so I was very pleased to have it done and relieved that we've got it on in good conditions and not missed our chance, with too much wet weather.
Stephan rode around with him for much of the time.

Just as I was reclining on the couch this evening in front of the television news, there were footsteps on the deck and there was ... the ram! After behaving so well for so long - and just after I'd written about that good behaviour - he ducked out under the electric fence this afternoon when the cows were going past and now here he is again. My main concern in seeing him on the deck, was that he might decide to fight the other ram he could see reflected in the big windows and then we'd have broken glass everywhere, so we moved him very quickly back to where he ought to be. Stephan tightened the fence wires he'd pushed through and since Ivy is the only animal out on the rest of the farm, he disconnected the electric feed out in that direction so that all of the power will hit the ram if he tries to escape through the fence again.

Sunday the 6th

We had a very fast-falling 8mm dump of rain during the night which will have washed enough of the fertilizer off the grass to put some of the animals back into some of the paddocks, so the ewes and ram came back to the house paddock. I don't want to risk the ram going wandering and he has been easier to restrain in this paddock than in the little area they were in yesterday.

new fence preparations

This is the Bush Flat paddock. We have been thinking about fencing off an area of bush between the river and our other conservation block for a long time and Stephan decided he'd get on and make the preparations for the fence today.

The fencing will protect a stretch of lovely stream, a stand of thick Kahikatea, some mature bush which includes a couple of mature Northern Rata trees, some Lancewoods and a great variety of other species, and at least a dozen mature Puriri which we've been meaning to protect from the cattle for some time. The construction of this fence will also enable us to put fencing around two Puriri which stand out in the paddock and currently suffer ongoing stock damage.

Monday the 7th

I was determined to get to the Women in Ag day today near Ohaeawai and was fortunately well enough to do so - and hopefully not infectious to anyone else.

Simmental heifers

Today's meeting was hosted by Helen Ellis, whom I've known since I was a child and who, with husband John, has bred Simmental cattle for many years, mainly near Taipa over on the east coast and in the last couple of years they've moved south to a smaller property near Ohaeawai. Their "retirement" property and herd are the same size as ours.

These are the pregnant R2 heifers which Helen yarded for us to see. We also walked around some of the cows and Helen took us to their highest hill, from which one can see for miles, south to Whangarei, north to the Maungataniwha range, east to the Bay of Islands and West out across Lake Omapere.

Tuesday the 8th
Flat 2 Puriri Flat 2 Puriri

The angle of these photographs is not quite the same, but this is the Puriri in Flat 2 taken on the 16th of September last year (left) and today. I think the foliage is looking a bit thicker. It could be a seasonal effect, so I'll have to take more photos later this year for another comparison. It's a tree I thought we would lose at one stage, but since fencing it off from the stock, it seems to be regaining its health.

Wednesday the 9th
Virago Meatpacker 61 AB

This is Demelza's son, #61. He's the biggest of the bull calves this year. Demelza produced #45 last year, an animal I really liked, and this guy really stands out as well.

Thursday the 10th
Kauri seedling

A couple of weeks ago Stephan picked up a Kauri cone from under a tree on some farmland on one of his trapping walks and brought it home. By the time he arrived, it had disintegrated and I sifted through the bits in the bag he was carrying looking for any seeds. Most of them were soft and empty-feeling, indicating they were no longer viable, but three felt firm, so I planted the whole lot and the three firm ones have germinated.
Funny to think that these tiny seedlings have the potential to turn into forest giants.

Friday the 11th
cows and calves in the Swamp/Frog lane

I weighed the 105-head mob of cattle today. The calves range from 184kg (a two-year-old heifer's daughter) to 284kg (a six-year-old cow's steer calf). There are only two calves under 200kg, which is pretty good going, since their ages range from 4.7 - 6.6 months.

The pregnant yearling heifers are all around 400kg, from 385 to 443kg, growing nicely, well above the recommended target weights for their breed.

When I'd finished in the yards, Stephan and I walked them out to the Back Barn paddock together.