The Farm in Diggers Valley

The week beginning the 8th of March 2008.
Saturday the 8th
Stephan, Sarah and Mike in the Back Barn paddock

Sarah and Mike being keen on walking, we took them for a "stroll around the estate", out across the flats, out to the Back Barn paddock, up through the Middle Back and down again over the south side of the farm. We talked about trees and pasture and animals and the differences between farming here and in the UK - Mike and Sarah have farmed sheep for many years.


Back at home things were less pleasant - at least for Dotty, who was being harassed by flies! I put some insecticidal powder on her, which will discourage the flies; I couldn't see any eggs laid in her wool yet, but they would have been soon, had we not done something for her.

Sarah, Ruth and Mike at Ahipara

We were to be our guests' guests for dinner at the Beachcomber Restaurant in Kaitaia, so arranged to leave home early enough to drive out to Ahipara for a walk on 90-mile beach beforehand.

Dinner was, as always, very fine.

Sunday the 9th
Maitai Bay Maitai Bay

Sarah and Mike said they were quite happy to be social tourists rather than sight-seeing ones, but we still thought they'd better see and experience one of the nicest beaches in the world. We went out to the Karikari peninsula, to Maitai Bay and walked along the beach in Ohungahunga Bay, before spending half an hour or so swimming at the far end (left picture). The water was delightful, crystal-clear. There were about half a dozen people wandering up the beach while we were there and a few more began to arrive as we were preparing to leave again.

Sarah counting cows

In the early evening we all went out to check the cattle and because half of them were gathered in the lane, we let them go to the next paddock. Sarah, Mike and Stephan counted and when we discovered we still had another 16 to find, we wandered further out to find them. It was a very pleasant stroll in the warm evening air.

Stephan and Bloo

Back at home Stephan had a roast of hogget (between lamb and mutton) in the oven, so we returned for him to continue making dinner preparations.

Allie and Bloo drove in for a quick visit and I caught Stephan doing his garden-plan-explanation arm signals. I'm not sure what extraordinary design he was describing, but no doubt I'll see it before long.

I didn't ask Allie (who was doing some photography of her own) if she'd like to appear, but I figure Bloo's fair game - he was standing near Stephan, after all.

Monday the 10th
Stephan, Sarah and Mike, Ruth

Mike and Sarah made their departure this morning, to travel down through the Waipoua Forest and Dargaville, back to Auckland to fly to Australia on Wednesday. They were delightful guests and it was a great pleasure to meet them at last.

We spent the day doing as we often do after people leave us: doing very little at all for several hours. There's always a period of anti-climactic readjustment when people go, so we just take it easy for a while, until work presses us back into action again.

cattle heading for the Camp paddock gate

The cows needed a move, so I put them through into the Camp paddock again from the Windmill. Sometimes they're quite hard to get moving down into this gateway, because they're more accustomed to going out the gates into the lanes at either end.


← Don't tell anybody you saw this picture.

We had four left-over Crème Brûlée desserts from dinner last night and while Stephan and I could easily finish them off on our own, it's both nicer to share them with others and better that we don't succumb to that sort of gluttony. We invited friends Jackie and Alan to join us for a light dinner followed by Crème Brûlée. Because Stephan was actually doing some building work on a project over at their place, I had to do something about the food, so prepared an old favourite: stuffed pancakes. After an enormous roast dinner last night, it was about as much as I could bear to think about eating!
The picture makes it look rather thick, but it was really a nicely thin crepe, next rolled around a mix of freshly gathered herbs, a courgette/zucchini, onion and tomato mixture, then grilled with cheese and served.

Tuesday the 11th

I had to have a lie-down to recover from cooking last night.

Wednesday the 12th

There's grass everywhere! The Kikuyu is again growing exceptionally well, so the cattle are moving around the farm very quickly, keeping the paddocks under control, growing like weeds, themselves. It has been an excellent season for us.


Heifer #56, Ida's yearling daughter, was on heat and this is her retinue of fat-bottomed steer and bull calves.

Isla Athena

Gorgeous Isla and daughter, Athena. It's hard to believe that Isla's coming up to her tenth birthday in August. Perhaps we'll have to have a party!

Thursday the 13th
Peria Saleyards

I asked my Fairburns friend Ronnie if she'd like to come on an outing to the Peria Weaner Fair today and, happily, she agreed. Ronnie lives half-way between here and the saleyards, so I picked her up on the way and we arrived a little before the sale began.

Animals were still arriving and being penned, and the cards with owner details written on them were being attached to the pens by the various sales agents. Prospective buyers were quietly making their way around to inspect the cattle they were most interested in and others were catching up with people they knew or grabbing a cuppa and lunch in the cafeteria shed.

Peria Sale

The Peria sale always begins just after 12.30pm and then it is all noise and action, as each pen is auctioned off in about a minute of frenzied shouting by the auctioneer and his assisting agents. There's very little gap between the end of one pen's sale and the next, so alertness is necessary if you're taking part!

Prices were down a bit this year because of the drought further south and the consequent lack of buyers coming up from that part of the country.

Friday the 14th
Cabbage Tree

This is the road-side Cabbage Tree which was felled last year, steadily regrowing.

I spent quite a lot of time on and across the road today, as I went looking for cattle in the hill paddock. I walked up there three times during the afternoon and evening, at one point being caught in a very heavy rain shower. It was a very hot and humid afternoon!