The week beginning the 8th of November 2008
Saturday the 8th

I watched the Paradise ducklings flying around today. They are delightful. The young ducks try all sorts of improbable moves in the air, as they play and discover possibilities. Of the five ducklings, only one is beginning to lighten around the eyes and bill to indicate she's female.

The Starlings in the mailbox have their eyes open.

Today is election day, so on our way out to a birthday party, we stopped in at the Pamapuria School, where we usually cast our votes, and exercised that valued right.

Sunday the 9th
milking Imagen

I know she looks absolutely dreadful in this picture, but what a cow! Give her some molasses and she'll stand to be milked anywhere.

Imagen is still very thin, but gradually gaining weight with her twice-daily molasses and dairy meal. We think she's figured out that if she slurps it all up very quickly and then starts fidgeting, she'll get more.

Some of Ivy's daughters have been really good - well Isla is - and the others have tended to be scrawny and hard to keep in good condition; not a good trait. Imagen obviously had a hard time over the winter, which probably contributed to whatever went wrong during the birth of her calf. She'll come right again as the grass starts growing for the summer.

We weighed the two newest calves today and drafted the still-pregnant heifers out to spend the rest of their pregnancies in the House Paddock, where it's easiest to monitor them.

Monday the 10th

A NZ Angus Association deadline today saw me working on weights and measures I've previously failed to submit. It took me longer than I anticipated, not only because I still work on a slowish dial-up internet connection, but also because I had to go back into a couple of old cattle notebooks to check details. But even with a slow connection speed, being able to submit data electronically, rather than sending it all in on paper, is extremely convenient.

When I'd finished that, I carried on organising exams. Jill arrived to stay again,for a few days.

Tuesday the 11th
orchids growing on the fallen Puriri

At around lunchtime I was watching out the front windows as a couple of Kotare (Kingfishers) repeatedly flew up into the base of the epiphyte which still grows in the fallen Puriri in our native planting area. I wanted to find out what they were doing, so went and climbed onto the tree and along to the epiphyte to discover the reason for their visits to the plant. I couldn't see anything obvious.

On my way back down along the trunk, I had to step over a plant which I'd only vaguely noticed on my way up and then I saw it had beautiful flowers and wasn't an ordinary weed as I had assumed. This is one of the native Sun Orchids, although I'm not yet sure which species. The little green plants to the left are Onion Leaved orchids which until I looked closely, really did just look like one of the grassy weeds.

orchid flowers

A close-up view of the lovely Sun Orchid.

I spent hours doing exam preparation today and at 4pm Stephan appeared with his hands full of dead turkey chicks! The sheep had been rubbing against the posts of the poultry enclosures and had opened a door and caused upset amongst the birds. The turkeys responded by attacking some of the chicks of the most recently added turkey mother.

Jill and I walked out to see the mob of cows with the younger calves and we moved them out to the Big Back Paddock. It wasn't until they were moving up the hill in that paddock that I noticed Isla's calf stumbling and looking a bit weak. He has bloody scours and is obviously not feeling very well. It would be almost impossible to turn the mob back now that they were advancing into a new paddock, so I just had to hope he'd be alright and I'll check him again over the next days to ensure he gets no worse.
Coccidiosis, which this doubtless is again, has mostly run its course by the time any outward sign is seen, so treatment for the cause is pointless. However, the destruction of the lining of the intestine may cause a calf to be more prone to other illnesses and infections, so they need to be monitored.

cows and calves on the pugged Bush Flat paddock

These are the cows and calves as they moved toward the gate to the Big Back paddock from the Bush Flat. The ground is in such a mess. We'll be feeling the effects of this wetness for a long time, in terms of reduced pasture growth. Presumably the earth worms will eventually restore things to a "level playing field".

Wednesday the 12th

Today I noticed that the ground is very suddenly dry! After such a long period of extreme underfoot wetness, this is very pleasant and we will continue to enjoy it until the minute we realise it's gone on a little too long and we need some rain to keep the grass growing.

Thursday the 13th

Isla's calf is producing faecal matter which is more brown than red, which is encouraging. He looks less unwell today.

a rose in full bloom

This single bloom has been brightening up its section of the garden for several days. I have been growing rose cuttings from various places for some time and this is one I successfully struck from some cuttings from a plant in Jill's Kohukohu cottage garden. The plant is still quite small, so I expect it will need a rest again after this marvellous show.

Friday the 14th
woolly sheep

I suggested to Stephan that as the day had been fine, warm and breezy, that it might be a good time to shear the mob of older wethers and the hoggets and ram.

sheep and young people

Neil, Laurence, Lenita and Dan from down the road, brought their three large sheep up on a trailer and Stephan took the wool off them first.

Our mob, including Damian, who, because of his lumpy skin disorder looks worse and worse every time he's shorn, went to the Pig Paddock, where they've not grazed for a while.

Out on the flats most of the ewe and lambs mob had moved themselves from Flat 1 to Flat 2, so I let Babette and Yvette through the gate to join them.

The moon is full again, so late-night checks are a magical time - farming by moonlight.