The Farm in Diggers Valley

The week beginning the 12th of December 2009.
Saturday the 12th

We weighed Abigail and Irene's calves today, then quietly walked the four animals back to the Flat 1 paddock, where we'd created a lane to walk them across through Isla and Imagen's area to the other side of the paddock, so they're in the same space, but separate.

Wandering around the pond this afternoon, I spotted a tiny eel in the shallows. I was just about to get a photo of it but Stephan moved and it swam to the depths again. I have suspected that there must be eels in there, especially since the pond became part of the river during the last big flood.
Earlier we saw a number of little, and some slightly bigger, fish. I presume they would be Kaoro, the fish we previously had come down the water pipe into the little pool by the deck. When they left that pool, they would have gone down the waterfall, into the big pond and I thought they'd have carried on out to the river, but it looks like they may have found the bigger pond to be a suitable environment.

Sunday the 13th

A Damselfly laying eggs at the edge of the pond. At the top left of the photo is the back end of the red male fly, attached to the female (see last week for a picture of a pair); at the bottom right of the picture, under the water, she appeared to be laying eggs into the stem of the plant they had alighted on.

swimming in the pond

Raewyn, Mathew and the boys came out for a visit and were soon all in the pond. Liam appeared in a large number of my photos in the air, as in this one.

After they'd all gone home, we took Isla and Imagen and their calves to the yards to weigh the two little animals. Isla is growing her bull calf at her usual 1.6kg/day. He's a bulky little guy! Zella (Imagen's Jersey-sired daughter) is doing better than some of the smaller Angus calves - looks like she's going to be rather a large animal!

Moving Isla to and from the yards over the bridge worries me - I'm constantly watching for that tell-tale distractedness and her low moos before she has a seizure; however all was well and they moved there and back without incident.

Monday the 14th

Standing at the kitchen sink this morning an odd movement caught my eye and we watched as Isla had another fit, during which she fell right over again, and then spent longer than usual on her front knees as she began to recover. She still recovers to completely normal behaviour again shortly afterwards.

Tuesday the 15th
huge truck

A big load of fence posts and battens was delivered this morning, ready for the boundary fencing job on the hill over the road. Sadly not all of those posts on board the truck were for us, just part of the mound on the trailer.

truck turning

We had told the driver yesterday that there wouldn't be much room to turn, but he was skilled and careful - the only thing we ought to have done differently was got him to turn around before he dumped all the posts and used up some of the space in which to manoeuvre.

The posts are huge things, from Mt Pokaka Timber, their Premium No. 1 posts which should hopefully build a fence which will outlast us!

Our neighbour was uncooperative when we spoke to her about the long overdue need to replace the fence between us, and not entirely polite about it, so we had to refer to the Fencing Act for the proper form of an official notice of our intentions and then wait for any reply from her. She has made some stipulations which are slightly problematic and will mean the job costs her more than it needs to, but we're happy enough that she has basically agreed to our proposal and so it'll be all go at the beginning of January.

lime spreading

While the big truck was still turning, Ryan had arrived with a load of lime and waited until he could get through to start spreading. Between the time he and I had first talked at 7am and now, a stiff breeze had begun to blow, which took rather a lot of the lime dust very quickly off and away!

Wednesday the 16th
lime spreading

This morning's lime spreading conditions were rather different: so still it hung in the air for over an hour after Ryan had finished: perfect.

Well, almost perfect. The lime dust drifted off in a way I didn't expect, since the air rarely moves in that direction: over the property of the neighbours from whom we regularly suffer the horrible smoke drifts. When I returned to the house, they'd left a telephone message asking what the stuff was which was drifting their way?

Stephan spent the day over on the headland at the eastern side of Doubtless Bay, with his pest-trapping colleague Terry, being shown around their new contract trapping job for the Whakaangi Trust. They'll be working from Hihi out to Berghan's Head, around all those bays my family used to sail into when I was a child, around all of those huge houses I can't stand to see blighting the beautiful view from Cable Bay any time I travel out there to the coast. But it is those householders who've set up and manage the trust which protects a significant population of Kiwi in that area.

Thursday the 17th

528 has a lot of slightly raised-looking welts on her neck, which I suspect are ringworm in its early stages.

I sent a picture of moth-eaten 538 to Greg at Kaitaia Vets, to double-check that it is ringworm I'm looking at, since I wanted to refer to it in an article in Lifestyle Block Magazine, and part of his advice was to isolate the affected cattle. I think it's too late for that! It seems to be affecting the three and four year old cattle in particular.

eel in a net

Mike and his sons came over for a wander and a game of chess with Stephan.

Stuart and I went exploring around the edges of the pond with the torch and discovered a surprising amount of life in there, of which we see very little during the day. There are loads of little eels which come to the edges in the dark, and this rather larger sample virtually swam into the net as I gently manoeuvred it into position. We took it down to the stream and let it go there. It doesn't surprise me that there are eels in the pond, particularly since the river came through it in the last flood, but I'd quite like to relocate a lot of them, because they'll presumably eat the other inhabitants.

Don't tell the children, or they'll never swim in there again!

When Stephan first built the little pond in the garden, into which the main water supply pressure release now runs, little fish periodically appeared. I identified them as Kaoro and they swam around in there for some weeks before disappearing. I presumed they'd have gone into the larger pond and then on to the river, but a couple of days ago we spotted several of them of various sizes in the big pond and this evening I saw one which would have been about four or five inches long.

Friday the 18th
fat bottomed heifers

I spent much of the day either writing, or thinking about writing, to meet my deadline for the February issue of NZ Lifestyle Block Magazine!

I sent it off, then went out to move cattle. These are the young heifers, drifting off into the Small Hill Paddock.

On my way back to the house, I discovered the changes detailed on the following page.