The Farm in Diggers Valley

The week beginning the 5th of September 2009.
Saturday the 5th
dead cat

A very large, very dead, ginger cat, shot by Stephan last night at Mōkau. Dumped kittens die of hunger or disease, or survive by developing supreme hunting skills and thus they do a tremendous amount of damage to bird, reptile and insect life.
If your cat has kittens, don't think you can give them a nice life by freeing them in the bush somewhere. It's exceptionally cruel to a domestic cat and is extremely bad for the environment. Get your cat de-sexed as soon as possible. The world does not need more cats.
I have always liked cats very much, but with one exception where I had to rehome a stray kitten which selected me, but I could not keep in an Auckland flat, I have never had a cat which has been left with the ability to have kittens.

pregnant heifers

And then Stephan came home and we moved some cattle along, and some others across, the road. These are the pregnant heifers, on their way to the front gates to cross the road to the hill paddock.

scary shape

I was checking the cows, which are presently on Jane's place, this evening and in the fading light, having not yet seen all of the cows, I saw this alarming sight! My heart sunk as I peered at what looked so very much like a cow, lying on the grass under a bit of collapsed Puriri, tail sticking out to the left ...

You may presume I was the sort of child who saw monsters in corners!

I think, as I get older and my eyes get dimmer, I may have to change breeds - maybe Charolais: they're white.

Sunday the 6th
Puriri regrowth

Over the road where we've formed a reserve area around the big trees, I found this stump, which I would hardly have noticed before. After a few weeks of protection from browsing cattle, it has sprouted all these lovely new shoots. And so there will be another Puriri tree where before there was only an apparently dead stump.


Hey, that's my farm!

This bit of fence at the bottom right of the picture, is exactly where it should be, but this is where it seriously diverts from the correct line and goes off to the post in the upper left corner of the picture, where I've placed a yellow dot, then the line bends again and it heads down the gully. It should instead be somewhere near my yellow line. The next marked boundary peg is some distance down the hill from the ridge.

damaged wire

This is a trap for young players. Stephan got hold of some lengths of insulating tube, as used to make pig-tail electric fence standards and fence out-riggers, so he could make his own variations for some of our fences. This one has a bit of bare wire sticking out the end of the tube, and the electric fence wire had bounced around in the wind (the whole boundary fence is not particularly sturdy, so probably moves with the trees) and had caught so it was shorting on the exposed end. The "wound" on this bit of the electric wire, is the result of that short. It must have been making quite a crack and spark, as well as leaking power from our whole system.

Tomorrow I have an appointment to have my ear inspected, so we packed up and drove to Whangārei for the night.

Monday the 7th

Dr ENT Specialist looked into my ear with his delving device and pronounced that I had mildew. The double dose of antibiotics has killed off all the bacteria which do good things on my skin, so that nasty things have been able to take over. However, it was a problem easily fixed with a puff of magic powder. I was subjected to a hearing test, some pressure tests and pronounced healthy enough, but with some hearing loss. Apparently the fluid behind my eardrum will eventually clear and to help it do so I am to "formally open my Eustachian tubes" several times each day. I'll have to carry a special ribbon and scissors, and wear a tie.

wrecked trees

When he returned from his Mōkau fencing trip the other day, Stephan told me the road maintenance vandals had been through the gorge. In this photo, the stick to the left of the road marker (about ten feet from the side of the road, which would never get anywhere near obstructing anything actually on the road), is all that remains of the lovely Tree Fuchsia I look at every time I come through here. What complete monsters!

So today on our way home, we stopped and I gathered up all the broken bits of its branches and put them on the back of the ute and brought them home to try and get them to grow.
To think I felt a bit naughty this time last year when I took two tiny bits off the tree, in the hope of growing a cutting.

One of the cuttings I took last year did strike and I have been nursing my little tree. Now I may end up with a few more! I poked a couple of bits into the bank near the parent tree as well, in the hope they may also grow.

Tuesday the 8th

All the other pregnant cows have already had their copper, but I left Isla until I didn't have to be away in the days afterward. Last time she had a copper injection she fell over twice on the following day. She was fine, but I am always conscious of the possibility of her having an extreme seizure from which she may not recover spontaneously, and from which I may need to provide emergency, and final, relief.

To save her and Imagen having to walk very far, I ran a tape across the bottom of the Flat 1 paddock, where Demelza and Irene are grazing, so they could walk straight across from Flat 2 and on in to the yards.

Imagen, Isla and the bull, with Demelza

I thought Imagen might be troublesome, because she makes growling, threatening noises at any cow she doesn't recognise, so I ran a double tape across most of the paddock, but in the event she quietly walked across, grazing as she went.

I have until recently done a fast jab and shoot when injecting with the vaccinator gun, but then realised how easy it is, on most of the cows, to pinch a bit of skin so that I may do a more reliable subcutaneous injection. On Isla I suspect that will make things far better than usual, because she usually ends up with a huge lump on her neck, presumably because I never quite get the angle right and I suspect I inject the copper a little too deeply and get some into her muscle. Today I tented her skin and put it very definitely between the skin and the muscle beneath. I shall see what happens to her neck over the next few days.

The bull, having had copper more recently than the other animals, went over the scales and I gave him the drench for worms and fluke.

I loved the colours in the photo, so provided a wide view. The weather lately has been fantastic.

dry track

I was able to ride the bike all the way to the Back Barn paddock this evening, so took this picture to remind myself that it was possible.

I went out at 11pm tonight to make sure Isla was ok. She was. Walking back to the house I heard a Shining Cuckoo, my first this spring.

Wednesday the 9th
cows on the hill

The cows were really slow to come down the hill this afternoon, so I could send them along the lane to their next paddock. While that was problematic, I think it was preferable to the alarming gallop they sometimes do, straight down the hill, with me imagining their unborn calves doing somersaults within their distended bellies.

I spent over an hour quietly grooming any of them who would stand and enjoy the process. Grey 367, who is sometimes quiet enough to scratch on the back, let me scratch right down her neck with the brush and even turned her head for a scratch. I felt the movements of several calves as I stood close to their mothers.

Thursday the 10th

Not the most flattering photo, but this is Isla, after a morning brushing. I thought I'd better post a picture, because it's nearly time we got the ninth Isla Calving Date Competition underway for the year!

Look out for the announcement in the next week's page.


A determined spider, which every day, spins a new web across my greenhouse, right where I need to walk. Sometimes I crawl under so as not to destroy the web, but on other occasions I wish to work in the space and the spider gets moved.

Friday the 11th

Jill came up today, so I made her go for a long walk around the back of the farm with me to check on the cows and heifers. It must be a very happy thing to be 73 and still able to climb very steep hills.