The Farm in Diggers Valley

The week beginning 6th of June.
Saturday the 6th

I spent another interesting day interrogating the NZ Angus database. I was looking specifically to see how many of the upcoming two-year-old bull sales included bulls which were either untested for AM if they were possible carriers, tested as carriers (AMC), or had bulls for sale which were sired by bulls which have already been tested as NHC, carriers of Neuropathic Hydrocephalus. Two sales include AMC bulls, which the NZ Angus Association says it cannot prevent. A number of sales, including the one I mentioned in last week's page, have bulls whose sires are NHC, so on average half of them will be carriers as well. If you can't remember what all this is about, here is my information page on the two defects of immediate concern.

Sunday the 7th
a new fence along the river

I walked out to check on Stephan's fencing progress. He's now working on the fence on the other side of the swamp, which will extend back along the river bank in order that we may fence off another section of the stream here.

In this picture the fence runs between the large Puriri on the right and the stream on the left, but Stephan will run a short span around this tree and the one behind it to immediately protect it from the cattle. The fence on the other side of the stream will have to wait until next summer.

The swamp, or wetland, as we're supposed to be calling it, is about 100 metres ahead.

Stephan at work

Here's the man himself, working hard, clearing trees where the fence needs to run, digging out bits of the bank and tree roots.
Stephan's clothing is not indicative of the air temperature on this evening: I was there in woollen hat and gloves, with my huge Swanndri with hood over the top, my breath visible with every exhalation. It was a very cold day!

I spent some time trying to photograph the pair of Tomtits which have been keeping Stephan company throughout this job, but the light being quite dim in the late afternoon, I wasn't able to capture any startlingly good images of either bird. Being small birds, they flit around at great speed. This was the first time I've seen a female Tomtit, a green/grey bird of the same shape as her mate (as pictured last week).

Monday the 8th

Anna brought her British friends Emily and Chris, whom we met about a year ago, and who have been working and travelling around the country in the mean time, out for another visit to the farm. We walked out to see Stephan, the Tomtits and the new fencing.

Tuesday the 9th

A week or so ago I had one of my six-monthly melanoma checks with the surgeon who keeps an eye on me. I asked him to look at a tiny black spot on my face and he pronounced it suspect with the comment that black often equals melanoma. He said he'd book me in for a spot of minor surgery sometime in the following couple of months, but here I am back in a week.

I spent an hour sitting in a lazyboy chair writing an LSB Magazine article while I waited to be called. The nastiest part of having things chopped out of one's skin is the local anaesthetic, and I'm a wimp when it comes to such pain. I get far more stressed about it all than it deserves me to be and then it's all over in a few minutes.

The four or five medical people in the room while I was being dealt with were all hilariously funny and extremely efficient and caring in their work, even though their jokes were exceedingly bad. I walked out with a single stitch which Mr Surgeon told me looked rather like a mole with a big hair growing out of it, so a plaster would detract from the effect. I tried to leave, but was dragged back to be properly discharged, which took longer than my time in the operating room.

Now I await the lab results on the spot, and try to remember not to scratch my face when it itches.

Wednesday the 10th

Stephan spent some of the day finishing off the Swamp fence and I continued writing. In the afternoon the man from the Northland Regional Council came out to inspect our reserve fencing projects before signing off the project which will allow the payment to us of the funding we were granted last year.

Our new pig hunters appear to have tired of us already and have not reappeared as they arranged!

Thursday the 11th
steer 58

This morning young steer #58, generally called Stupid for his scatty behaviour, met his end at the hand of a young man called Xavier, who then cut him up and took him away to the butcher.

The heifer (Ranu 62) at the back is in better condition for a homekill animal, but I needed to have #58 dealt with before he causes me more bother than he has already because of his very excitable temperament. It is a great relief to have him out of the herd. His nervousness has been quite troublesome to deal with in a generally quiet mob of cattle.

Friday the 12th

I spent the day writing, then putting together the paperwork necessary for the completion of the reserve fencing project. I ended up rushing to get it done because for most of the day I had thought we'd not get to town anyway, since the river was high up over the bridge. It went down enough for us to get out at around two o'clock, so we were able to make the funding process deadline.

Then because we were in town with nothing much else to do, we went the few kilometres along the Awanui Straight for a beer with my lovely Godfather, Hack.