The Farm in Diggers Valley

The week beginning the 13th of February 2010.
Sunday the 14th
installing a culvert pipe

Over the road in the hill paddock, there's a nasty gully over which the cows all have to jump when they come down from the far corner hillside. Today Stephan did some work to install a culvert pipe and create a crossing over which they may simply walk. A cow was once stuck in this drain and there's an increasingly deep hole down to the right, which we need to fill in, or fence off. Until we decide what permanent change we'll make, I'll put an electric tape around the area, to keep the cattle out.

In the picture the road is the grey patch at the top left - the concrete trough is the shape outlined by the light from the gravel road.


Heifer 602, who had a very large wart on her head a few weeks ago, still bears the scar, but it is gradually fading.

Jill came out with me to check on the cattle this evening and we both carried brushes. Jill says this is the first time she's groomed my cows! She liked the experience very much.

Monday the 15th
new boundary fence

It was about time I walked up the hill to have a good look at the new boundary fence! I was happy enough just knowing it was there, but as I needed to check some things in the paddock before putting the cows and calves over here, I went for a walk to have a good look at it.

new boundary fence

This is the most exciting bit: the fence now stands solidly on the boundary line, doubling the grass area in this part of the paddock. Until we really need the grass, we'll leave the old fence in place.

It's good to see a real fence sitting right where we'd figured it would go last year.

Virago Connection 60 AB

Virago Connection 60 AB, our one remaining adult bull, is off on a truck tomorrow. As I can probably manage without him for the rest of the mating period, he might as well go now, rather than waiting longer, eating grass and occasionally alarming me.

Tuesday the 16th
small Tree Fuchsia plant

I went for a walk around the Bush Flat reserve area and came across this little tree, which I'm pretty sure is a Fuchsia. Presumably it had, as a starting seedling, been kept well pruned by the cattle, for I had not noticed it before. I don't know how quickly they grow, so can't tell how old it might be. I took a few little bits from it to try to grow some more plants.

This particular reserve area has a large variety of plants and trees. It's proximity to the old bush in the neighbouring Buselich Reserve no doubt contributes to that diversity, even though the reserve has only in the last few years been closed to the grazing cattle of its former owner.

cows on a hill

Looking down from the top of the hill over the road, to some of the cows basking in the late afternoon sunshine.

Wednesday the 17th
cow drinking from trough

This is 546, who came for a drink just after I'd cleaned and emptied the trough at the far end of the paddock over the road. Her preference was to drink the water as close to the source as possible, as the water rushed in through the ballcock valve.

I stopped and watched for a while as a number of them came down the hill to drink. Cow trough etiquette is fascinating. There was an obvious order of seniority: Ranu 31 was first to drink, then 528 waited until she had finished before stepping forward; two-year-old 561 then took her turn, but was pushed out by older 475 who wanted to drink, but then let 561 in to share; and finally yearling 613 was able to take her turn.

cows running downhill

Something startled the cows this evening when I was up on the hill checking them, looking for the few I'd not seen this morning. I think there was a hint of smoke on the wind and it obviously alarmed them enough to send them all rushing off down the hill.

Thursday the 18th

I really like my quiet cows. I had come in via the gate on the other side of this pair and wanted to continue past them, but the cow on the left in the picture was too close to the sloping bank for me to go around in front of her and there was another animal lying beside the cow on the right; so I squeezed between them as they continued their dreamy rumination.

Magpie Moth caterpillar

Stephan and I went out ragwort picking this evening. Large numbers of the plants have been stripped by the caterpillars of Magpie Moths. Presumably that stresses the plants, but not nearly enough to stop them from setting seed. I didn't notice any of the smaller rosette-stage plants being eaten, the caterpillars appearing to prefer the upright flower-bearing parts of the plants.

I understand that there are some biocontrol agents for ragwort, but I think they probably only work in areas of thick infestation both of the plants and the insects. For the sake of the cattle we can't afford to let the ragwort get away to that extent and management of a ragwort population at a level sufficient to maintain a population of the moths would be counter-productive to farming cattle.

Friday the 19th
wasp nest

I very nearly bumped into this wasp nest this afternoon, as I stepped up the terraced hillside. I've killed a number of their nests on the sides of the buildings and yard railings in the last few days. Late summer and into Autumn is wasp time.


The wind was very blustery today and these four heifers were hunkered down in a sheltered hollow on the side of the hill.