The Farm in Diggers Valley

The week beginning the 20th of November 2010.
Saturday the 20th
epiphytic fern

Presumably this form of frond is the newest growth of these epiphytic ferns. While they look very delicate, they're actually quite tough to the touch.

In my reference book I found another fern whose fertile fronds have this appearance, so perhaps these are of that nature.

epiphytic orchids

Last Saturday I saw some of these little yellow orchids up in the forest, and here are some of ours too, still flowering. Some of the plants I was watching down by the river, flowered and finished a couple of weeks or more ago.

epiphytic orchids

The flowers are very small and hard to see in detail until the pictures are enlarged.

They are Earina aestivalis.


I went back for another look at the orchid plants in the Middle Back paddock and while there, remembered the other huge fallen Puriri in the paddock.

Climbing up onto the trunk, I found these little flower buds. I believe they are Thelymitra longifolia, the Common Sun Orchid, or Maikuku.

Now having found three Puriri trunks supporting terrestrial orchid plants, I decided to check on the others I know of around the farm, starting with the neighbouring Big Back paddock.


There were none that I could see on any of the bits of Puriri down the south-facing slope of the Big Back paddock, but on all but one of the old fallen trees I checked on the sunny side, there were plants with flower buds, just getting ready to bloom. The only bit of Puriri without orchids (yet?) is a huge dead trunk which finally toppled over last year.

a nibbled orchid plant

Even a small remnant of Puriri root out in a sunny clearing hosted an orchid plant - or what's left of it. It would seem the browsing animals (probably cattle, possums and rabbits) find the orchid plants very palatable. When I found this one I thought of finding a way to fence it off, but it might be easier to pick it up and move it to a fenced area nearby.

Sunday the 21st
green plants on a shady bank

There was a cool wind blowing today, but the sun was shining and I hoped it might be warm enough for some of the orchids to bloom, if their environs were sheltered enough.

Stephan said he'd come, so we drove out to the back and walked through the Back Barn paddock toward the big Puriri I'd looked at yesterday in the Middle Back. On our way we checked bits of fallen Puriri, and while doing so realised we were in the midst of a huge population of Greenhood orchids, growing all around us on the shady slope.


How many times have I walked here?

The cattle were in here last week and here were we now, stomping around as usual, oblivious to the exquisite delights beneath our gumboots.

The plants look very much like grasses, and with their green stripy flowers, they blend in to their surroundings very well, making them hard to see unless you're aware of their form and the likelihood of finding them.


Lots of the plants had already finished flowering, the fleshy green ovary now growing where the flower had been, but many were fresh and some are still yet to bloom.

Green Fingers

While looking around for more of the Sun Orchids, I noticed the tiny white petals of this flower near the ground. The more I looked, the more of these I found amongst the green orchids and growing on old bits of Puriri trunk. It wasn't until I came home and looked at the photos I'd taken that I saw the delicate colour patterns and the interesting terrain of the labellum (the bottom lip of the flower).

Mathew up a tree

Later in the afternoon Raewyn, Mathew and three of their boys arrived. Stephan and Mathew spent a couple of hours adjusting the Flying Fox Stephan had begun to set up over the pond.

Flying fox over the pond

First they tested it with a sack full of large rocks and then they went on to human trials, with some willing youngsters.

Wednesday the 24th

Up the back of the Big Back paddock the orchid flower buds looked as if they were on the point of opening. Concerned that I will miss their blooming over the next few days, I gently peeled a couple of the flowers' sepals and petals back to see what the flowers will look like. They are a pretty shade of mauve, similar to the ones in our garden. But there are very obvious differences in some aspects of the central column: the yellow hood is smooth on these ones, where it is grooved on the other, and the cilia (the feathery bits on either side) are white rather than yellow. It seems to me also that the column of this flower is more evenly oval than the other, in which the bottom is wider than the top.


I think this is Quanda 09's calf, still a very nervous animal, although I think she's becoming accustomed to my appearance in her herd. I hope she settles, because a nutty animal is not one I'd want to keep or sell!


In complete opposition to last year when she was in this paddock, when everyone but Eva showed up for counting, today Eva was the only one of her mob I saw. I could hear a bit of stick-snapping noise around up on the hill, so the others are probably cruising around browsing amongst the scrub.

Thursday the 25th
cows and calves coming through a gate

I moved the two main mobs of cows and calves into neighbouring paddocks on the flats this evening, planning to combine them in a couple of days. I have considered continuing to keep them separate because of the increasingly obvious Coccidiosis infection in the older calves, but because the younger mob has grazed many of the same areas as the other, they have doubtless already been exposed and infected.

In this climate (usually not very cold and often wet) there's not much we can do about this annual scours problem, other than attempt to breed animals which have a reasonable resistance to it. I've been watching the calves carefully for the signs of scours and keeping careful notes and am this year pleased to see that one cow whose calves are always affected, currently still has a daughter with a clean rear end.

I noticed tonight that 443's grey calf now has bloody scours - easy to see blood on her very light-coloured hair. I watched her for a while this evening and noted that she was running around fairly happily with the others. I will only do anything to her if she is obviously unwell, because by the time they produce blood, the infection has nearly run its course anyway. The vets would like us to treat all the calves when we see signs of any being infected, but that would knock the infection even in those which are developing resistance and I'd rather be able to see which calves are able to do that quickly. The treatment is also rather expensive.

Friday the 26th
ATC Cadets

The local Air Training Corps cadets are back for another camp. There seemed to be a huge crowd of them as they came marching in three groups down the driveway toward us. As we watched the third group approach, one of them suddenly fell down on his face, heavily knocked to the ground by the weight of his pack. It looked ridiculously comical, there being nothing but smooth driveway beneath their feet. The boy had a huge bump on his head and felt pretty woozy for a while, as he sat recovering in our living room.

The cause of his fall was carelessness with his boot-laces. I watched him slip the boots off very easily at the door because they were only laced and tied to half their extent, leaving large bow-loops of lace flapping around and it was one of those loops which had caught on an unused lace-hook on the opposite boot as one foot passed the other, effectively tying his feet together and down he'd gone.

On the subject of boots, I asked Mathew to take particular care about ensuring our biosecurity concerns are addressed, namely that all boots are clean before they come onto the farm. This is a large group of people, any of whom might tramp in something we would rather not have our animals exposed to, without due care.