The Farm in Diggers Valley

The week beginning the 10th of November 2012
Saturday the 10th
Sun and Onion Orchids

There appear to be a number of plants of the Thelymitra "puriri" hybrid in my rescue and "reserve" greenhouse pot.  I'm pleased they're finding it an acceptable place to grow.

(The green onion-leaf orchids in the foreground, grow anywhere and everywhere, although they're easy enough to miss if you're not aware of them.)

Sun Orchid flowers

Outside in their original location, they may not have had the chance to flower this season, most of the plants' buds having been eaten.

Damsel flies

On warm sunny days, the edges of the pond are fluttering with the tiny Damsel Flies, all procreating madly.

Damsel flies

In some cases the process looks a bit dangerous.

Damsel flies

In others, complicated!

succulent flower

Another example of the flowering succulent I've been growing in the greenhouse.  They've flowered well this season.  I think only the deep red one has flowered in previous years, but a few months ago I repotted them and it seems that has made all the difference.  They are such luscious blooms.

cow and calf

Zella feeding her feeble-looking baby.  He seems to have taken after his mother's delicate Jersey relatives more than his Angus ones.

Zella is now on her own, because 657 was not being cooperative at milking time, excitedly running off in the wrong direction and making Stephan walk to the end of the paddock to get them in, rather than being able to call them from the gate.  657 and her calf have now joined the later-calved mob of cows, who didn't seem too upset about her presence.

This evening we watched a very funny little rabbit in front of the house (along with a selection of hens and Pukeko), as it dashed back and forth, leaping and spinning in small circles.  It looked to be playing.  It is probably one of the family Finan kept catching earlier in the season.

Sunday the 11th
Shining Cuckoo

The Shining Cuckoo, Pipiwharauroa, is hard to spot in the trees, even though its song is very distinctive.  The bird is about the same size as a house sparrow and once you know what they look like and the nature of their flight, it becomes a little easier to find them.

The inset shows the bird as clearly as possible from that distance.

There are some other pictures though, here and here.

cow browsing

Eva, browsing on tasty things along the edge of one of the Big Back Paddock's gullies.


This is 579's udder.  Her milk was lumpy and pink in that rear left quarter a few weeks ago, and it looks rather like production there may have been severely reduced, if not stopped altogether.  It won't harm the calf, since 579 will continue to produce ample milk in the other three quarters of her udder.

cows and calves

Cows and calves in the 17-cow mob, just after I put them into Flat 3.

They would have been the 18-cow mob, but as Zella wasn't very happy about being on her own, I drafted Dexie 101, the skinny two-year-old heifer and her calf, out of the mob and in to join Zella.  She wasn't very happy about being separated from the others, but she'll be better fed with Zella than with the larger mob.

extracting a fence post

Stephan has been waving his arms about and describing his latest garden plans for some time; today he took out the fenceline he and Ella put in back in 2004.  He'll put a new fence in a little further out, enlarging the native planting area and allowing people to walk from there to the river bank and then along to the bush reserve where many enormous mature trees grow.

The new fence will end up approximately where the fence post is at the front of the tractor, in the picture.

Monday the 12th

The first day of exams went well and I was glad to go out for a walk after I returned home.  Walking quietly and slowly up and down rows of desks is not quite the same sort of exercise as walking briskly up a steep hill.

I moved the 17 cows and their calves from Flat 3 to Flat 4 and watched, laughing, as the calves sprinted around the paddock obviously racing each other as fast as they could go.  Some of them are particularly speedy.

Angus calf

Cattle start early with their crazy dirt-rubbing behaviours.  I watched this little bull (they're all still bulls, since we haven't done any castration yet) rubbing and throwing himself down on the soil out in the Big Back Paddock.  It looks like this is a popular spot.

Wednesday the 14th
shadows on concrete during an eclipse of the sun

Today's solar eclipse was well foreshadowed by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA), for whom I am currently working and I managed to get outside several times to have a look at the progress of the moon across the sun.  There were a number of Science teachers around with appropriate filtering cards and glasses, which were passed around the several people gathered outside the main doors, watching.

The shadows were interesting: this one of the flag pole, quite diffuse, while shadows of things closer to the ground remained much sharper.

shadows on concrete during an eclipse of the sun

Much more interesting than that was the effect of small-leaf trees like Manuka, through which the sun shone causing images like those of thousands of pin-hole cameras to fall on the smooth concrete.

My favourite physics teacher had mentioned the shadows, but it wasn't until I thought about our conversation for a little while that I remembered what he'd said and put it together with my own experience in our little shed at home, where the sun shining through the nail holes in the old corrugated iron has a similar multi-lens effect, except there the images are far more separated.

Here every crescent is an image of the sun during the eclipse.

shadows on concrete during an eclipse of the sun

I hadn't thought to take the camera with me to school, thinking I'd not have time to get out to see the eclipse - and trying to take pictures of the sun is always frustrating unless one has the proper gear to do it, which I don't.  (There were several pictures published on websites and in newspapers later, submitted by people trying to get images through the hand-held filters and none of them were really worth seeing.)

At some point it occurred to me that I could take some pictures of the shadows with my phone, since it (otherwise pointlessly) has a camera in it.

The day was breezy, so the shadows were not always terribly clear, but very pretty.

Friday the 16th

No exams today.  I found out later that there are never exams on this Friday, because of the Canterbury Show, for which all the schools are closed and it would be too complicated for the NZQA to negotiate its way around that complication.  In other years this date has fallen at the very beginning of the exam period, so I hadn't realised it was a regular thing.

Angus cows

These two are 605 and her daughter, 657.

Earlier pictures are here and here.