The week beginning the 4th of October 2014.
Saturday the 4th

A cold, windy, showery day with sunshine!  We get everything at once, here.

Both goose eggs have pipped - the chicks have started a hole in each egg.  Oddly, one has started at the wrong end.  Chicks are supposed to hatch out the round (not the pointy) end of the egg, because that's where the air sac is and there's more room for them to move if they're that way around.  I will watch and see what happens.

I have been watching Meg 699's udder development and thought it best to bring her across the road from the hill paddock onto the flats.  Naturally I brought Gem 698 with her, or neither would be happy.  Looking again, I realised that two-year-old 718's udder was also showing more development than I expected for the mating dates I'd recorded, so we went and drafted her out too.  It's nice that they're all so easy to work, so that it's possible to quietly extract one or two animals from the mob without everyone getting upset and running around.


I've been keeping a close eye on 710 and detected a very subtle sort of depression - standing on her own more often than usual, sitting with her head ever so slightly lower than a healthy cow does.  She's not particularly sick yet, but she's not well.  I phoned the vet before Stephan went to town and arranged for another antibiotic injection to be dispensed for her.  The mucous still coming from her uterus is rather smelly.  She should clear it up, but she needs support with what is probably becoming a systemic infection or she will become quite ill.

We took the four animals from Flat 1 to the yards and gave her the injection.

Just before ten tonight I found 725 separating herself from the others in Flat 1, standing pensively looking at nothing.  She must have been in early labour, but there were no other signs at that stage.  By 11pm, Dexie 101 was in early labour as well.  I decided I'd get up at 3.30am and check them.

Sunday the 5th

I was woken at 3am by the characteristic bellowing of a new mother, so dashed out across the paddocks to see who'd done what.

Dexie had delivered a calf and heifer 725 was getting far too closely involved for anyone's good.  I dragged Stephan out of bed, because it's tricky dealing with that sort of thing in the dark on my own - I can't see the cows and I don't know how well they can see me when I'm flashing a torch around.  With one new and one prospective mother in the mix, I needed to be able to keep an eye on their demeanour and movements.

We circled Dexie and her calf with electric tape and then quietly shooed the other three cows out of the area so she could remain unmolested and so that 725 could get on with her own labour without being confused by the presence of an already-born calf.  It takes less work to prevent mis-mothering, than it does to sort it out afterwards.

Dexie had calved in Flat 2, an area of which I'd left accessible to them because of the nasty weather earlier in the evening, so I was able to remove the temporary tape and leave her alone in the paddock, with the others returning to Flat 1.

Angus calf

This is Dexie's son.  His sire is Exclaim of Kaharau, a bull born in 1976!  I had three straws left in the bank last summer and decided it was time to use them.  Dexie's calves have been lanky, leggy things so far, so I wondered what an old bull would produce, since he's from the days of shorter-statured Angus cattle.

Angus heifer and calf

Just before six, 725 still looked much as she had three hours before, so I left her to get on with things and went home to watch her through my binoculars as the daylight increased.  At 7.30 I saw two feet and a quarter of an hour later, evidence that the nose was coming out.  Most of the calves are born with their tongues poking out, which gives a nice light-coloured indicator that things are where they ought to be, otherwise it can be hard to distinguish the back of the black mother from any part of the black calf as it emerges.

At 8.13 the calf was easily born and 725 behaved perfectly and was feeding her within the hour.

gosling under hen

Another successful birth: one of the goslings, hatched and dry.

hatching goose egg

I'd been holding off interfering with this egg until it was obvious it wasn't making any progress.  They'd both pipped at about the same time, so it should have hatched by now if it was going to.  I gently picked away the shell around the line the chick would have made had it been able to move freely, then placed it carefully back under the hen to push its way out of the egg when it was ready.

Interestingly in these geese one can tell the sex of the chick as early as this photo: this one's male, with its orange bill and the other is female, having a darker coloured bill.  Excellent.

I checked every couple of hours under the hen to ensure the chick was making good progress and at one stage dripped a bit of water on his bill, since he may have become dehydrated during his extended hatching.  He was a bit floppy, but gradually came right.

Monday the 6th
Angus cows and calves

I watched 725 this morning, as Dexie, who's been quite hormonally upset since her calving, tried to bunt 725's calf away from her own.  725 quietly inserted herself between Dexie and the calf, protecting her daughter.  What a fantastic young mother!


I carefully kept a lid on my excited expectations about these eggs, knowing that things can easily go wrong, but here they are: two goslings from Motueka!  I'm thrilled they've hatched successfully.

The male (in the foreground) is a little slower than his sister still, but only because he's more newly hatched.  They sound funny, to me and the hen, but she seems quite happy with her unusual children.

They're just like ducklings, but bigger and floppier and a bit slower to get going.

rabbit and stoat

This is two photos stuck together.  As I took the one on the left (wanting to get a close-up to confirm this is the same black rabbit as the black rabbit which used to live up the top of the flats) the stoat ran past it and I snapped it in the second photo before it ran off down the lane.

The rabbit is the same white-nosed black rabbit and we will have to set some more traps for stoats!

Tuesday the 7th

These birds are doing well.  It's funny having different sorts of chicks, when one is used to duckling bills, chick beaks, Pukeko bills and so on.  The novel type is always fascinating.

cow calving

475 spent the whole day standing at fencelines looking off into the distance.  Just before 5pm she showed obvious signs of labour - mucous, lay down, got up, turned around, etc.  She took her time and didn't deliver this calf until 6.30pm.

They seem to get so confused by this inaccessibility of their calves, when they're just about finished.  Most of my cows lie for the last push, but some always get up a bit too soon.

Angus calf

It's a pretty little bull calf.

Wednesday the 8th
cow under tree

After finding all the cows in the Frog Paddock, I sat under a tree with Curly for a while because it was raining.  It's a very peaceful thing to do.

Angus cows and calf

This is Dexie's calf.  I'm always surprised by how soon in their lives they start tearing around like this.  When they're very young, they only run around their mothers when playing.  In a few days he'll be going further afield, especially if he has a willing playmate.

sitting goose

At last the goose is sitting, although obviously much too late for my plans for her first motherhood.  I wonder what she'll think of the goslings when they grow up?  I think Goose thinks she's a sheep, so she may not recognise other geese.

heifer in labour

After writing for most of the day, I got up to listen to the radio for a couple of hours while tidying the kitchen and looked out the window, as I'd done many times during the afternoon and a flash of something bright caught my eye under 718's tail.

As I'd seen her grazing calmly down the paddock before she got here, I thought something had gone very wrong.  No signs of labour but the presentation of membranes concerned me.  I watched for a while and she continued to graze, so I went out and took her to the yards to find out what was going wrong.

I found two feet and a head and lots of signs of life from the calf.  I'm not sure why 718 wasn't obviously actively in labour, but having my arms inside her seemed to spur her on and so I let her go back to the House Paddock and continued to watch her until dark, when she successfully delivered a heifer calf.

Tonight there was an eclipse of the moon, but after enjoying the beauty of the full moon rising, heavy low cloud covered the whole sky and other than noting that it was darker than I might have expected on this full-moon night at the time of the full eclipse, we saw none of it.

Thursday the 9th
Angus cows and calf

Late last night Dinky 94 was taking an unusual interest in 475's calf.  This morning she was still getting in the way of his relationship with his mother, so eventually I herded her out through the gate into the lane and along into Flat 2, where she can still be near, but if the calf stays with his mother, Dinky can't get to him.

In this picture she stood over the calf, near the fence, so 475 couldn't get to him.

Last night I presumed Dinky was in labour, since interest in others' calves often occurs at that time, but checking my calving dates sheet, I found she is still days away from full term.

newborn Angus calf

718's little daughter, all tucked up by the House Paddock trough.  I'm glad she's alright.

During mating I observed 475, daughter 725 and grand-daughter 718 all appearing to be of interest to the bull three and six weeks after they must have conceived their calves.  When all three began to look more "uddery" than I expected, I brought them in to the flats earlier than I would have done based on their expected calving dates and I'm glad I did.  Next year I'll be more attentive to the whole family's behaviour, because there seems to be a pattern.

cow and newborn calf

Meg 699 was in labour at 11.30 this morning and I went out every hour to see how she was getting on.  At my 3.15 check, she had already calved and her daughter was about to have her first feed.  I love watching them calve, but I'm equally happy to find the process completed and everything well.

It was raining, so I didn't hang around.

Friday the 10th
identical twins and calf

The twins with Meg's calf.  It must be confusing for this calf that Aunty smells exactly the same as Mummy.  Presumably mother smells slightly different after calving and when she's lactating than Aunty does in late pregnancy.

water draining

Stephan dug this drain a couple of days ago in the Back Barn Paddock, in preparation for the installation of a culvert pipe and some fencing around the water-course.  The water comes from a spring in the hill.  There are a lot of rocks above where the water starts, so I wonder if it was more substantial once, or has changed where it emerges.

There are so many water sources to try and protect.  We'll get them all fenced eventually, but it's going to take some time!  This place will be so pretty when those things are all done and we'll probably be dead.

greenhood orchid

The Greenhood orchids are now blooming.  I've usually been too busy to go out looking for these, but it's also easier to find them because they've spread down to where I sometimes need to walk.

Native orchid

The tiny plant I photographed two weeks ago is also getting closer to flowering time.

The Sun Orchid plants are also throwing up their flower spikes now.  I wonder if we'll have a sunny flowering season this year?

The annual Eva's Calving Date Competition is now open

Enter here

This competition closes on Monday 27th October.