The week beginning the 9th of January 2016.
Saturday the 9th
cows resting

After the heavy rain yesterday afternoon, everything is damp and steamy - see the misty wafts up in the bush.  It'll make great growing conditions for the grass.

Angus calf

I want to swap bull 144 with 138, since 144 could do with a rest from all the chasing around he's inclined to do with the cows; but 138 is son of Dinky 94, so she and her daughter Fancy 126 had to come out of their mob and go in with big 87.

This is 126's daughter, a calf I could happily shoot!  She's a complete idiot, always trying to get as far from me as possible, which makes it really difficult to get her to go anywhere I want.  I took this photo because I was astonished that she actually went through under this tape gate, as I'd set it up for her to do, after I couldn't draft her into the paddock any other way.

Calves like this upset all the others.  It's a temperamental issue I've noticed in a few of bull 134's calves; most of them are as quiet as the rest of the herd, but this one is particularly bad.  She'll settle down a bit in time but never enough for me to keep her here.

Sunday the 10th
track in grass

While there was another mob in Flat 1, bull 87 spent a lot of time walking up and down the Windmill fenceline, evidenced by this muddy track.  At the time he only had five cows, so he would have had time to covet his neighbour's cows.

This evening's dinner was our first goose casserole and it was absolutely delicious!  We've not eaten goose before and weren't sure how it would be.  The meat itself had a very good flavour and tenderness.  Stephan commented that we may have to get more geese.  Yeah, right.

Monday the 11th
cow and calf

I stood on the slope looking down at these two, marvelling that this little heifer created that whole huge calf.

I always still think of her like this, lucky to be here at all and now with her own daughter.

Tuesday the 12th

We went in to town this morning with a cage containing six budgies for sale.  I came home with two in the cage (rejected because they had slightly soiled vent feathers which may indicate a parasite burden I will need to address).  There were another two in a cardboard box with air holes in it, separate because they need to be quarantined: someone else had also taken budgies for sale to the pet shop and there were a couple with colours I haven't seen before!  The young female (?) has mostly white feathers with cinnamon bands and a very light lilac body; the mature male has a very dark cast to his blue body feathers, as if they are black at the ends.  I will have to attempt better descriptions when I figure out what they may be - and photos of course.

One man went to mow, went to mow a meadow ...


He also mowed his favourite folding knife, when it bounced out of his tool-box on the back of the tractor and went through the slasher.

Angus cattle

Yearling 137 is a worryingly and surprisingly stroppy little bugger!  His mother is Dexie and his paternal half sisters have mostly been very quiet animals, so where did he get this horrible tendency?

I couldn't get him away from 134 on the fenceline and asked Stephan to have a go later when I was doing something else.  He said the bull was pretty intimidating!  I have generally found him better than I expected when he's been quietly with the cows, but when he's riled up by the proximity of another bull, it's a different story.

Angus cattle

Mr 87 is a pleasure to deal with, here with his cows in the bottom of the Pines Paddock where there's a lot of lush grass recently grown.

Plane on tarmac

I'd been in text contact with Jude and Roger for a couple of hours, their three children having been due to arrive on the evening plane at 7.15pm.  It was delayed for an hour and so I had carried on moving cattle before setting off in Jane's car (can't carry three in the ute without trussing them and tying them down on the back) to fetch them.

people at airport

When I was a child I always thought adults particularly stupid in the way they invariably said upon meeting me "my, how you've grown" after any extended absence.  Now I understand and find myself doing it just as often and just as ridiculously.  The part of life during which one's body changes all the time is so short in the longer scheme of things and one simply forgets what that was like.

The three of them have been sent here to be out of the way while their parents pack up their entire house ready to put everything in storage before the tenants for the next year move in.  Then a couple of weeks later they'll be off around the world!  This is the last holiday we'll have together for a while.

Wednesday the 13th
child on raft

What is it about weeding a pond on a raft...

child on raft

... which appeals to almost everyone who comes here?

rocky stream

The very heavy rain last Friday afternoon took out our water system again.  We can manage for a long time now at the house because of the big tank, but some of the paddocks have no water because they're higher than the tank.  I had to let the cows in the Spring paddock have access to the stream the other day, which isn't ideal, now we've done all that lovely fencing to keep them out of the waterways.

We thought it would be a fun adventure for the children, so had planned to go up there today.

It appeared that the sudden rain after a mostly dry period, had brought a lot of litter down from the surrounding bush which clogged up the filter, something which doesn't usually happen.

pushing through undergrowth

Across the big slip a lot of colonising plants have grown in the open, light area, including a lot of rather large Toetoe or cutty-grass plants, which were really unpleasant to push through.  There is still a lot of fallen tree material which has to be climbed over but can no longer be seen clearly because of all the new growth.
Bravely we struggled through.


This is a patch of lichen growing on a bit of the pipe where it is suspended in the trees.  I thought it very beautiful, rather like paintings of snow-covered English trees.

children on farm

The blackberries are ripe so the children went to pick some.

They took Floss with them.  I thought Floss might have forgotten about them but when they arrived last evening she was extremely animated and entirely comfortable with them handling her.  She still only bites Stephan.

Thursday the 14th
two boys

I suggested we have a competition to see who could create the best budgie toy.  The results would be judged by the birds.  It was agreed that a toy could be broken and still win because the birds are very destructive and breaking something would be quite likely if a lot of birds liked it a lot.

children on pond

Elizabeth and William came out with Maihi, who's up with them for some of the holidays.  He had a great time playing passenger on the raft while the others paddled him around.

sheep and children

We all went up to feed the pigs, taking some maize to give to Dotty and the goose.


What is it about electric fences and these children?  Perhaps the thrill of the risk of being shocked which would hurt but not harm?  They all picked bits of grass to hold on the electric string to see if they could feel the shock.

Friday the 15th
feral cat

This is presumably one of Spice's relatives.

This cat moved very slowly, so perhaps it was ill; it is unusual to be able to get a good look at such an animal - one of those "what you see when you don't have a gun" moments.  We set a live capture trap in the area later.

Angus cattle

This was a stressful hour's work: moving stroppy young 137 and his mob along the lanes past several other bulls.  They had to get out of the Camp paddock past 134 in the House paddock, then past 87 and his cows in this little riverbank area (on the right), then left along the Mushroom lane and past the two spare bulls, with lots more growling and ground-pawing, on their way out to the Big Back North.  Hopefully 137 will be quiet and settled there, without other bulls anywhere nearby.


We went for a lunch-time picnic!  Stephan had made a sausage and egg pie and I made fizzy lemonade with Stephan's lovely lemon cordial (much, much nicer than bought stuff) and took the whole lot on the ute up the track and then we waded across the stream and set ourselves up on a little shady mound by the old swimming hole.

We took our new radio so we could listen to the summer holiday Matinee Idle programme on Radio New Zealand, a weird and often dreadful mix of recordings which are sensibly never played at any other time, hosted by a couple of old guys around Stephan's age.  It has been our regular summer afternoon fare, over many years.

large insect on hat

Louie wasn't entirely thrilled about his companion, a large Stick Insect which must have dropped from one of the trees above us, but sat very still while Stella and I took some photos.


Floss had a lovely time, eating bits of picnic food and wandering around sampling things she found.  We made sure she didn't start climbing any trees, or we might not have been able to get her down.


Stephan, Jasper and Stella went off to the Tank paddock, just over the fence, to pick blackberries for a while.  Louie and I stayed in the shade, he with a book and I with a cryptic crossword.  It was all extremely pleasant.