The week beginning the 17th of June 2017.
Saturday the 17th

Bernie milked Zella this morning but had quite a hard time getting her in from Flat 1.  By this time in the season she really begins to protest and I'm beginning to wonder how much of her raised somatic cell problem is actually a stress response, a protest!

Stephan had forgotten to pick up any dry-cow treatment for Zella from town yesterday, so after milking he and Bernie went off to town, leaving Zella and Demelza in the little milking shed paddock until they came home.

Stephan then put the long-acting anti-biotic treatments up each teat and Zella and Demelza headed back out to Flat 1, where I can keep an eye on Zella for the next few days.  If she hadn't still had infected-looking milk, I'd not have bothered with the treatment this year but I don't want to take the risk of a sick cow, when we've already had too many injections to deal with this season and if she got sick, we'd have to give her more.  Hopefully the intra-mammary treatments will deal to whatever infection remains and she'll be ok.

people on ute

A leaflet arrived in the mailbox a few weeks ago, telling us our road would be closed for several hours today for another idiotic car rally.  We should all burn more petrol.

It's not calving time so apart from objecting to the ridiculous waste of energy and the damage they do to our road, and since my protests are ignored in any case, we took coffee and chairs and went out to see whether any of them could drive any better than the rest of us.  A few of them were a little faster than last time ...


... but this Kotare on the power line was still the most interesting thing we saw out there.

Sunday the 18th

Bernie told us that since coming here last year, he has been making butter at home in Melbourne, but with makeshift wooden paddles.  Today Stephan made him some proper butter pats - and I got a new pair too!  (My old ones are a mismatched couple of rejects from past production lines.)

This is a bit of Kauri Stephan bought at a clearing sale some years ago.

Angus heifer

Bernie and I went to move the pregnant heifers from the Road Flat paddock and Jet 777 was over by the gate on her own, looking like she was eating something odd (standing next to a Karamū tree with no leaves left), with this bit of foam at the corner of her mouth.  I don't know what she was chewing but she seemed quite ok some hours later.

cow teeth

Having been looking at teeth in the other mob, I thought I'd better check the oldest cow in the herd, Demelza.

Those two on her left are looking a bit dodgy, the outer tooth looking like it's been broken away to a stub.  It was probably a timely move for Demelza, out of the main herd and in with Zella, who spends all her time on slightly better feed than the other cows, since she's in milk for much longer each year.

Cows harvest grass by grabbing it between these lower incisors and the hard dental pad at the top and gaps between the teeth make that work less efficient and an old cow can suffer from lack of feed.  Great-grandmother Ivy had none of these teeth left by the end of her life.


Piggy's last meal this evening.  She's due for the chop tomorrow, since Zella is no longer producing the milk we use to feed her.  She's grown rather large and is probably overly fat!

Stephan talked of keeping this nice-natured animal and doing some breeding but we decided not to because of her odd habits.  Most pigs defecate in one place but this one does it anywhere, even in her food trough.  She also has very picky dietary preferences, often leaving things ordinary pigs would eat with great enthusiasm.  Thinking she might well teach any piglets these same unfortunate habits, we decided she'd not be a keeper.


The sheep look like they've been rubbing on anything they can find!  It must be such a relief to be shorn and be able to scratch effectively again.

Monday the 19th
two men

Stephan and Bernie, preparing to go and deal with the pig this morning.

I went off to town to accompany Christina to an appointment and came home when they were half-way through the job, in time to take some much-appreciated coffees to them both.

pig processing

The scalding had gone well to a point, then they had a bit of trouble getting some of the hair off.  It's tricky keeping the temperatures right when the air is cold in winter.

When they'd finished, they took the pig to a new butcher near Awanui, to turn her into bacon and ham.

half-mown paddock

Stephan came out late yesterday afternoon to mow Flat 2, coming home with the headlights on.  Hopefully he'll have a chance to finish it tomorrow.

Tuesday the 20th
Angus cattle

Bernie and I moved the pregnant heifers again, this time out to the PW.  I was pleased to see 743 leading the way, with no sign of a limp.


On our way back we watched Stephan mowing Mushroom 2.  The cows came out of here a week ago but there's been very little growth since.

fallen tree

The three of us went for a walk to have a look around the bush on the penisula, that interestingly shaped bit of land between our house and where the sheep (and pig) usually live.

This is the base of the Taraire tree I found fallen across the stream last month.  Stephan peered over the top of it at me as I took the photo.

We wandered around pulling weed trees and Stephan cut and painted herbicide on the larger specimens we found.  Then, as it started to rain, we made our way quickly back across a shallow bit of the stream and went home.

Wednesday the 21st
electric tape

Bernie and I walked up the hill Over the Road because I'd seen from down on the flats that this electric tape was no longer a straight, white line: it had broken about a third of the way down the hill.  It gets pretty windy up here and the break was where there were burn marks from a short during some earlier use.

Bernie hadn't come up here last time he visited, so wanted to see the view.

We continued on along the boundary, checking that the rest of the taped sections were still in order.

man and cow

Before it got dark, Bernie went out to say good-bye to Zella and Demelza, taking the grooming brush with him.  Demelza adores a good brushing.

Thursday the 22nd

Bernie was booked to leave on the 6.20am plane but there was no way we could get him there.  There was a heavy rain warning in force, so I was alert to the sound of rain falling through the night and checked a couple of times out the window to see how high the stream was; but in the event, I missed my chance to get Bernie out before the rivers came up and over the bridge.

I got up at about 2.30 as the rain started falling very heavily and seeing that the stream was quite high, drove the ute out to the roundabout, so that even if we had to wade through a bit of water, we could at least drive to the airport.  I then watched the rain radar, which seemed to be indicating that the rain was almost over, so I figured the stream might come up and over for a little while, but not be very high.  Oh how wrong I was!

Sitting wondering whether I ought to wake Bernie very early or not, I was gradually aware of the increasing noise outside, as the Taheke Stream rushed higher and higher and then quickly it was up and over the banks and through the pond.  It wasn't quite as high as the huge flood on 11 March, but almost.

At some point I had a panicked realisation that the sheep were up in their usual stream-bound area again, because the shelter there was better after shearing than back in the safer House paddock.  In dressing gown and gumboots I ran and called them all up to the high ground but they wouldn't follow me out of the paddock.  At that stage I still thought the flood wouldn't come to much and the Waikawa Stream from up Diggers Valley was still within its banks.

Within half an hour it wasn't and by then Stephan had woken up and went to see if we could still get the sheep out but couldn't get through the water then rushing over the driveway.  Fortunately, although they'd returned to the low end of the paddock, when we checked again a bit later as the water receded Stephan could see five sets of eyes in the torchlight although they still couldn't be brought out of the paddock because of the force of water flowing across below the pig sty.  The water had not submerged the entire paddock as it did in March and a bit later we led them out and up to the House paddock, in case there was another downpour, which could easily bring the waters back up.

Bernie got up at the arranged hour and we told him he now had a bonus day on the farm!  I kept watching the Barrier Air website, which indicated that the flight out this morning was delayed, until I eventually got hold of Rachel at the airport, who said she'd just sent the plane off.  But she very kindly said Bernie could fly tomorrow instead, without any penalty.  Bernie got hold of his family and we all had a more leisurely morning than anticipated.

stream crossing

An emailed decision from ACC this morning informed us that they have turned down the application to cover the surgery to fix Stephan's torn meniscus in his injured knee.  We are, to say the least, disappointed.  We understood the approval would be quite straight forward under the circumstances.

Stephan has therefore decided to get on with his life, starting with rearranging this stream crossing this afternoon, where big boulders from up the hill were dumped in the big flood and keep coming down every time the water is high.  His knee was sore, so he didn't really want to walk with Bernie and me as we went to check on the cows.  Heaving huge rocks around was apparently less bothersome.

man and cow

Bernie and 746 met each other last year but she's obviously forgotten and looked at him with great suspicion.

man and cow

716 was much more accepting, to my surprise, since she's a recent convert to the pleasures of human touch.

She looks quite small next to Bernie, but she's 94% of this herd's average mature cow size (at weaning) of 571kg.

men and cattle

Then we all walked along Route 356 to turn on the new tank, since the flood stopped the water system again and all the cattle out here will now rely on the tank to refill their troughs.

Those two brown heifers keep appearing everywhere together.  They're very cute.

goose and sheep

Bernie and I found Madam Goose wandering around alone where the sheep had been and walked her down together to rejoin them.  It was hard enough getting the sheep to move with torch-light, so we'd left the goose where she was when she didn't cooperate, since she could probably survive flooding better than her woolly friends.

All the flooding is causing me increasing anxiety.  It seems that it is the intensity of the rain that is affecting us now, rather than that the actual quantities have significantly increased.

We've been wondering if something has changed upstream, perhaps some land clearance or something but some of the major flooding has primarily come down the Taheke Stream, whose source is only the native bush-clad hills behind the farm, indicating a change in the rainfall, not the landscape - although that much water is certainly changing bits of the landscape as it rushes through it!

Something we are noting is that the flood sources are often quite distinct.  Today's water coming down the Waikawa from up Diggers Valley was about the same level as the flood we didn't hear when Janice and Tim were visiting, and that one didn't come down the Taheke and into the pond as this one did.  The water we get through the pond comes from two sources, one being the Taheke upper catchment itself and the other stream flows through our Bush Flat paddock from the south west, through another farm, originating in a different part of the Herekino forest.  The rainfall is often apparently so localised that any of the three can flood significantly more than the others.

Friday the 23rd

Up before five again this morning and this time Bernie got to the airport.  His flight left on time and presumably he made his reasonably tight connection through to visit his family in Whanganui.  It was fun to see him again and, this time, to spend a bit more time together.


I looked across the flats this morning and realised I hadn't seen Zella and Demelza anywhere but the little triangle at the bottom of the flats since I watched Bernie brushing them two days ago: the wooden gate had swung round enough to shut them in there and there is no longer a trough in that area.  Stephan went across to let them out.

Not having access to water for a while at this time of the year is not life-threatening but both gradually made their way across to the Flat 1 trough for a drink within the next hour or so.

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