The week beginning the 26th of August 2017.
Saturday the 26th
man and heifer

This looks like future trouble!  787 is weirdly quiet and we suspect she'll become like Demelza and have to be pushed everywhere.  Fortunately what she will do is follow along, if everyone else is on the move, so in the lanes I just walk past her and urge the others on and 787 follows in her own good time - usually almost fast enough.

I brought the thin/pregnant heifer mob in, weighed and drenched them with most of what was left of the pour-on I bought last year.  This is too hard a winter to leave them dealing with a parasitic load, since there isn't enough feed around in all the mud.

Angus cow

With another rain warning in place (this is additional to it always raining at present) I brought Zella and Demelza out of the Pig paddock and back to Flat 1.  The ground is saturated so even quite moderate falls bring the streams up and over the bridge and once that happens, I'd have no way of getting out to do anything about any animals in the Pig paddock, should a larger flood occur.

Demelza seems in pretty good order for an old thing.  Time keeps wandering on and here is Demelza, whose birth I was present for, now nearly 14.

Sunday the 27th

This is sheep feed in terms of the grass length.  Endberly and the "thin" cow mob are out in the Middle Back.  Fortunately my cows have always known how to deal with short grass, since they have to during winter.

Monday the 28th

807, grey 607's lovely daughter, grazing Over the Road.


Endberly's little sister.

The two grey heifers often graze together.  Cattle appear to be quite well aware of their own and others' colour and they'll bully those who are different.


Other than too-thin 162 on the left, the yearling heifers appear to be doing alright through this nasty winter.

Angus cattle

I photograph blue skies and shadows at present because they seem rare.


This Puka keeps on getting bigger.  Its host tree isn't going to be big enough for its potential full size so it will be interesting to see what happens over the next few years.

The biggest Puka grow high up in huge Puriri trees, with their enormous grooved vine trunks coming down to the ground.

The earlier photos of this one can be followed back here.

The smallest one I've found was in a Totara tree Over the Road.  They must have a very efficient feeding system, as their root systems often look far less impressive than their big, shiny, green canopies.  The vine/roots of this plant are pictured here and the roots of a much bigger plant in the top of a very large Puriri, are here.


I went out to check on the cattle because we want to get away earlyish tomorrow for a night's "holiday".

This lot were all standing around in the PW but one wasn't there.  I figured I'd see her somewhere as I travelled out to the Back Barn and indeed, did see a flash of white-faced cow coming down onto the track, through the trees, as I walked through the Spring paddock.  But do you think I could find her again when I went back to the rest of the cows?  I began to think I'd imagined seeing her before.  I must be tired.

Tuesday the 29th

We both went out really early and found Ms 746, grazing up the hill, separate from the others as usual.  The walk was useful though, establishing that there was enough grass for them to stay here while we're away.

native orchids

And so we went south, to spend the night with the lovely Kate and Geoff near Helena Bay.

We went for a stroll (clamber, really, and Stephan shouldn't have, because it was too hard on his knee and we suffered for it that night), down into their reserve and I took little jaunts off to the sides of the tracks looking for orchids.

Looking through the NZ Native Orchids website, we decided these are Pterostylis trullifolia, the Trowel Leaved Greenhood - later confirmed by a real orchid person; thanks to Kevin Matthews of Awanui.

native orchids

I didn't even see them when I first looked.  They're in the centre of this picture.

Angora goats

The Angora goats are about three weeks away from kidding, so their bellies are ridiculously round and solid.  They're such delicate little animals compared to cattle.  Kate and Geoff absolutely love them!

Wednesday the 30th

Our hosts took us out for lunch at the nearby café and this was the view down to Helena Bay, itself.  I've not been down there by road but this coastline is where I spent many summers sailing with my father.

Thursday the 31st

We'd let the 11 cows out of the PW when we arrived home just before dark yesterday, to graze the lanes areas.  This morning I put them in to the Pines.

That's Emergency's fat bum in the middle on the right.  She's fat because she didn't calve last year.


Then the thinner cows came past them to go up into the Swamp East (thank goodness for lanes into most of the paddocks).


In the continually wet conditions, the mosses and fungi are doing well.


Oh look, it's raining again.

I was up on the hill Over the Road, watching the rain passing over the forested hills beyond the back of the farm.


Earth tongue fungi, Trichoglossum hirsutum, growing on the roadside mossy bank.

I see these little black tongues growing out of the ground wherever I hunt for orchids and interesting fungi at this time of year.  I've not seen quite so many together in such a clear spot like this.

Friday the 1st of September

I sorted out my calving date calculator today, which first required catching up with some data entry into a much larger spreadsheet, that in which I enter every gestation record each year.  I now have 716 gestation-length records out of 789 recorded births and these days there's seldom a birth for which I wasn't able to record a conception/mating date.  I like 'crunching' such data.

From that sheet I know the average gestation of each of my cows, the shortest and longest gestations she's recorded and those figures go into the calving-date calculation sheet, so I have a best-guess estimate of each calf's due date.  For the heifers I guess, based on their family history and their own gestation.  From all this information, I get the dates right for about a third of them, although almost all are within a day or two.

And so ...

... it's time for the annual Eva's Calving Date Competition.

Please ENTER HERE by midnight 1 October.

And again, let us have a twins guessing competition too.  This year they are in calf to different bulls: Gem 698 was inseminated on 11 January and Meg 699 was with the bull on 12 January.

identical twins

The Twins competition will close at midnight on Sunday 15th October 2017.