Jachin, winner of this year's Calving Date Competition, asked if he could, for his prize, have naming rights of this lovely creature and the name he has chosen is Dushi, a name/word used in the Caribbean, meaning sweet, nice, good ... sugar and spice and all things nice? Let us hope this will help in the formation of her character and that she can grow up being all those things and live here for a long lifetime!
She looks a bit mad in this picture but I think she isn't really.
Ella spent time in the calf pen with Zella's daughter this morning. Calves are so lovely to be near, all gorgeous and soft and new. They can also stand on your toes and be stupidly unpredictable and their shit really stinks.
Silly Dexie 121 has a problem identifying the other calf in the paddock with hers as anything less than a dangerous predator and keeps chasing him away from her and her daughter. Daughter calf is here running after the other calf because it's fun! They could do without the harassment.
Dexie had lots of Magnesium before calving so this sort of behaviour must be all her own. I'm looking for additions to next autumn's cull list and I think I've just found an entrant.
Pretty little orchids in yet another tree.
I had a much-needed migraine-related snooze this afternoon while Ella and Stephan whipped up a baking storm in the kitchen. Excellent. What's needed to sustain calving time's constant activity and vigilance is chocolate cake with thick icing. And fruit loaf with lashings of butter.
My late check was in drizzle and then with lots of blustery wind, horizontal rain began falling quite steadily, although it didn't at any time sound particularly heavy.
Up at 3am, found the torch and went out to check on the stream levels. The Waikawa was already over the bridge and creeping up the driveway. I then watched out the bedroom window for a while, trying to work out whether a little tree was being further submerged or if the water level was falling. For a while it was hard to tell but then in the space of a couple of minutes it disappeared under the water.
I woke Stephan, got a bowl of maize and we went up to move the sheep. There hadn't been an extraordinary amount of rain (measured just over 50mm at 9am) but the ground is already so wet that flooding becomes rather unpredictable. With two of us, the sheep will move well enough. They come toward the noise of the maize being shaken but then need a gentle chaser to actually follow out through a gate.
The water came up quite high although I'm not sure if it would have endangered the sheep or not. It's not worth the risk. I called them out of the House paddock again this morning and took them back to where they'd been.
Zella's calf, now a week old, has been named Zoom (she'll probably have to be Zoomella, since everyone around here gets a bit of ella in their name), because she's ridiculously fast and zooms around the paddock every evening as they're coming in for Zella's milking.
Zella's still a bit nervous about her calf going too far away from her, so getting them in is tricky and needs more than one person to herd the cattle toward the gate.
This picture was taken this morning, so was a bit more orderly than the evening, when calves have their crazy time. Getting them in then is a mix of frustration and delighted laughter, watching the two calves galloping around their mothers and taking off in the wrong direction across the paddock. They start running and then it's as if they change gear and visibly change pace, taking off at twice the original speed.
749 had produced our second bull calf early this morning. He's all black. It's always fun to anticipate the appearance of white faces on these cows' calves - and what sort of patterns the white might take, since it can be anything from full white to splotches.
I had also seen 716 across the flats with a little black bundle beside her at dawn. I didn't disturb them to see what sex it was for a day or two, but that calf turned out to be our eighth heifer for the season. 716 has only produced bulls before so this is a nice surprise.
Out in the Spring paddock white-faced 714's and 710's udders were filling more quickly (I check each day and it's noticeable when the change begins to speed up) and so I walked the two of them down to the gate. I love having quiet cows who will do as bid in such a ready way. I put them into the crossing area while I set up a lane across the Back Barn to the lane (since there are four cows over this side).
I brought them along to the Frog paddock, just a little closer to home and a smaller area in which to keep an eye on them. I'll start giving them nightly Magnesium and molasses.
Ella and I walked across the flats to watch Ellie 119 calving. We settled down near her by the fence until she made it clear she wasn't happy with our proximity, so we hopped through the fence and retreated to a more comfortable (for her) position.
Once I'd seen two feet and a tongue, I left Ella with the binoculars so she could watch the whole process.
The calf is another heifer, our ninth of eleven calves. Her sire is Ayrvale Bartel E7, our first from that bull.
This is Dexie 121's two-day-old daughter and she has a surprising amount of white underneath! Her mother has none, as far as I've ever seen, although she may carry some propensity to it if those genes are combined with a sire with white tendencies. It matters not a jot to me but is interesting in a pedigree calf, since it matters rather a lot to some stud breeders, who don't like to see white at all and certainly not anywhere forward of the navel (which this isn't, quite).
There's very little pasture in the House paddock, but there appears to be a lot of clover. I've noticed it in other places too, wet places I'd have expected the clover to have given up in.
Zella and Demelza grazed the Pig paddock again today and their calves discovered they could walk under the wire along the lower part of the driveway. Then they kept wandering until they sat down to sleep, right beside the drive.
At present our road-side gate is usually locked (let us know if you're planning to call in) because of the regular presence of wandering stock out on the road. The dairying neighbour, one of whose cows Stephan saved a few weeks ago, has obviously overestimated the amount of feed he can grow for his animals and is grazing wherever he can arrange to have his cattle, as well as, on occasion, the roadsides! Because one is legally obliged to get cattle off the road if one finds them wandering, for safety's sake, some well-meaning person might decide to pop such animals in through our gateway, which would cause me considerable biosecurity concern. The gateway into which such animals should be herded is only about 100m down the road, so it is not unreasonable to deny them access here in any case.
The other advantage of having a locked gate at this time of year, is that no unexpected vehicular traffic can enter when there might be calves in the driveway like today. I would not drive a vehicle close to a little calf unless I could keep it in sight, in case it got up and got under the wheels; but I have seen other people do it, through ignorance or carelessness and would not have them do so near my calves.
749's calf isn't quite right: he is weirdly tender on his front feet, in particular. He also has a noticeable kink in the middle of his back. I wonder if he was injured during birth or was kinked somehow before he was born?
I watched him feeding repeatedly, so at least he was doing that right and the two of them moved around the paddock quite a bit so he wasn't seriously disabled.
Over the next couple of days his back straightened out and he began to move more normally.
Ella went to stay with Emma last night and this afternoon and evening, Emma was with us. We went exploring out the back.
First we walked up to the spring in the Spring paddock, where I experimented with shoving a pipe in under the huge rock from beneath which the spring water emerges. I wanted to see if I could arrange for a clean flow and it looks like that might well work. You never can tell what a 34-year-old vacuum cleaner pipe might come in handy for. I left it in a tree so the cattle wouldn't stand on it. We'll have another play with tapping the spring once we get a fence around that area to exclude the animals.
Then up the hill and over the ridge to walk down through the ferny gully, to see the Greenhood orchids. They're very late blooming this year. Emma was fascinated by the variety of mosses and ferns and collected a number of samples in a bag for later examination.
This was the most advanced orchid we found.
I drafted these three R2 heifers, Imogen 155, Queenly 149 and Endberly's 792, away from the others a couple of days ago and meant to start them on molasses and Magnesium but got caught up with other things and more nasty weather, until this evening - after it had rained steadily for two hours.
I had meant to go out and move the rest of their mob but decided against crossing the stream until it went down a bit.
The rivers are coming up quickly at present and I was surprised to see this much water.
I managed to ride quietly past these two twice without them moving. They looked so cute I had to stop and photograph them. 606 is still quite protective of her little daughter. She wouldn't hurt me but she came to make sure all was well. Her daughter is on the left.
606 still has both ear-tags we applied when she was a calf. Her secondary tag (in her left ear) is a previous identity scheme's requirement for a tag with our official Animal Health Board herd number on it. I think she's the only animal still wearing one of those. These days she's supposed to wear a NAIT RFID tag in her right ear but since lots of those have broken and fallen out of animals who've had them since more recent calf-hood, I'm not keen to insert one in her ear until she needs one to leave the farm.
I sat under a big Puriri, sheltered from the wet drizzle, and watched Fancy 126 calving.
At 4.40pm she delivered a bull, son of the Focus sire.
When I checked him at dusk, he seemed a bit flighty, which isn't a good sign. Fancy's first calf was the terrible heifer 156, who was mad. Sister 166 has been quite calm and I hoped the first calf's behaviour was just an anomaly. We shall see. I'll keep a castration ring ready.
Just before that calf was born, I heard a loud bellow of the sort a cow often makes when she first turns to her new calf. I did a quick check around the mobs and could see no new calves anywhere else. The only animal I hadn't seen, who could potentially have calved, was Jemima 146, in the pregnant heifer mob up in the Pines paddock. Ella and I went out for a walk to make sure it wasn't her. We had a lovely walk around the Pines and found everyone all still in one piece. Perhaps it was one of the bulls, who are a bit excitable with all these new babies around them.
749's calf had come out through the fence and looked unwilling to go back. The bottom three wires of this fence are turned off but if he reached up he could be shocked and there are live wires on the other side of the lane. They learn about hot wires quite quickly. I turned everything off and eventually got him back in through a gateway. It didn't help that his mother kept shouting and startling him.
I drafted 146 out of her mob and added her to the two in the Frog paddock, since she's due in the next few days. 710 hasn't met her for a while, so had a good sniff. So far those I'm mixing together are behaving very gently with each other, with no great tussles.
The three bulls have been a bit too long in Flat 5 c & d paddocks, so I opened the gate and called them out this morning. Mr Big 87 was slow in coming out so I went off and did other things and then came back later to find him sitting here, instead of having gone off along the lane to their next paddock. When he stood up, it was immediately obvious that he didn't go because his feet were far too sore to move very far at all.
I suspect that having been standing in wet mud and water for weeks and weeks, he is, like some of the cows, suffering from soft sensitivity, which showed up immediately on the gravel in this area, possibly complicated by fungal activity between his toes. That skin will not have dried out for months and in the mud, there's always plant matter squishing up between his toes and that can get quite sore. If he'd let me, I'd clear all that out and spray some Iodine between his toes. But I think 900kg of testosterone and I are not going to have that particular encounter.
I decided to try leaving him here in a dry and firm spot and bring him feed for a couple of days. I also made him up some molasses and Magnesium, having observed that some sore-footed cows respond well to its provision; but he didn't like it.
We three went up to the orchard and filled the back of the ute with cut grass, half of which we fed to Zella and Demelza on our way here and brought the rest to Mr 87.
I'm looking forward to seeing this guy's calves. There will only be about four of them, I think, since my insemination success was high.
Zoom, resting. She's a beautiful calf to watch in the sunshine, with her extraordinarily glossy coat and great energy.
Demelza's daughter is much less shiny. I'm trying to think of a fancy name with some reference to a spot.
More grass from the orchard. It's nice to have somewhere to easily cut it for them, without foot holes nor churned up mud.
These clear, fine days are greatly uplifting between all the longer spells of awful weather.
The two dark specks on the green ridge in the middle distance are a couple of the young mob, Over the Road.
Dushi, trying to decide whether to make a dash for it in any direction away from me.
She got up and trotted off toward her mother.
That beautiful face would be so soft to the touch.
Ellie's daughter. Her siblings have been 141, 151 and 161. By birth order 121's calf should be 171, which would be easy to remember and this calf would be 172; but I might just swap them.
Ella doesn't change quite as much between photos now as she once did. She's off on the 6.20 plane in the morning and I didn't think anyone would feel like a photograph then!
Ella seems to enjoy coming up. We hope so.
The twins, the only animals who will share a side-by-side lick out of the same container.
The twins' calving dates guessing competition is now closed and below are the entries.
|11||Dominique, 1pm hfr|
|12||Dominique, 2pm hfr|
|16||Jachin, 5.45am bull|
Sue, 5.30pm hfr
|17||Megan, 4am bull||Megan, 7am hfr|
Ruth, 2pm bull
Jachin, 8.45pm hfr
|18||Sue, 6am bull|
|19||Ruth, 7am hfr|
Natacha, 5pm hfr
|20||Bernie, 7am bull|
Sandy, 8.45am bull
|Natacha, 3am hfr|
|21||Bernie, 4pm hfr|
|24||Maria, 5pm hfr|
|25||Sandy, 9.50pm hfr|
|30||Maria, 9pm hfr|
|20 November||Shelley, hfr|
|22 November||Shelley, hfr|