Lots of Tailbys arrived this morning to consult on and then help construct the dividing fence between the orchard and William's memorial reserve.
The boys went off exploring, somehow managing to cross the stream - there's a fallen Taraire just upstream they may have used.
Heights and angles were carefully discussed, posts dug in and the ancient Totara fence battens were attached with the nail gun, for ease and speed.
At about that point I needed to come home and sit down. As I rounded the last corner before our gateway, I noticed the Quail family on the road, pecking around and then going up the bank and into the Over the Road paddock.
This might explain why we see them sometimes and then they can be absent for long periods: they have a large territory over which they range.
Thirty-two people gathered this morning just after 10.30. William's mother, Phyllis, was driven by another of her three sons, while the rest of us walked up the road to the orchard, to gather in the place prepared for William's ashes and today's remembrance. It was a good morning.
Then back home for lunch together. It was good to gather together in that way, for that purpose. It has been a strange and difficult year for all of us.
The weather was fittingly lovely all day. When everyone had gone, I went out to move cattle, spending some time with the calves so I could check that the injured lame calf was improving. I took a few pictures of the sale calves' faces and here they are (some were today's pictures, with several added on Friday before they went away).
Two calves are not here: 185 , daughter of Imogen 155 and Harry; and 187, daughter of Henrietta 141 and K C F Bennett Absolute.
The calves are listed according to their mothers' numbers (the buttons at the bottom and their picture captions) because it's as their mothers' offspring I'll wish to refer to them later.
The sires are Summitcrest Focus 2U66, Virago Reality 87, Virago 160 and Lawson's Harry H234, sire of the majority this season.
When he's available, I get Stephan to read through these pages before I publish them - there have been times past when he's had no idea what wickednesses I've written about him! As he was doing so he commented that the slide-show above wouldn't fit on his laptop's screen. Please feel free to provide similar feedback at any time. I haven't changed the slideshow, because it'll take some time to resize the photos, but I'll trial a new maximum photo height, as in the Towai flower picture below.
I have assumed that the only picture size issues I had to worry about were for various hand-held devices, on which the pictures should resize automatically. Stephan's weird laptop screen doesn't do that.
On that note, the whole of 2007 should now work on such devices, since I have recently spent a few days recoding those pages. There are other sections I've yet to begin.
We went in to town and ran into several people who were also very aware of the significance of today. Most of them were former school colleagues of William's. Such experiences are the nicer parts of living in a small community.
To mark the occasion of my finally being able to wear jeans again when out working, I set my camera on a gate post before letting the cows come through. The cows were very suspicious of the blinking light as the self-timer operated.
A few days ago when I was about to move the bulls from Flat 2 to 3, I noticed a broken post here in the Puriri surround fence. I could just imagine a bull getting tangled in the wires as he strolled in to eat the grass under the tree and that sort of nightmare is one I'll not knowingly invite; so I didn't move them but asked Stephan to come and replace the post. Today was his first opportunity to the job.
Afterwards he went to Flat 4, ready to do some mowing, after he'd sowed some of the left-over seed I'd not used a couple of years ago. It might as well go out on a paddock, see if it germinates.
I set up the gates as soon as he was out of the way and let the bulls come along to Flat 3 and here they were, enthusiastically investigating some rock salt I brought out for them.
Stephan borrowed a little tip truck from Aaron down the road but the ground conditions are already just a little too soft for that option to work where Stephan wants to take metal to from the new pile.
A trailer and the tractor turned out to be the best way to get lime-rock out to the back culverts.
I went out to see what improvements had been made.
This is the culvert at the bottom of the Middle Back, which has been reasonably satisfactory but will be far better this winter with metal over it.
This is the usually-soggy nightmare culvert between the Middle Back and Spring paddocks.
Last week when he brought some loads of stream gravel out to begin paving the top of it, Stephan also did some tractor digging here on the Spring side. It appears that a lot of water comes down the hillside and then flows over and pools around the top of the culvert. Hopefully this will help divert that water and thereby prevent some of the softness in the soil over the crossing.
Over the top of the river gravel, Stephan now shovelled a layer of lime-rock. The winter will tell us whether or not this has been a sufficient remedy.
I moved the weaned cows to Flat 5a, directly across the lane from the two bulls. They stood watching the cows with interest, as they moved around the paddock checking out the grass.
I haven't heard yet but the calves might go off tomorrow, so I moved them from Mushroom paddocks 2 & 3 to Mushroom 1, from which it will be reasonably easy to move them again if necessary.
Later in the day a message was left on the answerphone, asking us to have them ready for a ten o'clock pick-up.
I was setting up gates ready for the big mob to move from the Big Back North to the South paddock, I noticed all this trampled grass and undergrowth, along with a torn Tī Kōuka (Cabbage Tree) on the Buselich Reserve side of the boundary fence. I looked carefully for any sign of cow manure (which would be very surprising) and concluded there must have been a family of pigs down here. The ground isn't churned up though. Odd.
Up early this morning to bring the weaners in to the yards. Here they were passing most of the mothers in Flat 5a and then went past Zella and Glia as they proceeded along the House lane.
They're a lovely lot. I didn't get around to giving them a copper shot, as I often do before the weaners go, since I can't yet comfortably lean on the yard rails. Heidi says she'll drench them when they get to her place.
The calf with the bumped leg was walking almost normally. If you didn't know to look, you wouldn't have noticed.
Fly agaric toadstools (Amanita muscaria) often grow here near the loading ramp and under the Oak tree by the gate.
Gary came over from next door to help Stephan bring some firewood in, some of which Gary then cut up and took home with him.
This is, I'm fairly sure, Towai, Weinmannia silvicola. All of my books tell me it flowers in summer. May is not summer. This is, however, an unusually warm May, so maybe it's confused.
The other similar-looking plant which is easily confused with Towai, until it flowers, is Makamaka, Ackama rosifolia.
If you flicked down here just to check the picture size, you can go back up here.
I wandered around, checking all the cows, calves and yearlings in the Big Back South.
What a lot of Kikuyu litter!
What I actually said was very much ruder than that. The area of disturbed, long grass is in the Buselich Reserve. The paddock through the hole in the fence belongs to our "Conservationist" neighbours - with a capital C since they make a big deal about their wondrous works around the district. The problem is that at the back of their own farm they have this sort of thing going on. Their cattle have obviously been in the reserve.
Their cattle have been eating, sleeping and defecating under the beautiful Rimu that we bent the boundary fence to preserve.
Their cattle have presumably been right along our boundary, at least as far down as the stream because they were probably the cause of the trampled area I looked at yesterday. Thank goodness they haven't been here while my cattle have been grazing our paddock, with only the single fence between them - we don't double-fence the boundaries where there is reserve on the other side, for there should never be cattle there!
I am seriously peeved about this. Stephan rang and talked with one of the people who said they knew their fence was unreliable but didn't do anything about making sure the cattle couldn't break through. Why not? Apparently they cut their own boundary fence to get the cattle back out of the reserve again. Will they fix anything before they put their cows back along that fenceline? I wouldn't bet on it.
The Buselich Reserve is beautiful, having had no cattle in it for 20 years. (Apart from the evidence of a single stray animal we found in April last year, prompting us to urge the Department of Conservation to get on and fence the perimeter properly, including upgrading the old boundary fences with the other neighbouring blocks.) A mob of cattle will have done significant damage to the regenerating bush. I hope they stayed on this side of the stream and weren't roaming free throughout the whole reserve.