This afternoon I mixed the three heifers with the cows and they didn't seem to take very much notice of each other's newness, as they entered Flat 3 together.
Then I walked behind the 18 heifers out to the Back Barn, with the three young cows behind me, so there couldn't be any fighting in the lane.
For a while I didn't seem to be being followed, until the three of them ran to catch up. By the look of Imogen's face, they must have stopped at the clay bank corner for a while.
Once the youngsters were in the paddock I let the other three go past me and in with them, with as much no-bother as the cows demonstrated.
In the original photo, the light rain shower is beautiful, falling in the sunshine around the cattle. It's too subtle to show up in the smaller picture.
Determined to get the boundary fence finished, Stephan went to town to hire a fencing staple gun, to start stapling battens on. There being somewhere around 1000 battens, with six or seven wires to be stapled to them, we thought it wisest to save his body from potential repetitive hammering problems.
But the gun turned out to be a real dud. The hire place in town had not serviced or checked it since the previous hirer apparently also had trouble with it (and had obviously tried to do some unwise modification). Surely you'd say if it hadn't worked?
Stephan got hold of the guy who does the hire equipment servicing, who talked him through a fix to resolve the primary issue, and Stephan went back to the fenceline with neighbour Gary, who'd volunteered to help him with the battening.
The three cows, Emergency, Genie and 714, had spent the night in the little milking "paddock". I had brought them here from the Pig paddock just before I received a phone call to say they'd be going to the works this morning.
They weren't very keen on going back across the bridge, something having spooked them yesterday. But fortunately, because I've been giving them all molasses with a lot of Magnesium Oxide over the last three days, they were quite keen to follow me when I picked up some blue bins and carried them across the bridge. I wanted to give Emergency as much MgO as I could, to try and take the edge off the obvious anxiety she sometimes suffers, since today will be a day of unfamiliar experiences.
Once they were in the yards, I filled in and took the Animal Status Declaration form over and left it where the truck driver would expect it to be.
All this early organisation turned out to be a very good thing.
I took some freshly recharged batteries (there were problems with that part of the staple gun too) over to Stephan and Gary and on his way, carefully he said, down the hill to meet me, Stephan slipped, put his hand out, as you do, and dislocated his finger.
And so I dashed home to get the ute, while Stephan walked slowly back across Jane's place and met me at her gateway, and off we went to the hospital.
I watched how much effort it took a doctor to put this same finger back in place once before and there was no way any of us was going to be able to do it and be sure we didn't cause more damage. I'd phoned our usual medical centre to ask what to do and they referred us directly to the hospital's emergency department.
We waited only a few minutes (seemed an age with Stephan wincing in pain) and were soon in a cubicle, then Stephan was off to x-ray with our friend Carol, who's always entertained to see what he's done to himself now. The doctor wanted to make sure there were no fractures, that this was simply a dislocation.
And then with lots of local anaesthetic and Stephan sucking on some gas, none of which looked like it was really helping much, the doctor and then also the nurse, pulled and pushed on the finger and eventually popped the bones back into correct alignment. There was also a significant cut between his fingers, where the blood was coming from, and that got a couple of stitches to pull it back together, once all the bits of native bush had been extracted.
There was a lot of native bush litter all over the bed, the chair in the waiting room and the seat in the ute! Stephan's shorts were filthy, where he'd fallen on his way down the slope. Neither of us had thought about changing his clothes before coming in.
While at the hospital, I phoned the cattle transport company to find out whether they'd be on time or late for the midday pick-up and to apologise for our unavoidable absence. Unusually the truck was a little early and as we turned into Diggers Valley Road, it came past us, carrying my lovely cows away. I had also phoned Sandi when I heard the truck would beat us there and Gary had kindly gone over to supervise the loading, telling me afterwards that it had all gone quietly. I don't think we've ever left the cows to be loaded by a truck driver without one of us being there to help and ensure it goes smoothly.
When we got home we walked over to pick up some gear from the fenceline, including one of the batteries for the staple gun, that had accidentally been left in the wrong bag, so the whole lot could go back to town with Gary, who was conveniently about to go in.
This is how the fence will have to remain until the ground dries out. That Stephan has managed to build such a beautiful fence, the whole kilometre of it, without hurting himself until after making it stockproof, is a marvellous thing.
On our way back over Jane's bridge, we saw this enormous eel! What a beauty. I'm not sure if one can tell, from this angle, whether it is of the long or short-finned species.
Sending today's three cows to their deaths was not an easy thing. All three have been important to me.
Patient cows; they don't hear me coming so easily now, on the electric bike.
I continued on past them to check the young mob, before coming back to move them across the stream to the Swamp East Left.
The 21 heifers were all sitting or standing quietly in a warm, sunny corner and I moved around stroking and checking them.
This is Emergency's last daughter, 183, who has an exceptionally thick coat, not unlike her elder sister, Genie 150, when she was this age.
I like lemon trees. This is the ridiculously small Ponderosa Lemon tree, with it's improbably large fruit - not yet grown to full size.
Christina arrived with gifts: she's learnt to make hats, pōtae, and made one for Stephan, to match her own.
For me she'd made this beautiful kete, from flax she'd harvested here. The crimson pieces were dyed using that colour because I'd said I liked it so much in some other work she'd been doing.
I've been watching Zella with concern: her hind left foot has been causing her to limp sometimes but we don't really want to do anything about it again until after she has calved, unless it becomes unavoidable.
Today I watched her almost running into Flat 5d, in anticipation of fresh grass, so concluded she's alright for the time being.
A prospective food platter for a wedding. We don't know what the wood is, being one of the exotic trees cut down from the neighbours' place during preparation for the new fence.
We're not yet party to the details of the plan for the wedding but Stephan whipped this up as a prototype for niece Sarah.
I never tire of watching cows using the lanes. I can't now imagine not having them everywhere. They allow such flexibility in paddock use, enabling grazing sequences to be changed according to the weather and grass growth differences around the farm. And any mob can be taken out of any paddock to any other paddock at any time, which also adds to flexibility and ease of management.
The cows were on their way to the Big Back North.
From the Spring paddock where I was checking the heifers, I looked up to the pines in the plantation behind the farm, where the pollen cones are visibly ripening.
In the Kānuka trees beside me as I walked back down the hill, the flitting and gentle chattering of tiny Tauhou, or Silvereyes.
If you don't mind downloading 11Mb of data, there's a little video of the Scaup in the rain, from the trail camera on the jetty this afternoon.