The week beginning the 26th of January 2019.
Saturday the 26th

This morning I drafted bull 178 out of the cull mob and in with the small group I'd separated from the insemination mob yesterday.  The cull cows and heifers and the two calves went to the front of the farm, where I mixed them with the yearlings I don't want pregnant this season and later put them all over the road.  The steer went to join the house cows, since someone has a bull up on the boundary Over the Road and the steer is a bit too growly to risk having next to an unknown bull.  I do wish people wouldn't do that!


Meanwhile Stephan has finished the Road Flat fence around the stream.

The last job in that paddock will be to double-fence along the roadside, so that our cattle can't have nose-to-nose contact with any wandering or passing stock on the roadside.  Presently I have to run an electric tape along inside the fenceline whenever my cows are in the paddock.  The nearest dairy farmer appears still to have some grazing arrangement with the property across the road from our paddock and we never know when he will move his cattle.

dead bird

A juvenile Thrush who didn't make it to adulthood.  More lonely life and death in the wilderness.


The water's gone off, probably sucking air in somewhere with the low summer stream levels, so Stephan invited next-door's young English visitors to join him for a proper bush walk.

They all returned in good order and having had a very good time, although it was probably a bit rougher and more interesting than they'd be used to where they come from.

Sunday the 27th

There are three or four hens in this picture, the youngsters of the latest hatching, trying to jump up and eat the ripening grapes.

Monday the 28th
dry Taraire

The yellow leaves in the picture belong to a mature Taraire in the PW reserve on the northern side of the Big Back North ridge.  They do not like dry weather and in recent years I've seen many such trees under obvious stress and far too many dead.

Ragwort plants

I was walking around the Big Back North, checking cows and calves.

I currently always carry a bread bag in my pocket, ready to collect Ragwort flowers or seeds and here were some plants we'd obviously both missed on other walks.  I carefully bagged them before cutting the stems, so the seeds wouldn't be shaken off into the air.

The long brown stalk with seed pods in the foreground belongs to a Foxglove plant, a species we don't bother to control.


I often find Kukupa feathers, pick them up and carry them carefully home in my notebook.  But then what?  They end up sitting in a drawer and something's always chewed on them by the next time I find them.  So I thought I'd photograph this one instead.

native bush

There is another hill in the Buselich Reserve we have yet to explore.  It is, according to the GPS tracks we've already made through that area, on this side of the stream.  I'd be interested to see what sorts of trees are growing there that I can't quite identify from here.

boundary fence

The young tenant neighbour has been letting his cattle live in the regenerating bush on the other side of our extremely ancient boundary fence.  Fortunately we've been keeping it standing up and it has an electric wire added to ensure our cattle don't wander through it as they once did several years ago.  But while we know the fence will keep our cattle on our side, I'm not so sure about those of the neighbour, since they've already come into our pastures twice in the last year.  There are signs of the cattle having been in there for some time.  I'm very glad mine haven't been in the Tank paddock during their presence.

Tuesday the 29th
pond weed

The Swamp Lily has a disappointing flower.  I imagined it would bloom with great magnificence; but no.  We need to get them out before they seed and create a bigger problem for next year.

cows drinking

I walked in to the Big Back paddock to see the cows and could hear them away up in the far corner.  By the time I'd walked up and along to where they'd been, I think they'd all made their way down to the bottom and the trough.

This trough, or the water flow to it, is insufficient for the whole mob on a hot day.  I think they would all have had a drink, eventually, but some would have had to put up with their thirst for longer than they'd have liked to.  We're thinking about whether the installation of a tank out here might be a good idea, so that perhaps two troughs might be fed at once when the cattle all come down here to drink, since it's the only water in the large paddock.

Wednesday the 30th
truck and trailer

I finalised the order for the timber products yesterday at lunch time and early this morning the truck arrived.  Fast service!

truck and trailer

There was ample space to turn on the new yards metal pad, before Nigel carefully slid the trailer's load to the ground beside the crush, then disconnected the trailer and put the second lot beside the first.

fencing and yard materials

That's a mighty mountain of wood products to deal with!

There's still a bit more to come, some of the posts we'll use later, that were currently not in stock and wouldn't have fit on the truck anyway.  The load weighed over 22T.  Now I'll just find the money to pay for it...

regrowth in reserve

One of the pleasures of having fenced our riparian margins is being able to watch the astonishing growth that occurs when the cattle are excluded from these areas.  This is up the top of the Spring paddock where, in 2015, I took a number of pictures of the tiny seedlings growing here before the fence went in.

Thursday the 31st
grazed hillside

A dry-looking Big Back North.  I could only find a few cows, so I'll come back again later and move them.

calf and cow

Two hours later and a few of the cattle were at the bottom of the hill.

I have a picture just like this one on the wall in my office, from 2012.  Eva must like this particular spot.


The Big Back swamp.

I could hear cattle calling from away up the other end of the swamp so walked up to the gateway between the two parts of the Big Back and opened it, before going looking for the rest of the animals.

cow and calves

Fortunately I managed to get the calves and remaining cows to cooperate and move in a useful direction, toward the top gate, which was the shortest way to the other side of the swamp.

As they moved, I noticed 716's son, 861, was limping badly, unable to bear weight on his right hind leg.  I pulled back so as not to push him to move any faster than he was willing to on his own.  Why do these things happen as far from the yards as they possibly could?

I'm not sure what's wrong, so I'll let him make his own way down the paddock and see how he is tomorrow.


The Raupo (Typha orientalis) at the bottom of the big swamp is in flower.  (The flowers are the brown things on spikes amongst the long leaves.)

Friday the 1st of February
green fly

I slapped this mosquito away from my ear this morning and when it landed on the light-coloured plate beside me, noticed it's green body.  I've never seen a green mosquito before.

cow and bull

The bull seems rather interested in 714, although she's not due to come back on heat for another two days, if she's not already pregnant.  My notes tell me her insemination was "Nice!".


Zoom, due back on tomorrow, appears entirely quiet, in both behaviour and the absence of any sign of fertile mucous.  I'll be thrilled if she's actually pregnant!


The Rimu at the top of the paddock has thickened up on this side, where it was previously a bit sparse due to competition for light with a now-felled neighbouring tree.

boundary fence

Across on the opposite boundary, the ancient fence is in obvious need of replacement.

Apparently this post on the left was lying down until Stephan propped it up with a bit of Totara branch.  Why our cattle have never wandered into the bush beyond I don't know but there's absolutely no evidence of them having done so.  They seem to be quite aware of "home" and as long as there's sufficient food, they don't wander.

We periodically walk the fenceline checking for Ragwort, or Stephan checking traps, but posts like this can collapse between visits, as this one obviously did.

boundary fence

These are some of the photos I took to show to the owners of the block on the other side.  That land was previously part of the block owned by Arthur and Sandra Taylor, who came to the valley in about 1947.  It is now owned as a "retreat" block by some people from Auckland whom we've never met.

boundary fence

According to Sandra, Arthur built the fence in the early '50s and I presume he'd probably have done that with Bill Penney, who was here until 1951 - or the subsequent owner, Alf Huddart.

They would have worked incredibly hard to build the fence, posts like this being hewn from Puriri felled in the surrounding bush.

boundary fence

This Puriri stump was cut to allow the bottom of the fence to pass.

While providing evidence of where the fenceline ran, it is no longer on the boundary line, the land having moved.  There is a deep gully on our side below this area, running down to the bottom or the hill and the stream.  Underground water movement has caused a huge, slow-moving slip further up the hill, creating a wide bulge in the fenceline.

It's hard to tell how fast it's all moving but it's big movement, huge trees gradually shifting down-hill with the earth.  We're not sure whether this will affect the new fence over time or not but it's something we'll have to check.  It's moved about three metres in the last 70 years.

boundary fence

It's a little hard to see in the picture but there's a big drop here just on the other side of the remaining fence wires, where, during rain, water cascades down the hill and has worn away the soil.  On this side the water runs down a bit of a channel before going underground and emerging in a wet area we'll fence off as one of the reserve areas in this paddock.  The wet area is permanently wet so there must be underground water feeding it as well.  That appears to be the case wherever we find water-courses above ground, perhaps because the underground water movement creates depressions on the surface in which the rain water naturally runs.  Land is interesting!

boundary fence

This is an almost-sheer drop.

The post is Totara.  It's top is still solid, as it probably is below ground, but at ground level it is much reduced, where rot has eroded its circumference.  Still not bad for 70 years.


A tiny Rimu seedling we'll rescue by digging it up and planting it somewhere safer.

man in bush

Some parts of the hillside will be fenced into a large reserve, mostly around the big Y-shaped gully.  Amongst the trees we will have to decide where that reserve begins; part of that process is to mark trees like the Lancewood Stephan is standing with in the picture.  By a combination of ribbons and GPS points, we'll get the paddock mapped so we can work out how to fence it.

There are some pockets of grass on easier slopes, between stands of Kanuka that will be cut for firewood and so be opened for more pasture.  But some of those places will end up being inaccessible and that's why I want to map it all, so I can see what we're dealing with.

fallen Puriri

These are the remnants of the base of a Puriri that must have fallen naturally decades ago.

The base of the trunk can be seen at left.

fallen Puriri

Here's the rest of it, lying down the hill, with live bark still covering a lot of the trunk.  As often happens with Puriri, the tree has re-established a root system where the trunk hit the ground, allowing it to grow again.  Its recovery has probably been constantly challenged by the presence of cattle.  Hopefully we will be able to see it grow strong again once there's a fence excluding them from here.

I don't think many of the animals venture in here, since there's not a great deal to eat but those who like to browse on new shoots and seedlings can have a big impact on regrowth.


Next door's sheep, undergoing emergency shearing for flystrike this evening.

Sometimes flystrike is tricky to spot, if you lack experience.  This young animal had taken to sitting, ears down, in a hollow in her paddock and it wasn't just because it was hot, it was because she had maggots crawling around on her skin.  She wasn't running around because she was happy either, she was trying to run away from the flies.

However, experienced assistance was sought in good time and little sheep will make a full recovery.

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