The half week beginning the 1st of January 2020.
Wednesday the 1st

Will things be better this year than last? Don't know, don't have 2020 vision.

I didn't make that one up but I heard it and liked it. (I do mean I liked it, appreciated it, didn't just click a stupid button on a screen. Oh, where is the world going?)

Here we are in a year whose name has been a far-off thing for so long, it seems weird to have reached it. When I was a child, the year 2000 was some futuristic date and now we're 20 years past that!

cows and calves

We train the calves to come out to their mothers when they're part of the small house-cow mob but this morning I wanted them all to stay in this little enclosure, ready for Eva to join the larger insemination mob. We therefore confused everyone by putting the cows in through the gate, rather than the calves out. Zella was in the shed being milked by Stephan, while her daughter waited for her breakfast.

After drafting 710 and her calf, who'd spent the night with bull 178, back out to join the others again (the bull was very conveniently behaved and made it all easy), I opened the gates to allow the cows to graze their way along the lanes, on their way to the yards.

Some of them came along before drifting all the way back to Flat 4 again. Stephan and Andrew went out to get them.

We vaccinated the fifteen calves and put heat indicators on the backs of nine of the cows. They and their calves went into the Pig paddock, waiting to be joined by the others to form the insemination mob.

The six cows for the bull went out to the Bush Flat and I brought the heifers in to the yards on my way back.

After lunch I put indicators on the seven heifers for insemination and all 14 of them joined the other mob in the Pig paddock. I have, in recent years, kept all the heifers in the insemination mob, because my three-hourly close checks help settle any nervous ones down. Having a steer in the group has also proved useful, since he will often signal the presence of a cow in oestrus when none of the cows or heifers is interested.

cows and calves

Andrew and Stephan brought the last mob in for their indicators.

In the race I glued nine indicators on the ten for insemination, not doing 812 since she was in standing heat already. Didn't need an indicator to see that.

cows and calves

My insemination mob is quite large. I realised later that I'd forgotten my intention not to inseminate so many cows this season, still being prone to pain and tiredness since surgery in March. I had meant to select all the cows who could possibly go to either bull for their mobs, and only inseminate the ones who couldn't. I ended up doing much as usual and working out who could have which insemination bull and only giving the bulls a few.


As the bull's second group of cows passed his paddock, I called him over and let him out through the gate to follow them to the Bush Flat paddock. He ambled and then ran, eager to check the cows.


The blackberries are looking fantastic this season, so many red berries on the brink of ripening.

As I walked through the Windmill paddock a brawl of tumbling bees came flying past, some then landing on the ground. Presumably some invader was being attacked. There were about ten bees in the group.

Imagine if something interesting like that happened in the city: nobody would see it with their heads bent to their screens. Nature is fascinating.

I did my first late-night check on the insemination cows, a rather alarming process at times with 812 actively pursuing Fancy 166, who wasn't quite on heat, and 126 getting in on the game and violently shoving everyone around and there being so many animals in the smallish Pig paddock. I don't know what 126's problem was except that I have noticed that cows without calves are prone to exaggerated behaviour during mating. 812 was still active enough this evening for me to decide she could be done early in the morning.

Thursday the 2nd

I inseminated 812 at 6.25 this morning, with Harry, the same bull as last year, since her calf this year seems very nice so far. There was no water to wash afterwards, bull 176 having taken exception to the shape and position of the plastic trough in his paddock, disconnecting it from the system so the water ran out on the ground there. Pesky monster.


Eva and Andrew were standing by the gate with elder daughter Gertrude on the other side.



After milking I put Glia and Zella into Flat 1 with the bull, with whom they'll stay until I'm sure they're pregnant.

This wasn't an affectionate meeting, as the bull promptly chased the calf away.


After Stephan and I held a planning meeting, Stephan and Andrew got on with the fence along the outside of the new lane leading into the yards, here putting in the end strainer. There'll be a gate to the left of it, leading to the Tank paddock and the shady area around the back of the yards, formerly the Camp paddock.


Andrew holding a string-line as Stephan measured distances to ensure the lane fence runs parallel to the yards at the other end.

cow and calf

I dragged Stephan and Andrew off the job just after lunch to assist me with Fancy 166's insemination. Then I let the 53 animals out of the Pig paddock and up to the top of the Windmill paddock with lots of lovely shade under the trees.

Jet's daughter is a nice little calf, although not quite as quiet as I thought she'd be, after early signs of calmness.

Angus bull

That's a big hunk of beef!

Bull 178 was not working very hard with his ten cows. They were all sitting around in the sunshine.


When a post hits something hard underground during thumping, it can go a bit out of line. Sometimes that can be fixed by a gentle nudge with the tractor afterwards.

fun in the pond

Cousin Christina brought daughter Rebecca and her five children out for a swim while they're visiting from away down south.


After they'd all got cold and been fed, we went up to the yards.

bull and cow

Meanwhile, Zella had become of keen interest to the bull although her posture and attitude suggested she wasn't entirely happy about it. Half an hour later I removed the bull from the paddock, to give her a break. They'd had sufficient time together and I don't want her hurt.

Friday the 3rd

183's astonishing tail, without brushing. When brushed, it's like a back-combed hair-do.


Work continued today on the new fence...


... the younger member of the labour force doing a lot of the walking up and down the line with fence wire.

Kingfisher chicks

There were obviously more than two eggs in the Kōtare nest. There are four newly-hatched chicks visible here but at one point I think I counted five.


The lead-in fence is now wired. It would appear we're rather well resourced in terms of vehicles!


Looking closely at 856 today, I noticed the white spot on her eyelid. I can't remember noticing it before although surely I must have. Her little sister this year, 886, has one on the other eye.


As soon as a cow makes a deposit on the ground, swarms of small flies descend upon it. Some have their heads down, presumably feeding and others have the other ends pointed into the poo, presumably laying eggs. Whenever there's nearby movement they all take flight before quickly returning.

When I'm out checking my cows late on a warm summer night, these flies all swarm up into my face when it is lit by my torch. It's seriously unpleasant, slightly claustrophobic, extremely tickly. Just writing about it is making me screw up my face.


We're going to change the top of the House paddock as part of arranging the lanes and areas around the new yards. Stephan set out strings, gates, pegs and we walked our way around it all, thinking of how things would function as I wish in this possible configuration.


I went out to do a bit of Ragworting. These plants grew in some rooted-up soil left by the regular feral pig visits and with the long dry period, the soil has remained bare. The big Eucalyptus trees on the other side of the boundary fence, probably don't help.

Stick Insect

As I prepared to leave, I noticed a little friend on my knee: a stick insect.


That's rather a lot of Ragwort!

This view is up a slope in the Spring paddock near the gateway to the Middle Back paddock. I did a bit of near-seeding flower gathering through here about ten days ago and knew I needed to come back.


Around to the left from the previous picture: I think I'll need some help.

cow hoof

One of Zella's misshapen toes has developed a crack and I'm hoping it will break off. We had planned to have her feet revisited by the vet or Rachel, the Rural Animal Technician, who said she'd be keen to have a go at them. But after another period of near-lameness during the winter, Zella appears to have worn off some of the protruding and troublesome places under these outside toes and walks much more comfortably at present.

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