The week beginning the 26th of September 2020.
Saturday the 26th

Out for an early check before I go back to te Wānanga for the day.

Here's 745 whose appearance leads me to believe she'll calve earlier than I expect.
Every time I look at her, I can see her calf (calves?) moving and kicking, an unusual level of activity.


Stephan had finished digging his culvert pipe hole and then stopped for lack of an appropriate pipe to put in it. He'll drop me off and pick one up from town this morning.

Quite a lot of water collects in this corner of the Windmill paddock and there'll soon be a drain parallel to the yards entrance track so a culvert will be necessary in this gateway.

My kaiako (tutor) kindly dropped me home from town when we finished our afternoon, since I couldn't get hold of Stephan. When I walked into the house there was a teenage boy sitting in the living room! Sean had come to stay for a couple of nights.


After they'd finished their afternoon tea, Sean and Stephan went back to work and I saw both of them at one stage on the digger, as Stephan gave Sean a closely-supervised turn on the machine.

Here Stephan was driving back and forth over the new culvert to consolidate the soil.


We're going to have broccoli for dinner!

Sunday the 27th

Daylight Saving kicked off again this morning, so I felt like I had to get up supremely early to get ready to go to town. Fortunately everyone else in my class had remembered as well. Everyone else being only two students and our kaiako (teacher) and kaiawhina (her assistant for the weekend classes).

We had an interesting day learning about expanding and enhancing our pepeha, the telling of our connections with the land from which we come, in which we live. It is a more imaginative and metaphorical recitation than the usual "this is my mountain, this is my river" and so on. I have yet to decide how to approach it in my own case. I could use the features of my current landscape for the purposes of the exercise but it may be more interesting to explore the arrivals of my various ancestors and the places through which they moved on their way to the place in which I feel so deeply connected.


At home again I moved and checked the cows and heifers.

I put the three "close" cows into the top of Flat 1 and on my way back to the gate from checking one of them, noticed this nest. I initially thought Pukeko but the eggs are darker and more pointed at their ends and besides which there were no Pukeko visible and there are always sentries around the flats when there's a nest. So it is a Spur-winged Plover nest and the eggs were very warm, so the bird must have just got off as I approached the paddock.


Another dead Tōtara and this one must have its roots into the dampness surrounding the stream just beyond it, so is there more going on than just dryness?


The little yellow orchids are just starting to bloom.

Monday the 28th

Apparently Spur-winged Plover eggs take 30-34 days to hatch, so this nest must have been quietly here for a month.

When Sean and I came to check the nest yesterday afternoon, I'd carefully picked up an egg to feel its warmth against my ear and heard some active cheeping: they do that as they're preparing to hatch.


Sean and Stephan on their way back for something they'd forgotten to take with them to work ...


... on the extension to the cemetery area along the House paddock fence. The extension is required for Eva's grave.


This is Fancy 126's udder. She has four teats as normal that I have not put spots on, then another three as well. The front yellow spotted one probably produces quite a bit of milk, the back one probably not and the middle one is probably not really a teat and caused some bother in 2018. It's now a larger thing than it was when it healed, which may be cause for concern.


Fancy 191 having a lovely tail scratch on a low Tōtara tree branch in the Big Back South.

I had to start taking things very quietly today, having developed a runny nose and a slight fever: someone came to the weekend class for about half an hour, sneezing and coughing. When she said she was ill, not just suffering allergies, I moved smartly away from her, causing her some discomfort but now I'm feeling like this, I'm as peeved as I am uncomfortable. Why on earth would you go out into close public spaces when you're ill now? Why is that message not getting through? I hate, hate, hate getting sick at this time of year when there's so much to do and being sick means everything has to be done at half speed, if it can be done at all and some things have to be done anyway.

Tuesday the 29th

This chick is taking a long time to hatch.

I took this photo at 7.30am...


... and this one at 5pm.

The other egg in the foreground is cracked now too, its chick beginning to hatch.


We drove away up the lane and looked back to see the parent bird running quickly back to the nest.

cow and man

All of the cattle like a tail scratch, but Glia most of all.


One of the big Puriri in the Windmill paddock stream reserve has fallen down from its already-near-horizontal position. They are huge, heavy trees.

Stephan had his pruning saw with him to trim some of the branches that had come down on the fence wires.


Just inside the reserve this patch of ferns is growing, all tilted to the light.


While Stephan went up the hill in the Big Back South to check the heifers for me, I wandered quietly around the Bush Flat reserve. The Parsonsia capsularis, New Zealand Jasmine, is still growing healthily, despite the summer's drought.

This is the only one I've ever found.

Wednesday the 30th

Two Plover chicks by this afternoon.

I felt a little less horrible today, got up late, took things quietly again, watched the (North) American Presidential debate, not that there was anything remotely presidential about it. What a fiasco. In the evening we watched our own election debate, between the leaders of the Labour and National parties, a somewhat different experience.

Thursday the 1st of October

Yesterday I rang the doctors' surgery to ask about Covid testing, on the basis that I am symptomatic and surveillance testing is always being done. It's unlikely there's Covid here but how will anyone know if those of us who get sick in any way don't test? So off we went to town and sat in the ute outside the hospital while the testing person donned all the protective gear they've been using throughout the pandemic. The test didn't feel anywhere as bad as it looks in pictures although it did make my nose tingle madly for half a minute and my eye watered a bit; my nose felt a bit like it did the first time I accidentally ate some wasabi paste. I stay away from wasabi but I would have another Covid test without nervousness.

After the swab was taken I was handed a couple of sheets telling me I now have to isolate for five days; I thought it was only two. I will probably need to anyway, depending on how long my current bug hangs on.


I drafted these three out of the heifers' mob on Sunday afternoon because their udders were indicating they are getting close to calving. They are 813, 812 and 856 and I'm break-feeding them down the Windmill Paddock.


The third Plover egg is about to hatch, this picture at 2.30 this afternoon.


Whenever I see a cow lying flat-out I look for birds: at some times the cows really enjoy their attention as they walk around on them, presumably picking off ticks.

tree ferns

I thought these tree ferns were dead at the end of the summer but they've been recovering and while they currently look a bit scrappy, if we don't have another drought, presumably they'll regain their former beauty before long.

On the grass nearby I found a Plover eggshell. Presumably a parent bird had carried it away from the nest, since there are no shells near the nest since the chicks hatched.

cows, man

Stephan came to help me dish out the molasses, since I'm still working at half speed.

Whenever Stephan stands with this cow I remind him of the day of her birth.


Then we went to shift the main cow mob from the Swamp East Left to Right and since it's been so dry, I figured we could use the short, linking alleyway between the two for the first time.

At 10.30 tonight the Plover chick was still inside its egg. The other two chicks were somewhere out in the paddock, cheeping as their parents dashed around in their usual panic over my presence.

Friday the 2nd

This morning there was an empty Plover nest, all three chicks gone. I could see them as tiny white specks across the paddock later in the morning and a little later, a fluffed-out adult, presumably brooding them warmly.

drain digging

Stephan dug the shallow drain we'd decided was necessary alongside the new yards access fence in the Windmill. Our plan is to plant a row of Tōtara for a hedge, as a wind break for the yards and so we'll plant them on the Windmill side of the drain with (probably) a one-wire fence to stop the cattle walking on the trees as they grow up, and to exclude them from the drain.


White-faced 746 began mooing strangely just before nine this morning, the earliest sign of the start of her labour.

Two hours later she began the more physically obvious stage, lying down, getting up repeatedly. At 11.49 when I took this photo she was licking up the fluid that had come out with a gush and I went over to watch more closely from the lane.


Twenty-five minutes later the calf, a bull, was born. This is her fifth calf, third son.

What a nice, easy start to calving 2020!


In the afternoon Stephan got on with thumping fence posts in around a vet parking area by the yards. It seemed sensible to provide a park out of the way of the lane along which the cattle will move, so any vehicle here is never in the way of what's going on.

cow and calf

At 5.30pm the calf produced a long chain of meconium. Such things are of importance in a new life. Not every young creature is properly formed, so it's always reassuring to see the basic bodily functions working correctly.


First-time calving, three-year-old 856 is the animal causing my primary anxiety at the moment because she's quite fat and I know that fatness can cause calving problems in heifers, although possibly not so much when they're just a little overweight, the calf's sire was carefully selected and the heifer is well grown. I'll feel easier when her calving has concluded successfully.

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