Today is three weeks since Glia was last on heat, so I wasn't surprised to see Andrew sitting with her this morning.
I think she's already pregnant but most of the cows are of at least a little interest to the bulls at the time the next cycle is due. I presume they still smell a bit like they're coming on heat.
The crack in Jet's foot. I've never seen her limping, so I don't know why this has happened; the similar crack in the steer's foot was caused by an injury above the growing part of the hoof.
Having watched this for a while now and seen no sign of the crack growing down and out, I will have to send her off to the works before the winter's wet weather sets in.
I've become a caterpillar farmer almost by accident: every time I bring Swan plant leaves in for the caterpillars I am already feeding, I bring more eggs or just-hatched babies too.
I'm keeping the hatched chrysalis cases so I can keep a tally of how many butterflies I've helped evade wasp predation as caterpillars.
I watched 190 coming on heat last evening, with these two little bulls, 203 and 205, standing over her and trying to mount her again and again where she was sitting. They didn't seem to be bothering her too much and they're still following her around today.
She was one of my favourites as a calf, Eva's penultimate calf, but as she grew she became tall and lanky and didn't look nearly as good. When considering the heifers for mating this season, I decided against her and so she will not join the breeding herd, which is why she's not pregnant now.
The Akeake seed pods have now changed colour. I think they were prettier when first grown and pale green.
Overall it's still a very attractive tree. Brian, away over on the high land to the NNE of us, said that on his farm Akeake trees get to a certain size then die. I fear the same may happen here, having watched the lovely one I noticed in one of the stream reserves do exactly that when it had appeared to be thriving.
Another butterfly, the ninth hatched from chrysalises inside, so far.
This is steer calf 904, son of 710, who was strangely ill for several weeks until I realised he wasn't coming right on his own and gave him a course of antibiotic treatment. He now looks quite different, quite healthy and I'm very glad of it.
I rather like this calf, 922, daughter of 742.
I stopped and watched this affectionate activity for a while.
745 has lumps all over her side, possibly caused by tick bites but I've also wondered if her reaction is to the biting flies that are becoming more numerous every season. If I had this many bites I'd be itching like mad. I hope she doesn't feel like that.
Coming back from checking one of the mobs I found Stephan and Al heading toward the blackberries in the Windmill paddock.
Stephan is still quite unwell, spending most of each day lying in bed or his comfortable, reclining chair; but I'm glad to see he's feeling better enough to come out for a quiet stroll this evening.
I went and joined them for a while before we walked down to the stream for Al to have a drink, and then a roll around in the lovely cool water.
He's a delight to watch in his enthusiastic enjoyment.
I wandered through the reserve at the top end of the Windmill paddock, which used to be part of the ... oh goodness, I'm going to have to think. As things have changed so much over the years, it's hard to remember how things were. It must have been the Frog/Swamp, I think, which is now divided into the Swamp East Right and Left, Frog, Swamp and Blackberry. There was the little bit of grass at the front end which we sensibly later fenced into the Windmill paddock, leaving these huge trees and the stream to themselves in the reserve.
Thinking it must have been a very long time ago, it took me a while to figure out it was only in 2015 that we made that alteration.
The size of the Puka vine growing in this tree suggests that this may not have been an area burnt during the early 1900s land clearance. The Pūriri tree is enormous. I have long thought it may be a pair of trees growing together from the same fruit, since there's an apparent fissure between the two main trunks at the base. The canopies of these trees are significantly larger than those of the trees on the flats.
Finding a Tutu growing beside the stream, I looked to see if it had any of these sap-sucking vine hoppers on it: lots of them. It's the sweet syrup these insects exude from their rears that the bees harvest, introducing the toxic tutin to the honey, so that we can't use any made during this half of the year.
I waded along and across the stream, looking at the banks and the plants and this eel, as it came out from under the bank, glided across and nosed around my boot before deciding I wasn't whatever it thought I might be, and quickly returned to its safe haven.
Out on the flats I have noticed all the Pūriri fruiting abundantly. Someone once told me they do so when they're stressed. I have no doubt they are, in the middle of a very hot and dry summer at the end of a record dry year after last summer's drought!
In the cool of the evening I climbed the hill Over the Road with an empty pig feed bag and secateurs to look for Ragwort and, particularly, to go and cut the flowers from the big plants I could see from down on the flats. There were quite a few seed heads amongst the flowers, and some seed fell on the ground as I attempted to bag them without losing any.
Overall we've done quite well so far this year, mostly finding the plants before they go to seed.
This pig skull has been sitting on a post by one of the stream crossings for some time and it occurred to me to stop and look at it, to compare the teeth with those of Al's mother's remains, photographed earlier this month.
This pig was obviously more mature than Al's mother, with the back molars here being properly erupted, where hers were only just beginning to emerge from her jaw.
I have concluded, from the teeth and the size of her hoof coverings, that Al's mother was not much bigger than he now is, when she died.
Algae in the stream. I had a conversation with somebody a couple of weeks ago, I can't remember who it was, who'd spoken to someone who was hoping for a flood to wash all this 'mess' out of the streams.
I'm pretty sure it's native, expanding in the summer months when the stream temperatures are relatively warm.
I pulled this plant out of Mushroom 3 before I thought to take a picture of it for my record: it is the real Wild Carrot, Daucus carota, distinct from Parsley Dropwort, Oenanthe pimpinelloides, which already covers our pastures during the summer months.
It has a slightly later flowering than the Parsley Dropwort and we don't need yet another plant to manage. It has a single tap root, so is easy to pull out when we do see it. The only place it is currently established is in the drain on the house side of the bottom of Flat 1 where it probably arrived in flood waters from the stream. We've been trying to eliminate it there by pulling the plants out when they flower and make their presence obvious. Apparently it is an annual, so when we manage to get rid of it, there should be no more seed to germinate.
Its appearance is slightly different from Parsley Dropwort, it having larger, flatter flower panicles and hairy stems.
And in the Back Barn, another weed: Moth Plant.
I discovered one here several weeks ago so thought to check again when Stephan and I came out this afternoon. This is either another seed, or a resprouting of the inadequately-removed first plant.
This one probably signals the presence of other plants in the bush. We can always hope it is a seed that the linked information asserts can be wind-blown up to 30km, from somewhere else entirely; but what's the chance of only one such seed floating around on the breeze?
I noticed this effect of the drought on Tōtara trees last year too: they drop a lot of their leaves when they get too dry. This weather pattern is very concerning.
I have been feeding Al his meals in an old enamel roasting dish but in the last couple of days he's begun tipping it over before he's finished everything in it. Stephan went up to the pig sty and brought down these stainless-steel sinks the other pigs used, which sit much more stably on the ground, one for food and one for water.
I was disappointed but not surprised to see Imogen 155 come back on heat again today. The insemination on the 13th of January had not been satisfactory - she was terribly tense and after working quietly for some time, I eventually gave up on her, hoping that by some fluke enough semen had ended up where it needed to be.
This morning I left her in with the bull for a couple of hours and then drafted her back out to feed her calf (standing there watching) and the bull back to his mob in Flat 1.
Gina 142 spent last night with the bull too, in case she came back on heat, but I think she has remained calm and cool the whole time.
I'm watching the stream levels again as they gradually drop. They've never returned to normal flows since the drought last summer, except for brief periods after heavy rain.
Ellie 186, daughter of Ellie 119, grand-daughter of Demelza, has the same eye shape as her mother. I've always thought it makes them look like they're slightly squinting, a different appearance from all the others in the herd.
I still have to remind myself that 186 is not the daughter of 126, and 191 is not the daughter of 119: I knew it would cause me problems when I got the two calves confused at tagging time.
The weather has been so hot that Al has been disinclined to use his mud wallow when he really needs to: it requires some shade. So here is Stephan, feeling a bit better today, constructing a shelter over the wallow.
Apparently he "helped" a lot, while I was off doing something else and Stephan wished he'd had the camera. Al got his nose into the holes while they were being dug and was very excited about having a playmate in his pen.
And then they had a big rest under the grapes.
Back to the doctor today to have Stephan rechecked and he was sent off for further blood tests and even a chest x-ray. Goodness knows what's wrong with him; he hasn't been this unwell in a long time, although his improvement in the last couple of days is hopeful.
While everywhere is showing the dire effects of drought, Flat 4 has improved greatly over the last few years since I had some extra phosphate fertilizer applied, along with a couple of heavy dressings of lime.
There is now a much greater area covered with Kikuyu, the only green here, than in the past. Back then, in dry summers, this side of the paddock was almost exclusively covered in shrivelled-up flat-weeds.
This Ragwort was invisible until I happened to go into the old house site in the corner of the paddock to check on some calves. I'm glad I saw it, hiding its yellow amongst the tree's foliage.
Some shade cloth over the top of the new frame and Al now has a shady place to wallow in the mud. He seemed a bit wary of it for a while but soon got used to the new arrangement.
I worry a little about his white skin and the possibility of sunburn but he seems not to be getting too pink. Quite fat is what he is getting!
Not to be outdone in entertaining behaviouir, Floss had wandered outside and found a bit of garden rubbish and was walking around the deck, flinging her head from side to side as though twirling a baton. Funny bird.
The chrysalises having hatched from the bottom of the box I'd had to leave where it was for the last couple of weeks, I now moved it, before any more caterpillars decide it's a good location for pupation. This is the silken attachement, as I pulled it free.
There are flowers on Stephan's bean plants in his raised gardens. I've not really noticed them in previous years.
Fancy 188 is back on heat, bull 200 doing the deed with her again today.
If this mating results in her pregnancy, she'll calve at the end of the first week in November. If it doesn't, she'll be on that other list...
I went around the open part of the Spring paddock to check on the rest of the mob, but none of the calves were there. I'd seen one calf sitting up on the treed slope with Gertrude 162 and here she was as I walked back down to the gate, with the others. They must all have been sitting hidden in the shade with her.
At half past three Stephan said he thought he was up to a bit of a walk, so we decided to go and check the orchard. Wanting to take Al for a walk with us, we went across the bottom of the flats, through the fence and down to the stream to find a place to cross. This is a nice, easy crossing we'll have to mark for future use.
I don't want to take Al out onto the road for any reason, for fear he might consider that a part of his familiar territory if he ever manages to get out and go exploring on his own. I can never understand other people's carelessness about their animals getting out onto the roads; it's so dangerous, both for the animals and for anyone who might drive into them.
Stephan's Damson plum tree had several fruit.
The orchard has obviously not been mowed lately.
Back by the stream I found lots of this horrible weed (the pretty creeper with the purple flowers). Yet another garden escapee from up the valley. I don't know how to deal with all these weeds when they keep coming down the stream. In the case of the Tradescantia we seem to be making some impact with the bio-control beetle releases, but we really don't need another ground-covering weed to replace it. Looks like we're getting one anyway.
While Stephan cleared around some of the trees, I took Al back down to the stream and he had a lovely cooling bathe, one way...
...then the other. Funny pig.