The Farm in Diggers Valley

The week beginning the 8th of May 2021.
Saturday the 8th

There were four, not five, cows in the weaned group this morning and one of the calves was away from the others, calling out toward the back of the farm. This was the reason: Ellie 171 had gone wandering, had found the gate into the Pines open where Stephan had been dragging the logs out and was now over the other side of the paddock.

I brought her out of there and back to the others.

Must shut more gates!


Stephan was cutting a load of lovely firewood he and Gary had brought in, ready to take it around to their place.


There seem to be pheasants everywhere, sitting secretly in little groups that erupt into alarmed and alarming flying panic when I surprise them in my buggy. They fly across the paddocks, then land and keep running to the next cover.

mown paddock

Not much cover in the next paddock, which looks like a park! Beautiful.

mown paddock

The pastures respond very well to being mowed.

pine log

One of the pines Stephan cut and brought down the hill the other day. I presume the difference here is between the leaking, still growing, soft wood and the core hard wood of the tree.


Down here in our valley wide, glorious sunsets aren't something we see, so the little bits of occasional colour become remarkable.

Puketutu, over which the coloured cloud hangs, is the higher of those peaks; it is only that the pine-covered peak in the foreground is closer, that it appears taller from down here.

Sunday the 9th

Zella's daughter and Glia's son were getting a bit hungry, so I gave them some hay. Then because they kept calling...


... I moved them along to the Riverbank where there's some nice Kikuyu, across the lane from their mothers. They instantly quietened, so must have been hungrier than I thought.

At this time of year there can be what looks like feed in a paddock but they've actually finished with it, thank you very much.

Monday the 10th

We took the house-cow calves up the lane together this morning, because there's only the three-wire electric fence between the lane and the House paddock and I never trust that it will be enough to stop a calf who really wants to get back to its mother.


The two calves went in to the Windmill paddock where the other eleven recently-weaned calves are grazing.

Zella's daughter, who I now remember I called Muri at the beginning of her life because she was born backwards, will perhaps make friends she'll again lose when the sold calves all go off the farm. But I didn't want to suddenly separate the two of them and leave each alone in a strange new mob.


Andrew is really putting on some size. He went through a very unimpressive lanky phase but he's improving every day now. I think he'll be a stunning looking bull when he's mature.


Gina's udder with her mysteriously unproductive front left quarter.

It hasn't affected her calf much, the heifer weighing 257kg when I last weighed them on 23 April, aged six months (187 days). Her daily gain since I weighed her first at two weeks, has been over 1.1kg/day, which isn't bad for a calf who had a troubled start to feeding.

pine logs

Cattle really like rubbing on rough things, so the provision of all these logs with their rough edges and rough bark is appreciated by any passing animal.

Tuesday the 11th
calves, cows

Zella and Glia are just visible through the rails on the right, at the top of the House paddock and their two calves, who are not yet spending much time with the other calves in their paddock, keep coming down to this corner to see their mothers.


It's a tough time for the cows, this enforced separation from the calves they've borne and raised for the last six months. But it would be hard to run a breeding herd without the ability to separate the calves at some point and at least we're able to do it in a relatively kind manner, with them all within sight, sound and, in the first couple of days, touch, of each other.

I realised while looking at them all that I'd missed weighing the two calves when I did all the others, so brought them out and around to the yards for a few minutes. They were within a kilogram of each other at 277 and 278kg, a fairly impressive weaning weight. They're a little over 200 days old, the date to which one would usually adjust weights for comparison but it's a good indication of how well our two cows who have the least feed challenge can grow their calves.

native orchids

These Easter Orchids (Earina autumnalis, Raupeka) haven't bloomed this year. Most of the epiphytic orchids have had a tough time over the last couple of years, with two hot, dry, summers and two winters with far less replenishing rain than normal. At least this species appears to have been able to maintain itself in terms of plant size and the size of its groupings.

The other clumped species (Earina mucronata) has apparently suffered a great deal more. I will take some pictures when I come across them again.

Wednesday the 12th

You may surmise from the dearth of updates from Diggers Valley, that my other great interest of the moment is continuing to hold my attention. My genealogical research continues and today I discovered the maternal birth family of my adopted cousin, which was a thrilling moment, as all the hints I'd collected came together to confirm my finding.

The next task will be to work on his and my paternal side.

cattle yards

The farm work can't be put aside as easily as the reporting of it.

This afternoon I brought the two mobs of weaned calves separately to the yards, weighed them all, before taking them to graze together as one mob, so they can settle well before they go away to their new home next week.

The 18 calves averaged just under 260kg, which is pretty good. Stephan wrote down a report he heard on the radio the other day of the weaning weights of a large farm down south, which averaged only 230kg. We've done some pretty good work here over the last couple of decades to ensure the cows efficiently raise well-grown calves.


Then to avoid any tussling in the lanes, we walked the two mobs separately out to Mushroom 2...


... where there's a lovely lot of freshly-grown pasture for them to enjoy.

Thursday the 13th

Whenever I've taken Al out for walks, we've had to go up through the garden around the front of the house, which is not very satisfactory. I haven't managed to train him sufficiently well to respond to commands, and he's now getting far too big to control physically, so if he decides to go in a direction I don't want, things get a bit fractious.

To make things easier I asked Stephan to build him a gateway in the paddock-side fence, so we can go out that way.

Al will also be able to go out into the paddock to graze on fresh grass, which will make his life more pleasurable.

Friday the 14th

I had moved the most-recently weaned cows out of 5c, then left them to make their own way down to the front end of Flat 1, which they'd all done.

When I looked out the window a little later I noticed Ellie 171 had come back out and was wandering up the lane again, grazing, looking as though she'd quite happily continue on another solo adventure.

I went out and turned her back, shut them in the paddock.

Of the younger cows, Ellie 171 is in the best condition. Some of them look like they've worked very hard to rear their calves in the first couple of years and I like it when they do it with more apparent ease.

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