The Farm in Diggers Valley

The week beginning the 11th of June 2022.
Saturday the 11th
a cow pruning the hedge

Out the kitchen window this morning, some unprogrammed hedge trimming.


The sun is now flooding Floss's cage in the afternoon and so I found a sheet of cardboard to hang over the top, to provide her a patch of shade.

But on every occasion she's been out and on her cage since, she's spent her time determinedly demolishing the cardboard. She spends hours tearing bits of it and throwing them down off her cage. When she dropped this large piece, I gave it back to her and watched as she waved it around furiously, before dropping it to the floor again. She's very entertaining.

Al overtaking the cows

I walked up to move the cows out of the House paddock and Al trotted up the fence-line with them, until someone challenged his presence and he ran, squealing and woofing, out of their way. Then he tried this manoeuvre, a burst of speed to get past them, so he could trot along with me at the front.

At the end of the paddock he got caught in the middle of them again and there was more noise and leaping about. I don't mind the cows having a bit of excitement at this time of year but I'll have to remember to put Al away on other occasions. Somebody could get hurt!

The cows are less nervous of Al than he is of them. They probably see more pigs around the farm than he sees cows in his paddock.

Sunday the 12th
fast water in the stream

I can't remember what I thought about when I took this picture but of note is that the water is running fast after the rain and slightly cloudy because of run-off from the hills up in the bush.

the big, cracked tree

The broken tree in Mushroom 1 has a lot of new green foliage in the places that are newly opened to the light. It'll probably stand as it is for years.


Zoom. Her face has gone curly with winter hair growth. I'll miss her when she's gone but go she must. I find these decisions hard to stick to because I like my cows so much. But I don't want Zoom to have another calf who then goes on to suffer like the last one did and indications are that they're not up to the Theileria challenge we now face.

I've thought about asking the vet and others about long-term adjustment to the parasite but realise that most farmers would have culled cows whose calves died, so there won't be any such experience out there. So it's adjustment by selection, as usual: keep those who cope, cull those who don't.

fancy orchid

Watering my greenhouse plants for the first time in a few days I was delighted by the appearance of this beauty again.

Al's little house

Al's house, which he keeps warm and snug by bringing long grass and Tī Kōuka, Cabbage Tree, leaves in to make his bed.

two ducks on the pond

The grey ducks (or hybrid grey/Mallard) are back on the pond again. They have been appearing in winter for the last few years.

Monday the 13th
792's fluffy ears

Moving the cows along the lane in a brisk, cold wind, I was watching 792's ears, thinking how like her mother's they are ... and then later realised I had Glia in mind, not Endberly, whose ears are a lot more sparse. I was confusing my grey (brown) cows.

still a very small Pūriri

The Pūriri we planted over the duckling and Ms Duck is still alive, despite being regularly overgrown by Kikuyu. At this time of year that might prove protective, since frost kills Pūriri leaves and the grass might protect it a little.

Tuesday the 14th
Al, resting

This is where Al spends large parts of his day, especially if the winter sun is warm.

If the weather is cold or it's raining, he lies along the back wall, tucks himself right in so he's not getting wet. I can't easily take a photo of him then though because if I sneak up on him for a candid shot, he'll hear me, get a fright and come tearing out and run off. I don't like frightening him. He's very nervous, either by nature, or because of piglethood trauma.

our sick tree

The sick tree drops dozens of green leaves every day.

Glia and her son

When I weighed the calves last week, Glia's son was 354kg.

I like having some of the calves on their mothers still. They can stay with them for as long as there's enough feed to keep everyone going adequately.

Sooner or later the thin young cows will have to be weaned, so they can stop putting all their energy into making milk and put a bit of condition on their own bodies again; but Glia doesn't have any problem with that!

heifers relaxing

Up the hill the heifers were contentedly sitting around, even though there's not as much feed up here as the last time they were in this part of the hill.

Pūkeko destruction

Pūkeko destruction of one of the larger bananas.

Wednesday the 15th
more fungi

This place is a mycologist's paradise at this time of year. There are fungi everywhere.

Endberly's daughter

Endberly's daughter, out in the Middle Back.
I noticed the lines down the edges of her face, caused by the change in hair there - although she kept looking at me, so I didn't take a side-on picture to see what her neck hair is doing - it must either be curlier, or growing in a different direction.

I think she will turn out to be a quiet cow, having been very calm as a calf, when I had to help feed her in her first few days. My only worry is that she might also produce very large calves, as she was, although she'll probably have the size to cope and the bulls I use over the heifers are generally producers of smaller calves at birth.

dead Australian sedge

After years of writing that we must do something about the sedge in the Middle Back, here is some dead sedge. Hooray!

Let's see how this progresses. I expect we'll have to keep spraying it over several years, to outlast the seeds in the ground.

Tī ngahere

After checking the cows in the Big Back, I went for a wander through the adjacent bush reserve.

The two upright plants in the centre of this picture are Cordyline banksii, Tī ngahere, grown in the years since we excluded the cattle. I've found several of them in this reserve, beside the stream. I wonder if their seeds came by water, rather than by bird?

fallen, rotten tree trunk

I hesitated walking here, looking up to see where this rotten branch had fallen from but then looked at it again: there are bits of vine tied to the ground, so it's a dead tree that was previously standing here. Hopefully next time I look it will be festooned with all sorts of fungi.


These were tiny, down near the ground where I was carefully looking as I walked through the undergrowth. (I was of course looking for orchids, but didn't find any.)

These things look like slugs! That fleshy wetness. Beautiful.


So many fungi grow out of dead stuff in the bush. I'm sure it could be a fascinating area of study but at present, I simply enjoy finding and photographing them for the beautiful things they are.

the two house calves

I went out to collect the mail, noticed these two up to some kind of mischief. What on earth is Zita doing? She may have developed an unfortunate habit, or she might be coming on heat, which often spurs this kind of behaviour: heifers often lick at each other's udder areas when they're coming on heat. (That is the steer, not Glia.)

Al's house

Al's been doing more housework, finding more green grass to add to his bed.


Here's his lovely brown eye.

Thursday the 16th

Today was beautifully fine and sunny, and I spent part of it at a Zoom meeting, with a sheet hung up over the window to cut the glare where I was sitting.

It has been confusing having a cow named Zoom, in the last couple of years!

Friday the 17th

It rained overnight and today was cold and overcast again.


See that white thing coming out of Al's mouth, looking like a razor-sharp shark's tooth? That's what ripped into the side of Stephan's leg the other day and is the thing about Al that is currently worrying me most.

We now carry a stick when we go out to see him, or through the areas to which he has access. He does tend to stop if we shout at him, which I can't help doing when those shark-like teeth are coming toward me at speed.

He's always so excited to see us and throws his head around violently, so if he catches a bit of leg with a tusk, there's blood! And then a week or two of dressing injuries, which, at the very least, is extremely tedious.


Cute and dangerous.

pig rooting in 5b!

Out moving the cattle again today and I noticed several brown patches in 5b, where the bulls have eaten all the grass: this looks like pig rooting! It seems extraordinary that pigs have come this far across the flats, under the electric fences, and they don't seem to have rooted the paddocks in between. Odd.

four bulls

I brought the bulls out of Flat 5, into the top of Flat 1, to make it easy to move them toward the back of the farm next. It's always easier to move them in short straight lines than try and get them around a sharp corner, as they'd have to turn to go along the track to the right.

cows and calves at the top of the Spring paddock

The cows and calves needed to come out of the Middle Back. After letting them through the gates to the Spring, I followed them up the hill to see how much grass there was and found them all very happily tucking in.

a horse

Here's a horse.

We went visiting up the road for afternoon tea, which was very nice. I'm always disinclined to go anywhere but these days I make myself do it for my own good, as long as we can be in outside settings. Sitting on a deck with good company, nice food and drink and a beautiful view, suits very well.

Chinese weeder geese

These three, I was informed, are Chinese weeder geese. They were doing a very good job of keeping the grass down around their assigned area.

When we came home I had an email to tell me that a short story I'd written and entered in a competition, had not made the short list. I was more disappointed than I had anticipated.

Several weeks ago I was vaguely listening to the radio, to an interview with someone who was part of running a short story competition. I didn't hear which organisation it was, so did an internet search, found a likely competition and resolved to give it a go. The word limit wasn't long, only 1500, the same as the magazine articles I used to write and the subject was open. I thought it would be useful to have a deadline to meet, to make me get it done and I had about six weeks in which to write.

I wrote my first, second, or third draft and then left it for a couple of weeks before returning to it again. I loved the whole process and the last part was going through it, sentence by sentence, finding those words I'm apt to repeat, weeding them out and replacing them with others. I sent it to various friends and family for comment and received a range of reactions from "great" to "you should rewrite it like this..."

It is entirely possible I failed to meet the judges' expectations of a short story, since I've never written anything of the sort before. But I liked doing it and I still like it.

If you'd like a quick read, let me know.

If you wish to send us a message or comment, feel free to email us.