The Farm in Diggers Valley

The week beginning the 20th of August 2022.
Saturday the 20th
a fallen tree across the track

After a storm, it pays to take your own tree-clearing crew out with you.

water diversion on a small scale

And while Stephan went to fix one of the floodgates I did some minor drainage works, creating a little channel to direct the stream running down the track into the drain. Playing with water is always fun. It is obvious to me why children love building dams in the streams.

Zella having some molasses with Magnesium Oxide

As we drove back past the Windmill, I remembered we had a dose of Magnesium in molasses on the back, so stopped to give it to Zella, in case she might benefit from it.

Glia would have liked some too but is quite used to Zella being the boss of molasses treats and some cows simply don't need extra sugar.

winter muddiness

The ground is awfully wet and this is what the cows' paddocks have looked like over the last couple of days when I've moved them on: obvious muddy tracks across the remaining green.

More exciting news on the genealogy front: having spent so long trying to find the origins of my grandmother's grandmother, I've at last found her father, where he lived the last part of his life and with whom. Then, because all those bits of information supported each other, I was able to find his Will, confirming the names of all his daughters, a son and some of his grandchildren.

And now what? I realise why people get caught up in going back and back as far as they can: it's an attractive pursuit. I've found any number of trees where people have traced (usually) their father's forefathers, back to some Lord so-and-so, or Princess somebody-or-other in the eleventh century. I don't believe any of it, since there's rarely any supporting documentation to back up such relationships. But I've been thinking about it all, that those of us with the resources to pursue this interest are usually of the odd belief that we all came from the fabulous classes, from the Ladies and Lords, the land-holders, the powerful and the rich. Why? There were so many more of 'the rest'.

Many of my forebears were listed as "Ag Lab", agricultural labourers (which is actually rather nice from my perspective now) but not land owners, just people who presumably lived in some poor hovel somewhere and laboured on someone else's land. As day labourers they'd have cast around for work anywhere; or they might have been annually-employed labourers on small farms, with a little more security. If they were fortunate and part of families, they appear to have gradually improved their situations through their lives but there were very many records I found of paupers, usually single older people, living in barely-habitable places, dependent on whatever little amount the Kirk Session (the men who ran the Church) gave them each month if they judged them sufficiently deserving.

My great-great-great-Grandfather lived at a little place called Bogside of Drumlithie in the parish of Glenbervie in Kincardineshire and his estate, being the value of his owned animals and farm implements, was worth about NZ$15,000 in today's money. I went on a google-streetview wander and saw where they'd lived, just a field now beside a railway line, near the little village of Drumlithie.

Sunday the 21st
a chewed Ragwort plant

I moved the four bulls and as I came along behind them to shut the gate, noticed bull 200 eating what looked like a Ragwort plant: it was! He'd chomped out the lush centre of it. They're supposed to avoid the living plants because of taste or smell and we want them not to eat them because they're harmful to the animals' livers, hence our ongoing work to try and control them each year.

bull 200

I watched him for a while, to see if he was particularly keen on Ragwort but he didn't appear be seeking it out anywhere else; he'd been quite deliberate about eating that big one.

I recall often finding one of the bull calves eating Ragwort flowers but I can't remember who it was; I'll have to see if I can find that in my notebooks somewhere.

heifer 915 with a sore hind leg

R2 heifer 915 has a sore right hind leg, probably as a result of being pushed around during her recent heat - I saw her and one of the others on heat together late last week. I've been moving them only short distances around the flats, since she needs a bit of rest. The last heifer who was injured in this manner was grey 812 and she's now in the freezer, having never properly recovered.

915 isn't as sore now as she first was, having improved over the last couple of days.

the cracked Pūriri tree

The big cracked Pūriri is still standing and when I watched it in the wind last week, I wondered if the crack had extended. It's really hard to tell, so here's another record of it, for later comparison.

Monday the 22nd

It was a lovely fine day today until it rained when I went out to move some cows in the early evening.

Lame 915 seems a lot better again today, I am pleased to report.

Tuesday the 23rd
a fallen tree in the Middle Back

Two downed (small) trees appear to have been the extent of our storm damage, despite some very strong winds. We live in a very sheltered area.

the yearling mob

The 11 yearlings seem to like the Middle Back paddock and spend most of their time here, even though they have access to the PW as well.

I'm beginning to think that I might plan my mobs and their numbers according to the places they most happily graze in the winter. These animals appear to have been quite content all the way through, even though the grass is now getting quite short.

a cluster of fungi on the hillside

I see a lot of these orange fungi in their little clusters in the grass.

a Pūtangitangi pair

I often take pictures whose location I can't later recognise. This pair of Pūtangitangi were ... somewhere I can't work out from the photo.

It's lovely to have them back around the farm again.

Wednesday the 24th
tree removal in our driveway

This tree in our driveway area has been a provider of summer shade for several years but of late I've noticed its roots spreading in alarming directions. There are now underground electricity cables on both sides of it, which its continued growth might impact in a very expensive and troublesome manner, so we decided it had to go.

It was one of three saplings my brother-in-law Roger brought here several years ago, plants he'd bought and used in his greens work with a movie or a television advertisement. The three trees were hybrid Rātā-Pōhutukawa, trees we probably shouldn't plant in an area where Northern Rātā grow naturally - I think the same applies to Pōhutukawa, any species that might hybridise with Rātā. We will miss it's gorgeous crimsonness in the summer.

Thursday the 25th
more flooding after brief heavy rain

Another morning of rain was forecast, although we had only light falls.

Neighbour Sandi rang from town to ask about the river levels because it was raining so heavily in town. Up the valley it must also have been heavy, for the streams were running fast when I went out to see the cattle after lunch.

cows, hoping I'm about to take them somewhere new

I'm having to move the cows around often, since as is usual at the end of August, there's little grass around.

tradescantia, growing away from the stream

Before I brought them down into the little corner area I walked around the edges, checking the fences were all in order, that nothing weird had washed up in the floods. Things do though: under the fenced-in Pūriri tree there is Tradescantia making itself at home.

One dry, warm day we'll have to come down and pick this all out from under the tree. We don't want it growing anywhere beyond the stream-banks.

Friday the 26th

One of our neighbours appeared in the driveway this rainy morning, distressed, needing help with a young ewe who'd delivered a dead lamb overnight. I'd got up late, was still cooking my morning porridge, so turned it off, moved the cows out of the driveway and we went down the road to help. It was one of those frustrating things: I'd said I would come at any hour if there was trouble, cautioned about the things to be aware of, urged checking last thing at night, first thing in the morning but in the event the ewe had been struggling for several hours with her lamb. Hard to know if it was dead before it was born or died during birth, but the ewe was weak and sore. I never want to be too alarming when advising novices because more often than not things work out fine without intervention; but equally, I'd wanted to avoid this.

We came home damp, changed into dry clothes and I carried on cooking porridge. Apparently oats are a very good grain, with excellent effects on blood cholesterol levels. I go through periods of being extremely fond of porridge. Whole-grain oats are particularly delicious, especially if soaked overnight and cooked for a little longer than most people want their breakfasts to take in preparation.

Magnesium Oxide for the four lame cows

When I moved the cows at the end of yesterday I drafted four of them out of the mob, all limping. It's been so wet.

These four spent the night in the stream-bank area by the track, where they could all have a good amount to eat without having to compete for it by walking around a lot.

This afternoon, on their way to Zella and Glia's normal grazing beyond the mill, I mixed four lots of Magnesium Oxide and molasses for them and they ate it on their way along the lane.

Rewarewa flowers

Walking around the boundary of the big paddock Over the Road, I looked up into one of the Rewarewa growing on the bank beside the road: it is about to flower.

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