The Farm in Diggers Valley

The week beginning the 4th of June 2022.
Saturday the 4th

On this day in 1977 I left Aotearoa and spent three months, as an 11-year-old, in Silver Jubilee England - and got the mug! There might have been a t-shirt too, but I don't remember that. My Silver Jubilee mug sits with Stephan's Coronation mug on a dusty shelf and I often wonder how many of those there are around. All resident children were given them in the year of those events. I wonder if they still do that in England now, as the Queen is celebrating the 70th anniversary of her coronation?

Today I attended a family history meeting on Zoom, learning one marvellous new thing about searching for people in the Births, Deaths and Marriages registrations on-line. On-line meetings aren't the easiest thing in terms of interaction with other people, but they're the best thing to come out of Covid!

the Bush Flat drain

Afterwards we went out to check the heifers over the road, then while Stephan drove out to change taps over to turn the tanks on to the farm, I walked out to get the cows and calves, meaning to bring them in to weigh them.

I left them to come in on their own behind me but they didn't, so I set the gates for them to wander in overnight and went to shift the cows instead.

The new drain in the Bush Flat has water running in it, appears to be working well.

a frilly fungal underskirt

I wonder who tipped all these toadstools over in the Windmill? There are still the two cows and their calves in the paddock, or perhaps it was pheasants, Pūkeko or rabbits.


They all had frilly skirts underneath.

Sunday the 5th
a third cat in the magpie trap

Stephan took the wood mill out to cut up a big gum tree near Takahue and I went out to get on with weighing the calves, except I had to stop and attend to this first: another cat in the magpie trap. Stephan usually shoots them but a cat like this had to be dealt with as soon as possible, couldn't wait until he came back.

I took it home, put it into one of the wooden live-capture traps and efficiently shot it. Poor little thing. How many more are there?

There's been no bait in that trap for ages, so it must be that the cat notices its reflection in the mirror and goes in to sort out the stranger!

the daughters of 183 and 812

The cat being out of the way, I pushed the cows and calves into a couple of the pens, then went and got Zella and Glia's calves, since they were by the gate at the top of Flat 1, and then fished lame 812, 183 and their two calves out of the Windmill.

I left those two cows in the lane and pushed their two daughters, shown here, up to their own pen in the yards.

one little weaned bull

Once I'd weighed the calves and the young mothers, I drafted the little bull back into an empty pen, before putting the rest of his mob across the river into the Tank. He wasn't very happy about them leaving, but it is time for this separation.

Then I took him away in the other direction, put him in with the other three bulls. The cows just ahead of him in this picture include his mother, still in 5d since weaning separation the other day; I thought he'd be comforted by her proximity.

poor, underfed, hungry calves

Then I weighed the two pairs of other calves and put them back with their mothers.

Zita and Glia's calf were obviously starving after the long separation from their mothers. Poor darlings, so stressful. Yeah, right.

Monday the 6th
Queen's Birthday

Muriel's birthday too, she'd have been 101 today.

our beautiful, dying tree

I think I haven't yet written about this sadness: our beautiful Tī Kōuka has Sudden Decline and is dying. There is nothing we can do as its leaves fall, its lovely clumps become sparser. There is one branch out on the left that still looks healthy, giving, perhaps, a tiny bit of hope. But only a tiny bit.

There has been the occasional tree whose lower leaves went yellow but it managed to come back to health but most die of it.

walking in the bush

After checking the heifers Over the Road, I went for a walk in the bush where the old Pine used to stand, looking for orchids.

But first I found fungi, of many different kinds.

walking in the bush

These, of which I have extravagantly included four photos, were exquisite, growing at the base of a couple of Pūriri, and on some roots adjacent.

walking in the bush

They were coral-like, stiffer than they look,

walking in the bush

and not uniformly coloured.

walking in the bush

Presumably if I went back, I might find these ones grown bigger.

walking in the bush

In a flat and open area, a big patch of Tradescantia, courtesy of some enthusiastic gardeners a couple of kilometres up-stream. Never dump your weeds near streams!

But it looks like our attempts over recent years to introduce some bio-control agents to this problem, in the shape of Tradescantia beetles, might just be working. All these leaves are much smaller than they would normally be and nearly every one had jagged edges, chewed. It's a very good sign. It will still spread, as bits break off and they will take root wherever they land but they should also take with them the parasite, so that new colonies will be weak, or perhaps won't even establish.

The thing that looks like wire in the foreground, was a very strong spider web, which I chose to go under, rather than risk being caught and devoured by its owner, probably a very large sheet-web spider.

walking in the bush

These delicate little things were growing from a collection of leaves caught in a tree fern.

walking in the bush

I always like these ones, with their translucent stalks.

walking in the bush

And these as contrast, with their rough stalks and caps.

walking in the bush

I only found a couple of orchid plants, in the usual location. I have at other times found more around the area but it looks like it may be too early yet for many of them to have grown sufficiently big to be easily found.

walking in the bush

Looks like it'll be a few weeks until this one blooms.

I often write that I'll come back and look again, but rarely get around to it.

walking in the bush

Aren't these lovely?

walking in the bush

A giant in their midst.

walking in the bush

These tiny flowers were all around under the Kohekohe trees. I presume they get knocked down by possums and rats in the trees, since they grow directly out of the trunks, up which those pest species run.

Wednesday the 8th
a Tasmanian Blackwood log ready for milling

Brian came round with a Tasmanian Blackwood log on his trailer, for Stephan to mill for him, so that's what the two of them did for the afternoon. Brian went home with a bundle of nice-looking boards.

heifer 210 has been on heat in the last couple of days

Heifer 210 with muddy sides: must have been on heat in the last couple of days.

It was a weirdly dimly-lit day, with high cloud and no sunshine.

evening mist rolling across the flats

Quite early, just before five o'clock, mist started to move across the flats from the stream. That's a very cold look, not something we regularly see.

Thursday the 9th
the cow mob in Mushroom 1

I've tried to find an earlier picture I took of Ellie 171 (standing beyond sitting Gertrude 162), because I had the distinct impression then that she looked vaguely unwell and I think she now looks better - all in the angle of her ears.

The cows were in Mushroom 1 and Stephan was with me in 5d, bringing Fancy 126 up the paddock, convincing her to leave her son and come away to rejoin the larger weaned cow mob.

the cow mob in the House paddock

Once the three cows from 5d were on their way down the lane, I opened the gate for the bigger mob and we walked between the two groups down to the House paddock.

Once in the new paddock there was no fighting but in the lane they might have had a go at each other, having been apart for a while.

the bulls in 5a & b

The bulls needed some fresh grass and I've been watching the recovery of 5b with great pleasure. Remember how it looked five weeks ago?

200's lovely winter face curls

Bull 200's face has gone curly with the growth of his winter coat. He came directly toward me as I took his picture and I decided to move away. I don't ever like bulls making direct approaches, in case they get too friendly, with a toss of a head heavier than my whole self, or have malign intent, whose impact would be the same in any case.

I went around to his rear and scratched his rump, which he enjoyed before going through the gate with the others.

Black-backed gulls flying toward the coast

As I walked back across to the gate I began seeing gulls, so I counted them, wondering how numerous the inland-venturing population might have grown this season. There were 19 in a big, strung-out group, heading for the coast in the evening light.

Then as I continued on my way home I saw another group, 29 this time. Then more! Fourteen, then another 22 of them and when Stephan and I then went out to collect the mail, 34 more flew over, to a total of 118 birds. They weren't all coming from the same place, so they must come in and disperse over many farms during the day, before returning home in the evenings.

Friday the 10th

There were thunderstorms and hail this morning and I watched all the cows in the House paddock huddled together under the trees where there wasn't really much shelter. Cattle tend to get "blown by the wind" into the worst places. They won't walk into the weather to a known shelter, unless they're already in the lee of it and move further into its shadow. The House paddock's fault is the lack of tree shelter along the southern side, something we're gradually altering but don't want to entirely block our view across the flats.


When there was a break in the weather I headed out to see the heifers Over the Road and noticed this Pukeko standing as if it had triumphed over some enemy: its prey was a recently-planted banana plant, which the birds had stripped to pieces. They've been attacking the banana plants for a while now and it's becoming annoying!

on the far hill Over the Road

Walking up the steep first slope of the hill Over the Road, I found one of the R2 heifers, then over the top and along the ridge, here were all the others in view. That's a nice, easy kind of check.

a dairy herd on a hill down the road

Out to my right I noticed the Jersey dairy herd away down the road on a hillside. I like the look of Jerseys, they're pretty cows.

heifer 916

916, who is the quietest of last year's heifers, but a snotty baggage in the yards. Her mother, 716, is the only cow I can inject in her neck without protest, which I consider a highly valuable measure of placidity, so daughter 916's yard behaviour is disappointing. Hopefully she'll settle down in time.

the heifers running to my call

I carried on walking along the top of the hill, then as I came down through the last of the heifers, I began to quietly call them to follow me. They did, in a hurry, bouncing too close behind me. I descended the slippery part of the hill with care to ensure they weren't going to pile down behind me, slipping and sliding and not being able to stop.

They're now grazing back in the other part of the hill paddock.

cows sitting in the House paddock

Within half an hour of going inside, the weather was closing in again and I took this picture of the cows in the House paddock, just as rain began to fall again, then it hailed.
Very unpleasant.

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