The week beginning 5th of July, 2003
Our Second (Website) Anniversary!
Saturday the 5th
lots of cattle

Here are most of the "young mob", waiting to leave this chewed out paddock and move onto some more grass.  Lined up at the front are some of last year's heifer calves, now nearly yearlings.

It's been nice to watch our herd gradually changing from one of many mixed colours to much more black.  In some ways it was easier to see who was who, when there was a greater colour range in the herd, but the closer we get to a purely Angus herd, the blacker the population becomes.

The ones with the white faces are the offspring of cows who had a Hereford sire.  The grey/brown ones had mothers who had some amount of Murray Grey blood.  All of them are at least half Angus, most of the mob are at least three-quarters Angus and some are the pedigree heifers.

After moving that lot, Stephan brought the pregnant cows down to the front of the farm, giving me an opportunity to inspect them and have a bit of time with my favourites.  Isla can be a very comforting presence when one is sad.

Ruth and the cows

Despite the sunshine, the air was extremely cold, hence my modelling my lovely warm Swanndri (very traditional farm-wear!).  You'll note the fashionable footwear, the stylish plastic-wrap.  It is most unfortunate that the colour-coordinated sticky-tape holding the plastic in place, simply doesn't show up in this picture.

There is no duck in this picture, something of which we were acutely aware.

To distract ourselves from our misery, we went out for a drive and visit to town.  When we came home, just after dark, our house lights were on and we had a Sebastian (and his Mum and Dan) inside!  Sebastian is our "holiday son", who comes to stay with us during his school holidays.

Monday the 7th

The temperatures overnight and this morning were very cold, causing a heavy frost.  Rain before dawn meant that we didn't actually see all the ice in the daylight.  The minimum temperature as measured next door was only -1°C, but I think the air remained at that low temperature for much longer than the usual short period before dawn.

I got my feet back!  The plasters are off and now I have to get fit and walking again.  What a relief to wash my legs and feet, how nice to wear shoes and have warm toes.

Wednesday the 9th

At four o'clock this morning, we all got out of bed, and went off to Stephan's work.  Here's a short photo-diary of some of what Stephan does when he's not working on the farm: the Topmilk delivery run around the North Hokianga.

Topmilk Trucks loading

When he gets to the factory, he gets in his truck and backs it up to the chiller area, ready for loading.
The other trucks were loading up milk for the shops to the north of Kaitaia, up as far as Te Kao, and the delivery run around Kaitaia.

Stephan sorting the milk orders

Stephan then sorts out the milk orders for the shops to which he delivers, according to the orders received the previous day,

Stephan loading milk onto the truck

then loads it onto the truck.

Sebastian, asleep in the car

When Stephan had nearly finished loading, I woke this small sleeping boy, ready to go off in the truck.

Stephan loading bread trays

Then around to the bread warehouse.
Because the Hokianga is a fairly remote part of the country, with only a few small shops some distance from each other, most companies don't make their own regular deliveries, so the Topmilk truck often carries other items along with the milk.

Stephan delivering milk

About 40 minutes south of Kaitaia, over the Mangamuka Gorge, a steep and winding piece of road, is the first drop-off at the Mangamuka Bridge Store.
From there we turn right, (to the west) following the Mangamuka River, which flows into the top of the Hokianga Harbour.  The next stop is at Kohukohu.

Sebastian, truck driver

At Kohukohu Stephan turned off the truck while he was unloading, so it was safe for Sebastian to hop in the driver's seat for a quick photograph.
That was where we left Stephan.  Sebastian and I were picked up by Jill and Bruce and taken up to their house for breakfast and to spend the morning helping them get their computer working properly.

Stephan then drove back along the road just travelled for a while, then on to Broadwood, down to Panguru, back around through the Herekino Gorge to Ahipara and back to Kaitaia.  He travels about 140km (I'll have to check that) and takes around six hours to do the trip.  Because he sees the same people every time and he's the regular driver of the run, he's developed some quite friendly relationships with the shop-owners and the small number of people who have their milk dropped off to them at their gate-ways.

Up at "The Cottage" Jill and Sebastian cooked rock-cakes in the wood stove while Bruce and I played computer nerds.  After lunch, Bruce took Sebastian and I back to Kaitaia.

Thursday the 10th

We had an interesting day.  We started off in Kaitaia, being nosey neighbours at the auction of the house which Stephan built, many years ago, which used to belong to this property.  At some time in the near future, we'll have some new neighbours.  Funnily enough, Sebastian (who usually lives in Auckland) knows the new people, even though we have never met them.

We spent the rest of the day in Kaitaia Hospital.  Sebastian had developed an infection in one finger, very like the one Stephan had in his toe some months ago.  It's pretty frightening being five and having doctors and nurses do painful things to you when you're awake, so he was put to sleep and now has one less finger-nail and a nice bandage.

We're very glad we still have a hospital in our nearest town, into which Sebastian could be quickly admitted and treated.  The waiting time was partly to ensure enough hours had passed since he'd last eaten, and because Sebastian had to wait in line to go up for his surgery.  As soon as we arrived, he was put into a bed in an empty room, where we sat comfortably with a pile of story books and the occasional cup of tea for me, while Stephan went to find us some lunch.  Later, after Sebastian had returned from the operation, we were provided with a "carer's dinner" as well as one for the sore boy.  Such treatment in this country is all provided free, as part of the health service for which we all pay our taxes.