After spending a couple of days down the other end of the Windmill Paddock, 723 took her calf on a hike up to the top this morning. Perhaps she knew what was coming: today those infernal car rally idiots will tear our usual peace to pieces as they hurtle wastefully down our valley road.
I was out dishing out extra portions of Magnesium in molasses, hoping to calm everyone's nerves before it began, Magnesium having a sedative effect.
A little while after I took this picture I heard 723 calling, then watched her running back down the paddock, which seemed rather odd. I found her calf had gone through the fence and wandered into the Frog paddock and was about to drop down a steep bit of river bank. I managed to coax him back toward his mother without too much fuss.
Meg 699's daughter was happily settled under a thistle.
At 10am the noise started. For the next two hours I stood with the most upset group of cows (those most recently calved) talking calmly to them, trying to prevent anyone accidentally treading on anyone else's calves as they milled around in alert distress about the unfathomable noise.
Dinky 94 got far too upset about the calf which isn't hers and started attacking her paddock-mate 606's newborn calf (at right), so I had to shoo her out into the lane. I put a spring gate across the lane to stop her from accessing the fenceline with the calf she really wanted because in the confusion it was likely to pop through the fence and then things would be even trickier to sort out. Stephan came over and helped me, because I couldn't quite be in as many positions as appeared necessary. Whenever there was a lot of noise, Dinky looked like she'd push through the spring gate to get nearer "her" calf.
Over fifty backfiring, whining, screaming-engined machines came hurtling along the road during the two-hour period. There's something about those frequencies which really disturbs the animals and alerts all their senses of danger. I hate the damned event and wish they'd sod off to anywhere else or just can it altogether.
If I lived on a lifestyle block closer to an urban centre, I'd have the same issues with fireworks, so perhaps we're lucky in this being a discreet event during a specified time period in daylight. One must, I suppose, look on the bright side.
When everything was quiet again I went out to see what had happened to 723's calf, since she was calling for it. He was closer to his mother now, but through the stream-side fence and right down near the water. Some calves seem determined to be near water.
I came back every couple of hours to check he hadn't fallen in, but as he managed to safely change position and turn around between checks, I decided he could stay where he was. In the early evening, as 723 became a bit more upset about his disappearance (she knew where he'd gone, just couldn't see him) I very slowly and calmly approached him and prompted him to climb back up to his mother. New calves startle very easily and then bolt in any direction away from perceived danger and I did not want to prompt that response.
Finan continues to feel unwell.
Apparently cat 'flu can continue for a while, but he keeps appearing to recover and then seeming ill again. I discussed this with the vet and we both suspect there's a high possibility he is succumbing to FIV, the feline equivalent of AIDS in people. I considered having him tested for it after the injury he sustained a few years ago, but at the time we thought there was little to be gained from knowing the answer to that question. Now I suspect it would be wise to test him, so we can either explain this malaise, or eliminate that as the cause and look for whatever else may be ailing him.
His presence did no good for the Cyclamen plants in those pots! I moved them, since he seems to like that warm spot of an afternoon.
I keep taking "before" pictures of this area, the watercourse at the bottom of the PW, because once we fence it off it will start looking quite different. Presently the cattle keep tromping through the boggy bit making a horrible mess.
Last night when I was out checking the calving cows, I could hear a plaintive peeping in 5a. Eventually I gave in to my curiosity and went to see if I could find who was making the noise. It was a tiny, newly-hatched Spur-winged Plover chick in this nest, with its siblings also faintly calling from inside their shells. The hole in the middle one is made by the hatching chick. The parents leave their nest and chick/s and run or fly around nearby making a hell of a racket! I couldn't see the hatched chick anywhere.
White-face 517 produced a black bull, along with the usual revolting-looking birth fluids of this family.
Meg 699 and her daughter were sitting so beautifully together, I had to take their picture. It's these second calves of the heifers which could really show me what they're capable of. I wonder whether Gem 698 will follow suit with a heifer? The calves will be well out of step in age, but still interesting to compare.
The goslings are doing well.
We went up the road to have a look at the orchard and decide how and where to erect a protective fence. While we don't intend grazing animals in the paddock, the neighbours are not always attentive to the state of the flood-gate in the stream after heavy rain and don't mind if their animals help themselves to our grass. We would mind very much more if they helped themselves to the trees! Better to prevent than repent.
We spotted a still-inflated beach ball across the other side of the stream. Stephan rescued it to join the others in the pond.
In 2010 I discovered a Ramarama tree on the streambank in this paddock. It was still here last time I checked, but I thought I'd better look again, since two big trees fell down over the stream and will have changed the way the water flows through here. (At some stage we're going to have to get those trees cleared out of the stream!)
The little tree was entirely submerged now apart from a few leaves, because the part of the bank in which it was growing had fallen into the water. Stephan leaned in and pulled it carefully out.
The whole tree was obviously larger originally, but has suffered from being laid down in the water. It appears to have sprouted again from the base of the trunk and grown more roots to survive.
We took it home and planted it in two pieces since both bits had roots.
This is still the only example of its species I've found around the farm. There are no doubt more.
Some of Joe 90's daughters of have these funny udders with no real width to their base. Time will tell whether there's enough milk there and whether the udder structure will hold up over time.
When I was out tonight the Plovers were very noisy again. I'd taken my camera to get a picture of the chicks in their nest. This bird was oddly still and unwilling to move, which is unusual in a disturbed Plover. I took several pictures as I moved toward the gate, until she finally decided I was far too close and moved away...
... leaving her four little chicks suddenly uncovered. I've not seen a bird hold her position like that before. They're more inclined to draw a potential predator's attention away from the actual location of their chicks.
Dinky 94 had produced a bull calf by the time I looked early this morning, another son of Pono of Kawatiri, the bull of which Mr David Bone gave me five straws a couple of years ago. There's a picture of him here.
I saw the little Plover chicks several times today. They're tiny, delicate things. Their colouring is beautiful.
The goslings appear to eat as much grass as anything else, really getting into it today. I move their cage around the lawn frequently, so they have a fresh lot to eat.
My bike ride along the lane to check the cows was almost the end for a couple of the Plover chicks early this afternoon. It's hard to know where they are by watching their parents and I luckily spotted them hunched down on the track before driving straight over the top of them.
You can't see me, you can't see me, you can't see me ...
Stephan went up to start the Orchard fence this afternoon and I rode ahead of him as a sort of pilot vehicle, in case a huge truck came around a corner. We met a couple of German hikers walking down the road, having come through the walkway from Larmer Road. The track through to Takahue is currently closed because of the logging activities, so walkers are directed to follow the roads, a longer and less pleasant route. I told them I'd meet them at our gateway and took them around to the next part of the walkway, 10.5km away. They said they were not enjoying the road walking, with all the traffic and dust, so were glad of the lift.
I watched Imagen's labour this morning. Everything appeared quite normal.
But things were not all right with the calf, born with the whites of his eyes shot bright blood-red and a sort of blood-blister covering the cornea of his right eye.
He was floppy and slow to stand, taking a couple of hours to get to his feet.
A couple of hours later I found him like this: a seriously stressed animal!
There wasn't much to be done really, except wait and see if he recovered.
In the afternoon I thawed some of his sister Zella's colostrum from last season and gave him a litre of it in a bottle, which he took quite happily. I'm glad he has a good sucking reflex, just can't quite work out where to get it from from his mother.
He's obviously had some sort of pressure-related head trauma during birth, which has slowed him down. He looked a great deal better later in the day than in this picture, so I think he will probably come right.
We sent Zella out of the paddock she has been sharing with Imagen this morning and Stephan milked Imagen so I could feed the calf again with the bottle. (Zella has to be removed because otherwise Imagen can't be given the molasses which will make her stand still, because Zella will shove Imagen out of the way and eat it.) We did the same thing later in the day, because the calf still hasn't figured it out for himself. After his second feed, he did a little skip, like a normal calf!
Our first white-faced calf for the season, son of 660. She was in labour at 10.30 last night when I checked and when I went out again an hour later, she'd just produced this calf.
After I took this picture, he got to his feet, got a bit confused about where his mother had gone and promptly dashed off in panic in the wrong direction, pelted through a fence and galloped into a drain.
I got his mother to follow where he'd gone to settle him again and a few minutes later she brought him back to the paddock where they'd been. I only looked at him!
Before Stephan attempted to amputate his toe last summer, he'd strung this semi-permanent electric-tape fence between the new gateway Over the Road and the old fence which was to be replaced. He had been about to start stripping the old fence, but we decided instead that he should clear the steep face further round, in preparation for a slightly different fenceline ... and then he had to go to hospital!
Today he got on with the intended railings. We decided rails there would be best, being a pressure corner near the gateway. That bank beside the road is also somewhere I've seen stray cattle decide to wait and in line with our policy of farm biosecurity and boundary separation from other animals, a secure fence there is a sensible option.
All finished by the end of the day.
Riding down the track toward home to fetch more molasses and Magnesium this afternoon I startled (and was startled by) a small rabbit dashing out of the Flat 1 gateway, hotly pursued by a stoat! The stoat turned and fled in the direction from which it had come and I presumed the rabbit got away.
Ten minutes later I came upon them again, further up the lane and just inside the House Paddock fence, where the stoat was on top of the rabbit, chewing on the top and back of its head. What a foul creature! I'd not previously given much thought to how the relatively tiny stoat kills its prey, but apparently this is its method.
The stoat ran off as I stopped the bike, but the rabbit lay there in shock, unable to walk when I popped through the fence to see how injured it was. The skin had been gnawed from its head and it was not in a good state. I put it gently inside my jacket and took it to he who kills things; it later went into several traps around the farm for the stoat (although that animal obviously likes its rabbit much fresher than dead) and feral cats. We caught nothing.
Out checking late this evening I was about to go home when I heard the characteristic (but unexpected, yet) new-mother mooing from Mushroom 2. I went out and discovered Endberly with an extraordinary-looking calf, just up and looking for a feed. She looked silver in the torch-light.
What a beauty!
Having recently re-researched the Hypotrichosis condition Curly and Endberly carry for an article I wrote, I was expecting a calf which looked just like they did when born (charcoal coloured and fuzzy) or with straight black normal hair. Silver/grey was not in my expectations.
I have now concluded that the family must also carry the colour dilution gene which is normally very obvious, because when present it makes a red cow orange and a black cow grey. Presumably the Hypotrichosis defect masks the effect of the ordinary colour dilution gene, but Curly's family do carry it, making this colour option a possibility if that gene is inherited without the Hypotrichosis gene as well. Fascinating!
My Amaryllis is in flower again, looking splendid without snail damage this year.
The Puka vines (Griselinia lucida) are flowering. Otherwise known as Shining Broadleaf, this is not the plant commonly known as Puka in urban gardens.
Puka is the large epiphytic vine which grows in the tops of mature trees, identified by its grooved "trunks" growing to the ground around the host trunk and its bright green, shiny leaves in and above the canopies of large trees.
716 looked a likely calving candidate all morning. In the early afternoon a bag appeared and later feet and a nose and then things sort of came to a stop. I stepped in and pulled on the legs several times and it seemed as if at any moment, she'd push just enough for the head to come out and all would be well - I could feel there was room for the head inside, so the calf was not really stuck.
When Stephan came home we tried pulling the calf in the paddock, but 716 isn't tame enough to allow both of us to touch her, so we walked her to the yards. In the race I carefully put the calving chains around the calf's ankles and while Stephan gently pulled on the chains' handles, I caught the calf as it came free and we carried it back to the crush pen, then let the heifer come back to deal with him.