In the mail today I received a special gift from Sandy, who has been reading and enjoying the website for several years and wanted to express her appreciation. Thank you again, Sandy, and cheers!
Getting cattle into and out of the Swamp East paddock has proven easier than I thought it might - this short ally connects it to the lane and the other end comes through the Frog Paddock. So far I've been able to bring cattle out through the ally whenever I've wanted them to come this way.
On the right at the top is the lane going up out of the stream and leading out to the PW and the north side of the farm. The heifers are on their way to the flats.
745, theoretically the first of the two-year-old heifers I'm expecting to calve.
Spring growth is dense and lush, but rarely long at this time of year. The cattle are happier for longer in each paddock, but there's still not enough growing to get ahead of them as their feed needs increase in late pregnancy. The continuing cold weather isn't helping.
The annual Veterinary Council meeting and training day is later this year than usual and this morning I flew out of Kaitaia on the 'new' tiny plane at 7am. A few hours later the airport was closed by protesters and had I gone with my initial plans to fly down in the afternoon, my trip would have been rather more complicated.
I spent the day in Auckland, visited my nice dentist, caught up with Iphigenie, whom I haven't seen for ages and then had family dinner at (sister) Jude's, with Issa (nephew) and Tegan (girlfriend) and Jill (I can't quite remember ...).
Jude explained to Jill that we were having a birthday dinner together and asked how old Jill thought I must be, if Jude, her youngest, has just turned 41? She guessed 70, which explains why she's not invited to my party on Saturday. I don't think Jill understands numbers any more. It's hard to tell what she can still comprehend, but if one listens to her for a while, it's obvious that she has less and less understanding of what is going on around her.
Up at 5.30am and off in a taxi to the airport to catch my 7am flight to Wellington. I was, for the second time in my life, the passenger whose name was called out over the public address system because I wasn't on the plane in time! I was stuck in a very long queue through the security system and then stopped because the x-ray operator became concerned about the knitting needles in my bag and I had to unpack things for her.
The meeting was well worth attending this year and I'm glad I made the effort despite the slightly inconvenient timing.
In the evening, after checking in at the hotel, where I was not this year addressed as Mr, I walked up the street to meet niece Amanda and her partner, Edward, whom I'd not met before, for dinner. It was a very pleasant way to end the day.
Another early start, with a check on the national news to see if the Kaitaia Airport situation had been resolved. The airport being open, I came home without any fuss.
The airport situation, as I have understood it, revolves around the original acquisition of the land for use during the second World War, after which it was maintained as an airport, despite promises that the land would be returned after that first use. Time has passed, those who were signatories to that original contract have many descendants and claims to the land have become complicated. Some have been satisfied by other means of settlement, but the group who marched in to the airport and occupied it have not and maintain their right to claim it still.
The unfortunate aspect though is that while the action did garner wide publicity, those who were directly or financially affected by the action were quite a small group, namely the patients booked to see a group of medical specialists on Tuesday, who were unable to land after flying up from Whangarei; and Great Barrier Airlines, the small company which has taken over provision of the air service after Air (not) New Zealand ceased their service to our region. Great Barrier Air had to transport all their booked passengers by road to and from Kerikeri, which cost them significantly. It would also have been damned inconvenient for those who were flying any further than Auckland, since connections on other flights could have been missed.
If our remaining air service provider decides it's too costly to continue to fly in and out of Kaitaia, we'll all suffer, even if we can't afford to use the service often.
Everywhere is wet. This sort of water-logging is really damaging to the soil and pasture and with continual rain, it rarely has a chance to drain away or dry out. Hopefully we'll be able to resolve some of this problem with some further drainage along the base of some of the hillsides, but that's a job for a summer when there's not a major fencing project underway.
When we received notice of the confounded and unwelcome car rally this year, I was delighted to see that it was to be run earlier than usual, missing the week in which my cows begin calving. Then I noticed the rest of the date: Saturday, 12 September, and that the road would be closed between 11am and 3pm. I sent off an enraged email to the address supplied, since we had major plans which were already in train and would then need to be altered.
This afternoon we went over the road and called the cows down off the hill and moved them out to the back of the farm. I didn't want them on that side of the road during the rally, in case they found it too disturbing and ran around in a way very pregnant cows probably shouldn't.
Jude, Roger and the three children arrived this evening, with Floss, their Galah or Australian Rose-breasted Cockatoo. Floss has come to live with us for the foreseeable future and possibly permanently, because Jude and her family are off on an extended all-over-the-world trip next year.
Floss came with his/her own cage, which everyone got involved in putting back together after it was packed flat for the trip up in the car.
The top of Floss's crest is just visible above Stella's head on the left of the picture.
This competition closes on Sunday 4th October.