Friday, November 25, 2016

Busy Springtime

It's been a hectic couple of months here on the farm. We've had a lot of gray, drizzly weather - 211 mm rain in October, less this month. But we did have 2 days of 28C this week - one extreme to the other!

Our newest arrival on the farm is Eric the Perendale ram. We got him a month ago from a neighbour when he was 2 months old.

I bottle fed him until a few days ago and now he's been weaned although he still persists in 'bonking' me each morning to try and get some milk. He's growing fast and looks like he's a little bigger than the dogs already. I am sure he is eagerly awaiting the arrival of some ewe lams to keep him company.

One real benefit of all the rain as that the grass is growing like crazy so the cattle are very happy. 

We didn't have any live calves this year unfortunately. Milkshake, our grouchy old cow, delivered twins a week ago (very uncommon in cattle) and they died. They looked normal externally so I don't know what happened as we got there just after she delivered. She had cleaned them up beautifully so I don't know if it was a cord problem. Poor Milkshake was just bursting with milk and there were no calves to give it to. Our neighbour had 2 calves without a mother so we put them together but it didn't work. They are 3 months old and mostly weaned so perhaps the urge to suck was gone. Fortunately Milkshake is drying up now. 

The other interesting event on the property was with our bees. The hive seemed to be very full as they were lining up in masses waiting to get in. One day, Ross saw a huge swarm set off down the valley. There is a box covering a water pipe junction at the bottom of the valley and it is full of bees now! The day after the big swarm, I found a huge mass of bees on a flax plant. They stayed there for several days then one morning most of them were gone and 3 days later they were all gone. Apparently when bees decide to swarm and find a new home with their new queen, they often find a spot close to the hive where they wait for the scouts to get back and let them know where their new home is going to be. I'm guessing that in the centre of that mass of bees is the new queen being carefully protected. I don't know why they left in 2 groups a few days apart. Maybe the second group just went back to the original hive? Or could there have been 2 queens? I'll have to ask the guy who manages our hive if he knows.

The vegie garden is looking great and has required a lot of weeding because of all the rain. We ate our last cauliflower from the winter garden, the artichokes are coming on, and the new plantings are now popping up. 

We have a track going through all the kanuka trees below our driveway. We put it in several years ago and have to hack away regrowing gorse, broom, and blackberry every year. But the good news is that the kanuka are getting very large and all the little native trees coming up around the kanuka are getting much larger, especially the mahoe. 

Well that's it from our little patch of heaven. We're off to pick up 2 bales of shavings to put on the chookhouse floor after we clean it all out - a big task that involves scrubbing all surfaces down with cleaner but fortunately only has to be done once a year or so.

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