160 mm of rain – John van der Goes

I spent the end of March and beginning of April in the Nelson area on holiday. The first weekend was spent with our wine club visiting vineyards, tasting their products, and seeing some of the sights.

JVG Mapua

We stayed on for another week looking around and also stayed with some friends who live there. On one of our day trips we met a guy who is making milking sleeves. He makes them out of neoprene. I managed to get a set to try. They are quite nice to wear, and being thick offer a reasonable amount of protection.

JVG milking sleeves

When we left it was just starting to rain and I thought, “This is nice”, as we could do with a bit – thinking that it wouldn’t be as much as the forecast. I found out that we had 80 mm by the next morning, and it was still raining. In all we got about 120 mm that weekend. On our way home we ran into rain just north of Turangi. The further we travelled the heavier it got. By the time we got home there was 70 mm in the gauge. We had to stop and change the water diverter from the yard as I had forgotten to tell the relief milker about it. Although I had emptied the pond before I left I knew that it would be filling fast. The next two days saw the rain fall go to 160 mm in total. This meant that the stream was over its banks for at least 4 days. This is the longest I have seen it up this high as it normally goes down in half a day.

We came back to find most of the leaves had disappeared off the fodder beet. I think the rain had knocked all the dried leaves off. Most of the leaves had dried off with a fungus. However, it still has a good amount of feed value for us.

JVG fodder beet no leaves

This meant my intended work programme for when I came home went out the window as it was too wet to plant the new grass or put on urea. In fact it was so wet that it took two weeks before it was dry enough to start either job. There was a river running down the fodder beet paddock and it’s washed a deep grove through the middle of it. The ground being so wet also slowed the grass growth, meaning that cover started to drop away, so I decided to cull the remaining surplus cows. I identified them as in-calf for the sale and got really good money for them.

JVG rain damage

Yesterday we dried off any cows that needed weight put on (22 cows), most only need to put on half a condition score. This means that 80% of my cows are at calving weight or better (the best result I’ve ever had.) I can now milk these on till the fodder beet runs out before drying them off. Cover remains a bit low so I’ve upped the supplements and extended the round to 50 days. Hopefully this, along with 23 units of N behind the cows, will lift the grass cover to desirable levels.

JVG wood splitter

Before we left I was trying to get my wood splitter rebuilt. The idea was to finish it before we left, but it was not to be. Finally got it finished this week.

Going forward I have to get some fencing done as while it was so wet the electric fence power was down and one clever cow thought she would walk through them to help herself to more grass. This is a timely reminder for me to get my act together and replace the temporary fences with permanent ones.

While we were away we started to look at motorhomes since we think we would like to travel around in one when I decide to finish milking, probably in two years’ time. Hopefully, we will get the free time we would like to have instead of always having a huge list of things to do.

Hope you have all survived the big wet and all’s going well for you heading into winter.

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