Dry weather strategies – Noldy Rust

Welcome to 2020. The beginning of a new year and all the promises, plans and New Year resolutions that we are all bound to keep and break, some of us more one way than the other. I find the Christmas season is always so enjoyable, with so much happening throughout December, culminating in a very enjoyable family day on Dec 25th which, in itself, leads on to a period of more relaxed and unorganised types of days as we head out through the New Year period, getting confused with what day it is, and planning and having some time away, whilst clinging to each day and willing it to never end before life returns to routine again. Our Christmas day was again special, as they all are, less about gifts etc as we improve with age, but more about fun with the grandkids and sharing highlights and lowlights from the year gone by. We do share some gifts; they often range from something really handy, to ones that are of a dubious nature, and thought of solely to take the mickey out of the recipient. On the one hand, the little staircase for the chihuahua that assists her to get up onto the bed is great, but did I really need lollipops with a hideous photo of me on them, or new socks that were adorned with the same photo? Those daughters of ours are so quick to snap a photo at any opportunity they can when the poor recipient finds themselves in a less than desirable pose! Heaven forbid that you ever dose off while they’re visiting. You’ll find your photo on Snapchat, Whatsapp and Facebook, and all sorts of other social media sites!

Sam managed to get a break over Christmas, which was fantastic and well earned. I took the reins for the period and had full control of the farm and managing the daily operations, just like in the old days. Bev was as supportive as ever, farewelling me as I crawled out of bed in the morning with the typical “hate to be you” comment. She just doesn’t know what she’s missing I reckon. Relief  milking in December is probably the best time to do it, as you get up as day is breaking and it’s still relatively cool, while in the afternoons it’s usually not too hot, with the flies still out of sight, amassing their armies for the onslaught in January. Plus, there is minimal feeding out to do, no cows to draft for AI any longer, and cows coming in with nice full udders, which makes it all seem so worthwhile, especially when the payout is good.

The mid December rain enabled us to apply some nitrogen and extend the rotation meaning, as mentioned earlier, production was consistent and above average for us for this time of year. That rain, however, was pretty much all that we have had in the last month, so things are starting to look very different now. Regrowth has slowed considerably, and the amount of supplement we are feeding daily is slowly increasing. Our husk bales did the trick, as we fed lesser amounts earlier on, but now we’re into the maize from the pit again. It was well worth pulling the maize face down and rolling it prior to covering it back in November (as mentioned in a previous blog). Only a little wastage on the edges and certainly nothing like we used to get when we had a vertical face. Maize plus a PKE/DDG mix is the daily ration and keeping production at a favourable level….so far! We are following our usual summer strategy of feeding the cows a lesser amount of pasture during the day and standing them off in the shade paddock after midday, giving them the bigger allocation of pasture when it’s cooler in the evenings.

I have forgone my morning walk today to enable me to get these few words written. My Fitbit will be on strike soon if I don’t get out there and start getting those steps up. However, we have planned to get out on our bikes and explore some river trail rides today so that will give it a good workout…and me!

It’s close to 7 am now so Sam must be close to getting the last row in. I can hear poor old Mr Speckle and Blackie indicating that they need their daily slug of milk. I think Sam is in the process of weaning the poor dears. They’re only about 4 months old now and still think they need milk to support their grass intake. Their size indicates that this may not be the case. I think we need to find a far away paddock for them for a few days as this regular bellowing sounds worse than a teenager who’s had their phone taken off them! Well, almost. I think I’ll go over and do the clean-up so Sam can go move calves.

We’ll talk again soon, hopefully sharing how the rain came in the nick of time, and how the weaning process went. Until then, enjoy life on the land and whether it’s too hot or too dry, it will change.

Reducing environmental impact – analysing options and measuring results – Graham Smith

Lately there have been quite a few thunderstorms raging around. I just wish they had deposited a bit more precipitation here! Plenty of noise but not much action, just like those politicians in Wellington. Just over the hill got 55 mm in the last storm and we were lucky (? ) to catch the edge of it and get 2 mm!!! Calendar year to date is showing some of the lowest rainfall recorded since I bought the farm.

MS production is now 1.26 kg/day/cow, and I am mowing ahead of the girls to keep on top of the seed heads. Just about to take the third cut of silage off the lease block and with the underlying dry conditions I may need it sooner rather than later.

Now that AI has finished the shed routine is a lot more relaxed. I did 4.5 weeks of nominated sires, and then 12 days of SGL. Then things went quiet, so I finished with 6 weeks and two days of mating. All cows cycled naturally, and it will remain to be seen what the empty rate will be with such a short mating. The last cow is due to calve about the 25th August which will give me a tight calving.

As I mentioned in the last blog, I did Overseer FM to look at my greenhouse gas profile. This showed my biggest (and everybody else’s) problem is enteric methane and as we know there is no answer yet for that. Options for the future to reduce emissions were firstly to cut down on imported feed, then use less N fertiliser. This would probably work best as a combination of the two which could give up to a 20% reduction in GHG but about a 10% reduction in EBIT. In my OAD scenario rearing less replacements will also give a reduction of 3% in GHG and a 5% gain in EBIT. Lastly, I could plant more sidlings in trees (pines?) and this has savings in GHG of 6%, but also a loss in EBIT of up to 12%. This is based on a dairy farm case study and could be further tweaked as we learn more, and Overseer is brought up to speed.

I said last time that my water tests were in, and overall I am very happy with the quality of water leaving the farm. Of course, my knowledge of water and swamps and their effects on water quality is limited, so I talked to Bill Vant from Waikato Regional Council. He was very helpful and without his explanations I would have failed to understand my water samples at all. I guess what I am saying here is it is all very well to have samples and records, but an expert is needed to make sense of it all. Once I explained how each watercourse was made up Bill was able to say why I had those readings and what they meant.

So, my samples showed that my system of water cleaning was working, but unless you can sample the inlet and outlet it is very hard to say how well it is working. Two of my samples were from swamps cleaning a mixture of surface and ground water and they showed that effect in the readings. They showed low to moderate readings and I should be happy with those. The third sample, made up of water coming from a spring, showed high Total N, which reflected the fact that this spring is fed by water from a large catchment which is seeping N into it. This water has been cleaned by the sands it runs through and had low suspended solids and because of that the phosphorus present was in mostly in a dissolved form. This is opposed to one of the swamp samples where you could see the particulate matter (solids) floating in it and therefore the P rating represented those solids. Bill’s parting comment was to inquire if the water had been tested for E.coli. It had not, and this will be requested in the next lot of testing I do.

In summation, there were a lot of things to learn about water and the effects we, and the environment, have on it. Also, get professional advice on the results. Lastly, keep testing so that you build a profile and learn from the changes as you go. Remember that the numbers you get are only relevant to you, which is why I saw little point in printing mine.

Hope you all have a great Christmas and a successful New Year.

Mating matters – Noldy Rust

The end of another weekend is nearing, and I am home from open homes and theatre practice. Too early to relax in the chair as Sam is still milking and I get the guilts if I’m relaxing and he is working. I can’t admit to those same guilts affecting me if Bev is working around the house, but then again I really think she does enjoy dusting, cooking and vacuuming, I mean I did buy her a new vacuum cleaner and a new steamer for cooking the broccoli so she has reason to be happy….However, I do think the safest option is to disappear into my little office and tap away on my keyboard for a few minutes, writing my overdue blog. Keeps me out of harm’s way and ensures that they all think I’m doing my bit to keep the world going around!

Out on the farm, things are ticking along nicely. Mating has been the focus in the past wee while and all went according to plan. We split the herd, ran the non-cyclers with bulls, or should I call them the ‘Nontailpaintrubbedoffers’ and had great results there again. The bulls did their job and we had about 85% went up in that lot in three weeks and 94% in the main herd, giving us a submission rate of 92% in three weeks. Scratchies, tail paint, vigilance and bull power! Makes a formidable mix. The second round has just come to an end and there are only around 2% that haven’t been up. Happy with the result, should be a good calving next year. However, we can’t count our chickens yet and we still don’t know how the non-return rate will end up by the time we finish mating. Three more weeks of bulls, then two weeks of short gestation AI, will see us close to Christmas and in time to finish mating just as Sam takes his Christmas leave.

In my last blog I was contemplating the use of Red Devon bulls over the heifers after they had been up to AI. In the end, we did go down this track. Beautiful, quiet Red Devons were bought and have been running with the heifers straight after we had inseminated them with recorded Jerseys. If we get 50% in calf to AI it will be an ok result, and if all the rest calve without intervention to the Red Devons, then we’re onto a winner. Well-grown heifers, easy-calving bulls with narrow shoulders, a vigilant farmer at calving time, all should be sweet!! I’ll be singing from the rooftops if all is well next calving, and conversely be avoiding the subject if we have some issues. However, I have confidence in my research…..

Grass growth has been consistent for the last couple of months, so we cut the feeding out right back to a bare minimum. The issue with a large stack face of maize and only feeding a couple of kilos DM per cow means that the face starts heating, even when inoculated with 11C33. For this reason, we buy in a unit or two of husk bales from Gisborne. Baled maize husks with crushed grain in them. This feed has an average ME of 10, is value for money, and is good to feed with a bit of PKE or the like. It’s really only a back-up if we hit a bit of a feed pinch. We find this works well and saves wasting maize owing to heating on the face. We closed the stack down properly this year, getting a digger in to pull the face down and give the front of the stack a good roll so that we could seal it properly with tyres touching. You may think that it’s a waste getting a digger in for that??? Our theory was that wasting feed is worse and it’s just so difficult to get a stack face to seal if its vertical. I hate opening a stack and seeing heaps and heaps of mould and gunge, a bit like opening that container that’s at the back of the fridge and been there for a few months….That reminds me, when Bev is finished vacuuming, she may want to clean the fridge out. I can’t help ‘cos I’m busy….

The last of the calves have headed up the road to their Garden of Eden, rolling in grass up there at Phil’s place, and achieving massive growth rates. It’s always nice to have well-grown calves go off grazing, knowing that they have had an excellent start in their pathway to cowhood….is that even a word?? Is now I guess! We’ll be up there monthly drenching them, for the next few months anyway, as it’s nice to see them grow. I had a bit of a brilliant idea to keep the last couple of calves for veal, keep them in the shed on milk for 4-5 months then send them on their big goodbye. This meat is really tender and easy to eat as we did this a couple of times years ago. However, I’m having second thoughts now as they look so fat and strong and healthy, and they’re so friendly, and they will grow so much more if we don’t send them on their big goodbye for another 16 months at least, and plus, I kind of like them!! So does Sam. And our young granddaughter! What would I tell Ainsley if she were to ask where Mr Speckle and Blackie have gone?? Hmmmm, maybe I’m getting soft.

So, from here on forward, it’s just business as usual in the lead up to summer. SustaiN is stockpiled in the shed, to be applied when the rain is nigh. Pasture spraying has been done and the farm looks nice and clean, a real credit to Sam. The pressure is now off on the farm, but the foot’s to the floor for another month in the real estate game. Plenty of listings are awaiting buyers and enquiry are steady. Open days and viewings, appraisals and contracts, are the order of the day, for the next wee while anyway. The payout forecast is good in the short to medium term, so it’s nice to have some positive news. Not to mention the beef price!! Whoa, that’s another good reason the let Mr Speckle and Blackie live a bit longer…they might pay for my ticket to Rarotonga next year….. Hmmm, holidays are now in my mind, I better sign off, my mind is wandering.

Ciao for now… Noldy

Our season so far – Brian Frost

It’s been a long time between blogs for the Frosties – one daughter has been to the US to be a camp counselor with camp America and is now back, working hard to save for uni next year. One son has finished his degree this week! The other son has been studying with YWAM in Queenstown, been to Samoa and PNG on mission trips and is now back in Queenstown studying some more with YWAM. Our youngest is studying hard for her exams and last year at school. Mrs. Frostie’s dad got married after 4½ years of being a widower – very exciting and very happy. Mrs. Frostie has spent a few months working at 3 different companies while also trying (not overly successfully) to keep up with things on the farm, while Frostie has kept everything ticking over on the farm and on the home front – he is amazing!!

On the farm we are very grateful to have the same amazing staff stay on for another season. So nice to have stability, and people who know the farm well and are great with the animals.

The project for the moment is the feedpad. We had a feedpad made of rotten rock which has been unused for at least the last 10 years and so have decided to concrete this and get it usable again.

Things on farm have been going well with no significant flooding over the winter and so far this spring, which has made things a lot less stressful.

We are in a critical part of the season as we have many paddocks out with turnips and chicory, and we are in the middle of getting cows in calf and keeping them fed and producing well.

On the farm

There are currently 370 cows grazing 2.25 ha/day (28 – 30 day round), plus each cow is getting 6 kg meal and 3½ kg P8. Sixty calves are also on farm (28 have already gone to the runoff).

Production to date is 68,058 kg MS (compared with 59,195 kg MS at the same time last year). Current production is 9.5 – 9.7 kg MS/ha/day and 2 – 2.1 kg MS/cow/day. The cow condition is 4.4 – 4.5.

Feed

The average pasture cover is 2,355 kg DM/ha, with the pasture cover targets for the next two months of 2,400 – 2,500 kg DM/ha in late November and 2,600 – 2,700 kg DM/ha in late December. We will aim to hold to a consistent grazing area through the next two months, while the cows are trying to hit their peak production and get back into calf again. Then we will look to lengthen the round from early December onwards when the chicory will be ready to add to the ‘normal’ grazing round.

Fertiliser

SustaiN (urea) has been applied as follows: 1.3 tonne in August, 3.6 tonne in September and 2.7 tonne in October (so far) at 85 kg urea/ha. The next lot of nitrogen will be due from late November/early December onwards at 85 – 90 kg/ha to push some good pasture growth and quality into the summer.

The Runoff

All the young stock and in-calf heifers are at the runoff (mating went from 3rd to 10th October with all the heifers mated in this time – the bulls went in on 10th and will come out in late December).

Urea has been applied behind the stock at 85 kg/ha over the last six weeks.

70 – 80 t DM of grass silage that has been made and stacked on the runoff and 24 ha has been sprayed and ready to sow for maize cropping ASAP (14 ha of P1636 and 10 ha of Corson F71F1).

Mr and Mrs Frostie are off to Queenstown next week to see Stafford and catch up with other friends so we are very much looking forward to some time away (although only for four days).

A Calving to Remember – Noldy Rust

The month of September rolling around always gives me such a feeling of relief. I guess it’s owing to the fact that this is it, spring is here, the rush is over, and with daylight saving looming it will mean that those long evenings will once again reappear enabling all sorts of outdoor activity. Oh, the joy that comes with this time of year, daffodils are out, trees are throwing out new shoots, and calves are skipping around in the paddock, free from their restrictive enclosures. However, just because the sun is shining today and it’s warm and clear, it can still change. The forecast for the first half of September isn’t too crash hot, hence the reason to get this written while the going is good!

With only a handful of cows left to calve, I can honestly say that this has been a calving to remember. I don’t know how you all have fared, but for us, the common things that can go wrong and make life tough, such as down cows, mastitis, difficult calvings, and cow and calf deaths have been few and far between. I don’t wish to speak too soon, but plenty of mag in the diet all winter, a rigorous dry cow programme, well-conditioned animals, vigilant observation of springers, and a fantastic new lube pump that helps calves pop out like a cork from a champagne bottle (see previous blog) have meant that this calving has been as good as it gets. Much of the credit must go to Sam for his attention to detail and getting things done right. Mind you, it was me who organised the lube pump. And paid for the Teatseal. And the mag for that matter. What I’m saying is that I did play a small part. However, all that aside, smooth sailing makes life easy and keeps the cost down. We had to invite our vet out for a cup of tea so Sam could meet her!! And she’s been our vet since February! Sam has to go do a refresher on how to treat mastitis as it’s been so long, and I can’t remember the surname of that JD guy that used to come and pick up dead cows. I better stop bragging now, otherwise it will come back and haunt me! However, we are often quick to moan when things are bleak, it’s only right to celebrate success too!

We’re a bit more onto it this year with our feed budgeting and pasture allocation. Sam is regularly doing his farm walks and we decided earlier in the piece to engage the services of Regan from LIC Farmwise. He’s a good, keen man and the aim of having him on board is to keep us on track, making sure we match rotation length with feed available and don’t end up getting our cover too low, whilst recognising any projected surplus early. In our regime, we use supplementary feed most of the year on the pad, but only if it’s needed to maintain feed intakes and manage residuals.

It’s so good not having to buy in feed at the moment, but there are always opportunities to spend money just when we think we have nothing to spend it on. We always do an annual machine check, and there’s often something that needs repairing. But the vacuum pump?? Couldn’t it just be some perished elbows or something? I mean to say, we reconditioned this not long ago?? Can’t argue though, it’s an important piece of machinery and it’s got to be right! And then there’s the tractor service. Had hoped it would be a simple case of changing a few filters and flushing the radiator, but oh no, the ever-vigilant mechanic spotted some bearings that should have collapsed long ago! The 3-hour service turned into a tractor out of action for a week. I gave Sam a square mouth shovel and some concrete pills in order for him to load the maize by hand, but he balked, opted to go visit our ever-obliging neighbour and borrow a spare tractor with a good loader on it. Back in my day…, nah, we won’t go there!

Our heifer calf numbers were down a bit this year. We did AI on the heifers and the better cows and managed to get a few keepers from them, and consequently had put more lower BW cows in calf to Wagyu, white face and Speckle Park. We thought we had the numbers right, but with slightly more empties than usual and a few more bull calves, we are a bit short on rearers. Were a bit short should I say. Luckily a farmer down the road had surplus heifers, so that sorted that out! Our aim is to try and minimise bobby calves, and this is working well. The only real bobbies are any dairy breed bull calves, and this year, against my wishes might I add, these bobbies go to AC Petfoods. I must say, it is an easy option. They come and pick them up daily, which means no time spent teaching them to drink off a feeder. Plus, the biggest bonus is that it’s nice and humane for the calf. No long truck rides and no need to wait until four days old.

Before we know it mating time will be here. Bulls are ordered and we’ll do the non-cyclers running separately with bulls again as this has worked well in the past. Metrichecking has been done on 80% of the cows, and the tailpaint for pre-mating heats is due to be applied. I am wondering, in order to minimise bobbies even more, should we try Red Devon bulls over our heifers? They say they’re easy calving and there should be a market for them I would have thought. Too risky?? Looking for advice here team?? It would be awesome to have Red Devons and Speckles and white face and Wagyu and Friesian. In this cosmopolitan world we live in, it would be almost not PC not to!

That’s me done, time to get out there and feed the calves and check those few springers. Wouldn’t want to have to give that JD guy a call now would I?? I’ve forgotten his number anyway!!

Calving off to a racing start – Graham Smith

As I write this on the 30/7/19 I have just over half the herd in. The girls certainly have been keen to go as I had 25% of the herd in by due start date! This has convinced me to push back my start date to the 25th July. This is particularly relevant when it is considered I am milking OAD this season and therefore the girls should be more fertile, and calving will be more compressed next season. OAD has so far been smooth and it has been noticeable that the girls are keen to be milked, especially the heifers.

There has been a good run of heifer calves, so that enables me to keep higher BW types and to make a bit of extra income from sales of the surplus. This year’s sires were all crossbred and so the black calves have been easy to sell. But due to OAD, and the desire to chase higher BWs, all but one of my selected sires for this spring will be Jersey. This will give me a higher proportion of brown calves and there may be a bit of buyer resistance to their colour, even if their BWs will be higher. Time will tell.

During the winter, my vet (VetEnt) had a social function and Emma Cuttance presented on her studies into calf dehorning. She showed how calves react to the dehorning and made recommendations on how they should be treated afterwards. I followed up on this and got my dehorner to apply Tri-Solfen to the horns after the procedure. This worked very well, and the calves have showed no aftereffects with this new treatment.

Feed supplies have held up well, with plenty of cover ahead and quite a bit of supplement ready to go if needed.

Due to the amount of time I had off over autumn, the winter has been very active work-wise. I have done quite a bit of fencing repairs and some new fences as well. The back of the farm has always been a bit of a conundrum as to how to subdivide the hills. I’ve bit the bullet, and made a decision on where the permanent fences will go, and have made a start. Some parts have been partitioned with portable fences for the last 30 years and I thought I had it sussed until I did my tree harvest. I then realised my crossings, tracks and races were in the wrong place or not wide enough. This has been rectified and now I am proceeding with confidence. I have been making all the new races 5 metres wide instead of 4 metres. Four metres was okay when I had my old small tractors, but with a new, larger tractor and the need to cater for logging trucks and forwarders, width has become important. If I get this right the next harvest should be a lot more straightforward with better infrastructure.

Further to the fencing, I only had a temporary fence around some of last year’s paulownia plantings. Well, I paid the price for my slackness and during break feeding the cows broke into the block and ring barked all 37 trees. Once the bark is damaged the tree can continue to grow but the timber will rot from the inside out. So, the only thing to do is cut them all down. Fortunately, they have the ability to grow from the stump again. Growth will be a year behind, but the established root system will enable them to make compensatory growth and the end result will not be so bad. Still, all my plantings this year are fully fenced, as I don’t wish to see that again.

Getting ready for the calving rush – Noldy Rust

I was aiming to write this blog on the shortest day, but that was on the 22nd of June, and it came and went before I knew it. We are now two weeks past that already! Wow, two weeks past the shortest day, which means only 84 days to go until daylight saving kicks in. 84 days! Doesn’t seem like very long does it, but it will be 84 days of busy, busy and more busyness for most dairy farmers as calving looms or indeed is already underway for some. As I write this, I see Sam with his coat on following half a dozen cows to the dairy for milking. Yep, it seems to have started here. But more on that later.

I can’t speak for everyone, but the long, dry summer/autumn and sustained poor growth right through until early May had us worried about feed cover going into winter. Well, so much for that. Why worry, it doesn’t change anything, and often what we fear doesn’t happen anyway. We often get good growth after a long dry spell, with nitrogen build-up in the soil etc etc, but this year, at our place at least, it has been extreme. We have had good May growth in other years, but the growth right through May and June this year was phenomenal. A kind winter to date has certainly set most of us up for calving, with stock in good condition and plenty of cover on hand. And what about the ease of farming? Cows haven’t been stood off many times at all so far, which is such a contrast to last year. However, things can, and will, change, most of us think that winter is still coming, but no point in worrying about it is there??

Out on the farm, it’s been pretty much business as usual, with the normal winter maintenance jobs being carried out, plus a few extra little projects. The favourable June meant some of the planned digger work that was due was able to be carried out with ease and little mess. Our cows used to have to cross the tanker loop to graze two paddocks and new regulations meant that this was no longer acceptable, meaning a new track had to be formed to enable the cows to bypass the tanker circle. Fair enough, rules are rules, we better get that done…. But we all know, diggers are such an asset on a farm, I’m sure we’re all the same when we get one onsite for a day’s work….four days later, and a heap of jobs done that weren’t planned. I mean, I should have stayed away and turned my phone off, instead of taking a call every few hours from Sam saying things like “While he’s here, can we just ….”

And all the carnage the digger creates just leads to more things to do! I mean, I thought our little storage shed was fine…..ok it was a bit old and the door didn’t shut, and it had been hit by trucks and knocked off it’s foundations and was full of rats, but the roof didn’t leak cos the moss on it was so dense, and it owed me nothing! However, it was deemed to be an eyesore by everyone that was asked, so the digger driver didn’t have to be asked twice to become a demolition expert and crushed our little icon in no time. Ok, now what? We needed a new one of course! Mind you that was the fun part. Sam and I spent some time at the fieldays looking at options and finally agreed on a replacement which will be sited in a better position, away from trucks and rats and moss and things!

Speaking of fieldays, I don’t know about all of you guys, but I think it’s such a neat event, wouldn’t miss it for the world! Such a great avenue to check out new things, have breakfast with the bank, catch up with people, get new info, catch up with more people, have lunch with another bank, and come back the next day for food from another bank, and a pie from Ballance, not to mention a muffin from FMG…the list goes on. I had to go there for three days this year as I didn’t want to miss the breakfast at Swap’s, plus I still had to go the Good George tent to watch the tractor pull, although this wasn’t straight after breakfast I might add!

Back on the farm, we’re looking at putting rubber on our feedpad for cow comfort. We checked this out at the fieldays as well! We still put the old carpet in the yard which really helps, but rubber on the feedpad will be an extra level of care for animal welfare. Anyone I’ve talked to that has rubber on their concrete has said that they have no regrets. However, we scrape our pad, so now are also looking at floodwash options using green water. Got our info from Agfirst about this at the fieldays as well (in between banks!).

So now, day by day, it’s pretty much the calm before the storm, organising all the things needed for calving. Wood chip is in, calf feeders are cleaned, we’re putting water troughs in all our calf pens and buying whole grain calf meal (info sourced from SMASH fielday at Top Notch calves). Metabolic supplies are on hand, which we hope not to use as mag has been fed all winter, calving gear is sorted and the big bonus this year is….our lube pump! Can’t wait to help a cow to calve this year! The bonus of having an ‘interested vet with a big dog move to Wellington and take your daughter with him’ (see previous blogs) is that he left some of his stuff here for us to utilise. The broken-down motorcycle, the disused hut, the decrepit camping gear, well they’re not much chop. However, the LUBE PUMP, that’s another story! Both Sam and I are pretty excited about that! Those calves will pop out like a cork from a champagne bottle!

I wish you all well in the days ahead as we get into a new milking season. Enjoy the miracle of new birth and may the last calf that is born be as precious to you as the first one. It’s a bit like your kids…. The first one is really exciting but you sort of get used to it the more you have! This leads perfectly into my closing comment. Our youngest daughter happens to be a teacher who is now happier as they got a pay rise. But that’s another story. The Principal at her school is leaving this term after many years. He gave them all a parting gift which was lovely. They all got a bag with the school logo on! Her one was personalised….(see photo)

Nga mihi tin koto. Toru Wha.