I am up the flu with the flu and life has got in the way of me trying to keep this insane blog of mine from vanishing into the wilderness of blogland forever. Have I visited my friends blogs yet?? NO. Lousy flu and everything else including very early nights have kept me off my favourite past time. I like blogging maybe in 20 years my kids will say Mum you are nuts..if they haven't already that is.
Winter has come with a global warming vengeance. Normally when things are *normal* we get the frosts around late June to early July not this year sunshine. Mr Jack Frost has decided to show up almost every morning with his carpet of hard ice and say goodbye to my pasture growth..again. Feeding out, trudging through mud, not falling into the stream (although I zapped my backside on the electric fence) and getting eaten alive by the Terrorist who is now nearly eleven months old. Hard to believe this blog was started off because of a little calf that decided she needed a new mummy - me. When you're sick and on a farm things don't get done by themselves - the sicko does it now matter how lousy they feel. I've seen some good farmer friends of mine be full of the flu and still get out in the cold and the wet to get the job done. But that's what life on the land is all about. Chucking it all in is not an option. The Fonterra payout for next season is predicted to be $4.55 per kg of milk solid. Talking to my close friend Gillian the other day she tells me it takes 10 litres of milk per cow to produce 1 kg of mild solid. How times have changed in dairy farming since the first settlers arrived here in New Zealand. A big herd used to be 50 cows now the average is 240 and even that is considered small. Terry my neighbour next door has a state of the art rotary shed at around $3 million NZ that's a lot of investment to make. In the afternoon during the milking season you can see three seperate herds coming in from different directions. Each herd is 250 cows making a total of 750 and that's not huge. Some farms in New Zealand are milking over 1200. Budgets are being sliced for next season. Some farmers have had to lay off staff to survive, but I think just how lucky we really are here. I live in a community of people who care about their neighbours even if the neighbour might be miles down the road they'll lend a hand when the need arises. That's why I love it here.
Not much really has been happening here at the farm. My garden got murdered by Jack Frost although I had the sense at least to cover over the beans and peas we were trying to grow. Jack Frost is very unfair picking on our garden. He should pick on someone else isntead of the Mad Bush Farm crew and their mad crazy farm. Sasha is outside my window eating her hard feed then no doubt will go off to enjoy a wonderful night of grass munching on the couple of acres I've kept aside for her this year. I hate winter. Flood season is soon nigh, but I'm hoping this time I won't be looking at the boiling torrents we had most of last year. Sunshine hours are up at least. The shortest day has passed and now slowly, but surely the days will begin to get longer.
A couple of very short stories as told to me by my Grandfather and by my dad
Story 1 Pig Soup
During the 1930's when my grandfather was a young dairy farmer he decided he would go and pay his neighbour down the road a visit and see about buying a pig from him for slaughter. While he was there talking to his neighbour a lady came to visit bring along an old farm dog well past his best but loved by his owners. The old dog went wandering off as all dogs do and they all got down to socialising and having a friendly chat about how hard things were but how the animals were all doing well and the pasture growth was good. The cows were all calved and back in the shed, so my grandad had a few shillings to spare to buy a good sized porker. The visiting lady after an hour or so decided it was time to head back to her farmhouse kitchen and ready lunch for her husband and son who were due to come back from mustering their sheep. Just one problem the old dog she had brought with her was nowhere to be seen. Three searched high and low across the hills and down in the steep ravines, but alas no old trusty huntaway dog was to be had. Saddened she hadn't found her dear old dog, the lady headed off back to her farmhouse. The piggery though hadn't yet been checked. While the owner of the farm checked the pig sheds and the farrowing pens my grandfather decided to go and check inside the boiling shed just incase the old dog had got himself locked in. The door though had been left wide open which was unusual. A set of steps led up to the top of the huge boiler where old cows, horses and waste milk was put in along with vegetable scraps and leftovers from the local bakery in the town nearby. Not a problem to anyone then but floating on the top was a dogs collar. My grandfather told me he beleived the old dog had let his appetite get the better of him and had unfortunately fallen in. the pigs still got their dinner and to this day the lady that owned the dog never found out her dear old canine friend's sad fate. My grandfather delayed buying a pig until a week later. Wonder why.
Story 2: Flogging a dead horse
When my Dad was fifteen years old and living in Te Aroha with his parents who were dairy farming at the time he was given a job by a local dairy farmer to take a harse and cart down the long dairy race on the farm and feed hay to the cattle. It paid a couple of bob a week and for a young man of just fifteen that was a lot of money to have. My Dad used to save it then buy something for his sisters or for his little brother. Sometimes when he could he would buy his mother something nice for her to enjoy. Coming from a big family of eight children my dad was the eldest and felt like he had a big responsibility. So day in day out my father would go and get the old horse out of the paddock, harness him up, load up the hay bales and head on down the race to feed out to the cows. Along the the race were many many gates, but the old horse knew the routine and would wait for the gate to be opened then on through he would walk then wait once more for my dad to close the gate and climb back on the haycart. On this particular day the old horse seemed not quite himself. He seemed a little weary standing there in the paddock, but as always the old horse came when called, had his carrot then went to the shed to get brushed and harnessed up and do the daily routine he had done for year after year. He seemed even slower by the time my dad reached the first gate on the race. He got down and opened the gate the old horse plodding through stopping again and waiting for my dad to climb back on, and off they went once more. Nearing the second gate the old horse just seemed to be even slower, my Dad started to get a little worried that perhaps the poor old horse was just having a bit of bad day. Perhaps he had a touch of colic, or a cold coming on it was coming up to winter afterall. Heading now to the third gate. The old horse stopped as normal my dad got down opened the gate but when he turned around the old horse was no longer standing up. Horrified my dad kicked the old horse to try and get him to stand up, nothing happened so he gave it a harder kick, nothing happened. Horror in his thoughts he had killed the old horse - he was sure of it. Closing the gate and in panic my father ran hell for leather all the way back up the long race to finally reach the farmer's house. Completely out of breath he said to the farmer "I think I've killed your horse!" The farmer started to smile then began to laugh out loud. "Oh that old horse I've been expecting to die for the last five years. He was 35 young man. We'll just use the tractor from now on shall we?" My dad had a smile on his face when he told me this story.
More to come and photos as well I'll add to this post a little later (as in a couple of hours time)