Sunday, 27 September 2015

Good Things Come With Time

It's an absolutely gorgeous day today; the sun is shining, there's a very slight breeze. Birds are tweeting, the chickens are honking and hollering out in the backyard, and Pippa and I are home alone, basking in the sun. It's stunning. I really love this sort of weather at this time of year, it's just so perfect, not too hot, and not too cold, so I'm slowly starting to break out the summer clothing - "I'm lovin' it!"

Seriously though, it's great to have nice weather after weeks of seemingly constant rain. So having now two hot, sunny days in a row - bliss :)

Everything is plodding along as it should be, everything is looking exceptionally brighter this past week as we head from the busy season and into the silly season. Do you know shops like, The Warehouse, are already selling Christmas related items? It's crazy, they get earlier every year but in saying that, it's a good time of year coming up, so I'm not complaining too much over here!

But yeah, life is great these days, it's nice being able to see a light at the end of the tunnel. We've been told that we finish up the calves tomorrow (YAY!) so I'm trying not to sound too excited, (woohooo!!!) because it has been nice having a constant form of income these past around about 12 weeks (hehe). It will be sad, being the last day. You always feel a little bit sentimental driving down the road for the last time this season - until next year.  Sure, it's a hard slog. Yes, I've ended up with a nasty form of RSI in my wrist from all the bucketing and lifting of milk (although these last four days I haven't been there as I've been working elsewhere, thank goodness it's healing up). But at the same time it's generally quite enjoyable, teasing the worker, having private jokes with Mum about things, raising some adorable calves and in the biggest aspect - doing what I love doing overall. So it has been great.
However it is funny doing it, because once we stop, we don't see the calves again until they start milking two years later. It is seriously weird not keeping up with them, not getting them through the final weaning stages, not helping with all of the lepto vaccinations, drenching, B12 injections. Not seeing them as yearlings, and then as heifers, dancing into a new paddock. I guess I do miss that, and then having our calves from three years ago now, in the yard during milking staring at us as if they know us, but can't quite remember where from. Nonetheless, it's a good job, but I'm glad it's nearly over!! hehe

Mum and I are going to celebrate being finished, by going out to lunch tomorrow. We've sorta had it in the plans, so it's exciting we get to finally do it. Over to our local chocolate shop cafe, with their delicious Panini and home-made chips. And real chocolate drinks :) Can't wait!

They say that good things take time, and yeah in general, sure. But lately, it seems that good things have just suddenly happened. Mum and I always run by, "everything happens for a reason". So when all this good stuff just pops up, you know that things are going well and you must be doing things right in your life, otherwise why would you deserve it, sort of thing?
For instance, almost all of the farmers in the past few months have shut their chequebooks, we haven't had a look in for most of the work we do at this time of year. But, that was no problem because fencing jobs just won't stop coming. It seems that we're working on the final touches in our last job in line, and the phone will ring that day, usually a couple times. More people wanting us for this or that. You stop and think, heck, we had no working going forward and now we're fully booked for the next few weeks again. It happens over and over again, just a continuous circle of work rolling in. Which makes me think, gosh, this is just continuously proving itself to be the right place to be at the moment, it's great.

But in more exciting news, we're getting some more land. This is what has suddenly popped up, and it's really awesome. Basically, the dairy farm right next door is going to be sold to the guy who is leasing it. The family who own it now, knew we were hoping for the next little section whenever it was on offer, so they called last week.
It's only a tiny section of the paddock next door, where we've already got a small portion of the last "parcel". This one has it's own title, but it's too small to legally have any buildings on it because of the boundaries being so close, so it's not worth much at all.
The family of siblings (the parents both passed away about four years ago from cancer), have decided to offer it to us for a very cheap price, like, exceptionally cheap, so long as we pay for everything that goes with the change of ownership and whatnot. We thought it would be at least 50 thousand dollars - land is not cheap, especially with a title. But, because of it's size, it is going to be much less than half of that. So over the next few months Mum and Dad will be getting that all sorted out, it's awesome to think our place is slowly getting bigger.

The great part with this section is that it has another access-way, so we'll be able to put all the big equipment over there, and away from the house, which will be nice!! I did say since we'll get a little bit more area, could we have a sheep or two....Mum said maybe a goat? I kind of like that idea, at least then it wouldn't be eaten, and it'll be a lawnmower - apart from potential harm coming upon our many fruit trees. But...

So even after having an hour less sleep today, I'm feeling relatively bouncy - it must be the good weather! So a busy week is coming up, going out tomorrow with Mum. I've got all of Tuesday OFF, yippee!! Saturday night I'm going to an old friends' 21st party and Sunday I'm going to a stock judging skills day. Oh and I've got to plan a trip to Gizzy, as Dad has agreed to me going down....exciting times are ahead!!

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Herd Testing

Every cow shed I milk in is different. Everything from the general size, the cows, how it's set up in general, the rubberware and claw-bases, the pit depth and the people. Some farms have what you call, "'zig-zag' bum rails", where the cows can, I guess you could say, slot into position at the correct angle. Other sheds have straight rails, and in this case depending on the size of the cows, they don't always line up correctly and often too many will squeeze in - especially if the cows are small and you need to do a few double ups.

Most of the "milk parlours" I'm working in lately are either 30 to 40 aside herringbones, one is high-tech, where you simply press a button to turn everything on and it has those awesome automatic cup removers that I've previously mentioned before. These three common sheds for me have the most ideal pit depth for milking as they're big cows, except it's difficult for me to reach up and push the cows along.
However yesterday and this morning I had the pleasure of working on a farm where I just help out with herd testing, it's small, a 20 aside with little jerseys and the pit is excessively shallow. I'm between 5 foot 2 and 5 foot 3, and here, I can quite happily reach up and touch the cows backs to push them forward while trying to physically milk the girls requires a bit of effort! I find I need to somewhat crouch down, and later on my shoulders and neck hurt like heck. So I don't know how the main guy does it every day, he's well over 6 foot!

Anyway, I arrived a few minutes early so I took a couple of pictures. It was my first herd test of the season - fingers crossed this year not many people bother with them - they're quite a pain to put up with!! You get filthy because the cows get a little bit stressed, and hosing down too often is pointless as the cows then just add to the mess! You sorta walk out of there absolutely filthy...

Herd testing in this shed is quite higgelty piggelty, there are three of us in there, and as you can see it's quite small. Once the cups are on one side, there's only enough room for one person to walk past. You keep having to dodge each other, which can get quite tedious when there are so many people. But, it wasn't too bad.
They get in a herd test assistant, who changes all the samples and sets and removes all the gear before and after the test finished. She knows how to run everything, and this time we got to use the EZ-link system, where you simply put in each cow number through the row, and scan the barcode afterwards - rather than having to write numbers individually on the flasks.

Usually though, in a herd test it's quite straight forward. Once the cows are finished someone will remove the flasks and then others such as myself, swap the cups over to the opposite side. No worries at all. Although at this place, the guy does all the scanning and numbers, I walk along hanging up cups when they're finished, and then the assistant changes the flasks. Once I've hung up enough sets to keep her busy, I have to go back to the beginning and start cupping the other side. It's ridiculous trying to work around so many people in such a small area. Trying to keep moving to stop any cows from over milking, going back and forth to fix slipping cups. Back and forth, back and forth. And the disappointing thing is that my pedometer didn't register many steps - probably because I was only doing slight steps, that it didn't notice I was moving. Sad....

The interesting thing was that I didn't actually find getting up at 4:30 all that difficult. Funny how that works, when it's the first morning starting at an earlier time my body clock is pretty on to it. I wake up every few hours, check the time and when 4:29am comes along I'm wide awake, watching the time click over...

Finally, here's a little something for Xj and Andrew - isn't this great?! Credit to NZ Farming on Facebook :P

Friday, 18 September 2015


I think I always seem to write about the positive, good things in life. I like to put myself out there as a nice, happy go lucky, positive person as much as I possibly can, just to add a bit of zing to those gray areas in life. But today I'm going against the grain - so take it with a grain of salt if you will, sorry, just have to explain it in a way to somewhat get it out of my system I guess. And you can just stop reading now if you feel the need, no worries here.

Life isn't that fantabulous place I'm always talking about, there aren't any pots of gold at the end of our rainbows these days. Everything is just - numb I suppose. These days are frustrating, you know. Some days I'm perfectly normal, just plaster on that fake smile if necessary but otherwise I can just go about my daily routine like I normally would. Then other days, like now, I just crash out. Like I've hit a brick wall at one hundred miles an hour - tomorrow I'll be back to normal again, and it gets tiring!

I think I've put it down to perhaps having a touch of cabin fever these days. It's normal for this time of year, for many people. I'll give you that. But I don't think I've ever been so over it as now. It's not as if I don't get out and see people, I do, every single day. However it's a normal routine now, working at my four different farms over the week. Every weekday morning feeding calves. Every weekend relief milking at another farm. Every Wednesday relief milking at a farm, and every Mon, Tue, Thurs, Fri relief milking at another farm again.
I see a lot of people, I talk, I have conversations and we compare notes with how the time of year is going. But it may as well be the same as me going to the exact same job every day, it's not exciting anymore, it's boring, I'm tired after doing this for 10 weeks straight with only two mornings off work and life in general just seems lousy.

Mum and I were talking the other day, that we haven't taken any time to just go out like we normally would every few weeks. Just jump in the car, one of us drive, take the hour trip north to walk around town, see a movie, go to our favourite cafe for lunch. But I haven't been up there for a few months now I think, although Mum and Dad are up there tonight watching a movie for a change.
So, the other day we decided we'd go to one of our other getaways, wonder around the Warehouse and find my sister a birthday present. That was fine, I drove us down there. But as soon as we arrived half an hour later, all I wanted to do was turn around and go back home. Instead, Mum dragged me around the shop and I bought a nice dress for summer - I timed it right for a change, and it was actually really cheap because it still isn't the right weather for that sort of clothing apparel.
We came back home, then off I went to milk again. That was all well and good, but I had to think - when am I ever going to wear it? I'm booked for work almost every day for the rest of the year, and my purple apron is the closet thing you can get to a dress in a cowshed!!!

I dunno. I want an opportunity to go see Sam and Chantelle, but at the same time I could hardly be bothered. Then I also want to quit the young farmers, after the last performance at the last meeting we had. But now I want to go next week just for something different to do, and all I can hope is that I can convince Aidan (a bit of a friend) to go for a change, then at least somebody might be happy to see me there...although, that is a potentially risky move that I'm not sure if I'm prepared to take again - it might get taken the wrong way... :/

Back to milking I go!

Monday, 14 September 2015


About this time every year we get a swarm. Originally we thought it was honey bees, but after discussing it with some people we'd decided it is more likely to be wasps, in our Willow trees. We've got one massive one on the edge of the road beside our driveway - AKA, right beside the house, since we're that close to the road and there's another one out in the back yard. There are a couple other smaller willow's, but these two seem to be the most affected by the wasps.
There are literally hundreds of them, creating this excessive buzzing noise right outside, and if you were to stand a few metres back from the tree and look into it you can see them all flying around inside the branches. It's not particularly nice, especially as Dad is severely allergic to them...

It's only been happening these last few years, but from memory I think a friend said it was essentially because of an aphid? Possibly an Australian one, of sorts, that are attacking willow trees by eating the leaves, leaving behind uh, remains, which the wasps then come and eat? I think. Don't quote me on that one! Anyway, the wasps are here and yet again they're here to stay until the poor willow tree loses its leaves again come late autumn. Lucky I'm not the tree climbing sort, huh? Otherwise I'd be seriously deprived of two good climbing trees! It certainly makes it uncomfortable being outside, you can never be too sure around wasps...

The sun was here two days ago, and we're stoked to see it again today after all the rain we've been having. It's amazing though, how one day of warm sun after a period of cold weather can make the grass bolt. You just see these shards of grass leaves, picking up their roots and running high speed for who knows where, but it's quite interesting ;) lol Nah, it is a good thing to see, especially as we've had a heck of a lot more rain this spring so far. One farmer reckoned last year they only got just over 100mm in September, but they've had well over that already and we're only half way through - it's no wonder their farm is so muddy. It's nice to see a growth spurt happening in some areas.

Steptember is still coming along OK, just a pity we can't manage to get any more sponsorship, but hey, you can only do so much, right? My personal best so far the other day was over 14 thousand steps - not bad for me really, but I'd done a fair bit of work and then I came home and walked two kilometres on the treadmill - gaining me a good three thousand steps in just over 25 minutes. Great how that works, but yesterday was a shocker and today will be similar as I'm just so tired! It's bad when you can barely keep your eyes open during milking lol.
35 hours of work this week, the most "work" for me in quite a long while as I haven't managed to get my hands on all that much until now. Which, perhaps in the scheme of things doesn't seem like much - but it's not bad when it's basically just relief work, huh?! Nick did 40 hours though, so I'm pretty much on par with him this week, for a change...

Will be glad to get a few full days off sometime soon though, although it proves to not work in too well with my can't get it both ways unfortunately!!

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Colouring In

Steptember is coming along nicely, the weather has turned nutty and life in general is pretty darn busy, but hey, things are well!

Steptember wise - I seem to manage my 10 thousand steps each day, I think there was one day where I didn't get it? But typically with feeding the calves, and/or milking every day, it's a pretty easy target to meet. Especially if I add in running up our flight of stairs in the house a good few times, or jumping on the treadmill which is really convenient - I gained an extra 2 thousand steps for 15 minutes walking.
It's also helpful that my third study course arrived in the mail yesterday - a week late, but it means walking and studying for a standard on pasture is pretty simple! The next stage of Steptember is beating Andrew at his 18 thousand that he did yesterday, I mean, come on! haha :D

We're half way through our eighth week feeding calves, and hopefully the end is in sight. There are still about 40 cows left to calve, some of them I'd bet aren't even pregnant or they're weeks away. Typically we're getting two or three newbies in each day, but I'd hazard a guess that we don't get any for tomorrow. And you do have to feel sorry for those cows who have dead calves, we drove past them this morning and the mother was looking at us, then at the calf, then back again, as if she's asking us to do something - I hate it when they do that. It puts you on a major guilt trip that for once you can't do anything for her.
Although I enjoy feeding them, I'll be glad to see the end of the job for this season. It's good being able to work with Mum every morning, both of us know what the other is doing, both of us reading each others' mind - "That makes 90 so two more tens" we both said in unison this morning, then, "get out of my head!" we both say again. It's great, that. However it's only so often that I enjoy getting myself showered in old, sour milk, because when one has a jug of milk, then drops it straight back into the drum by mistake - it does get a bit messy. But Mum's always saying - "it's good for the skin!" Ha ha ha.

Also these days I'm milking quite a lot - it's funny how the rush starts at the end of August/beginning of September time, calving is mostly finished, sharemilkers are beginning to want a little time off here and there because the work is getting slightly easier. You also have workers being made redundant, or staff getting sick or injured, it's getting pretty busy in that sector, but it's good to be able to do it.
It's also nice to be able to help people out, and even amongst all the stress of being over worked and under paid, the weather turning nasty from the first day of spring and life in general being a stressful place, everyone is stoked to see us. I think it's good for them to see different people for a change, tell us their calving stories and general issues - knowing that we won't pass it on but it's someone new to talk to. Which is good, as it keeps people level headed, the most important thing!
That does however mean that we are working, working and working. But for us, it's good. We're on the right side of the farming sector lately, and the more continuous flow of work we get, the better. We've never been busier!

The weekend was awesome as I milked at one of my favourite sheds, got delivered a nice hot drink by the farmer during milking - hot drinks in the morning during milking is typically the norm at this farm. It's awesome!
This time was a little different, he didn't take milk from the vat, or a jug in the fridge or however they normally do it - he handed me the mug and told me to choose a cow. hehe, it was a crack up, holding a hot mug under an udder, and hand milking the cow until there was enough milk in it. I've never done anything like it before, always joked that I wanted to, but never did. And I had a bit of a flash back to being a kid - about 3 or 4, one Christmas morning Dad had a bowl of cornflakes or Rice bubbles, can't remember, for Nick and I. Got the milk straight from the cow and sent us off to have our breakfast somewhere. As I think I mentioned to Andrew the other day, it was back in the good old days where little kids may as well have crawled amongst the cows without OSH calling a red card! Hot milk on cereal isn't great though, but for the hot drink it went all white and frothy!!

Currently, life is pleasant, a little on the wet side, but that's spring for you in Northland! This is the time of year we catch as much water as we can to prepare for the summer drought. Paddocks are jolly muddy, but that's OK as we don't often have to deal with them too much. Also I mentioned in my last post that I was wanting something to occupy my spare (ha!) time with. Usually I'd find myself a good book, get out my cross stitching or if I was exceedingly bored - have a play around on the keyboard (musical one, that is). But my mind is too far away to try reading lately, my hands are surprisingly coping quite well this winter and so far aren't coated in the usual eczema and split joints so I'm not risking the cross stitching cotton - sadly my hands will turn into a withered mess after handling it :(
SO, I discovered the new adult colouring in books! Sounds odd, right? My brother jumped to the conclusion that it would contain R18 images - really?! -_-  But it's just highly detailed pictures, that are quite nice to just DO. Sitting there, colouring, colouring, colouring. I loved it as a kid, so it's nice to do a bit here and there and just take some time. :)

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Steptember NZ 2015

I'm not sure if any of you have heard of it - but Steptember is currently the new monthly fundraising campaign that is going on - similar to Junk Free June, Dry July or Fab Feb. I'm sure there is one for every month, but I'm not sure of them all.
Anyway, I think this is the first year of Steptember in New Zealand, it's a world wide campaign raising money for people, mainly kids, with Cerebral Palsy. The aim? For the people involved to walk 10 thousand steps each day for 28 days and getting people to sponsor you.

So, Mum and I have decided to take part, and Andrew H has joined us in our team - I think this is going to get quite competitive! We were meant to start yesterday, but the pedometers didn't arrive in the mail until this morning. So today, our first day won't get a very good start, but I reckon it'll be easy enough to reach those 10 thousand steps....I've already clocked about 300 since I walked in the door and organised breakfast - it's quite interesting really. The unfortunate thing is that the pedometers only reach 9,999 steps - so if we were to exceed that, I'm not sure whether it will re-zero itself, or what...

With me doing a heap of milkings and the calves this month, I'm sure it's going to be super easy to achieve. Mum has suggested she might attach her pedometer to the cat....hehehe, I could see that happening too! Just as well I've got plenty of work to keep me busy and stepping :P We've been sponsored $15 so far (thanks Miriam and Nana!), and I think a good aim would be $100.

Frodo has delighted Mum and Dad these last couple of days - bringing them gifts early in the morning. This morning it was a dead bird, attached to a small branch, in their room at 5:15am. She woke them with her "battle cry" as Mum calls it, as she always does it when she has been hunting. At least it wasn't on their bed?! hehe, then Pippa promptly brought it back inside a little while later, feeling very proud of herself!
Yesterday morning there was a disemboweled baby mouse at the bottom of the stairs, again, Pippa got super excited to see it, thanks Frodo.
And a couple nights ago she brought in a LIVE mouse, through the catflap. Thankfully I'd gone to bed, but I suddenly heard a some yelling, laughing, mighta been a few bad words mentioned....Apparently Frodo was really pleased with herself, had it in the kitchen, sung her battle cry alerting Mum and Dad to it, then let the mouse go. Ooops, says she. It nearly got inside the base of the fridge, but Dad caught it by the tail, and threw it out the door. Phew.

Finally I finished my last assignment for my second course, a couple days late but not entirely my fault - I was waiting to speak to a tutor and they took a few days to get back to me...This level 5, 8 credit assignment wasn't too bad, but there was one section where I don't think they'll appreciate too much as after doing my own research I couldn't find the answer. And I was then waiting on PGG Wrightson to give me some prices...It was funny, I emailed through to enquiries, told them I was doing an assignment and needed some theoretical prices for a tonne of Barley, and the delivery fees. She got them to me yesterday, but obviously didn't read my first email correctly. Said that payment would need to be made in full, since I didn't have an account, before the load would be dispatched to my current address. Hehehe I'm like, oh shoot, PLEASE don't send us any Barley! Mum and Dad thought it was a huge joke.
But it's nice to be finished my second of four courses, finally. Until they send them back anyway, hopefully passed. Now I've got a few days to wait for the next lot to arrive - perhaps should take a chance to actually read a book? Which one though, is the question...still haven't read any of the Charles Dickens that we bought months ago.