June Newsletter

Well June came and went in the blink of an eye. This month we have seen a new calf, a brand new breed to the farm, some foul weather and lots of weeds. James has been working away most of this month so I have been checking the stock and looking after the land myself along with my trusty companion Deva.

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Deva on our morning check of the stock

Cattle News

June saw another highland calf! Little Raithe (Gaelic for Ram after my best friend) of Scorrybreck was born around the 4th June to Chenoa of Blue Rock and Hamish of Arrandoon. I was out walking Deva and checking the stock when I found her in the wrong paddock. The highlands like to hide their calves, usually amongst the long grass that grows along the fence lines, which is why we sometimes find them on the wrong side. The poor thing was tiny and starved and for a while I was worried her mother had rejected her. I watched for an hour or more and all the highlands had a sniff then wandered off. Eventually Chenoa started sniffing and following Raithe around and licking her, which was a relief. However her udder was not very large and we were worried she was not producing enough milk or had started to dry up when the calf got itself stuck in the adjacent paddock. A visit from the vet determined that the calf was undernourished and may well have been born a week prematurely. James and I proceeded to bottle feed the calf each morning for a week. As the calf grew stronger it suckled less and less from the bottle and more from its mother. She continues to feed from her mum and run about the paddock with the others.

Chenoa and Raithe

Chenoa and Raithe

James feeding Raithe

James feeding Raithe

We have also acquired some new stock. Our good friends in the neighborhood decided to sell their Murray Greys. They had some beautiful heifers and I couldn’t resist picking up four of them for the farm. We have acquired two pure-bred white heifers and two brown ones which may have some angus in (thought we are not sure). Currently they are settling into the farm on the fifth paddock (we have 7 in total). It will be great to see how a Murray-Highland cross will perform.

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Our new Murray Grey Stock

Weather

I mentioned the weather before. It has definitely taken a turn for the winter chills now and we have had some wild windy weather in the last week. Rainfall for June was slightly above average with 54.6mm as opposed to the mean which is 48.9 mm. Temperatures have also been marginally higher than average with lows around 5-6° and highs hovering close to 14 and 15°. This should result in slightly better than average pasture growth conditions.

Farm Maintenance

With the rain we have had many weeds that are starting to flourish. Amongst these is the never-ending resurgence of African Boxthorn. Boxthorn is a particularly stubborn, easily spread and thorny bush. It grows bright red berries from March to May, which attracts the birds who help spread the seeds. It can potentially be very harmful on the farm. The long spines can cause tyre punctures and abscesses in cattle.

Example of boxthorn spines

This is why I wear gloves

James and I and even my parents when they visited in 2012 sprayed all of the boxthorn on the farm. Most of it died but with there being so much in the surrounding area we still find it popping up each year and it requires continual attention. Unlike other weeds that wilt and decay, the boxthorn bushes and their sharp spines remain. Below are before and after shots of some removal of dead bushes. It doesn’t look like a lot has gone but it was a good hour’s work! Many more still to go..

Before

Before

After

After

A morning's work

A morning’s work

Mum & Dad helping us tackle the boxthorn in 2012

Mum & Dad helping us tackle the boxthorn in 2012

On a more pleasant note James and I planted a few more trees on the farm; two Rowans and another apple tree. We have plans to create a shade belt up the Eastern side of the farm and have begun planting an orchard in a corner of the second paddock.

James planting a Rowan in the NE corner of the farm

James planting a Rowan in the NE corner of the farm

Look Ahead

Next month we will be drenching and vaccinating the cattle and putting Hamish in to breed with the new heifers and empty cows. On the maintenance list is weed spraying, boxthorn removal and a few gate replacements.

– Rachael

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