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Cows escape! Mixed in with the neighbour's herd...
January 15, 2009

Definitely NOT the sort of thing you want to see on a hot summer's day - our cows mingled in with the neighbour's herd! Bad luck had it that the two herds were in bordering paddocks and the temptation was just too much for the bulls to handle!

Christmas sleep in - NOT!
December 25, 2008

Ahhh, Christmas Day - that day where everyone's jolly and no-one works. Not the case on the farm I'm afraid - it was a 4:45am start for us!

Making "dulce de leche"
November 23, 2008

Living on a dairy farm there's one thing we have plenty of: milk! What can you do with plenty of milk? Well here's one thing: make dulce de leche - argentinian "sweet milk" spread.

Milk payout drops 10%
November 21, 2008

Well, the rumours were correct - Fonterra announced a substantial drop in forecasted milk payout for the 2008-2009 season. A 10% drop in income probably converts into a 20% to 50% drop in profits for the typical farmer so this reduced payout forecast is going to hit the industry hard.

Will the Fonterra payout drop further?
November 19, 2008

Fonterra have scheduled a TV broadcast to announce an updated payout forecast on friday. Given the current economic climate and recent SanLu scandal we can only assume that the payout forecast is headed further south.

Grass cut for silage
November 8, 2008

Finally we have some nice fine weather after three weeks of almost constant drizzle, wind and greyness. This time it looks like the sun will stick around for a few days. That's great because we've had several paddocks of grass shut up ready to make silage.

Waking up with sore fingers
October 16, 2008

I've been waking up in the mornings with sore fingers. I've put it down to the type of farm work I've been doing - milking the cows requires flicking milking cups up and squeezing rubber tubes.

It's spring fertiliser time
October 11, 2008

Spring growth drains a lot of minerals from the soil and with summer not too far away our grass production will drop back if we don't replenish some of those minerals. It's time to spread spring fertiliser over much of the farm.

Fonterra reduce 2008/2009 payout forcast (ouch!)
September 24, 2008

Fonterra had a media release today where they announced the value of the payout the 2007/2008 season and a revised forcast for the 2008/2009 season. Unfortunately the 08/09 forecast is lower than their opening forecast made in May :(

No more frothy milk (fingers crossed!)
September 10, 2008

We've been having some problems with frothy milk spilling over into the overflow can. Yesterday I went over the plant and replaced about 30 of the cluster buttons and guess what? There's hardly any milk spilling over now.

SCC down to 100. Yay!
September 10, 2008

We've had a bit of mastitis over the last couple of weeks but have been good at spotting and treating the affected cows. Now our sematic cell count is down to a very low 100 which is great.

Faulty pulsators - doubled our milking time!
September 8, 2008

Just when we were feeling good about starting milking 30 minutes earlier today things took a turn for the worse; A third of the way into milking the milking plant suddenly went much quieter than normal - the rhythmic clicking sound of the pulsators wasn't what it should be...

Thanks for the beenie, Riverlands
September 6, 2008

We received a surprise gift in the mail today - Riverlands had sent us a beenie hat to say "thanks" for sending them plenty of quality bobby calves this year.

Dessert for cows
September 5, 2008

We need more grass! To help with the feed shortfall we've started supplementing the cows' diets with palm kernel - "dessert for cows".

Why's that milk there?
September 3, 2008

Recently we've starting getting some milk going into the overflow can and spilling out on the rotary platform when we pull the vacuum plug at the end of milking. The main suspect is frothy milk - maybe due to an air-leak somewhere.

Hard work taking over the drenching
September 2, 2008

We implement daily drenching of all milking cows on the farm from when they give birth through until mid-November. Today I took over the daily drenching job and I tell you what, it was hard work! Especially for the heifers and 3-year olds.

It's time to feed some silage
September 2, 2008

We have about two weeks supply of silage in the sheds so that should get us almost through to the grass-growing season. Today we started speading one to two bails of silage on the grass in order to slow down the pasture rotation a little without sacrificing milk production.

Now the tanker comes twice as often
August 30, 2008

We passed the 7000-litre mark at yesterday's milk collection and that must have triggered something in Fonterra's database to start us on everyday pickup.

First calves allowed outside
August 20, 2008

Today we let the first batch of calves outside for the first time and it's hilarious watching them run around and make the most of their new surroundings.

Cows through the window
August 18, 2008

The milking cows were put in the paddock right next to our house last night - it really is different feeling being inside the house, looking out the window and seeing cows peering back at you from close range!

Dead milker
August 16, 2008

We gave her an injection to try and boost her energy but unfortunately that wasn't enough. She still wasn't able to stand and passed away within an hour. If I'd found her a little bit earlier then I might have been able to help.

Shortage of water for cleaning
August 15, 2008

Either we've been using too much water recently or else we have a major leak somewhere since I could only muster around 400 litres when cleaning the plant this evening before the pipe ran dry.

Cows pounded by freak hail storm
August 14, 2008

We were about 15 minutes into milking the cows this afternoon when a sudden hail storm poured over. The poor cows that were waiting to be milked went a bit crazy as they tried to escape the pounding hail stones.

Saved from the mud!
August 12, 2008

We've had a lot of rain recently and the paddocks are getting wet and muddy. When we went to check on the cows today one of them was giving birth and the little calf popped out into some muddy water. Luckily I was there to save it.

2nd vat collection - good somatics (phew!)
August 12, 2008

Anxious to see if our second milk collection had a better or worse sematic cell count than what was recorded for our first collection, we logged into fencepost.com and checked our online farm reports.

Broken seal causes cleaning problems
August 11, 2008

As I was cleaning the plant today I noticed that a couple of sets of milking cups weren't cleaning properly. Water should be visibly flowing through them during the cleaning process but these cups had nothing but the occasional splash inside.

High somatics on our first collection
August 11, 2008

The results of our first milk collection are in and they aren't quite what we'd hoped for. We had a high SCC - just low enough to avoid getting a grade. It could just be a first milking thing but we definitely need to be on guard.

That winter bug
August 10, 2008

It had to happen sooner or later - the long hours and cold weather over the calving period have started taking their toll on my body. Still, there is work to be done and no-one around to give us sick leave so it will be a case of keep going no matter what.

( Note to self: Always check the milk vat valve is closed!!! )
August 9, 2008

There are so many things to remember when starting up, operating, shutting down and cleaning a milking system that sooner or later you're bound to forget something if you're new to the job. Unfortunately that happended to me today... the result... about 200 litres of milk going to waste!

First collection: 730 litres
August 9, 2008

The milk tanker arrived spot on 7:30am today and emptied our milk vat for the first time this season. It didn't take him long as there were only 730 litres there - still that's safely above the minimum collection volume of 400 litres

Preparing for our first milk collection of the season
August 7, 2008

We've phoned Fonterra and arranged for them to start collecting our milk as of saturday morning, and in preparation for this event we did our first big clean of the milking plant today.

Ciao bobbies!
August 7, 2008

We had 16 bobby calves collected from the farm today - quite a few for one day. Feeding the calves wont get any easier though since there were 9 more born today!

Helping our paralysed cow get to fresh pasture
August 7, 2008

If medication can't help our injured cow then hopefully some fresh grass and peace and quiet will do the trick. She wouldn't get either while in the cowshed so she needed some help to get to fresh pastures today - help by means of a tractor ride!

A troublesome calf-birth doesn't go well
August 6, 2008

Up until today we'd had remarkably little problems with calving cows, but calving season never goes without any hitches and today we had our first cow with serious calving difficulties.

Our first case of milk fever
August 1, 2008

We had our first case of milk fever for the season today. The symptoms were a very wobbly ("drunk") cow as she stumbled back to the cowshed. After giving her a calcium drink it looks like she'd pull through.

Calf rearing farm visits
July 31, 2008

We had a chance to go and look at the calf rearing facilities on three different farms today as part of the livestock health course we're doing.

It was interesting to see that all three farms had the same basic procedures but varied their setups based on experience and their individual needs.

One tiny bug stops a rotary cowshed dead
July 31, 2008

I had to milk the cows without a rotating platform again this morning. What a hassle! Well the electrician came out and found the source of the problem and it was nothing like we'd expected...

Push and pull and make it move
July 30, 2008

The great thing about rotary cowsheds is that they speed your milkings up. The bad thing about rotary cowsheds is - what are you supposed to do when the platform wont move?!

"I'm Headin' back east - like it or not"
July 29, 2008

Sometimes what seems like a simple 30 minute task can blow out into an hour or more and mess up the rest of the day's schedule. Today's drama was in bringing one the new calves and her mother back to the calf's pen and milker's paddock.

Cows get cancer too
July 24, 2008

We discovered a cow with a huge bloody lump on the side of her head (i.e. literally bleeding) and once the vet came out to see her he suggested that she had a large tumour in her head.

Nearly trampled!
July 24, 2008

I found out today that what I'd learnt about not rushing cows down the track doesn't always apply to dry cows. I was basically bowled over with the motorbike landing half on top of me.

New farm bikes
June 2, 2008

These days you can't run a farm without some good machines to move around on. Luckily, the local motorcycle centre has been running a promotion on entry-level farm bikes and we've managed to pick up two Suzuki TF125s for $2995 each

Structure of our dairy venture
May 20, 2008

This year on the farm is not just for fun! There will be lots of hard work and hopefully some decent earnings to be made too. On the legal side of things, we've set up an LLC to run our expenses and income through and to enter into a sharemilking contract.

A year on the farm... what's this all about?
May 10, 2008

Well I've spent the 10 years or so working as a software developer in several different countries and although software development is a mentally stimulating job it does get a bit monotonous spending 40-50 hours per week stuck behind a computer in the office all day.

With world food prices on the rise and recent dairy payments in New Zealand on a high, now is a great time to take a chance and give farming a go...

Broken fence to the neighbour's property
An early start on Christmas morning
Cooking dulce de leche
Milk payout drops to $6
Payout to drop further?
Grass cut for silage in front of Mount Taranaki
Sore fingers
Fertiliser truck driving up a grassy hill
Payout dollars dropping
Milking cluster button
Somatic Cell Count of 100
Pulsator controller board
Riverlands beenie
Palm kernel
Milk overflowing onto the rotary platform
Drenching the cows
Silage spread on grass
Milk tanker passing by
Calves drinking outside
Cows through the window
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