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When the neighbour’s bull paid a visit
Santa, the neighbour’s bull who came delivering gifts.

When the neighbour’s bull paid a visit

Micha Johansen

Eketahuna, Wairarapa

We’ve made it to nine-months of farm ownership and it’s definitely been worse than we expected, despite attempts to be as realistic as possible before purchase. The very wet winter became a very wet spring, and my “moving on in 10 years” plan became a five-year, then a three-year plan. Fortunately the sun finally came out, and I am almost back to my 10-year plan.

Because it has been so wet, grass growth has been pretty dismal, which meant we never got beyond milking once a day, which has been fabulous. I’m pushing to stay OAD forever, as the freedom from that afternoon milking is pure bliss, not that we’ve taken much advantage of this freedom, aside from Christmas day, and TJL being able to get to speedway without dealing with me whining “I don’t want to milk in the afternoon, on my own, it’s too hot, and I’m scared of bulls”.

Trent drenching R1s.

One big advantage of OAD has been the option to pimp TJL to the local contractor, to help cart silage. Contracting means he is getting to know the area and a few locals. It also means we won’t take as big a hit to the finances as we feared.

With our finances not being quite where we want them, we also decided to sell my Friesian-cross bull weaners, which is what I had hoped not to do. Good prices, $485 for the first six and $530 for my last three, almost made up for having to part with my boys. I still have four that we steered, including Thor, who was born before bobby calf pick-up, then broke his hock, and Banshee, a gorgeous Hereford-cross who probably would have netted us a fair amount, but I love him, so he stays.

Apparently, when you are 77, 71-year-olds are spring chickens, capable of throwing bales of hay around.

Selling the bulls put an end to a long discussion we’d had with my parents, as to whether we’d graze a few head on their seven acres, or whether we would cut supplement. It did trigger another fortnight-long conversation, as to whether we should make silage or hay, and then big bales or smalls. We concluded it was best to make conventional bales, 60 for calves, and Mum and Dad would sell the rest.

Once the weather sorted itself out and we got days likely for baling, Dad got into a bit of a fluster. It started with him severely twisting his knee, and being reduced to light duties, plus TJL had plans to race his minisprint in Wellington on the most likely baling day. My opinion that I could pick up all 200 myself got poo poo’d. Okay, so I can talk a good game and didn’t really believe I could do it all, but I knew I could do at least 50, and it never rains in Waipukurau in summer anyway, so why worry?

Dad, demonstrating his total disbelief in my ability to lift anything more than one bale, decided he’d phone a friend to see if he could lend a hand. “Isn’t he your age?”, “No. He’s younger,” was Dad’s reply. Apparently, when you are 77, 71-year-olds are spring chickens, capable of throwing bales of hay around. Unfortunately Dad’s mate was a bit under the weather, so poor Dad was back to me as the only definite.

Fortunately, come baling day, TJL had opted to take a nap rather than go to Wellington and my sister had also somehow been roped in, so we had quite a crew, with 236 bales to move and stack.

I love hay making. I was picking up bales with ease, regaling my family with shouts of “I am the hay queen, roaaaaar…”, and kind of hoping we could find other people and help pick up theirs. I just love hay.

Unfortunately, we don’t have the land to make all the supplement we need, so we will be buying it in. We have been looking for a lease block, but no luck as yet. Ironically the farms behind, alongside and across the road are all leased out, just not to us. So if anyone knows of any blocks, 20-40ha, Woodville to Masterton, please, let us know.

I hope all of my readers – Hi Mum – have had a pleasant summer.

Even our in-milk cows had a visit from Santa, in the form of the neighbour’s big old Hereford bull, who jumped the fence to deliver a few gifts. Fortunately it was at the right time of year and he was a very quiet boy, so fingers crossed we see a few extra Hereford-cross calves come calving 2017.

Twitter: @michajohansen

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Email: michajohansen@hotmail.com