We are currently experiencing one of the longest and more serious droughts of our farming career. This follows a much lower than average rainfall in 2019. We share serious concerns with many local and Northland farmers now going into winter with no Autumn feed and the water table so low that many of our ponds and dams remain completely dry. Our native Kikuyu grass has been a saviour. However the condition / health of the livestock at this stage remains remarkably good with very little fly strike on sheep. General farm maintenance has been a priority over this extended dry spell including weed control and gradual replacement of troughs with covers to prevent cattle breaking them. This is critical in times of water shortages to ensure continued quality water is supplied and reticulated efficiently to all paddocks. Pest control continues to occupy more time than we would like with feral deer having become a serious problem uncontrolled in the Woodhill Forest. With serious feed shortages - deer grazing in significant numbers is something we could do without. In addition they have destroyed many quite well established native trees planted including some lovely Rimus by rubbing their antlers in recent years which is a heartbreak. The cost of deer fencing around every wetland and native bush block is prohibitive. Regular Autumn maintenance of drains and removing dangerous trees and branches around buildings and fences has also been done and firewood cut and stacked for the winter ahead of us.
Over 52 hectares has been direct drilled either annual rye grasses or permanent pastures which now await the rains to get it established before soil temperatures begin to fall. An excellent harvest of maize silage is ready for winter feeding out. All part of the pasture management and annual rotation plan to improve pastures.
We continue to bait 48 possum stations across the property.
With Covid-19 we are pleased shearing has been able to proceed with our efficient team managing well under the new social distancing requirements. The shed was sprayed out prior to their arrival with a disinfectant.
Pests - Paper Wasps & Magpies
Paper wasps remain vicious and invasive. Richard carries a special can of spray regularly on his bike to eradicate nests when he sees them. They are quite distinctive from the german wasps and when disturbed will attack. They seem to like to build on wood and nests are often on the sunny side of gates and fence posts. Best to spray the nests earlier in the morning or early evening when the wasps are all in the nest. Now we know where to generally look for them we are finding them out over the farm. An underground German wasp nest was destroyed in an old post hole.
We continue to trap magpies from time to time but are also aware and concerned with the growing number of ring necked doves now breeding on the farm. They are most unwelcome and we are tired of their incessant cooing in the mornings. We have to protect and ensure that we can foster our much loved native and feathered friends over these intruders. This year we rescued a young Ruru (Morepork) that Richard found on the drive to the woolshed during the daytime. Aware that this is quite rare we consulted Bird Rescue who advised us to take it to the local Vets. Kaipara Vets were outstanding and ensured the wee bird was taken to Auckland Zoo for assessment and was later transferred to Massey University Wildbase Hospital in Palmerston North. A great story as the young Morepork was treated, tagged and brought back to us for release at Whenuanui Farm. We hope the calls we hear at night now include his call. We regularly enjoy seeing a wide variety of beautiful native birds including Kereru, Ruru, Kotare and from time to time some noisy Kaka!