Cunning plans – Noldy Rust

Happy New Year to you all! The Christmas/New Year break has been and gone and all is well in our neck of the woods. While some holiday makers were lamenting the fact that the inclement weather was affecting their holiday (and I’m sure it was), we farmers were gratefully checking our rain gauges and texting each other with rainfall totals. The rain in early January was such a blessing, it has eased the dryish conditions and will enable us to enjoy some green pasture ahead of us – for January at least. It’s interesting how exciting Christmas presents are when we are younger, and then as we get older the less meaningful they become! All the gifts kids get are such a source of excitement and they all hope for a rain-free day to get outside and enjoy their gifts. Whereas for the farmers any gifts are secondary to the sound of rain on the roof; it’s a blessing and a gift that is hard to surpass!

In our family we have many traditions, as I’m sure most families do. Some go by the wayside as kids grow up and we get older, but others, usually the ones that the kids benefit from most, are firmly etched in their minds! One such tradition, that started years ago, was when we were experiencing a very dry start to the year and things looked grim. Unexpectedly, the forecast changed and we were in for some rain….yay!!! I told the kids that if we got 25 ml of rain we would go out for tea! They all excitedly watched the rain gauge as the rain started falling, and, sure enough, we had in excess of 25 ml and off we went. Back in those days going out was cheap, 3 Happy Meals and a couple of Big Macs did the trick, and everyone was happy. This “25 ml of rain over summer” tradition has stuck with us and has not been forgotten by the kids….or Bev! However, a trip to Macca’s won’t cut it anymore….these days their tastes have changed. Oh yes, some like craft beer, others expensive wine, and is the pork belly as nice as the fillet steak???? AND we have husbands and partners to bring along as well! One even mentioned that if we get 50 ml does that mean we get to go twice?? Mind you, the kids may be older now and their tastes have changed, but they still think I’m a bit slow…the other day after a skiff of rain went over, I checked the gauge and it was totally full! Yes, the middle daughter had topped it up with a jug! What sort of fool do they think I am?? (Not looking for comments here folks, thanks all the same!) However, I have a cunning plan. I have a second rain gauge in a secret place, so will use that one from now on as I have drilled a wee hole at the 24 ml mark on the gauge they all check…who said I can’t have the last say??

NR rain gauges

Kids – you will have to try harder to successfully fool Dad!

Sam has had time off and I enjoyed running the farm for a couple of weeks. The 30 day round is helping build cover again after it got quite low in late Dec. Our production is ahead again on a daily basis and on par for the season. Less PKE has been fed to date and supplement feeding levels for January should be lower than last year. We fed our bagged maize over Nov/Dec as we were only feeding small amounts per day. This proved to be a good move as last year I still had a big stack face to deal with in the pit and unless you are feeding large amounts it’s difficult to avoid mould from forming. Having a pit and a bag of maize on hand has proved invaluable this year.

Our maize is growing well, and we look forward to our experiment of attempting to strip graze it in February. We planted it in 12 inch rows with a normal seed drill and lifted the population up really high in an attempt to establish a thick crop that has thinner stems and is not too tall. I’m not sure how to mow it for the cows at this stage. I think my drum mower will block up. Has anyone cut maize with the likes of a sickle bar mower in the past? We are just experimenting with this, as we have the option of harvesting the crop and ensiling it when we harvest our maize block.

NR strip graze maize

We used some short gestation semen in the last 10 days of December on a handful of cycling cows but stopped in the New Year. I was milking away for 7, 8, 9 days and still no empties and I was quietly thinking to myself how positive this looked when suddenly, a bulling cow!! Grrr, then another! And two days later, 2 more!! I’ve stopped milking now, too risky…….By the way, has anyone tried, or got, any info on the Gallagher electronic heat detectors? I would love to give these a go next year but need to know a bit more about them. Maybe we wouldn’t need bulls if we used these??

It’s been a great time to finally catch up on some of those things on the “to do list”. Welding this, fixing that, trimming here and there, a bit of paint on the house, which, incidentally was a dumb move ‘cos once you start, the rest looks shabby and you can’t stop. Luckily Bev is short so I just focus on where the eye can see! I took a look at the roof the other day too! Not a good look! No helicopter flights for Bev!!

Let’s keep positive and look forward to more rain, a lift in the auction, the super rugby season (can’t remember if it’s 18 teams this year?) and more exciting SMASH events.


  • Hi Noldy ,good to hear everything is well in your neck of the woods .I’m sure we all know the happiness of an inch of rain in the summer .( Yet in the spring as it makes us stand of the cows again and again it feels like a curse ! )
    Great to have family traditions like that ,your children have obviously seen you looking at the sky many a time and heard you talk about the weather at dinner time . As farmers our daily bread can literary come down from heaven and is a blessing like you say .
    It puts a smile on my face to see you out there with the drill Noldy ,you be in trouble if they find out …
    Beautiful maize crop,instead of mowing you could perhaps flatten it like we do down South here with our Chou crops and then strip feed it off .
    Thanks for your update ,great to read how things are going.Greetings Mark

    • Hi Mark,

      Thank you for your feedback and comments. I really appreciate hearing from you. Thanks for the tip with the maize. I may just do that. Be easier than mowing it anyway!

      Regards, Noldy

  • Hi Noldy

    Be interesting to hear how you go with strip grazing the maize.
    We trialed the Flash Mates this season, 620 cows. I personally wouldnt rate them yet. They are a good concept but need some fine tuning. The application area needs to be thoroughly cleaned, well prior to application. We found when re-sticking them (needs to be done every 2 weeks), the hair was ripping out and you were glueing directly to the skin which then excreted oils nulifying the glue.
    If you were to try them, would suggest using Ados spray glue instead of the Scotch glue they supply, thoroughly clean area of ALL loose hair, dirt and oils (must be done to limit infections underneath and maximise glue adhesion). Make your own call about lifting and resticking (we lost a lot after doing this), If you do make sure they are firmly pressed down after the glue has time to get tacky. Be accurate with the placement.

    Looking like a good chance of rain early next week, fingers crossed


    • Hi Clem,

      Hey, good to hear from you!! Thanks for the advice. That’s exactly the sort of info I was after.

      Let’s hope the rain keeps coming as you say.

      All the best for 2016.

      Regards, Noldy

Leave a reply